25 Salad Topping Ideas for Health & Flavor

Gone are the days of leafy greens doused in ranch dressing. Jazz up your salad for flavor and health with these healthy salad toppings!

25 Salad Topping Ideas for Health & Flavor

Move over croutons! There are some new healthy salad toppings in town. If you are looking for salad topping ideas, look no further than these 25 unique toppings for salad. 

Read on for the top 25 salad toppings list, complete with healthy toppings for your salad no matter the season!

Healthy Salad Toppings List

Store-bought salad toppings are notorious for adding extra calories. Is there really a way to sprinkle something on your salad while still focusing on your health? 

The answer is yes! Here are 25 of the top healthy salad toppings for you to try on your next leafy green salad

1. Nuts and/or Seed

Like croutons, nuts and seeds - like pecans and sunflower seeds - can provide a crunch and tasty texture. However, nuts and seeds deliver fats and proteins your body needs to keep feeling full after you eat. Just be wary of oversalted or candied nuts (they often contain excessive amounts of sugar). 

2. Granola 

Along the same lines as nuts and seeds, granola (especially homemade) can provide a plethora of nutrients. Varieties with nuts, seeds, and oats make for a filling addition. You can also infuse seasonal flavors, for example using pepitas (pumpkin seeds) in the fall. 

3. Crumbled Cheeses

If you didn’t already use cheese for the protein portion of your salad, you can add a little extra with a delicious crumbled cheese. A small bit of bleu cheese or feta cheese can change the flavor profile. Plus, it makes for an Instagram-worthy garnish! 

4. Guacamole

Leftover guacamole that’s about to go brown? No need to fear! A great use for guacamole is to add a scoop or two to your salad. This avocado-rich side dish is perfect for adding healthy fats to your salad plate. 

5. Pita Chips

A tasty alternative to croutons, pita chips are generally low-calorie. They also add about 1 gram of fiber on average, which can contribute to your daily nutrient requirements. 

6. Tortilla Chips

Like pita chips, tortilla chips can be crushed into a salad’s crunchy sidekick. At about 73 calories per ¼ cup (crushed), tortilla chips make a great companion to Mexican-inspired salads.

7. Cilantro-Lime Salad Dressing

It may sound simple, but cilantro-lime salad dressing is a classic. This herb and citrus combo often adds nutritional value to a creamy base dressing and helps highlight the other flavors in your salad. 

8. Yogurt-Based Salad Dressing

Yup, you heard that right. Yogurt has found its way from breakfast to lunch and dinner dishes, too. With yogurt as a subtle, creamy base, you can rest easy knowing your dressing isn’t adding unwanted calories. 

9. Crunchy Chickpeas

If chickpeas aren’t already used elsewhere in your salad, consider making crunchy chickpeas a topping! Packed with protein, chickpeas aren’t just the garnish for your dish. They also add vital nutrients you need to keep yourself feeling full. 

10. Cheese Crisps 

Cheese crisps are all the rage these days. Essentially, cheese crisps are cheese-based crackers that can be eaten much like you would a bread-based biscuit. Crumble a cheese crisp on top of your next salad for a pleasant change of pace. 

11. Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs as a healthy salad topping may not be totally ground-breaking, but they are definitely underrated. Cilantro, parsley, and dill are popular favorites, but feel free to switch it up depending on what is in season. 

12. High Flavor Oils 

You are probably used to olive oil-based dressings, so using a different oil can be a creative way to up-level your salads 

13. Seasonings

Plain seasonings may be just the thing to add to the flavor you’re craving. Everything but the bagel seasoning is a quick solution, or you can use another option like lemon pepper. Ready for something wild? Look for a low-sugar BBQ seasoning that will bring the spice. 

14. Whole Wheat Quesadilla

A quesadilla is often viewed as an appetizer or meal on its own, but it also makes a tasty topping. Use a pizza cutter to cut a quesadilla into small cubes (“quesadilla croutons”) before placing them atop your salad.

15. Hot Honey

Desiring a touch of sweet with a little bit of heat? You can have the best of both worlds when you top your salad with a bit of hot honey. Remember, honey is still a form of sugar, and a little goes a long way (don’t go overboard). 

16. Balsamic Glaze

Balsamic glaze is known for its unique taste. It’s often used as a glaze on meats or vegetable dishes, but you can use it to easily elevate a salad, too.

17. Cooked Ancient Grains

Similar to croutons, cooked ancient grains can add a welcome crunch. Try a sprinkle of bulgur, farro, quinoa, or wheat berries on top. 

18. Lemon or Lime Juice

A simple spritz of lemon or lime to your salad can give it a tangy taste without adding virtually any calories. Lime is a popular companion for seafood and Mexican-flavored salads, while lemons are better suited for chicken-based salad plates. 

19. Couscous

When you think of the words “pasta salad”, you probably don’t imagine adding couscous to your leafy greens. However, a healthy topping for this tiny pasta can be a great way to add some grains to your diet. It can also help bulk a salad up 

20. Coleslaw

A side dish all on its own, coleslaw is renowned as a barbecue side dish. Similarly, you can add coleslaw to barbecue chicken salads to make them healthy and fulfilling. 

21. Pineapple

People are probably used to fruit in salads, but may not be familiar with pineapple in their salad. This infamous pizza addition can also be a flavorful and favorite salad topping, especially when combined with other tropical flavors

22. Jerky

It may sound a little out there, but adding jerky to your salad is a lot like adding bacon bits. These tiny meat slices also add flavor, thanks to varieties like teriyaki, lemon, and cracked pepper, and beyond. Add a little meat jerky to your next salad to experience something sensational.

23. Hummus

Hummus is normally enjoyed as a dip. However, it can also add a dollop of protein-packed flavor to many salads. Try adding hummus to Greek or Mediterranean-inspired salads. 

24. Salsa

Like guacamole or hummus, salsa can add a fun kick to your salad dish. There are many different varieties of salsa to play around with, so enjoy experimenting with different combinations! Salsa is a natural companion to Mexican flavors (i.e. taco salad). 

25. Dried Fruit

Without taking up a ton of space in your salad, dried fruits add a texture that is different from fresh fruit. To keep your salad on the healthy side, look for dried fruit varieties without added sugars. Dried cranberries, raisins, and apricots are popular picks to accompany your salad dish. 

The Final Word On Flavorful Salad Toppings

Salad toppings are where it gets fun! Take the pressure out of choosing a healthy salad topping by using one of the 25 unique additions listed above. The possibilities and combinations are truly endless when you consider all the nutrient-rich foods at your disposal that you can add to salad dishes today. 

References:

Ellis E. Build a Healthy Salad. EatRight. https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/snack-and-meal-ideas/healthy-salads

Salad Toppings. Nutrition to Fit. Published July 2022. https://nutritiontofit.com/salad-toppings/.

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