The mighty Cobb Salad has arrived! All the essential players present – juicy bites of chicken, crispy lettuce, chunks of tomato, creamy avocado, salty bacon and creamy blue cheese, arranged in the signature rows. Served with a homemade Cobb Salad dressing. Salad was never so delicious!
I feel like I’ve done endless iterations of chicken salad, from Chinese to Vietnamese, Mexican to Thai, not to mention all the various non-Asian ones from the Avocado Ranch pasta one to Lemon Chicken to that one I copied from a trendy San Francisco bistro (<- This was is super good!).
So I was a little surprised that I hadn’t done what is probably the most classic of all chicken salads – the great Cobb Salad! Though actually, it was traditionally made with turkey rather than chicken. But these days chicken is more common, especially for homemade versions.
Though there are various tales about the origins of Cobb Salad, one thing everybody agrees on is that the ingredients should be presented in neat rows on a large bed of lettuce. The presence of blue cheese is also essential – otherwise, it’s just another chicken salad! 🙂
Cobb Salad Dressing – sharper than most
Another thing worth mentioning is that Cobb Salad Dressing is a little sharper than standard dressings, with a 50/50 oil to vinegar ratio compared to the usual 1 part vinegar to 3 or 4 parts oil. The slightly tangier dressing works really well here because it offsets the richness of the blue cheese, with the added benefit of lower calories!
Ingredients in Cobb Salad
Feel free to cut the vegetables as you wish. Some like them more chunky, to give the salad a sense of heft. Others prefer them chopped into smaller pieces. It’s entirely up to you!
Cobb Salad Vegetables
Here are the vegetables in a classic Cobb Salad.
Cos / romaine lettuce – Either 1 large or 2 small ones (“hearts”), chopped into large bite size pieces. You want around 12 cups, lightly packed, slightly heaped. I know, it’s hard to measure! It’s flexible. The recipe has plenty of dressing!
Tomatoes – Either 2 large ones cut into chunks (I prefer this) or 250g/8oz cherry tomatoes, halved.
Avocados – Two medium avocados or one really large on.
Chives – This is an optional garnish. Finely chop then sprinkled on at the end.
Cobb Salad Proteins & Blue Cheese
Not a fan of blue cheese? You’re missing out! 😂
Chicken – You can either poach your own (you will love my foolproof entirely hands-off method) or use store bought roast chicken. Though not standard, I like to toss my cooked chicken in a little salt, pepper and dressing. Just – more flavour. 🙂
Bacon – These days I tend to cook the strips whole then chop afterwards because it’s less effort. So much easier to cut crispy bacon than raw, and less effort to cook strips than a pan full of lots of tiny pieces that keep popping in my face!
Blue cheese – There might not be full consensus on exactly what type of blue cheese is the classic to use in a Cobb Salad. But for me, there’s no question: creamy is better than crumbly/drier. Creamy blue cheese smears and gets on “everything”, and everything it touches is tastier!!
My favourite blue cheese for salads is gorgonzola. Gorgonzola Dolce is my preference for a creamier, rounder blue cheese flavour – this is the more common type of Gorgonzola. Though if you like your blue cheese really sharp, then go for Gorgonzola Picante!
New to blue cheese? Try Blue Castello. It’s probably the most mild out of all the blue cheese, plus it’s better value.
Boiled eggs – I like mine soft boiled so the yolks are slightly jammy but not runny. 9 minutes in boiling water – boil the water first, lower eggs in then set the timer! (Boiled egg directions here).
Cobb Salad Dressing ingredients
As noted above, Cobb Salad Dressing is tangier than typical vinaigrettes. To help with thickening (because less oil = thinner dressing), a touch of Dijon mustard is used.
Extra virgin olive oil – Use the best you can afford! The better the olive oil, the tastier your dressings. 🙂
Apple cider vinegar – Good all rounder vinegar for dressings that’s not as sharp as white vinegar. Substitute with white wine or red wine vinegar.
Dijon mustard – Adds flavour as well as thickening the dressing which is particularly important here because this dressing uses less oil. So the dressing would be very watery without the dijon.
