Many associate salad with health. Many also associate salad with sadness. If your idea of a salad is a small bowl of lackluster, wilted lettuce with maybe a few watery cherry tomatoes and a synthetic-tasting dressing, then we completely understand. Those "salads" are indeed sad and don’t actually offer much in the way of nutritional value. But don’t give up yet. Some salads can be full of healthy ingredients and also taste like a robust, delicious meal. When you pick up a high-quality salad kit, you get all the benefits plus perhaps the greatest advantage of all: convenience.
Life is busy, and it can be hard to set aside time to wash lettuce, chop cucumbers, and make a dressing, particularly when you’re already hangry. You’re less likely to want to consume a nutritious bowlful of vegetables when so much work goes into it. Cheesy microwave burritos start looking even more appealing. So, don’t make yourself sad by making yourself a sad salad. Instead, simply tear open a bag, pour in some fresh ingredients, and enjoy a hearty yet nourishing meal with no sacrifices.
To ensure that no yellowed iceberg or mealy mushrooms still haunt us (or you), we went out and purchased a wide selection of salad kits to taste and rank. Starting from the bottom and making our way to the top, here are the absolute best ones.
13. 365 by Whole Foods Market Organic Spicy Sriracha Ranch Chopped Salad Kit
365 by Whole Foods Market’s intriguing Organic Spicy Sriracha Ranch Chopped Salad Kit read our minds: spicing things up is one of the best ways to eat your vegetables. Our primary critique of the greens is that they’re boring. When the bag promises to help an already-confident blend of green onion, radicchio, and pepitas become even bolder with the flavor of sriracha, we were excited.
As you’ve probably noticed, not every salad kit includes cheese — in fact, we were a bit surprised by how few included it — so we automatically gave some bonus points to any cheese findings. Cheese is great as it also adds a bit of a protein source. None of the kits include more substantial protein options like sliced chicken or hard-boiled eggs, and when they’re marketed as full meals, it helps when they have more staying power to get you through the 3 o’clock slump. But the white cheddar in this bag was an odd choice. It’s tasty but felt a little random on 365’s flavor profile. White cheddar and sriracha? Green onion and pepitas? This was a haphazard creation with disparate individual components, but it works in a pinch.
12. Fresh Express Kickin’ Bacon Ranch Chopped Kit
Fresh Express Kickin’ Bacon Ranch Chopped Kit promises a party, but would it be a dud? First of all, let’s be clear that ranch dressing can be anything from delicious to disastrous. This one avoids any such extremes and stays solidly within the range of "decent." It earns some points for the jalapeno, a pepper that makes things nice and spicy but doesn’t add much to the flavor. This kit is way more focused on the "kickin’" salty toppings than what gets drizzled on top. The cheddar tortilla chips were the surprise star of the show. We thought the cheddar would be kind of a ruse, but they pack a major wallop of flavor! No matter how tiny the crumb that ended up in our bite, we were pleased to taste the cheddar still.
We expected the best part of the kit to be the bacon but found the bites to be slightly on the grisly side, with one or two sticking in our teeth. The chopped cabbage, carrots, green onion, and basic green leaf lettuce are all suitably crunchy, but the dressing was only okay, and we wished for more of those spitfire tortilla chips.
11. Fresh Express Pesto Caesar Twisted Caesar Chopped Salad Kit
Fresh Express offers a Pesto Twisted Caesar Chopped Salad Kit, a simple mix of lettuce, croutons, cheese, and dressing. Everyone describes parmesan cheese as having "nutty" flavor notes, but it’s never more apparent than when scattered across something as simple as lettuce leaves. That toasted, sweet yet salty essence is enough to elevate greens from forgettable to fancy and bland to bold. It’s perfect here, and we’d gladly eat every bite when it’s dusted with the snowy flurries of one of Italy’s finest exports. We were surprised by the silky richness of the dressing, like something that would come on a restaurant salad. A little went a long way, but if you’re someone who likes a nearly 1:1 ratio of salad to dressing, you’ll be in heaven.
