Summertime is the perfect season for making refreshing salads using seasonal ingredients. These healthy recipes are made gluten-free with dairy-free options as well. From romaine salads to pasta salads and more, find the best gluten-free summer salads!

colorful summer salad with berries on table.

I am a big fan of salads at any time of year, but the summertime is when salads are the most refreshing. And, because of all the fresh produce, it’s easy to make a variety of salads filled with green vegetables that are packed full of colorful and nutritious ingredients.

Here are some tips to making summertime salads that have the colors of the rainbow! Salads are also a great food if you are on a low-sugar diet or you’re trying to follow an ancestral way of eating with lots of clean eating foods.

Tips for Making Healthy Gluten-Free Summer Salads

1. Choose Fresh, Seasonal Ingredients

Visit local farmers’ markets or grocery stores to find the freshest seasonal produce.

Summer vegetables and fruits such as cherry tomatoes, red onion, green onions, cucumbers, bell peppers, zucchini, corn, berries, peaches, and herbs like basil and mint are excellent choices (see my tips on storing fresh basil).

See my favorite list of sugar-free foods.

2. Incorporate a Variety of Textures

Mix crunchy vegetables (like bell peppers, radishes, and carrots) with softer ones (like tomatoes and avocados) to create an interesting and satisfying texture.

You can also top your salads with foods like black beans or black olives to add more variety.

3. Use Gluten-Free Grains

Include gluten-free grains like quinoa, millet, or brown rice to add substance and nutrition to your salads. These grains are also good sources of protein and fiber.

You can also use gluten-free pasta for pasta salads (see below for my classic Italian pasta salad made gluten-free).

4. Add Protein

Include a source of protein to make your salad more filling. Options include grilled chicken, shrimp, tofu, beans, lentils, or chickpeas.

5. Include Healthy Fats

Incorporate healthy fats to increase satiety and enhance flavors. Avocado, nuts, seeds (like chia or sunflower seeds), and olive oil are great choices. See my list of healthy oils to use in cooking.

If you aren’t on a dairy-free diet, add crumbled cheeses like feta cheese or goat cheese on top for extra protein and flavor.

6. Brighten with Citrus

Use citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, or oranges to add brightness and acidity to your salads. They can be used in the dressing or as part of the salad.

I am also known in my household for adding summer berries to salads or even stone fruits like peaches and nectarines.

7. Add Herbs and Spices

Fresh herbs like cilantro, basil, parsley, and mint can elevate the flavors of your salads.

Don’t forget spices like cumin, paprika, or chili flakes for an extra kick. Don’t be afraid to add healthy microgreens or bitter greens to your salads either!

Foods like dandelion greens are gut healing foods.

8. Make Homemade Dressings

Prepare your dressings at home to avoid added sugars and preservatives.

A simple vinaigrette or homemade dressing with olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and a touch of honey or maple syrup works well and is such an easy recipe.

9. Balance Flavors

Aim for a balance of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter flavors.

For example, combine sweet fruits like berries with tangy vinaigrettes and bitter greens like arugula.

10. Presentation Matters

A visually appealing salad is more enticing. Mix colorful ingredients in a large bowl and then consider how you plate your salad to make it look as good as it tastes.

Top your perfect summer salad with fresh vegetable or herbs like fresh parsley to keep it fresh.

Gluten-Free Summer Salad Recipes

Here are some of my favorite salads that are perfect for backyard barbecues on warm summer days. Or, try making one of these as a perfect side dish for summer barbecues or a summer picnic.

Meal prep them as a healthy recipe for a gluten-free diet. Or, double the recipe for a crowd. Either way, these gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan-friendly recipes are healthy and delicious.

strawberry salad dressing on top of salad.

Strawberry Salad Dressing with Yogurt

This Creamy Strawberry Salad Dressing made with a yogurt dressing is so refreshing and delicious. Serve it over your favorite greens to make a bright and flavorful salad. You can use Greek yogurt or this recipe can be made dairy-free using a plant-based yogurt.

This is one of my top recommendations simply because it’s so pretty and uses summer berries. Highly recommend!

bowl of costco quinoa salad on a linen.

Costco Quinoa Salad (Copycat Recipe)

When you want a healthy salad that is filling enough to be a main dish, then you need this Copycat Costco Quinoa Salad recipe. Quinoa and lentils get combined with chopped veggies and a delicious lemon dressing. Skip the store-bought version and make it at home instead!