Eschallot (US: shallot) – The small onions which are finer than ordinary onions so the minced pieces blend into the dressing better, rather than having lots of big chunks. Also, the flavour is not as sharp as ordinary onions. This adds good value into the dressing so don’t skip it! Substitute with 1 tablespoon finely grated red onion.
Sugar – Just 1/2 a teaspoon takes a bit of the tangy edge off this dressing.
I’m using a classic Cobb Salad dressing today so there’s no garlic in it. But a finely grated garlic clove certainly wouldn’t go astray here!
How to make Cobb Salad
The presentation of Cobb Salad is one of its defining features. Traditionally, it’s served on a large platter with the ingredients artfully arranged in neat rows. I see no reason to stray from tradition when it looks so good!
Dressing – Shake everything up in a jar. It really is a quick and easy way to properly mix dressings so they become thick and creamy as they should be.
Cook bacon strips until crisp then chop. (See comment in the ingredients section about my preference to cook first then chop later these days).
Poach chicken breast using my foolproof poached chicken recipe. (plonk in boiling water, turn stove off, leave 20 minutes. Works every-single-time, and the chicken is juicy!).
Chop & toss – Cool chicken, dice into 2cm / 0.8″ cubes. Toss with salt, pepper and a slosh of Dressing.
Assemble – Pile the lettuce onto a large platter or bowl. Arrange the following across the surface in neat rows: chicken, avocado, tomato, bacon, egg. Crumble blue cheese across the surface, then scatter with chives. Serve with dressing on the side.
To eat – Let everybody help themselves to the salad, and drizzle on Dressing. Then dive in!
A note on serving Cobb Salad
I serve Cobb Salad by laying out the un-dressed salad on a big platter, then pouring the dressing into a jug. Then I leave everyone to help themselves to the salad and pour over as much or as little Dressing as they wish.
I prefer doing it this way because otherwise you have to toss each vegetable separately in Dressing before laying them out in the signature rows. Which means you end up using quite a lot of dressing, plus the lettuce dressed first ends up a little wilted from the dressing if you spend a little too long fussing with the neat rows (YES I DO!🙈).
Not sure if this is the traditional way to serve Cobb Salad, but it works for me! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
- 400g/14 oz chicken breast (2 pieces)
- 1/4 tsp cooking/kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 200g/7oz streaky bacon strips
- 4 x 9 minute boiled eggs , quartered
- 12 cups cos / romaine lettuce (1 large head, 2 small), chopped (or other crispy lettuce)
- 2 large tomatoes , cut into 8 wedges then halved (or 250g/8oz cherry tomatoes halved)
- 2 avocados , cut into large pieces
- 200g/7oz gorgonzola dolce (my favourite) or roquefort (traditional), crumbled (or other blue cheese – Note 1)
- 2 tbsp chives , finely chopped
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 5 tbsp apple cider vinegar (sub white wine or red wine vinegar)
- 3/4 tsp cooking/kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp eschallot (US: shallot), very finely minced
- 1/2 tsp white sugar
- Dressing: Shake ingredients in a jar.
- Flavour chicken: Poach chicken using this method (20 minute foolproof-guaranteed-juicy). Cool to room temperature then cut into 2cm / 0.75” cubes. Toss with salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of Dressing. Set aside.
- Crisp bacon: Place bacon strips in a non-stick pan (not heated, no oil). Turn heat onto medium high – as the pan heats up, the fat will begin to melt. Cook for 2 minutes until golden, turn and cook the other side for 1 1/2 minutes until golden. Drain on paper towels. Once cool and crisp, chop into 1.5cm / 0.6" pieces.
- Assemble: Spread lettuce on a large platter. Arrange the ingredients on top in the Cobb Salad signature neat rows: egg, bacon, avocado, tomato and chicken. Crumble blue cheese across the top, sprinkle with chives. Pour dressing into a jug.
- Serving: Let everybody help themselves to the salad and Dressing!
Life of Dozer
With all the good stuff in this salad, he can’t believe what he was offered.