Summer Salad Luncheon: Make it Easy, Fun, and Refreshing

Summer is the season when we look forward to relaxing and spending time with friends and family. Some of us host a neighborhood picnic. Others pack a picnic basket and take off for the lake.  But some of us just want to stay home and gather up a group of friends for a day of fun and laughter. A great way to do that is by hosting a Salad Luncheon.

A Salad Luncheon is perfect for a summer gathering. The food is cool, so you don’t need to heat the kitchen by turning on the oven. The setting can be anything from casual to a full-fledged tea party – complete with hats and silver service pieces.   

And better yet, you can serve as many varieties of salads as you can think of, and still only spend an hour or less in the kitchen preparing the meal.  Or, you can even make it a potluck and have everyone contribute their favorite salad.

a wood table filled with bowls of corn, broccoli, spinach salads, grapes, and a plate of pound cake decorated with a strawberry fan

What is a Salad Luncheon?

A Salad Luncheon is simply a meal that consists primarily of salads. These can range from leafy greens topped with homemade croutons to salads created from fruit, vegetables, meats, or a combination of all three. Crackers and homemade rolls or breads can serve as an accompaniment, and dessert can be a simple Pound Cake or platter of assorted cookies.

a young girl pouring tea for her stuffed rabbit at a tea party

Occasions for a Salad Luncheon

The beauty of a Salad Luncheon is that the menu fits for most any occasion. Are you, or someone you know getting married? Having a Salad Luncheon for the bridal party is a cool and refreshing way to feed the guests.

If you have a friend who is moving into a new home, hosting an old-fashioned pounding is a fun way to celebrate with them. And adding a Salad Luncheon just makes it even more fun.

If you have a social club where it is your turn to host, a Salad Luncheon is an inexpensive way to serve a large group. And if you just want an excuse to visit with a circle of friends, you can enjoy a delicious and easy-to-make meal to add a bit more fun to the day.

What to Serve at a Salad Luncheon

The food you serve at a Salad Luncheon is a great way to get creative. Use your ingenuity to come up with your own types of salads, or consider a few of these:

a broccoli salad in a crystal bowl - perfect for a salad luncheon

Broccoli Salad

This recipe was given to me by my friend Peggy, and it quickly became one of our favorites. You can either make it strictly by this recipe or adapt it to your own liking. The amount of people you serve will depend on the measurements. For a small gathering, three ‘trees’ of Broccoli should be plenty. I go by these guidelines:  3 cups of chopped broccoli / the smaller portions of additional ingredients.


  • Chopped Broccoli
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped Celery
  • 1/2 to 1 cup Raisins
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Red Onions, diced small
  • 1/2 to 1 cup shelled Sunflower Seeds
  • 1/2 to 1 cup Pecans


  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Mayonnaise (not Salad Dressing – as it may alter the flavor!)

Mix vegetables, fruits, and nuts together. Toss with dressing. Chill before serving.

Here’s a few ideas for adaptation:

  • Use Cauliflower instead of Broccoli, or a combination of the two
  • Use Craisins instead of Raisins
  • Use Chopped Almonds or Walnuts instead of Pecans
  • Add grated Cheddar Cheese for color and flavor
  • Double the dressing mix for a creamier salad

a corn salad topped with Frito corn chips served in a purple Fiestaware bowl

Corn Salad

  • 2 cans Whole Kernel Corn
  • 1 small can chopped Green Chilis
  • 1 cup Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • Enough Mayonnaise to Moisten
  • 1 cup Crushed Fritos Corn Chips

In a bowl, blend corn, chilis and cheddar cheese. Add Mayonnaise and stir until blended. Chill until ready to serve. Right before serving, crush the Fritos and stir into the salad. (Don’t add the chips until you are ready to serve, as they will become soggy!)

a bowl of tri-colored spiral pasta salad

Pasta Salad

  • 2 cups Tri-Colored Spiral Pasta
  • 1 can Black Olives
  • 1/2 cup finely diced Red Onion
  • 1/2 cup finely diced Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped Celery
  • Your favorite Italian Dressing (either bottled or homemade)

Cook the Pasta until tender. Drain and rinse in cold water until the pasta is cool. Add the pasta and vegetables to a bowl and mix well. Add a generous amount of Italian Dressing until the pasta is moist and well-coated.

Adaptation Ideas:

  • Add finely chopped or grated chicken or Pepperoni
  • Add 1/2 cup of Feta or freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

a strawberry and spinach salad topped with feta cheese and homemade croutons served in a medium blue Fiestaware bowl

Other Salad Options

For your Salad Luncheon, you can also include your favorite chicken salad, tuna salad or other meat preference. Need a green salad? Try serving a Strawberry Spinach version. A Fruit Salad is also an easy choice. Choose a selection of fruit, cube them, and toss them with a Poppyseed Dressing.

You can also serve deviled eggs, any way you want to make them. I love this easy recipe!

Boil as many eggs as you need (1 dozen makes 24 deviled eggs). This recipe is for 1 dozen eggs:

Cut the eggs in half. Gently scoop out egg yolks and place in a bowl. Add 1 Tablespoon pickle relish, enough Mayonnaise to moisten, and add salt and pepper to taste. Mix to a smooth consistency. Refill each egg half with enough yolk mixture to slightly mound. Sprinkle lightly with Paprika.

And don’t forget all the different salads you can make using Jell-O. My great-aunt Beaulah shared a recipe with my mom years ago, and it has ever since been an addition to almost all of our family gatherings. With the combination of ingredients, this salad may sound odd, but it is truly delicious!

parfait glasses filled with an orange and whipped cream salad served at a salad luncheon

Beaulah’s Salad

  • 1 small container Cool Whip
  • 1 small container Cottage Cheese
  • 1 small box Orange Jell-O
  • 1 large can Crushed Pineapple
  • 1 can Mandarin Oranges (drained)

Make the Jell-O according to package directions. Chill until firm. Place the Jell-O in a large bowl and mix in the remaining ingredients. Chill before serving.

Since this is a ‘soft’ salad, it helps to serve it in small bowls. Or for a touch of elegance, serve it in parfait glasses.  

Click the Banner for some great scone, rolls and bread ideas for your Salad Luncheon!

Accompaniments to a Salad Luncheon

When serving a Salad Luncheon, you need just that touch of extra in the way of a bread. Choose an assortment of crackers, hot rolls, muffins, or a loaf of your favorite bread. You can also serve lemon scones or anything else your heart desires.

strawberry shortcake plated on a blue and white speckled plate

Don’t Forget Dessert!

With a Salad Luncheon, you don’t want to serve a heavy dessert. You can simply make a Pound Cake or a platter of assorted cookies.  Another option is to serve slices of Angel Food Cake topped with whipped cream and sliced strawberries, or a Strawberry Shortcake.

a yellow plate filled with a slice of strawberry nutbread, a dollop of whipped cream and sliced strawberries

Host a Salad Luncheon and Enjoy!

Regardless of the occasion, hosting a Salad Luncheon is a great way to gather friends together in the summer. The cool and refreshing food offsets the heat of the season, and there is something almost everyone will enjoy.

The combination of food, fun and laughter at a Salad Luncheon may end up being your favorite way to celebrate the summer season!

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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