What is a baked salad? Learn how to make the trending TikTok meals, from warm kale and quinoa to baked Caesar Brussels sprouts.

Baked salads are a flavorful way to bring an array of veggies to your dinner plate.

Baked salads are popping up all over TikTok. Here's why recipe creators say the meal is perfect for winter. (Photo: Carla Contreras)
Baked salads are popping up all over TikTok. Here's why recipe creators say the meal is perfect for winter. (Photo: Carla Contreras)

Since the introduction of the app, TikTok has given way to a diverse bunch of food trends. From the decadent-but-simple whipped feta dip to the over-the-top inside out grilled cheese, there's truly a bit of everything. This winter season? Make way for baked salads.

While the thought of a warmed-through salad dish may not seem appetizing at first, baked salads are a flavorful way to bring an array of veggies to your dinner plate. "It's a salad where all the ingredients are baked," New Jersey chef and food stylist Carla Contreras explains, "greens, veggies, toasted grains and seeds — you can even serve it with warmed dressing."

According to Contreras, the baked salad TikTok trend has deep culinary roots that go back longer than one might expect. "Warm salads have been around for thousands of years," Contreras tells Yahoo Life. "There is a Roman recipe written in 1390 that mentions warmed greens. Wilted greens with bacon dressing have been on menus for hundreds of years."

Now, baked salads have made it to social media in a big way.

"I recently posted a baked salad that was inspired by one of my favorite food influencers, Justine Snacks," says Texas-based content creator Paige Wright. "She made a baked kale salad that looked amazing, so I put my own spin on it."

Justine Doiron, the recipe developer behind Justine Snacks, has popularized many food trends this year, from the butter board to the baked salad through her videos, which showcase unique ways to use beloved ingredients.

Her first baked salad video of the season, a kale, cabbage and crispy quinoa salad, has been viewed over 4 million times and has inspired hundreds of creators, like Wright, to put their own twist on this traditionally chilled dish.

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"My favorite baked salad recipe is the salmon salad posted on my TikTok," says Wright. "I think baked salad is great all year, but there's something about baked salad in the winter that is really cozy and delicious. Adding roasted veggies to what would be an otherwise cold dish makes it a [wintertime] favorite at my house."

Megan Currell, a registered dietitian and food blogger, has a whole series on her platform based around salads that are not quite traditional. "My 'Salads That Aren't Salads' series is inspired by my patients and clients who wanted vegetable-rich recipes but didn't like traditional leafy green salads," she shares. "My goal is to create recipes that are innovative and simple and that encourage people to add vegetables to their plate in creative ways."

Most of Currell's recipes use cooked vegetables instead of leafy greens, resulting in a perfect series of baked salads for the cold months ahead. "These salads are typically seasonal," says Currell, "so I derive a lot of inspiration from the produce that is growing this time of year. My most recent recipes include lots of Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and potatoes."

"Most people know they should be adding vegetables to their plate, but need suggestions and guidance around ways to do this that are delicious and enjoyable," she continues.

Currell shares that baked salads aren't much different from another style of cooking that's been made popular by social media over the past few years: sheet pan meals.

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"I think of baked salads as a 'sheet pan meal' but in salad form," she says. "Typically the base is some combination of roasted vegetables or roasted greens, topped with a dressing or glaze. My favorite baked salad from my 'Salads That Aren't Salads' series is the Brussels sprouts Caesar."

Ready to test out your own baked salad? Contreras shares a baked salad recipe she's perfected. "[This baked salad has] baked kale as the base, baked veggies like butternut, Brussels sprouts and radishes and crispy baked quinoa topped with baked pepitas and drizzled with a lemon balsamic vinaigrette," she says.

"Baked salads are perfect for winter through early spring," Contreras adds. "They can also be delicious using peak summer greens. This trend works well with hearty and bitter greens like kale, Swiss chard, romaine, dandelion, endive, arugula, spinach and escarole."

Do-Ahead Winter Salad

Courtesy of Carla Contreras

(Photo: Carla Contreras)
(Photo: Carla Contreras)

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Salad ingredients:

  • 1 delicata squash, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds, leave skin on and seeds in

  • 1 butternut squash, medium diced, skin and seeds removed

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in 1/2-inch pieces

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 1 box of mixed greens (I recommend baby kale or baby spinach)

  • 2 red endives, leaves only

  • 1 pomegranate, seeds only

  • 2 tablespoons pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Ingredients for lemon balsamic dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of olive oil, depending on how much acid you like

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Put delicata squash, butternut squash and Brussels sprouts on parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste and bake. Delicata and butternut squash roast in 30 to 35 minutes (you'll know when the seeds, slices and cubes are golden and cooked through), and the Brussels sprouts will take 20 to 25 minutes (take them out when they're crispy).

  2. Prep the rest of the veggies and toss salad in a big bowl. If you are not using it all today, keep everything separate. Store the greens in an airtight container with a few dry paper towels to keep them fresh and store in the fridge.

  3. Mix the balsamic, lemon and honey in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil until incorporated. Taste along the way and see if you like more or less oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

  4. Toss the salad with the dressing, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper and serve.

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