We could imagine upgrading the salad from solely lunch fare, buying a few bags at once to putting it in a big, pretty bowl when having guests over for dinner. We’d definitely add some luscious homemade pesto — because with the salad taken care of, now we have the time to whip some up. Honestly, this salad needed some additional accouterments. Iceberg and green leaf lettuce are, unfortunately, the dullest choices.
10. Little Salad Bar Sweet Kale Chopped Salad Kit
Aldi is the king of budget-friendly staples, so why not reward yourself for saving some money by choosing a salad with no labor-intensive steps? You could buy the lettuce, toppings, and dressing separately, then wash, chop, and portion. Or you could skip all that and buy a kit like this Little Salad Bar Sweet Kale Chopped Salad Kit, which we plan to do more often. Kale gets a reputation for extremes: Extremely good for your body but simultaneously extremely bad for your taste buds.
Honestly, we feel that the latter claim is highly exaggerated, but understand if you truly despise consuming forkful after forkful of the dark-green, often ferociously tough leaves. One way to make the experience much more enjoyable is to try it chopped. Another is to try it blended with other greens. This clever salad kit does both, plus wholesome nutty seeds and chewy dried fruit.
The poppy seed dressing is a tad lackluster, neither rich nor bright, and without discernible flavor, but it does the job of holding everything together with some creaminess. Overall, it’s a decent basic salad, but we found out that you can do a lot better.
9. Eat Smart Sweet Kale Chopped Salad Kit
We made it a point to pick a couple of similar salads just so we could pit the two against each other and determine a champion. This is the Battle of the Sweet Kale Salads, and yes, we have a winner! Eat Smart Sweet Kale Chopped Salad Kit will give you a mood boost for the simple way you feel great about yourself for picking it up.
Salads usually lean one of two directions; sweet or savory, with savory taking the lead. In our opinion, many of the more memorable salads we’ve tasted find creative means of achieving both. Brussels sprouts need to sneak their way into more of our salads. Yes, we said what we said. With their almost flaky texture, brusque flavor notes, and all that filling fiber, they do plenty of heavy lifting whenever they show up to the party. We loved that this kit made good use of them, and the sprouts pushed Eat Smart ahead of Little Salad Bar.
Different kale types, in all their many-splendored varieties, don’t seem to have naturally sweet notes. But poppy seeds and dried cranberries certainly do, meaning that the simple dressing and fruity topping are great for balancing and bringing the "sweet" to this "Sweet Kale" kit. The downside? There’s not enough of them in this bag! We recommend eating this fantastically crunchy, somewhat sparse salad accompanied by creamy soup like tomato bisque or a homemade broccoli cheddar.
8. Good and Gather Buffalo Ranch Chopped Salad Kit
Good and Gather Buffalo Ranch Chopped Salad Kit has one specific strong point: We want the buffalo-seasoned croutons to get sold in giant Costco-sized bags ready for snacking all by themselves. They’re a super fun, snappy addition that earned the overall salad a higher spot on the list than it otherwise would have. The dressing is fine, but we feel that it could have used a sharper ranch flavor rather than just its "buffalo sauce, but make it creamy" persona. We’ll probably swap it out for a decadent homemade ranch dressing that puts all store-bought versions to shame.
We’d like it more if, as one taste tester suggested, the shredded Monterey Jack cheese was replaced with some good sharp cheddar. The bold flavor profile of Good and Gather’s Buffalo Ranch Chopped Salad Kit would just hold up better against the rest of the ingredients. Monterey Jack cheese is also a miss on salads since the dish is chilled, while this is a cheese that thrives when melted. It was basically decor at best. But the cheese is really the only place this one went wrong, and you can’t have everything. Or can you?
