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Salmon nicoise salad is a deliciously fresh and hearty meal! This spin on the classic French main dish swaps in salmon for tuna.

Salmon nicoise salad
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If there’s one recipe that says fresh, carefree outdoor eating to us, it’s the classic French Nicoise salad. Here’s a fun spin on it that’s, dare we say it, even more delicious than the original. Try salmon Nicoise salad! Swap out the traditional tuna for salmon and you’ve got an impressive dinner that will please anyone. Use smoked or canned salmon to keep it super simple, or use whatever cooking method you like.

Ingredients in salmon Nicoise salad

Nicoise salad (salade Niçoise in French) is a French main dish salad that’s a classic dish from the Southern coast. The hearty salad traditionally features canned tuna, potatoes, blanched green beans, olives, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, a vinaigrette salad dressing.

Swap out tuna for salmon and you’ve got salmon Nicoise salad! We like using smoked or canned salmon so you don’t have to worry about cooking it. Here are the components of this classic composed salad:

  1. Salmon: Look for hot smoked salmon, also labeled as smoke roasted, typically available in fillet form versus in thin sheets. The cold smoked salmon that you’d find on a bagel (aka lox) is a bit too strong of a flavor here, though it can work. You can also use canned salmon or the cooked salmon method of your choice: baked, broiled, poached or grilled.
  2. Hard boiled eggs: Try this stovetop method, steamed, or try the Instant Pot.
  3. Green beans: Make a pot of blanched green beans. Blanching makes them tender and helps them hold their bright green color.
  4. Potatoes: This French potato salad with shallot, capers, and a vinaigrette dressing makes the dish.
  5. Olives: Olives are key to the briny, salty flavor. Look for Niçoise olives if you can find them, or substitute Kalamata.
  6. Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes or wedges of large tomatoes bring in color and fresh flavor.
  7. Butter lettuce: Crisp Bibb or butter lettuce serves as a base for the flavors.
  8. Lemon vinaigrette dressing: A zingy lemon vinaigrette salad dressing ties everything together.
Salmon Nicoise salad

Types of salmon to use

The main advantage to using smoked or canned salmon in this recipe? It’s so simple. There are lots of other elements to prep here, so going no cook for the salmon is key. Classic Nicoise salad uses canned tuna, so canned salmon is actually even closer to the original.

But do you have a big piece of fresh salmon and want to use it? That’s never a bad thing. This is also a great way to use leftover salmon. Here are the different types and cooking methods for salmon you can use here:

  • Canned: Go for canned salmon, adding a drizzle of olive oil and seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Smoked: Use hot smoked salmon, purchased or homemade.
  • Grilled: If it’s summer, grilled salmon brings loads of flavor to this salad.
  • Seared: Pan seared salmon is fast and easy.
  • Poached: It’s a unique method, but poached salmon is even easier and more hands off.
  • Baked: Baked salmon is a simple method that works every time.
  • Broiled: We typically prefer broiled salmon to baked since it’s even quicker.

Make ahead tips

There many components to a Salmon Nicoise salad, so while it’s all pretty simple it can take a while to prep. Here are a few ideas for making parts of this recipe in advance. It’s very helpful when it comes to putting together the salad and keeping the kitchen mess under control. Pick one or more of these components to make in advance:

  • Hard boiled eggs: Make them up to 5 day sin advance and simply refrigerate until serving. You can also find pre-packaged hard boiled eggs at some grocery stores.
  • Dressing: The Nicoise salad dressing is simple to prep ahead; refrigerate and allow to come to room temperature before serving.
  • Green beans: Blanch the green beans up to 5 days in advance and refrigerate until serving.
  • Potato salad: The French potato salad stays good 4 to 5 days if you prep it before hand; refrigerate until serving.
Salmon nicoise salad

What to serve with salmon Nicoise salad

Salmon Nicoise salad is the perfect meal to eat al fresco as a summer dinner. It also works as a fancy lunch and would be ideal as a brunch, or a meal for a bridal shower or baby shower. It’s ideal paired glass of crisp white or rosé wine and a side of crusty bread or a baguette and butter.

More salmon recipes

Love cooking with everyone’s favorite fish? Here are a few more great salmon recipes to choose from:

This salmon Nicoise salad recipe is…

Gluten-free and dairy-free.

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Salmon nicoise salad

Salmon Nicoise Salad

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


Salmon nicoise salad is a deliciously fresh and hearty meal! This spin on the classic French main dish swaps in salmon for tuna.


  • 8 eggs
  • 1 1/2 pounds baby red potatoes
  • 1 pound fresh green beans
  • 1 small shallot (2 tablespoons minced)
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • ½ tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup Nicoise or Kalamata olives
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes or 1 large tomato
  • 8 ounces hot smoked (smoke roasted) salmon* or 2 cans salmon
  • 1 head Bibb lettuce (aka butter lettuce)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced


  1. Cook the hard boiled eggs: Follow the instructions to make the Hard Boiled Eggs or Steamed Hard Boiled Eggs, or complete this step in advance and refrigerate.
  2. Boil the potatoes and beans: Fill a large pot with cold water and add 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Add the whole potatoes and bring to a boil. Once boiling, boil for 8 to 12 minutes until fork tender.
  3. Blanch the beans: Cut the ends off the beans. Bring a separate pot of water to a boil with ½ tablespoon salt. Boil the beans for about 5 minutes until tender but still bright green. Prepare a large bowl of ice water (or use the same one as for the hard boiled eggs). Right when the beans are tender, remove them from the boiling water with tongs and transfer them to the ice bath. Remove the beans and dry them with a towel, then mix them with a few pinches of salt and fresh ground pepper.
  4. Finish the potatoes: While the potatoes are cooking, mince the shallot. When the potatoes are done, drain them. When they are cool enough to handle, slice them into bite sized pieces. Place them in a bowl and gently mix in the minced shallot, white wine vinegar, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ cup warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes, gently stirring occasionally. Then add the capers, chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and a few grinds black pepper. Taste and add additional salt if necessary.
  5. Make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Gradually whisk in 6 tablespoons olive oil working one tablespoon at a time, until creamy and emulsified.
  6. Prep the salad ingredients: Slice the tomatoes into wedges (or cherry tomatoes in half) and sprinkle with a little kosher salt.
  7. Prep the salmon: If using cold smoked salmon, no prep is necessary. If using canned salmon, drain it and flake it using a fork. If not packed in oil, add a drizzle of olive oil and a few pinches of salt. (You can also cook fresh salmon; see the note below*.)
  8. Serve: To serve, in large shallow bowls or on large platters, add the Bibb lettuce leaves. Top with the potatoes, green beans, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, salmon, and olives. Drizzle with the dressing and serve.


*You can also make this salad with Grilled Salmon, Seared Salmon, Baked Salmon, Broiled Salmon, or Poached Salmon. See the linked recipes for cooking instructions.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: No cook
  • Cuisine: French
  • Diet: Gluten Free

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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1 Comment

  1. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!