Delicious Kentucky Bibb Salad for a Fresh Start

In the south, food and hospitality reign supreme. People often gather around the dinner table to share delicious meals, stories, and good times. As a home chef who loves throwing parties, I am always on the lookout for recipes that showcase classic southern flavors and embody the essence of southern hospitality. Today, I want to introduce you to my latest obsession: Kentucky Bibb Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette recipe.

This salad is not your typical greens-and-dressing affair. It’s a delicacy crafted with a mix of bibb lettuce, pecan halves, juicy strawberries, and the addictive Maytag blue cheese. The homemade apple cider vinaigrette will take your taste buds on a tangy-sweet journey that is out-of-this-world. Trust me when I say this salad will be the star of your next gathering.

But what makes this salad so unique is its connection to Kentucky’s rich culinary history. Kentucky’s fertile soil produces some of the best bibb lettuce in the world. In fact, it’s commonly known as “Kentucky bibb,” named after the state itself. This recipe also features apple cider vinegar, which is produced in many parts of Kentucky and used extensively in southern cuisine.

As you prepare this salad, let yourself be transported to Kentucky’s rolling hills, lush greenery, and flavors that make your mouth water. Whether you’re enjoying this salad at a picnic or a fancy dinner party, it will undoubtedly leave you craving more – just like it has for me.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Kentucky Bibb Salad With Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Kentucky Bibb Salad With Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Fellow foodies, let me introduce you to Kentucky Bibb Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette. This recipe is a fresh and flavorful twist on the average lettuce salad. It encompasses the crisp sweetness of apple cider, the earthy aroma of dry basil and oregano, and nuttiness of pecans. Trust me; this salad will make any palate sing!

One of my favorite aspects of this recipe is the crunch from the pecan halves pieces mixed into the salad. The buttery pecans bring their unique blend of flavors with every bite, adding depth to the dish. Furthermore, the use of Maytag blue cheese crumbles compliments the sweetness from the berries and candied pecans perfectly.

The homemade Apple Cider Vinaigrette is an explosion of flavors in your mouth. Made with Kentuckian apple cider vinegar, it’s both tangy and sweet, thanks to a touch of powdered sugar. Additionally, this recipe’s Dijon mustard adds just enough spice to balance everything wonderfully.

Ever heard about Bibb Lettuce? It’s a fantastic alternative to traditional greens in salads because they’re incredibly tender yet firm enough to hold up against heavy dressings or toppings without being wilted. The lettuce’s leaves have a silky texture that provides an excellent backdrop for any flavorful dressing, like this bourbon-hinted vinaigrette.

This Kentucky Bibb Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette is perfect for any occasion where you want to treat yourself or impress company with a transformative dish. Its combination of fresh fruits, crispy greens, creamy cheese, and flavorful nuts makes every bite savory and satisfying.

So come on and try this recipe out for yourself! Once you taste how mouthwatering it is, you’ll surely love it as much as I do.

Ingredient List

 Crisp and refreshing, this salad is perfect for summer days
Crisp and refreshing, this salad is perfect for summer days

Time to get the ingredients!

Here’s what you will need for this tasty Kentucky Bibb Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette Recipe:

For the Salad:

  • 2 heads of Kentucky Bibb lettuce, washed and leaves separated
  • 1 cup of pecan halves
  • 1 ½ cups of sliced strawberries
  • ½ cup of crumbled Maytag blue cheese

For the Apple Cider Vinaigrette:

  • ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of warm water
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

For the Candied Pecans:

  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground red pepper
  • 6 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cups of pecan halves, chopped into small pieces

Make sure to grab everything you need before beginning. This recipe is easy to follow but requires a lot of ingredients to make it perfect!

The Recipe How-To

 Elevate your salad game with this Kentucky Bibb Salad
Elevate your salad game with this Kentucky Bibb Salad

Preparing the Salad

  1. Wash the bibb lettuce and pat it dry: Always rinse your vegetables under cold running water to remove any debris or dirt. Spend extra time cleaning the bibb lettuce leaves as it tends to hold on to extra moisture. Use a salad spinner or paper towels to pat them dry.

  2. Trimming the Bibb Lettuce: Remove the stem and discolored leaves from each head of lettuce. Discard them or keep for making vegetable broth.

  3. Toast Pecans: In a skillet over low heat, melt butter and stir in sugar until dissolved. Add pecan halves and coat in the mixture, then sprinkle with salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Cook for 8 minutes or until fragrant.

