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What is a Salad Bowl?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 16, 2024
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A salad bowl is a useful serving dish, often round in shape and featuring shallow sides. Available in many materials, these bowls are used to hold a large quantity of salad while allowing ease of tossing ingredients without spilling them. If you entertain frequently or have a large family, a salad bowl can be very useful for serving green or fruit salads.

Salads have been made for thousands of years, though the habits of when, where and how to eat them have changed over the centuries. Egyptian, Chinese and Roman cultures all have particular salad habits dating back to their early empires. It can only be imagined that chefs had a difficult time preparing enough salad to serve for court affairs hosting hundreds or thousands of diners. It is unknown at which point the salad bowl was invented and perfected, but today they are considered necessary for any large-scale salad serving event.

Typically, salad bowls are made from wood, glass, or stainless steel. Plastic salad bowls are also available, and may be somewhat cheaper, but are often less durable and can soak in odors from the food kept in them. In price, a salad bowl can range from a less than $10 US Dollars (USD) for a plastic version to over $100 USD for a hardwood bowl. More expensive salad bowls are often given as heirloom wedding presents, as their durability can make them last for decades.

Wooden salad bowls are often treated with oils to give them sheen and durability. Some may require additional treatments over the years, to help them maintain their coating. Conservationists may want to check the source of the wood carefully before purchasing a wooden salad bowl, as some are made from endangered or threatened wood sources. If you like the look of wooden bowls but are concerned about the material, considering purchasing a bowl made from bamboo or another sustainable wood. Properly treated, these bowls can last for years and made lovely gifts.

A salad bowl may come with accessories to aid in tossing or serving. Salad forks and spoons are large utensils that make tossing ingredients to coat with dressing an easy task. Salad bowls may also come in sets, with several sizes of serving bowl, or one large serving bowl and a set of small bowls for individual use. These sets can make a dinner table look lovely, as they are sure to coordinate in shape and color.

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Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis , Writer
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for DelightedCooking. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.

Discussion Comments

By Emilski — On Feb 09, 2012

@matthewc23 - From my experience, bamboo will naturally wear down faster than solid wood, which is to be expected. I should also mentioned that, contrary to popular believe, bamboo isn't wood, it is a grass and has different properties. Oil with wood works because it soaks into the pores, but I don't think that is the case with bamboo. I don't really think there is anything you need to do to keep it in good shape.

My grandparents had a very nice teak salad bowl that they got on some trip overseas. Currently, my mother has it, and I should have it some day. Like the article says, having a quality salad bowl is a nice gift that can get passed down through the generations. That is not to mention the memories I have of eating at my grandparents' house as a kid and seeing that salad bowl.

By matthewc23 — On Feb 08, 2012

I just bought a salad bowl set a couple of weeks ago, and I really like it. I have a lot of bamboo utensils and things like that, so I went ahead and got a bamboo salad bowl to match. I really like the look and durability of bamboo, and like the article mentions, it is a common resource.

What I really like are the smaller bowl that came with it. They have tall, straight sides unlike the flared sides that most bowls have. I have found that this helps keep the salad in the bowl, since you have the taller sides to keep things from flying out. They are easy to clean, too, which is a plus.

The article mentioned putting oil on wooden bowls, and I have heard other people mention this. I am curious whether or not there is something I should do to help with the upkeep of my bamboo kitchenware or if it will be fine.

By stl156 — On Feb 08, 2012

@titans62 - I think the one big advantage to having a salad bowl is that everyone gets to pick their own serving size and what ends up in their salad. I know plenty of people in my family who for some reason don't like cucumbers, but a lot of other people really do like them. If you just throw everything into a bowl, then people who don't want cucumbers or tomatoes or something can avoid them, and people who want them can take them.

As for not wanting the dressing on the entire salad, I can understand that. We usually just have a couple of different kinds of dressing sitting on the table so that everyone can use however much they want.

Even though a salad bowl is supposed to make tossing easier, I still find myself spilling lettuce and other toppings over the side any time I try it.

By indemnifyme — On Feb 08, 2012

This article is right. A glass salad bowl in definitely a popular wedding gift. Almost every person I know who has gotten married in the last few years has received at least one salad bowl. In fact, one of my friends got three different salad bowls from people who didn't bother to check the gift registry!

I personally didn't wait for marriage to get a salad bowl. I have a wooden salad bowl in my cupboard that I use on a pretty regular basis. I don't know what I would do without it!

By titans62 — On Feb 07, 2012

@JaneAir - I am with you. I think unless you are entertaining people, there is really no need to use a large salad bowl. In my family, we usually don't use a salad bowl even at big dinners and things like that. Whoever is cooking just using salad serving bowls and gives everyone their own individual salad. It saves some room on the table and lets everyone choose the amount of dressing they want.

That is the thing I really don't like at some restaurants is that they will bring out a salad for the whole table that already has dressing on it. I think the vast majority of people use way too much dressing to the point where you can't even taste the salad anymore. Because of that, most restaurants have started automatically putting a lot of dressing on salads, when it should be up to the person to decide how much they want.

By strawCake — On Feb 06, 2012

@JaneAir - Don't feel bad, I don't have salad serving bowls either. I find that when I make a salad in a large bowl, I always make too much. I prefer to just kind of make each person an individual salad on their plate.

However, I don't have any kids yet, so usually I only make dinner for two. If I was making dinner for four or more people I might consider buying a salad bowl. But for now, the only time I really eat salad out of a salad bowl is when I go to my favorite Italian restaurant!

By JaneAir — On Feb 05, 2012

I think a wood salad bowl definitely adds a classy touch to the dinner table. My mom always serves salad in a large wooden bowl whenever she has the family over for dinner.

I personally haven't felt the need to buy a fancy salad bowl myself though. It's just my boyfriend and I, and we don't entertain dinner guests that often. On the rare occasions we do have someone over for dinner, I usually serve salad in a large mixing bowl! (I have a set of those multi-colored nesting bowls that comes in handy on a variety of occasions.)

Jessica Ellis

Jessica Ellis


With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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