This fantastic salad combines fresh spinach, crisp bacon, sliced red onion, and hard-boiled eggs in a tangy dressing. This protein-packed salad is easy to make and hearty enough to be the main focus of a meal.Jump to Recipe Print Recipe
This recipe is super simple to put together, and absolutely delicious. Fry some bacon, cook thinly sliced red onions in the bacon fat, add some garlic, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and apple cider vinegar, and toss with fresh spinach. Add sliced hard-boiled eggs, and enjoy!
Ingredients for Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
What Kind of Spinach Should You Use?
For this recipe, you can use any fresh spinach that you like. You can buy bagged, pre-washed baby or regular spinach, or a bunch of fresh spinach leaves from the farmers’ market or produce area. Do not use frozen or previously frozen spinach, or spinach from a can. Inspect the spinach prior to purchase, and make sure the leaves are bright green. Wet or darkened areas are beginning to wilt, and and this spinach should be avoided.
How to Prepare Spinach for a Salad
If you bought pre-washed, bagged salad, you’re in luck. You should still give it one more rinse at home for safety’s sake, but then just pop it into your salad bowl. Trimming is typically not needed, and there shouldn’t be any visible sand or grit.
Spinach in a bunch from the produce department or farmers’ market needs a little more attention. Chop off the long ends of the stems (and roots if still attached) and discard. Feel the remaining stem. Remove any portion that feels woody or fibrous. Place the spinach leaves into a bowl of cold water and swish them around. Allow them to dry (use a salad spinner if you have one) and transfer to your salad bowl.
What is Wilted Spinach?
Normally, wilted spinach is a bad thing! The phrase also refers to spinach that is past its prime. In this recipe, we are intentionally “wilting” delicious, fresh spinach. Wilting spinach in a recipe means tossing it with a hot liquid or very quickly cooking it, to just tenderize it without fully cooking it. The goal is a half-cooked state. We wilt the spinach in this salad by tossing it with a hot homemade dressing straight from the frying pan.
How to Make Bacon Lardons
Take 6-8 pieces of bacon and slice into 1/3″ wide strips. Good quality bacon is important, and thick cut is better than thin. Homemade is fantastic, as always, but if you have a favorite store-bought bacon you can use that as well. Fry in a cast iron pan if possible until it just starts to crisp. Do NOT toss the rendered bacon fat – you’ll need it for the dressing.
Red Onion Slices
It is important to use a red onion in this recipe. They have a unique flavor that separates them from other varieties. I’ve tried making this salad with a white onion when it was all I had, and it just wasn’t the same. Halve a red onion, then quarter it. Slice half of it. Add to the bacon after it’s reached your desired level of crispness, and toss in the rendered fat for just a minute or two. You want to cook them just long enough to remove some of the harsh raw flavor, while retaining their crisp texture.
How to Hard Boil Eggs
If you have a tried and true hard-build eggs method, by all means use it. If you don’t, I’ll share mine with you. Take as many eggs as you need. Place into a very large empty pot. Cover with cold water to a good inch above the eggs. Bring to a boil. Just as the water begins to boil, but before it becomes so rapid that the shells break, cover the pot and turn it off. Set a timer for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, immediately transfer the eggs to an ice water bath. Peel when ready.
The 5-5-5 Instant Pot method is also very popular if you have one. I’ve tried it and it definitely works. I stick with the way I’ve been making eggs for years, but if you’d like to let the machine do the work it’s a great option.
How to Make Hot Bacon Dressing
Start by cutting and frying the bacon lardons as described above. When they are starting to crisp, add the sliced onions. Stir for about 2 minutes. Add the minced garlic, and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, a pinch of salt, and a generous amount of black pepper. Cook for another 2 minutes. Taste the dressing. It should be sweet but tangy. Add more salt if needed.
How to Assemble Wilted Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
When you’re ready to eat, toss the spinach quickly with the dressing, straight from the hot frying pan. Top with sliced hard-boiled eggs (seasoned with salt and black pepper), and toss gently to combine. It is important not to make this salad in advance – it’s meant to be eaten while still warm, and the bacon fat component becomes unappetizing if it sits out for too long. It also doesn’t save well, unfortunately. The salad is, however, delicious! My husband and I both count it among our absolute favorite salads.
What to Serve with a Wilted Spinach Salad?
This is a fairly filling salad, with plenty of protein. As written, it can serve two people as a light meal or four as a side or appetizer. It goes very nicely with steak and seafood, with meatless entrees like risottos or pastas, or with soups. A few options are:
- Shrimp and Grits with Bacon
- Lemon Butter Scallops
- Baked Haddock with Bacon Breadcrumbs
- Pan-Seared Salmon
- Easy Clam Chowder with Bacon
- Tomato Basil Soup
- Pancetta Risotto with Peas
- Butternut Squash Ravioli
- Grilled Strip Steaks with Bacon Butter
If you liked this salad, you also might want to check out my BLT Pesto Pasta Salad – it also has spinach and bacon, but the flavor is totally different!
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Wilted Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
- Salad Bowl
- cast iron pan
- 8 oz bacon 6-8 pieces, cut into lardons
- 8 oz spinach fresh
- 1/2 red onion sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 6 eggs hard-boiled, sliced
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place a large cast iron frying pan over medium heat. Immediately add bacon lardons to pan, while still cold (this allows for better rendering of fat). Fry until beginning to crisp, 10-15 minutes.
- Add red onion slices to bacon fat. Stir about 2 min or until just becoming tender. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, a pinch of salt, and a few turns of fresh black pepper. Cook 3 minutes.
- Place washed fresh spinach into large salad bowl. Pour hot dressing over spinach and toss well – this will tenderize the spinach. Top with sliced hard-boiled eggs and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Eat immediately.