Recipe Review

TikTok’s “Jennifer Aniston Salad” Is Still My Go-To Lunch Prep

updated May 5, 2023
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salad with serving utensils in a bowl
Credit: Photo: Chris Simpson; Food Styling: Pearl Jones; Prop Styling: Paige Hicks

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If you spend a lot of time scrolling through social media, you’ve probably noticed “the Jennifer Aniston salad” popping up on your TikTok and Instagram feeds. I certainly did, and as a salad-lover I had to try it for myself. I mean, it’s Jennifer Aniston for crying out loud. She’s doing something right!

Full disclosure: Aniston has since debunked this viral recipe. But before the truth came out, I did a bit of digging to find the viral dish’s origin. While all of the recipes for this salad shared on social media are similar, I eventually found this People article about how Aniston took over the brand Living Proof’s Instagram account for one day in 2015. She spent the day sharing pieces of her life, including a few of her favorite meals. For lunch, she had what is now known as the Jennifer Aniston salad: bulgur wheat, cucumber, herbs, chickpeas, feta, red onion, and pistachios. I immediately set out to make it myself.

The Truth About the Jennifer Aniston Salad

In June 2022, Aniston denied having anything to do with the salad (although she has admitted it looked delicious). Then five months later, she appeared in an Allure YouTube video, setting the record straight with her go-to Cobb-esque salad on the set of Friends.

This matches up with what Courtney Cox shared in a 2010 interview, declaring that she, Lisa Kudrow, and Aniston ate lunch together every day while filming Friends and always ate the same thing: a “doctored-up” Cobb salad with chickpeas and turkey bacon.

How to Make the Viral “Jennifer Aniston” Salad

Before I knew of the real Aniston salad, I used @ihartnutrition‘s recipe from Instagram. First, cook up some bulgur following the package directions. (You might know bulgur wheat best as an ingredient in tabbouleh.) I cooked one cup dry to make this salad, which worked out perfectly, and let it cool a bit while I prepped the other ingredients.

Next, chop up a few Persian cucumbers (or one big guy will work, too) along with fresh parsley and mint. Finely chop red onion, roughly chop some pistachios, and crumble in feta cheese. Add your rinsed and drained chickpeas — the recipe calls for 2 cups, but I used one can which is slightly less — and top with a simple dressing of fresh lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Toss everything together and there you have it: Jennifer Aniston’s favorite salad (in 2015, anyway).

Credit: Photo: Chris Simpson; Food Styling: Pearl Jones; Prop Styling: Paige Hicks

My Honest Review

I was excited to try this salad because it seemed nutritious, filling, and good for meal prep. Turns out, it’s all of those things! The whole-grain bulgur adds fiber and fills you up while having a pleasing texture, and the chickpeas add protein and more fiber. The cucumber and red onion add much-needed crunch along with the pistachios.

I especially enjoyed the herbs, which kept the salad feeling fresh. I’ll also eat anything with feta cheese on it — this salad very much included. It’s a great dish for meal prep, especially because the recipe makes four servings. I ate it four times for lunch and, you know what? I’d do it again.

Now that I’ve made it the first time, I’m looking forward to putting my own spin on the iconic salad. While the recipe works well as is, there’s plenty of room to play around with other ingredients and flavors. So have at it!

3 Tips for Making the Jennifer Aniston Salad

  1. Soak the onions. Raw red onion can pack a punch, and if you have to see people after lunch, you might be worried about your breath. To take a bit of the edge off, soak the chopped onion in cool water for 10 minutes, then drain well before adding to the salad.
  2. Use the recipe as a template. While this salad recipe works well as written, it’s easy to tweak. I ended up adding more lemon and a bit more feta, but you might want more beans or cucumber. Adjust acccording to your tastes.
  3. Add other ingredients. Next time I make this salad, I’m going to add halved cherry tomatoes. It would also be good with a bit of dried fruit for sweetness, like cranberries or currants. You can also try swapping the mint for dill or cilantro. You could easily sub goat cheese for the feta, replace the bulgur with quinoa, and more.