  4. Make the Vinaigrette Dressing: Whisk apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic, salt, black pepper, brown sugar, powdered sugar until smooth in a medium bowl. Add olive oil and whisk until emulsified. Store dressing in a mason jar or sealed container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Assembling The Salad

  1. Arrange Bibb Lettuce Leaves on Platter: Start by laying out bibb lettuce leaves on a large serving platter so that they cover up as much space as possible.

  2. Add Toppings: Scatter strawberries, blue cheese crumbles and toasted pecans across as evenly as possible considering they are such unique shapes.

  3. Drizzle vinaigrette: Drizzle Apple Cider Vinaigrette dressing over top of everything from one end of garnishing all the way down to another side of the salad platter.

  4. Serve Fresh: Serve fresh as a colorful dish that will enhance any holiday event you may have planned for! You can also store this dish in an air-tight container kept in refrigerator before serving if you want to prepare beforehand

Substitutions and Variations

 Who said salads are boring? This one will prove otherwise
Who said salads are boring? This one will prove otherwise

As a scribe for this delicious Kentucky Bibb Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette Recipe, I must say that there are plenty of substitutions and variations that can be made to suit your preferences.

Firstly, when it comes to the greens, you can use any lettuce of your choice if Bibb lettuce is not available. Butter lettuce or a mix of Romaine lettuce and arugula would be equally excellent options. You could even substitute some of the Bibb lettuce with spinach leaves for added nutrition.

If you’re looking to add a touch of sweetness to the salad, you could toss in some thinly sliced red apples along with strawberries. Alternatively, dried cranberries or raisins would also work well.

To give the salad an extra crunch, roasted pecans can be replaced with other nuts such as almonds, walnuts, or cashews. For those who are not fond of nuts, toasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds will do just fine.

Cheese lovers can swap the Maytag blue cheese with crumbled feta or goat cheese for a tangy twist. Vegans can try using a vegan cheese substitute or omit the cheese entirely.

For those looking to dial up the heat, add a pinch of cayenne pepper along with red pepper flakes to the dressing. You could also substitute apple cider vinegar with balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar for a more pronounced acidic taste.

Lastly, if you’re seeking a non-alcoholic alternative, replace bourbon in the vinaigrette recipe with apple cider or white wine instead.

Experimenting with these substitutions and variations will help you tailor this dish to your taste buds and make it your own unique creation while embodying the essence of Churchill Downs Racetrack’s Kentucky Derby setting – “out of the ordinary” and downright “spectacular.”

Serving and Pairing

 A beautiful mix of colors and textures
A beautiful mix of colors and textures

Once you’ve created this masterpiece of a salad, it’s important to serve it and pair it in the best possible way. The Kentucky Bibb Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette is a great standalone dish that can go well with many meals, but there are some pairing options that specifically complement its flavors.

The light and refreshing nature of this salad makes it an ideal starter or accompaniment for a heavier main course. Since it’s an elegant-looking salad, it pairs well with sophisticated meat dishes like grilled steak, roasted lamb or smoked salmon.

To bring out the sweetness in the apple cider vinaigrette, I suggest pairing this salad with sweet wines such as Chenin Blanc or Riesling. These wines will provide a wonderful contrast to the sharp flavors of blue cheese and add acidity to offset the natural sweetness of the fruits in the salad.

If you are looking for a more robust pairing option, try serving your Kentucky Bibb Salad with a glass of chilled rosé wine or a nice bourbon cocktail. The earthy and rich flavors of bourbon will enhance the complex flavors of this dish while the citrus notes of rose will cut through the creamy dressing.

Overall, I suggest keeping the plates or bowls chilled until ready to serve as it helps to maintain maximum freshness for longer. Remember that simple presentations are always better, as no one wants their salad smothered under an overwhelming choice of garnishes – this perfectly balanced salad speaks for itself!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Sweet and tangy apple cider vinaigrette adds the perfect touch
Sweet and tangy apple cider vinaigrette adds the perfect touch

As someone who loves hosting parties, I know how hectic things can get in the kitchen. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for dishes that can be made ahead of time, stored easily, and reheated without losing any of their deliciousness. This Kentucky Bibb Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette is just such a dish – you can even prep it the night before if you’re really pressed for time!

To make this salad ahead of time, you’ll want to start by preparing each of the components separately. Wash and dry your bibb lettuce well, then chop it into bite-sized pieces and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Do the same with your pecan halves and blue cheese crumbles.

For the dressing, mix together all of your ingredients aside from the olive oil. Cover and store that in the refrigerator as well, adding the oil just before serving.

When you’re ready to serve, simply combine everything in a large bowl (or divide among individual serving plates) and toss with a drizzle of dressing. If you like your pecans toasted, pop them in a dry skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes until fragrant.

