I am so ready for summer and summer salads. When it’s so stinking hot outside a nice big salad tastes better than just about anything else. With a houseful of guys, they are not going to settle for a few sprigs of lettuce and call that dinner. So I’m sharing our favorite Kicked up Chef’s Salad recipe featuring crisp Petit Jean Bacon and my favorite Petit Jean Ozark Smoked Ham Slices.

I loaded this salad with mixed greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocados, boiled eggs, cheese, Petit Jean bacon AND ham plus… are you ready for this? BACON CROUTONS. You won’t believe how incredible these croutons are. I think I could make a meal out of just these croutons because bacon really does make everything better!

I used a loaf of sourdough bread, a bit of the bacon drippings and some seasonings to create these croutons. You can use any bread you have on hand and stale bread is perfect.

I tossed it all in the oven until the croutons were crisp and crunchy. You can even store any that you have leftover in an airtight container for about 3 days.

Salads are a great way to get my kids to eat a few extra veggies. They are all meat and potatoes kind of guys but with the addition of Petit Jean Meats, there are no complaints about having this salad for dinner. It’s filling and the entire family enjoyed it.

This Kicked Up Chef’s Salad is the perfect make ahead dinner or great for picnics and summer cookouts. Our summer schedule is always crazy, dinnertime is unpredictable and having dinner ready to go at a moments notice is so nice. Half of the family may be ready for dinner at 4 and the rest at 9 when they come in from baling hay or moving cows, I just never know. Meals like this help me keep my sanity during the busy summer months. Serve this Kicked Up Chef’s Salad with your favorite salad dressing and you are all set.


  • Salad
  • 8 cups mixed greens
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 1 avocado, peeled, seeded, cut into chunks and tossed with lemon juice
  • 2 boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
  • ¼ pound of Petit Jean Ozark Smoked Ham Slices, cut into bite- sized pieces and crisped in a skillet
  • 6 slices Petit Jean Bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • ½ cup shredded cheese (I like Colby- Jack)
  • Bacon Croutons & Salad Dressing for serving
  • Bacon Croutons
  • ⅓ cup bacon drippings
  • ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon granulated onion
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 4 cups bread cubes (I used Sourdough)


1.) Salad

2.) On a large platter, layer lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, and cucumber. Add chopped eggs, Petit Jean Ham and Bacon and cheese.

3.) Serve immediately with your favorite salad dressing and garnish with Bacon Croutons or wrap salad (without dressing) with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

4.) Bacon Croutons

5.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

6.) Add bacon drippings to a small bowl and stir in seasonings, mixing until well combined. Place bread cubes into a large bowl and toss with seasoned bacon drippings until well coated. Layer on a baking sheet evenly. Bake for 15 minutes or until crispy.

7.) Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve. Can be stored up to 3 days.

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