Let’s take a trip to the south of France with a recipe for Niçoise Salad! Bright, hearty, and jam-packed with fresh ingredients, this salad was designed to impress and delight.
Pronounced “knee-swahz,” Niçoise salad is named for Nice, France, a city located on the French Riviera.
Most often, the components of Niçoise salad are:
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Steamed or blanched veggies (baby potatoes and green beans are quite ubiquitous)
- Tuna and/or anchovies (I use both)
- Briny ingredients like olives (Niçoise olives bien sur) and capers
- Red onion
- A zippy vinaigrette
About this Easy Niçoise Salad
What will likely surprise you is that the “original” Niçoise salad recipe did not call for potatoes or green beans…or cooked veggies of any kind.
Like many great recipes, traditional Niçoise salad ingredients evolve over time.
It leaves room for your tastes.
- I get that most of you do not share my ardor for anchovies…but if you do, Niçoise salad is an ideal place to add anchovy fillets. If not? No biggie, leave them out.
- Not crazy about tuna? Try Niçoise salad with salmon.
- Hate olives? Replace them with a different briny, salty ingredient like capers, or do a Niçoise salad with feta.
But, if like me you have a soft spot for a salad Niçoise, join me and let’s make one!
Nicoise not your jam? Hop on over to Spinach Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Poppy Seed Dressing or Steak Salad. It’s impossible not to love them.
How to Make the Best Niçoise Salad
A classic Niçoise salad recipe does have a lot of components, but none are difficult.
This recipe yields a generous amount and lends itself well to scaling and saving for meal prep.
For example, you can hard boil extra eggs and slice extra veggies, then assemble the salad in portions as you need it.
- Lettuce. A bed of soft lettuce is the perfect base for this salad. It catches the dressing and is packed with folate and iron. Boston, Bibb, or butter lettuce is our choice. You can also use mixed greens if you prefer.
- Eggs. Hard-boiled eggs add protein to the salad. The yolk also adds rich flavor and creaminess. (You can use this Instant Pot Boiled Eggs recipe to make them.)
- Potatoes + Green Beans. Use both of these veggies, or choose just one. Once boiled, they’re transferred to an ice bath, which ensures they’re the ideal crisp-tender texture.
- Tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are a deliciously juicy, fresh element. Plus, they add beautiful color to the salad. Any ripe tomatoes work well here.
- Cucumber. Crisp and refreshing.
- Olives. The perfect salty, briny addition; I love black olives in Greek Salad too.
While the French don’t pit their olives (watch out!), feel free to pit yours before adding them to the salad.
- Tuna. With oodles of protein, healthy fats, and vitamins, tuna is an excellent way to make this salad more filling. Using canned tuna makes it easy too.
- Niçoise Salad Dressing. A simple blend of olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, garlic, and chives. It’s a light and lively vinaigrette that brings life to all the ingredients. You also can add shallots and Dijon mustard if you wish, but it’s not necessary.
- Boil the eggs, then transfer them to a bowl of ice water. Peel the eggs and slice into wedges.
- Boil the potatoes and green beans. Transfer them to the ice bath.
- Drain the potatoes and green beans, then pat them dry.
- Whisk the dressing ingredients together (or shake together in a jar).
- Arrange the lettuce on a large platter, topping it with some of the dressing.
- Add the remaining salad ingredients (chop into bite-sized pieces if necessary). Finish with additional dressing, salt, and pepper. DIG IN!
- To Store. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight storage container for up to 2 days. If possible, store the ingredients separately so the lettuce doesn’t get soggy.
Meal Prep Tip
You can make Niçoise salad ingredients in advance. Up to 3 days in advance, hard boil the eggs. Up to 1 day in advance, prep all of the vegetables and the dressing. Refrigerate separately and assemble just before serving.
Refresh your leftovers by turning them into a Niçoise salad pizza. Prepare my Whole Wheat Pizza Dough. Bake the pizza dough according to the directions. Thinly slice the potatoes, then arrange all the salad ingredients on top. Finish with a drizzle of the dressing and fresh herbs.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Dutch Oven. Ideal for boiling the eggs and veggies.
- Mixing Bowls. This set of mixing bowls has sizes that will work wonderfully for the ice baths.
- Liquid Measuring Cup. Measure and mix the creamy Nicoise salad dressing in this cup.
Who wants to join me at the Riviera?
Frequently Asked Questions
Salade Niçoise was named after Nice, France, as that is where it originated. While the specifics of the salad’s history are a bit of a mystery, it is believed that it was created as an easy, affordable way to serve available ingredients.
If you’d like to make this recipe vegetarian, try swapping the fish for canned white beans. Drain and rinse the beans before adding them to the salad. See my Vegetarian Niçoise for a specific recipe.
If you’d like to shave an extra step off of the prep for this salad, you can use hard-boiled eggs from the store. Typically, the store-bought eggs have fully set yolks, so if you prefer your yolks to be more jammy, I don’t recommend using them.
For the best Niçoise salad, I recommend selecting a high-quality, wild-caught canned tuna. Skip the chunk light variety, opting for the solid variety instead. If you enjoy using cooked, fresh tuna instead, you can certainly use that instead.
For the Salad:
- 4 large eggs
- 8 ounces fresh green beans trimmed and halved (or additional baby potatoes)
- 6 ounces baby potatoes left whole (or additional green beans)
- 1 head soft lettuce such as Boston or Bibb, chopped, or 3 cups mixed greens
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1/2 English cucumber halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced (or 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced)
- 1/2 cup Niçoise or Kalamata olives (the French don’t pit theirs, but feel free to pit them)
- 4 ounces oil-packed canned tuna or salmon drained and flaked, or 5-6 best quality anchovies
- Chopped fresh basil or parsley optional for serving
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. With a slotted spoon, gently lower the eggs into the boiling water. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle, steady simmer. Let the eggs simmer at this low, gentle boil for 8 minutes for slightly jammy yolks (or cook up to 9 minutes for fully set yolks). In the meantime, prepare a large ice bath. Use the slotted spoon to carefully transfer the eggs to the ice bath. Gently crack the shells with the back of the spoon, then return them to the water (this makes them easier to peel). Peel and set aside.
- Return the same pot of water to a boil. Add the potatoes and green beans. Boil until the green beans are al dente and the potatoes are fork-tender, about 4 minutes for the green beans and 12 minutes for the potatoes. As soon as each is finished cooking, scoop it into the ice bath, then let sit in the ice water a few minutes to chill down.
- Drain and pat dry.
- Prepare the dressing: in a glass measuring cup or small mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt, garlic, and chives. Taste and adjust as needed (it should knock your socks off a little).
- To serve, arrange the salad leaves on a big serving platter.
- Spoon a little of the dressing over the top. Halve the eggs and potatoes, then arrange them on top of the leaves, along with the tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and tuna. Drizzle with a bit more dressing (don’t overdo it). Season with a pinch of additional kosher salt and several good grinds of black pepper. Allow guests to add more dressing to individual portions as desired.
- This recipe is VERY flexible (in fact, the original recipe for Niçoise salad in Nice only calls for crisp, raw vegetables, though you’ll find the popular version with green beans and potatoes all over Paris). Feel free to swap the green beans, potatoes, and cucumbers for other crisp vegetables of choice. Radishes, shredded carrots, and sugar snap peas are all great options.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight storage container for up to 2 days.
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