Nicoise Salad Recipe

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The Nicoise salad (pronounced nee-swahz) is a classic French salad originating from the city of Nice on the French Riviera.

This hearty and nutrient-dense salad features tuna, eggs, tomatoes, olives, green beans, and potatoes and is dressed with a tangy vinaigrette.

It makes for a satisfying light meal or serves as a side to grilled meats or fish.

A Brief History of Nicoise Salad

Nicoise salad has its roots in the cuisine of Provence in southeast France. The city of Nice is located along the stunning Mediterranean coastline of the French Riviera.

The mild climate and fertile soil in this region lend itself well to growing an abundance of fresh vegetables, herbs, and citrus fruits.

The Nicoise salad was likely created in the 18th or 19th century as a way to use up the bounty of produce available in Nice.

Some historians believe it may have origins as a restorative dish for recovering tuberculosis patients in the late 1800s.

The classic components of Nicoise salad aim to provide contrasting flavors and textures: briny olives and tuna, buttery potatoes, fresh greens and vegetables, and rich eggs.

This salad has become a fixture on menus across France and internationally as a tasty, nutrient-packed meal option.


Salad Nicoise Recipe

Traditional Ingredients in Nicoise Salad

Here are the classic ingredients found in an authentic Nicoise salad recipe:

  • Lettuce: usually a combination of leafy green lettuces like oak leaf, butter lettuce, or romaine.
  • Green beans: Fresh, crisp green beans are blanched briefly, then shocked in ice water to retain their snap.
  • New potatoes: small red or Yukon gold potatoes, boiled until just tender, then cooled.
  • Tuna: high– High quality canned tuna, preferably oil-packed. Solid white albacore tuna is traditional.
  • Olives: Briny niçoise olives or kalamata olives add bold flavor.
  • Tomatoes: Sliced ripe red tomatoes at the peak of summer goodness.
  • Hard-boiled eggs: eggs boiled until the yolks are just set, then cooled and quartered.
  • Anchovies: optional, but a few fillets add a salty, umami kick.
  • Herbs: chopped fresh parsley, basil, chives, or tarragon
  • Dijon Vinaigrette: A bright vinaigrette made with Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and herbs.

Putting Together the Perfect Nicoise Salad

Making an excellent Nicoise salad at home is easy with high-quality, fresh ingredients. Follow these tips for constructing the salad:

  • Prep all ingredients first. Wash and dry lettuce and herbs. Blanch the green beans. Boil potatoes and eggs. Drain tuna. Slice tomatoes. Make vinaigrette.
  • Layer judiciously. Start with a base of lettuce leaves. Arrange the potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, tuna, and eggs in an aesthetically pleasing way.
  • Dress lightly. Drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the salad (don’t drown it) and gently toss to coat.
  • Garnish with olives and herbs. Scatter niçoise or kalamata olives and fresh chopped herbs over the top.
  • Serve immediately. This salad tastes best freshly made when the ingredients are at their crispiest. The potatoes and green beans will start to lose their texture the longer they sit dressed.

Tips for Making the Best Nicoise Salad

Here are some tips to help you master the perfect Nicoise salad at home:

  • Use the freshest, seasonal produce possible. In-season tomatoes are a must.
  • Try to find authentic Niçoise olives, but kalamatas work too.
  • Blanch green beans very briefly so they retain their crunch. Shock in ice water to stop cooking.
  • Chill the potatoes first before adding them to the salad so they don’t make it warm.
  • Pat the tuna dry before adding it to prevent the salad from getting watery.
  • If you can’t find good canned tuna, use grilled or seared fresh tuna instead.
  • Make your vinaigrette with a 2:1 ratio of olive oil to vinegar. Add Dijon mustard for flavor.
  • Go light on the vinaigrette; you just want a sheen on the vegetables.
  • Gently toss the salad when dressing to avoid breaking the tender green beans.
  • Add hard boiled eggs last so they don’t get damaged while tossing.
  • Sprinkle extra chopped olives and herbs on top for a pop of color and freshness.