Mango Avocado Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

Here’s a fresh and tasty Mango Avocado Salad that can be served as a side dish or even as a main dish. This plant-based recipe is tossed with a simple lime vinaigrette. Everyone loves this fresh and flavorful salad.

A spoon holding a bit of watermelon beet salad over a small white bowl.

Watermelon Beet Salad

Summertime is perfect for enjoying delicious salads made with fresh, in-season produce. This Watermelon Beet Salad is a great example – it’s light, refreshing, and full of flavor. Plus, it’s easy to make, making it the perfect dish for a summer cookout or potluck. This recipe is vegetarian and gluten-free, with a vegan option.

Gluten free pasta salad with tomatoes and peppers in a glass bowl.

Gluten-Free Italian Pasta Salad (Vegetarian)

Looking for a delicious gluten-free pasta salad? Look no further than this amazing Italian version. It’s perfect for potlucks, picnics, or any summer gathering. Plus, it’s vegetarian-friendly, so everyone can enjoy it.

A forkful of cucumber carrot salad over a small white bowl full.

Easy Carrot Cucumber Salad with Sweet Vinaigrette

Salads are a great way to get in your veggies, and this Carrot Cucumber Salad is no exception! It’s light, refreshing, and perfect for a summer day. Plus, it’s easy to make – just mix together some chopped cucumbers and carrots with a vinaigrette dressing and you’re good to go.

vegan tuna salad with chickpeas bowl hero.

Vegan Chickpea Tuna Salad

If you’re looking for a plant-based replacement for tuna salad, look no further! This healthy Vegan Chickpea Tuna Salad is a delicious alternative that tastes like the real thing. It’s also gluten-free and ready in less than 15 minutes.

Broccoli crunch salad with raisins and cashews in a white bowl.

Broccoli Crunch with Bacon Salad (Whole Foods Copycat)

If you’ve ever had the Whole Foods Broccoli Salad, then you know how delicious it is! This copycat version tastes just like the real thing, but made right at home. It’s fresh and tasty and budget-friendly.

Wild Rice and lentil salad served in bowl.

Wild Rice Lentil Salad

This Wild Rice Lentil Salad is a plant-based recipe with a satisfying, chewy texture. This veggie-loaded has tons of flavor and is a great lunch option that you can eat cold or at room temperature. This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free.

a bowl of Costco's copycat potato salad.

Costco Potato Salad (Copycat Reser’s Classic Recipe)

Here’s a great copycat recipe for the Reser’s brand of classic potato salad sold at Costco in large tubs. Skip the store-bought version and make your own using simple and wholesome ingredients.

Gluten-Free Salad Recipe FAQs

Can you eat salad if you are gluten-free?

Yes, you should be able to eat salad if you are gluten-free. Most salads made with fresh vegetables, fruits, and proteins that are naturally gluten-free. Just be sure to avoid adding any ingredients that contain gluten, such as croutons or certain dressings. Always check labels or make your own gluten-free dressings to ensure your salad is safe to eat.

How can I ensure my salad dressings are gluten-free and healthy?

Making your own salad dressings at home is the best way to ensure they are gluten-free and healthy. Use simple ingredients like olive oil, vinegar or citrus juice, mustard, herbs, and a touch of natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. Always check the labels of store-bought dressings for any hidden gluten ingredients. See my simple vinaigrette recipe.

How can I add variety to my gluten-free summer salads without making them too heavy?

To add variety without making your salads too heavy, focus on a mix of textures and flavors. Use a combination of fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, and light proteins. Incorporate crunchy elements like nuts or seeds and soft elements like avocados or berries.

What are some tips for making gluten-free summer salads kid-friendly?

To make gluten-free summer salads more appealing to kids, use colorful ingredients like cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and carrots to make the salad visually attractive. Include sweet elements like berries, mango, or apple slices, and add crunchy textures such as roasted chickpeas, sunflower seeds, or gluten-free croutons. Offer a simple and tasty dressing, like honey mustard or a yogurt-based option, that kids are likely to enjoy. Additionally, involve kids in the preparation process by allowing them to choose and help prepare some of the ingredients. See my related article with the best foods for picky eaters.

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About the Author: Carrie Forrest has a master’s degree in public health with a specialty in nutrition. She is a top wellness and food blogger with over 5 million annual visitors to her site. Carrie has an incredible story of recovery from chronic illness and is passionate about helping other women transform their health. Send Carrie a message through her contact form.