If you have leftovers, this salad can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Just make sure to keep the dressing separate until you’re ready to serve so that everything stays crispy and fresh. To reheat wilted lettuce, place it in a bowl with warm water for a minute or two before draining thoroughly and tossing with fresh dressing.

With this make-ahead option, there’s no need to stress about last-minute preparations when company arrives – simply assemble your salad and voila! A delicious dish that’s sure to impress your guests.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Get your greens in style with this salad
Get your greens in style with this salad

When it comes to making the perfect Kentucky Bibb Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette, attention to detail is key. Here are some tips to help you achieve the best results:

First and foremost, make sure to choose the best quality ingredients. This salad recipe relies heavily on the flavor of the bibb lettuce, so choose a variety that is fresh and crisp. Additionally, make sure that the pecans are sweet and delicious, and that the blue cheese is creamy and tangy.

When preparing the vinaigrette, take your time to mix all of the ingredients thoroughly, especially the sugar. You can use powdered sugar or brown sugar, either one works as long as it gets completely dissolved in the apple cider vinegar and warm water mixture.

Incorporating Dijon mustard helps emulsify the dressing, giving it a creamy consistency while also adding a bit of tanginess. When mixed together with olive oil and butter melted, this mixture gives off a subtle but flavorful taste to balance all other flavors in this salad.

Another important tip is to dress the salad right before serving it. This helps prevent sogginess and ensures that each leaf of lettuce maintains its crunchiness. It’s best to add an amount of vinaigrette that will coat each leaf without drowning them.

Lastly, when assembling your salad make sure you combine all of your ingredients gently so as not to bruise the lettuce or break apart any delicate pecan pieces. Take your time layering ingredients evenly so everyone gets a taste in every bite.

By following these tips, you are guaranteed to produce an impressive Kentucky Bibb Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette that your guests will definitely rave about.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, if you are looking for a delicious and refreshing salad recipe to impress your guests at your next party, this Kentucky Bibb Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette is the perfect choice. With the combination of crispy bibb lettuce, juicy strawberries, crunchy pecans, and tangy blue cheese, all topped with a homemade cider vinaigrette that is both sweet and savory, this salad will definitely be a crowd-pleaser.

What makes this recipe even better is that it can be easily customized to suit your preferences. You can substitute the blue cheese for feta or goat cheese, use different types of lettuce or greens, or even add some grilled chicken or shrimp for some extra protein.

Don’t forget to try some of the suggested variations and pairings mentioned earlier in the article to take your salad game to the next level. Whether you’re serving it alongside a juicy steak or on its own as a light lunch, this Kentucky Bibb Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette will surely become one of your go-to salad recipes.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your ingredients, toss them together with this easy-to-follow recipe, and enjoy the mouthwatering goodness that is a homemade bibb lettuce salad with apple cider vinaigrette. Your taste buds will thank you!

Kentucky Bibb Salad With Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Kentucky Bibb Salad With Apple Cider Vinaigrette Recipe

This salad is served at many Kentucky Derby parties. It makes a great summertime salad and the bite from the vinaigrette is just perfect.
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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Appetizer/Salad
Cuisine American
Calories 2017 kcal



  • 2 heads bibb lettuce
  • 1/4 lb maytag blue cheese
  • 1/8 cup strawberry, sliced

Candied Pecans (use 1/2 cup)

  • 1 -2 cup pecan halves
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon warm water

Apple Cider Vinaigrette (use 1/8 cup)

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dry oregano leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon dry basil leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup olive oil

Cinnamon Raisin Croutons (use 1 cup)

  • 1 loaf cinnamon raisin bread
  • 1/2 cup butter


  • Basic Recipe: Remove roots from Bibb lettuce and cut into quarters. Toss with apple cider vinaigrette, bleu cheese, candied pecans and strawberries. Place on serving platter and garnish with cinnamon raisin croutons.
  • To Make Candied Pecans: Mix powdered sugar and water. Dust pecans with powdered sugar mixture on parchment paper and bake at 275 degrees for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • To Make Apple Cider Vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, except the olive oil. Add the olive oil gradually and whisk until thoroughly mixed.
  • To Make Cinnamon Raisin Croutons: Cut bread into ½ inch cubes. Melt butter and toss bread cubes with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 590gCalories: 2017kcalCarbohydrates: 29.4gProtein: 20.2gFat: 206.7gSaturated Fat: 57.9gCholesterol: 164.7mgSodium: 2131.2mgFiber: 8.5gSugar: 16.6g
Keyword < 60 Mins
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