You Have to Try This Recipe From an Online Salad Sensation

The Salad Lab has over 2 million followers on TikTok, but the home chef behind it is about more than just viral vegetables

August 30, 2022 6:18 am
Salad Ingredients in beakers
Inside @thesaladlab

Darlene Schrijver, the voice (and hands) behind @thesaladlab on TikTok, didn’t mean to go viral. “During COVID, like everybody else, I was on TikTok, and my daughter was asking me as she went off to college to write down our recipes. I was discussing this with a girlfriend and she said, ‘Why don’t you put them on TikTok, she’s always on TikTok anyways.’”

So Schrijver started posting salad recipes — her first foray into the online cooking community — but she did it with a twist: using test tubes for liquids and beakers for the solid ingredients. “I’m in my pajamas, you know, thinking nobody was going to see them,” she laughs, “and then it just kind of took off.” 

The Salad Lab now has over 2 million followers on TikTok, and Schrijver is quickly becoming a go-to source for simple but impressive recipes, and a nice reprieve from meat and barbecue-heavy content online. “I just tried to create what I didn’t see out there, I wanted to have a little niche. I went for a lab idea, experimenting with different salads, ” she explained. “I grew up in a flower shop environment, so I had that kind of creative background, putting different flowers together to create something beautiful. I did the same for salads, different flavors and different textures.”

A self-professed Northern California girl, Schrijver knows how important community is — on and offline. After her house burned down in 2017, the surrounding community came together for her, and by highlighting Sonoma County wine pairings with her salads, she feels like she’s giving back. She’s also encouraged the importance of creating a community through the recipes she posts for her viewers. “I would love to  have people get together and cook in groups, all my recipes are usually for four people. I would love to inspire little group parties.”

With summer drawing to a close, Schrijver has a couple of ingredients she’s looking forward to getting the best use out of before the season finishes. “Watermelon is huge in the summer, I just made a vodka watermelon salad. Mangoes are in season right now, I’m planning on doing a tropical week.” But the best late summer ingredient? “Oh, tomatoes are in season right now.  Heirloom tomatoes and the big tomatoes. The flavors are just incredible.” As for staple ingredients, “Extra virgin olive oil is my base oil,  avocado oil too. I discovered white balsamic vinegar, it’s got a great flavor.” 

The future of The Salad Lab is bright (A possible cookbook? Cookware? All on the table.) For Schrijver, the most important ingredient for the account’s continued success is simple: fun. “I’m having a great time, I don’t want to lose the fun. You can get caught up in the numbers, you can get caught up in the trends but I really try and stay true to just making salads and having fun, and having a beverage here and there.” 

Below, Schrijver’s choice of salad for InsideHook readers — The Beverly Hills Hotel McCarthy Salad, named for Neil McCarthy,  a famous Polo player in the 1940’s requested this Cobb-like salad from the Hotel’s Polo Lounge. 

Beverly Hills Hotel McCarthy Salad

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 5 mins

Total Time: 15 mins

Servings: 4


For the Dressing:

  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp finely minced shallots
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard 
  • Pinch salt and pepper to taste

For the Salad: 

  • Head of iceberg lettuce 
  • Head of romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups chopped grilled chicken
  • Finely diced cheddar cheese
  • 3 or 4 finely diced hardboiled eggs
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced beets
  • Finely diced thick cut Applewood smoked bacon 
  • One chopped avocado
  • Squeeze of lemon juice


Whisk all dressing ingredients together in a large bowl, followed by salad ingredients. Toss and serve.


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