7. Little Salad Bar Sunflower Chopped Salad Kit
Aldi’s Little Salad Bar Sunflower Chopped Salad Kit impressed us! Bacon makes everything better unless, of course, you’re vegetarian. The "bits" form keeps it simple — no grease splattering the stovetop. These bacon morsels taste almost as good as if you’d fried it up yourself on Sunday morning. And they’re much better than a bag of the usual rubbery stuff you find at the store (probably because it’s designed to be the focal point of the dish). Wherever they are, they get into the little curl of lettuces, which leads to the drawback. We’re big fans of the luxury, but there’s not enough of it.
Despite the little indulgence of bacon, the salad ends up nutrient-dense and wholesome. The base includes a wide variety of greens, like gut-benefiting cabbage and heart-nutritious kale. Tender green leaf lettuce balances out the rougher veggies, and carrots (which are full of micronutrients) provide extra color. We could enjoy the greens even if they were served with a drizzle of olive oil. Luckily, though, we also have added sunflower seeds that bring nutty flavors. Then the dressing, oh gosh, this dressing was divine. Both creamy and light, bright with a touch of umami, it was a pure delight. The unique factor was strong.
6. Dole Bacon Caesar Chopped Kit
After much debate, we decided that the Dole Bacon Caesar Chopped Kit is a step up from the Fresh Express Kickin’ Bacon Ranch. Here are the pros and cons. The lettuce itself, rather than a melange, is plain old romaine. Nothing to see here — literally, when we picked up the bag, all we could see was a field of romaine lettuce. Not the most appealing. Some of us found it entirely reprehensible. Other taste testers never cared much about the lettuce to begin with. Some see the dressing and toppings as the whole reason to eat any greens in the first place. Keep your salad personality in mind while deciding for yourself!
Next, the big ticket difference is caesar versus ranch dressing. Both are creamy and hearty, but caesar has an added richness from the eggs, while the flavor of the ranch is primarily due to the herbs stirred in. Again, take your pick based on your preference: Either way, it will be thicker than a vinaigrette. But the toppings on this one are far superior to the Fresh Express. We loved how the wake-up call of black pepper and garlic (maybe not ideal if you have an in-person meeting) always brings full-meal vibes, especially in buttery crouton form. The bacon was also less rubbery. Decide whether you value lettuce or toppings, then buy.
5. Good and Gather Thai-Style Chili Mango Chopped Salad Kit
It’s time for our next face-off. The Battle of the Thai Chili Mango salads begins! Starting off with the Good & Gather’s Thai-Style Chili Mango Chopped Salad Kit. We just knew that this was going to be a delicious contest. The zesty flavor of chili jazzes up greens splendidly, and this salad was no different. Though light and obviously full of bright flavor notes, it still tasted quite hearty, thanks to the added substance of the shredded broccoli stalks, cauliflower, and other texturally complex ingredients.
The dressing was a nice balance of spiced and sweet, but we were hoping for more Thai flavor. Dried mango beats cranberries or raisins, and we got hooked on the crisp quinoa! The flavor, nutty without any nuts involved, brought a savory flair. Crumbled cauliflower was also a rare find and a unique way to incorporate the ingredient. This is evidently a very nice salad, but its competition just had more flavor confidence and a bigger impact.
4. Trader Joe’s Organic Mediterranean Style Salad Kits
Trader Joe’s Organic Mediterranean Style Salad Kits deserve to be in your life. The romaine lettuce stays crisp and refreshing, the perfect complement to all the other rejuvenating elements that play off each other so well. Crumbled feta, as opposed to the briny squares you find on every store shelf in the summertime, tends to be dry and less flavorful, suitable more for salty purposes than any particular tasting notes. But this feta pops out between chickpeas and shredded broccoli with a wink and a smile. There’s nothing like it on a salad: Cheddar, gorgonzola, or even parmesan doesn’t have the same revitalizing quality. It’s one of the few kinds of cheese that doesn’t add heaviness to the meal.