What is a Nicoise salad

The Health Benefits of Nicoise Salad

Here are some health benefits of a nicoise salad:

  • The base of lettuce greens provides fiber and vitamins K, A, and C. Romaine lettuce packs additional nutrients.
  • Potatoes offer potassium, vitamin C, and B6. They make this salad more filling.
  • Green beans are full of vitamins K, C, and fiber. Blanching helps retain nutrients.
  • Eggs provide protein and vitamin A. The yolks add creaminess.
  • Tuna is rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, and vitamin D. Choose wild-caught fish for maximum benefits.
  • Tomatoes boast lycopene, vitamins C and A, and potassium. Best when in peak season.
  • Olives contribute healthy fats and are rich in antioxidants. They provide a briny punch.
  • A vinaigrette made with olive oil provides heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

Overall, a nicoise salad made with high quality ingredients is nutrient-dense and provides a well-rounded mix of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and healthy fats, making it a satisfying, wholesome meal option.

The variety of textures and flavors in this salad also keeps it interesting to eat.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nicoise Salad

What kind of lettuce should I use in a Nicoise salad?

The most common lettuces used are leaf lettuces like oak leaf, romaine, or butter lettuce. Avoid delicate lettuces like arugula, which will wilt under the heavier ingredients. Romaine is a nice, crunchy option.

Can I use jarred tuna?

It’s best to avoid jarred tuna and use a high-quality canned, oil-packed white tuna. The flavor and texture are far superior to jarred. If you can find imported French or Italian tuna in olive oil, that’s ideal.

What type of green beans work best?

Slender and crisp haricot vert (french green beans) are traditional, but regular green beans also work well. Avoid mature, large beans, which can be fibrous. Choose beans with a bright green color.

Should I use hot or cold potatoes?

Potatoes should be cooked, cooled to room temperature, and then chilled before adding them to the salad. You don’t want them warm. New potatoes hold their shape the best when cooked properly.

What vinegar is best for the vinaigrette?

Red wine vinegar and champagne vinegar are commonly used. Balsamic is too heavy. Sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar also work.

Can I add chicken or steak instead of tuna?

While untraditional, diced grilled chicken breast or steak is delicious in a Nicoise-inspired salad. Just be sure to cut into small pieces and chill before adding.


Nicoise salad Recipe

Classic Salad Nicoise Recipe

Learn how to make the classic French Nicoise salad with tuna, potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, and olives. Includes tips for perfect texture and flavor, a step-by-step recipe, and health benefits.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dinner
Servings 4


  • 6 cups mixed lettuce greens, washed and dried
  • 1 lb. small red potatoes, boiled and cooled
  • 1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, cooled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup niçoise or kalamata olives
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 (5oz) can or pouch of tuna, drained
  • Freshly chopped parsley, tarragon, and chives for garnish

For the Vinaigrette:

  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Fill a medium pot with salted water and bring it to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 15–20 minutes until easily pierced with a knife. Drain and set aside to cool. Once cooled, cut into quarters.
  • Fill another pot with salted water and bring it to a boil. Add the green beans and blanch for 2–3 minutes until the beans are bright green and still crunchy. Drain and immediately place the beans in ice water for a few minutes to stop the cooking. Drain again.
  • Make the vinaigrette. In a jar or small bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard, shallots, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Shake or whisk to emulsify.
  • To assemble the salad, arrange the lettuce leaves on a platter or individual plates. Neatly top with rows or sections of the potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, tuna, eggs, and olives.
  • Drizzle the vinaigrette evenly over the top. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley, tarragon, and chives.
  • Serve immediately while the flavors and textures are at their peak! Enjoy this classic French Nicoise salad.


  • Use high-quality ingredients in season for maximum freshness and flavor. Ripe tomatoes are a must!
  • When boiling potatoes, err on the side of underdone. They'll finish cooking with the hot vinaigrette.
  • Shocking blanched green beans in ice water stops the cooking, so they stay crispy.
  • Drain the canned tuna well so the salad doesn't get watered down.
  • Go light on the vinaigrette; you just want a sheen on the vegetables.
  • Chill the potatoes before adding them to the salad so they don't wilt the lettuce.
  • Gently toss the salad to keep the green beans and eggs intact.
  • Sprinkle extra olives and herbs over the top for texture and freshness.
  • Serve immediately before the green beans start to lose their crunch.
  • Swap in grilled salmon or chicken for the tuna for added protein.
  • Add a can of chickpeas or white beans for a heartier salad meal.
  • Use a vegetable peeler to make thin shavings of parmesan over the top.
  • Nicoise also works well served over mixed greens instead of just lettuce.
  • Omit the anchovies if you don't like them; the olives still provide saltiness.

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