The Best Packable Summer Salad Recipes

Maybe you’re sick of sandwiches for lunch. Maybe you’re headed to the beach for the day, or don’t want to pay for the snack bar at your local pool. Maybe you’re going hiking or having a picnic in the park. No matter what the activity is, here are some of our favorite packable summer salads — we’ve tested them all and promise they won’t go soggy and definitely won’t disappoint.

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

Salad Recipes: Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad from Chelsea's Messy Apron
Photo courtesy of Chelsea’s Messy Apron.

This is an absolutely flavor-packed pasta salad that’s spicy, creamy, crunchy, fatty, and filling. You can leave out the bacon and make it vegetarian (I didn’t miss it), and you can even swap the cotija cheese for feta; it’ll still be delicious. If you really want to go the extra mile, grab some sweet corn from the farmers market and roast it yourself. Bonus: This makes 6-8 servings as a side, so you’ll have a lot of leftovers. Get the recipe from Chelsea’s Messy Apron.

Roasted Cauliflower and Dates Couscous Salad With Tahini

Salad Recipes: Roasted Cauliflower and Dates Couscous Salad With Tahini from Vegetarian Ventures
Photo courtesy of Vegetarian Ventures.

I love pearled Israeli couscous, but you can use whatever you have on hand for this salad. Again, it doesn’t feature any actual lettuce, but it is delicious. Pump up the protein with crispy oven-roasted chickpeas or add greens in the form of grilled zucchini or a handful of arugula. Couscous doesn’t get soggy and cauliflower is plenty good at room temperature — plus, it’s vegan! Get the recipe from Vegetarian Ventures.

Quinoa Salad With Mango, Lime and Ginger

Salad Recipes: Quinoa Salad With Mango, Lime and Ginger from Alexandra's Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Alexandra’s Kitchen.

I literally just made this salad again for dinner last night because it’s so good. The combination of crunchy roasted cashews with sweet and juicy mango … so good. It also comes together pretty quickly and can easily be doubled if you’re cooking for a crowd. I like to top mine with a little sriracha (and, if I’m not eating it on the go, some crispy tofu). Get the recipe from Alexandra’s Kitchen. Editor’s Note: Scroll down for the recipe; this is a two-for-one blog post.

Moroccan Carrot Salad With Harissa and Avocado

Salad Recipes: Moroccan Carrot Salad With Harissa and Avocado from Alexandra's Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Alexandra’s Kitchen.

This salad is made blissfully easy with the use of the grating attachment on your food processor. This is a beautifully simple salad, so it’s worth your time to get good-quality ingredients. If you want to bulk it up a little bit, add some grains like farro or spelt or chickpeas. Pro tip: Make sure you taste your harissa before you put it in the dressing — it can be extremely spicy. Get the recipe from Alexandra’s Kitchen.

Crunchy Thai Peanut and Quinoa Salad

Salad Recipes: Crunchy Thai Peanut and Quinoa Salad from Cookie and Kate
Photo courtesy of Cookie and Kate.

There’s a lot of chopping that goes into the prep for this salad, but the end result is absolutely fantastic. I’m a sucker for a peanut dressing. This is also the perfect travel salad because it utilizes ingredients that won’t go soggy — red cabbage, carrots, edamame, and snap peas. You’ll be making this one on repeat. Get the recipe from Cookie and Kate.

Roasted Carrot and Lentil Salad With Tahini

Salad Recipes: Roasted Carrot and Lentil Salad With Tahini from A Beautiful Plate
Photo courtesy of A Beautiful Plate.

This is a gorgeous salad to make, and it’s incredibly delicious too. I love lentils, those little protein powerhouses, and they make the perfect base for this simple salad. Plus, they travel really well. It’s worth getting multicolored carrots for this recipe if you can find them, and definitely save the frilly green tops for garnish (they have a great, parsley-like flavor). Get the recipe from A Beautiful Plate.

Mediterranean Pesto Chickpea Salad

Salad Recipes: Mediterranean Pesto Chickpea Salad from Ambitious Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Ambitious Kitchen.

Canned chickpeas are such a boon to quick and easy salads. This dish comes together in as much time as it takes you to slice some cherry tomatoes and whip up pesto — which is to say, not very much time at all. The recipe calls for crumbled feta cheese, but you could easily sub mini mozzarella balls (bocconcini) or shaved ricotta salata. Again, another opportunity to add all the summer veggies you want (zucchini and summer squash or arugula would be great here). Get the recipe from Ambitious Kitchen.

Kale Salad with Salami, Pecorino and Walnuts

I did not know that I liked kale salads until I learned to properly massage my kale a few years ago. Now, I love them, and you should too, especially because they don’t wilt like other salad leaves. This hearty salad has a ton of umami flavor from the salami and pecorino, and walnuts add the best hint of bitterness. You could also sub crispy Asian pears for the apples. Whatever you do, don’t skip the lemon zest — it adds the perfect brightness. Get the recipe from Food52.


Jessica Suss is a native Chicagoan residing in Washington, D.C. She is currently getting her master’s degree in secondary English education at the University of Maryland. She enjoys petting other people’s dogs and is faithful to Lou Malnati’s alone. Jessica is also a supporter of MAZON and No Kid Hungry