Obviously, feta is the perennial favorite on classic Greek salads, but Greek salads have nothing on this Mediterranean kit! Tomatoes, especially out of season, get way too watery, often harming the greens rather than helping them. A lot of us tend to avoid them on our salads. Sun-dried tomatoes are the perfect workaround if you love the summer flavor of these vegetables — sorry, fruits — and it contributes a deeper profile than anything but a fresh-picked farmer’s market harvest could do. And we don’t even have time to gush over the seasoned flatbread strips! Overall, Trader Joe’s Organic Mediterranean Style Salad Kit is ideal for getting the fresh flavors of Greek salad (plus some major upgrades).
3. Taylor Farms Thai Chili Mango Chopped Kit
Taylor Farms Thai Chili Mango Chopped Kit features some fun ingredients that captured our attention. It had every element we enjoyed so much in the similar Good & Gather salad kit; only this one tasted fresher, crisper, and the zesty Thai sweet chili vinaigrette had a more pronounced flavor. Mango is an unconventional fruit to pair with salad dressings: usually, you’d see raspberry vinaigrette, lemony options, or possibly apple making an appearance. But when paired with other Asian-inspired ingredients like cabbage and carrots, it makes a ton of sense.
The spices were well-balanced and not overpowering, but they still provided just the right amount of pizzazz. We agreed that the wonderful textural contrasts happening all throughout the salad were reason enough to rank it high. The salad reminded us of the inside of a spring roll, with this tangy dressing playing the role of dipping sauce. We tasted summer in every mouthful, which kept us coming back for more, even when we had lots of other salads on the docket. We all decided it all worked beautifully.
2. Taylor Farms Dill Pickle Chopped Salad Kit
Taylor Farms Dill Pickle Chopped Salad Kit capitalizes on the forever ongoing dill pickle craze. But considering that dill is a key herb component in nailing the ideal ranch powder recipe, using it as the crux of a whole salad isn’t too much of a leap. And — surprise, surprise — the dressing in this kit is a creamy dill pickle ranch! Brilliant, if you ask us. One taste tester, an admitted pickle aficionado, was over the moon, particularly when ignoring the salad-y part and just dipping the dill-speckled brioche crouton crumbles directly in the dressing.
The remainder of us did indeed love the rest of the salad, too. Getting some wide slices of crinkle-cut radish was a score because the tanginess only added to the plethora of garden-fresh flavors. The only thing that might have improved the salad is some bacon bits! I guess you could say we are just always looking for a bit more bacon. If you want a great side, try making your own perfect dill pickles. It’s astonishingly simple! Or, if it’s really just that flavor you’re after, slip some into this dill pickle hummus recipe and pile it on everything your heart desires.
1. Trader Joe’s Veggies and Greens Salad Kit
We probably don’t even need to tell you that we love Trader Joe’s. We love it when it’s full of festive fall treats during pumpkin spice season, and we love it when it’s full of healthy vegetables as we later find ourselves craving some balance. Naturally, TJs didn’t fail us when it came to interesting spins on salad kits. Trader Joe’s Veggies and Greens Salad Kit was a surprise find and a dark horse winner. More vegetables equal more nutritional value, but they also translate to a richer texture and more diverse flavor profile. It’s a lot harder to get bored when every bite is different.
The sweet, zinging ginger-spiced vinaigrette transforms the salad into a chic cafe-style dish. It warmed our palates and danced on the tongue. With its notes of honey combined with the crumbled dried pear, it tastes even more like a treat. We also just felt so fancy eating it, as though it couldn’t possibly have come out of a bag. Unique, special touches really add to the work-lunch experience, and we couldn’t ignore the joy factor when compiling our ranking. And pistachios? Wow, Joe, you’re spoiling us over here. It’s elegant special effects like this that put the kit in this first-place position. This is a meal that is a nutritious choice, tastes utterly delicious, and transports you to a pocket of luxury in the middle of a normal day. We give it a 10/10.