The BEST Italian Grinder Salad (Quick and Easy!)

The Italian grinder salad has gone viral on Tiktok and social media for good reason. It’s an absolutely delicious spin on the classic Italian grinder (aka sub, hoagie, sandwich). You’ll be making this one on repeat, I promise.

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A birds eye shot of a grinder salad in a white bowl dressed with dressing on a white countertop.

Your new favorite salad recipe

This super flavorful and hearty salad is easily one of my favorite salad recipes of all time, and everyone that makes it loves it too. It’s just so good, so easy and is one of the recipes I always get DMs about.

It’s packed with all of the traditional Italian grinder salad ingredients– cold cuts, crisp and crunchy lettuce, red onion, provolone cheese, and banana peppers. Then, it’s tossed in a tasty creamy salad dressing that’s to die for.

This is one of those salads that every single bite is just absolutely delicious. Crunchy lettuce, creamy tangy salad dressing, cheese- is there anything better? It’s in the same realm as an antipasto salad, but even more delicious.

Born and raised in New England myself, the Italian grinder sandwich was always a classic quick lunch option. For as far back as I can remember, they’ve been the go-to for anything from beach picnics to a party crowd pleaser. 

In this recipe, I’ve turned one of my all-time favorite sandwiches into a delicious, balanced, healthy meal option with an amazing homemade dressing.

It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s absolutely packed with all of the flavors you love in typical Italian sub. Plus, it’s loaded with veggies! You seriously can’t go wrong with this one.

Italian grinder salad ingredients

The best part about this salad is that it’s also super customizable. You can change up the veggies, change up the meats, swap for your favorite cheese, or even use your favorite dressing instead of the homemade version. Here’s what you need:

A white bowl with lettuce, tomatoes, bell pepper, provolone cheese, deli meats and banana peppers unmixed.

Salad ingredients

  • Shredded romaine lettuce: I like to use romaine for a bit of extra nutrition and crunchiness, but you can use iceberg lettuce too!
  • Shredded cabbage mix or veggie slaw: You know the bags of coleslaw mix that you can find in the produce section? I love using them as part of the salad “base” to add more nutrients and fiber. 
  • Bell pepper, red onion and cherry tomatoes: You can honestly use whichever combination of veggies you prefer in salad, but this is my favorite! 
  • Deli meats: You can use whatever types of meat you want and enjoy on a deli sandwich, but I think the best combination is turkey, ham and salami. You could also different meats like roast beef, sliced chicken, or pepperoni.
  • Provolone cheese: Provolone cheese, cheddar, or swiss cheese are all great options for this salad.
  • Banana peppers: Adding banana peppers to this salad seriously takes it to the next level– so good. Be sure to grab the mild kind if you don’t like anything spicy. I prefer banana peppers, but you can use pepperoncini peppers too!

Grinder salad dressing ingredients

  • Mayo: This dressing recipe calls for just enough mayonnaise for the dressing to be creamy!
  • Olive oil: Use your favorite extra virgin olive oil to add heart-healthy fats.
  • Red wine vinegar: Red wine vinegar is my preferred vinegar but you can also use white wine vinegar or even apple cider vinegar. 
  • Parmesan cheese: Parmesan cheese adds just the right amount of cheesiness and saltiness to the dressing.
  • Fresh garlic: Don’t skip the fresh garlic in this dressing, it’s so worth the extra step! I like to use a zester to make a super super fine paste with the garlic. You can use garlic powder if you don’t have any fresh on hand.
  • Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a small bowl or salad dressing shaker, make your dressing by adding all of the ingredients and then whisking until fully emulsified. To fully combine and emulsify your dressing quicker, make your dressing in a small mason jar or salad dressing container and shake to emulsify. 
Two side by side images of a clear bowl showing the process of making the dressing for a grinder salad.
  1. In a large bowl, add your lettuce, cabbage mix, red onion, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, deli meat slices, cheese, and banana peppers.
A white bowl of grinder salad with the dressing being poured onto the salad.
  1. The final step is to add the dressing to your salad and toss to mix thoroughly. Serve with a slice of Italian bread or a bag of chips on the side!

Recipe tips for making the best grinder salad

  • Skip some chopping by using pre-chopped lettuce and cabbage (I like this one). I’m busy and I know you are too! You can even use pre-chopped bell peppers and onions.
  • Use a mayonnaise that you like! It may sound like a silly tip, but since it’s a main ingredient in the dressing, make sure you like the mayo before you use it. Personally, I love Sir Kensington’s.
  • Add any other favorite sandwich ingredients or salad toppings that you enjoy. Pickles, olives, croutons or even a few potato chips would all be amazing.
A tossed grinder salad in a white bowl on a white countertop with dressing, lettuce and banana peppers visible in the background.

Variation ideas

  1. If deli meat isn’t your thing, swap it out and use shredded chicken instead or tuna instead.
  2. Add a fiber boost with a ½ cup of chickpeas or black beans.
  3. Turn it into a grinder salad sandwich! Chop all of your ingredients, toss with dressing and then serve in an Italian roll. 
  4. Change up the cheeses! You can use cheddar cheese, fresh mozzarella or even colby jack.
  5. Give the dressing a little kick by adding red pepper flakes or your favorite hot sauce.
  6. Turn it into a pasta salad! Up the chopped veggies, skip the lettuce and add your favorite cooked pasta. 

You’ll Also Love:

Deconstructed Burger Salad Bowl

Cucumber Mango Salad (Easy & Healthy!)

Easy Cucumber Chickpea Salad with Tomatoes & Feta

A birds eye shot of a grinder salad in a white bowl dressed with dressing on a white countertop.

The BEST Italian Grinder Salad

The viral Italian grinder salad with crunchy lettuce and veggies, deli meats, banana peppers, and provolone cheese tossed in a creamy tangy dressing.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 4 cups romaine lettuce chopped or shredded
  • 2 cups cabbage shredded, you can use coleslaw mix
  • 1/4 cup red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper thinly sliced
  • 6 oz deli meat turkey, ham, and salami are great options
  • 2 slices provolone cheese thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup banana peppers

Red Wine Vinaigrette

  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp mayo
  • 1 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1 small garlic clove super finely minced
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 pinch salt
  • black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, make your dressing by adding all of the ingredients and then whisking until fully emulsified. To fully combine and emulsify your dressing quicker, make your dressing in a small mason jar or salad dressing container and shake to emulsify.
  • In a large bowl, add your lettuce, cabbage mix, red onion, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, deli meat slices, cheese, and banana peppers.
  • The final step is to add the dressing to your salad and toss thoroughly. Serve with a slice of Italian bread or a bag of chips on the side!
Course: dinner, lunch
Cuisine: American

Nutrition

Calories: 324kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 1286mg | Potassium: 799mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 9857IU | Vitamin C: 100mg | Calcium: 267mg | Iron: 3mg

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8 Responses

  1. Pingback: Loaded Bell Pepper Nachos (with half chips!) - The Balanced Nutritionist
  2. Pingback: No Time: How to Eat Healthy Without Cooking
  3. I got this assembled and was halfway through eating it before I realized I forgot tomato and onion. It was so delicious and flavorful I didn’t even notice. Will make this a regular lunch!

    1. Yay! So glad you loved it- it’s one of my favorites and so easy to throw together!

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It's me, Jamie!

I’m a Registered Dietitian dedicated to helping you break free of the all-or-nothing dieting with balanced and realistic healthy eating.

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Meet Jamie

I’m a Registered Dietitian and I’ve been exactly where you are, right now. The all or nothing dieting, the constant food guilt, the scale obsession, absolutely no balance with food…. Sound familiar?