If summer has you craving something that’s hearty but not too heavy, turkey Cobb salad is an indulgent meal that will satisfy your hunger!
Ahh, it’s summer. Here in Charleston, SC, it’s 91 degrees with a heat index of 100 and a humidity level of about a thousand percent.
The last thing I want to do is have the stove or oven on for any extended period of time, so I’ve been doing a lot of grilling on our new grill or eating things with minimal cooking involved. Besides grilling everything I can think of — crispy skinned blackened salmon, turkey burgers, fajitas, even pizza — I’ve also also been making salads for dinner.
On first mention, I know what that sounds like. Saying we’ve been having salads for dinner evokes those infamous stock images of laughing women eating salads. Healthy, light, almost nonexistent meals meant to represent self-control and wellness.
This salad is not that.
This salad is pretty much as hearty and decadent as they come. I mean, come on. A Cobb salad is full of all kinds of creamy, fatty, crispy, indulgent ingredients — bacon, avocado, eggs, and blue cheese are pretty much essential ingredients of a Cobb salad.
Oh sure, there’s also lettuce and tomatoes. But this ain’t no “diet salad”. Nope. Get ready for some serious eating with this thing. It’s hearty but still manages not to feel too heavy for a summer meal. Turkey Cobb salad is summer dinner perfection, really.
What kind of dressing goes on a Cobb salad?
Traditionally you would use a red wine vinaigrette to dress a Cobb salad. It’s a wonderful choice that helps keep the salad from being too heavy, but Cobb salad is equally delicious with a creamier dressing as well.
The reason I made this salad in the first place is that I had some delicious homemade blue cheese dressing leftover from another meal and happened to have all the ingredients I needed on hand for a turkey Cobb salad. So this one uses a creamy blue cheese dressing and boy is it good!
Make sure you choose a blue cheese you really like to make the dressing with. I love a buttermilk blue when I can find it, but we’ve been pandemic grocery shopping (grocery delivery, so someone else is shopping for me and we’ve been kind of just being okay with whatever our shoppers can find) and the Boar’s Head blue cheese crumbles are also very good. There was one Danish blue wedge we got that I didn’t find as flavorful, but if you don’t love blue cheese like I do, you might find that one less offensive.
Not a fan of blue cheese? Hey, I get you. That was me a few years ago but somehow the switch flipped and now I can’t get enough blue cheese, the bluer the better.
But if you must do without the blue, here’s what I’d recommend.
Lose the blue cheese on the salad itself (hypocrisy!) and use an alternate dressing. You could have a cheeseless salad but where’s the fun in that? I’d substitute something like diced cheddar (more of a chef salad type cheese), and use a buttermilk ranch dressing, or use feta cheese and stick with the red wine vinaigrette.
OR get a really good buttermilk blue cheese and see if it converts you to being a blue cheese lover like me.
What is the difference between a Cobb salad and a chef salad?
It’s easy to get the two confused. In fact, I was telling my friend I had made a chef salad for the blog, and then realized I had actually made a Cobb salad for the blog. I had the right salad in my head with the wrong name.
So what goes in a Cobb salad? And what goes in a chef salad?
Both Cobb salads and chef salads are hearty main dish salads of American origin that have a base of greens topped with meats and cheeses. But there are some key differences, mainly in the types of meats and cheeses used, and the fact that a Cobb salad has avocado and plenty of bacon. (I’m not counting bacon as one of the “meats”, because I feel like it should really be in its own divine category of deliciousness.)
I made this handy chart for you based on what I’ve seen. There will, of course, be variations in different recipes or what you might find at a restaurant, but here’s the general gist.
|Ingredient||Cobb salad||Chef salad|
|Bed of greens||Yes||Yes|
|Hard boiled egg||Yes||Yes|
|Cheese||Blue cheese crumbles||Diced cheddar and/or swiss|
|Other meat||Diced chicken (usually) or turkey (sometimes)||Deli turkey and/or ham|
|Dressing||Red wine vinaigrette (usually), blue cheese or ranch (sometimes)||Blue cheese or ranch (usually) or vinaigrette (sometimes)|
Okay, so you may notice a Cobb salad traditionally has diced chicken, while I used smoked turkey from the deli. Why, you may ask? First of all, I think smoked turkey is just delightful paired with a creamy blue cheese dressing. Second, I had it in the fridge. You can use diced chicken if you’d rather, or this would also be a great way to use leftover turkey from Thanksgiving!
Preparing your ingredients for Turkey Cobb Salad
Here’s the fun part: slicing and dicing. You can prepare your ingredients either way or both ways (slicing or dicing, that is).
A Cobb salad would traditionally be an arranged salad — that is, the ingredients would be arranged on top of a bed of greens rather than tossed in together. So you can decide how you want your presentation to look.
I chose to dice my tomatoes and avocado but I love the look of a sliced hard boiled egg so I did that instead. Quartering a hard boiled egg is also lovely! Slicing a Roma tomato into little half moons and an avocado into wedges and fanning out the slices can look quite elegant too.
Dicing everything so everything has a consistent size with different colors has a really fun look. You can arrange the ingredients in different colored stripes or toss it together for a chopped salad. Like delicious confetti in a bowl!
If you want to have everything diced, make sure you ask for your turkey at the deli to be sliced thick, like half an inch if possible. That’s what I do when making my annual Italian Easter pie and it works perfectly for easy dicing!
However you choose to cut and arrange your ingredients, the salad will be just as delicious. So have fun!
You may also like these main dish salads:
All this talk of a delicious turkey Cobb salad is making me hungry. So without further ado, here’s the recipe!
Did you make this recipe?
Tag me in a photo on Instagram @pinchmeimeating and I may feature you in my IG stories! I’d love to see how yours came out!
For the blue cheese dressing
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup buttermilk see note
- ¼ tsp Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp freshly cracked pepper more to taste
- ¼ cup blue cheese crumbles divided
For the salad
- 2 eggs
- 6 slices thick cut bacon
- ¼ lb deli smoked turkey if dicing, ask for 1/2 inch thick slices
- 1 tomato large Roma tomato or another medium sized tomato
- 1 avocado
- 6 cups lettuce a 6 oz bag will do just fine. I love a butter lettuce blend, or romaine would work too!
- ⅓ cup blue cheese crumbles
To make the dressing
- Combine all dressing ingredients except for the blue cheese. Add half the blue cheese crumbles and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Add the rest of the blue cheese and stir to combine. Set dressing aside.
To make the salad
- If you need to hard boil your eggs, cover them with an inch of cold water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and remove from heat. Let them sit for 10-12 minutes, then plunge the eggs into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
- Cook bacon to desired crispiness or chewiness over medium heat and set aside on paper towels to absorb the excess grease.
- Slice or dice peeled hard boiled eggs, turkey, tomato, and avocado.
- In a large salad bowl, toss the lettuce with half the blue cheese dressing. Divide dressed greens into two flat salad bowls or dinner plates. Top each with stripes of hard boiled eggs, turkey, tomato, avocado, and crumbled bacon. You can add the blue cheese crumbles as another stripe or scatter them across the top of each salad.
- Drizzle the remaining dressing over top of the salads. Serve with freshly ground black pepper, if desired.