Tomato and Onion Salad (Easy 15-Minute Prep)

This sweet, tangy marinated tomato and onion salad with homemade Catalina dressing creates a colorful side dish even when tomatoes are not at their best.

It’s fresh, delicious and vibrant. There is no need for an extra salad plate (I love that) and, best of all, you can serve it all year round as it seriously boosts the flavor of tomatoes that are not in season.

marinated tomato and green onion salad in bowl.

My mother (Jenna’s grandmother) started making this salad back in the 60’s. We serve it at almost every family event.

I confess that our family recipe was made with Kraft Catalina dressing. I now prefer to make my own salad dressings (for the most part), so I decided to give it a shot.  

Sure enough, I found a 1960’s Catalina Dressing recipe on – with great reviews to boot. I tried it several times and it comes out great. I tweaked it a touch to my taste – less sugar and vinegar, but feel free to adapt it to your own taste.  

The salad only takes about 15 minutes to make with a few simple ingredients (even with the homemade dressing) and another hour or so to sit and blend the flavors.

Ingredients – tailored to your taste

tomatoes, ketchup, wine vinegar, green onions, olive oil, paprika, sugar, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce.
  • Tomatoes: Any tomatoes will work – cocktail tomatoes, grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, field tomatoes, plum, beefsteak, heirloom tomatoes (my faves).
  • Onions: I always use green onions as they are sweet, mild, and colorful. You can, however, use another type of onion such as white onions, sweet onions, or a red onion.
  • Homemade Catalina dressing: red wine vinegar, ketchup, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, paprika, onion powder
  • Substitutes
    • Use any other vinaigrette dressing instead of Catalina
    • Use white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar instead of red wine vinegar
  • Add-ins:
    • Add diced avocado before serving
    • Garnish with finely chopped fresh herbs like parsley, fresh dill, thyme, fresh basil or chives
    • Sprinkle on crumbled goat cheese

Step by step instructions

dressing in container, cherry tomatoes, green onions on placemat.
Blend all the Catalina dressing ingredients with a food processor, immersion blender or blender.
sliced tomatoes and chopped green onions on cutting board.
Slice tomatoes and chop green onions.
Layer a little bit of dressing, tomatoes, light sprinkle of salt and green onions. Repeat.
marinated tomato and green onion salad in bowl.
Let the tomato green onion salad sit for an hour if you can to blend the flavors.


Is Catalina and French dressing the same thing?

No. According to Wikipedia, the modern version of French dressing is sweet and colored orange-to-red from the use of paprika and tomatoes. French dressing is generally pale orange and creamy, while “Catalina French dressing” is bright red, thinner and less creamy. For this recipe, either would be fine.


  • Use bottled Catalina dressing. I did this for years and it’s great.

Make Ahead

  • If you have the time, the tomato and onion salad should be made an hour ahead to allow the flavors to blend.
  • Or make it a day ahead and keep it covered in an airtight container in the fridge.

What to serve with marinated tomatoes

I serve this side salad with just about anything – meat, chicken, turkey or fish. The marinated tomatoes are a great side dish with vegetable chicken meatloaf, grilled chili lime chicken wings, grilled marinated flank steak, stuffed salmon with lemon ricotta or classic prime rib roast.

It’s a delicious salad for buffets and potlucks. And even as a great topping for burgers like our sous vide burgers, veggie burgers or chicken burgers.

It’s also a perfect accompaniment with lox and bagels for brunch or as a Christmas salad side dish, especially served in a glass bowl where you peer through at the beautiful red and green colors.  

marinated tomato and green onion salad in bowl.

Other simple salad recipes you might like

BTW, if you love tomatoes, check out some great recipes and tips on what to do with tomatoes.

If you like this recipe, please leave a 5 star rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟with a comment in the recipe card below. Thanks so much!

marinated tomato and green onion salad in bowl.
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5 from 8 votes

Tomato and Onion Salad (Easy 15 Minute Prep)

This sweet, tangy Marinated Tomato Salad with homemade Catalina dressing creates a colorful side dish even when tomatoes are not at their best.
Prep Time15 minutes
Marinating Time 1 hr or overnight1 hour
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 5


  • 1 pound fresh tomatoes, Note 2 (I use about 9-10 larger cocktail tomatoes)
  • salt
  • 4 green onions

Catalina Dressing, Note 1

  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoon sugar (or 1 1/2 of you prefer less sweet)
  • 3 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup neutral tasting olive oil or Canola oil


  • PREPARE TOMATOES AND GREEN ONIONS: Finely chop green onions. Slice tomatoes to 1/4 or 1/2 inch thick. If you are using regular tomatoes, you can cut each slice in half. If you have very juicy tomatoes with lots of seeds, I grab a bunch at a time and give them a good squeeze between my two hands over the sink. This will prevent the salad from becoming too watery.
  • MAKE THE CATALINA DRESSING: In a food processor or blender, add all Catalina Dressing ingredients except oil. Pulse a few times until blended. Slowly add the oil and process for a minute. Alternatively, whisk ingredients together in a bowl and slowly add in oil while whisking until thickened.
  • LAYER THE TOMATO SALAD INGREDIENTS: In a medium bowl (glass if possible to see all the colours), add a tablespoon or so of dressing to cover the bottom. Place the tomatoes in a single layer on top of dressing. Lightly sprinkle tomatoes with salt. Sprinkle with some green onions. Repeat layers with remaining ingredients, ending with green onions. Cover and let sit for an hour or two on the counter or up to one day in the fridge to blend the flavors. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

  1. Catalina dressing shortcut: instead of making the dressing, buy a bottle of Catalina or French dressing. Great shortcut I use all the time.
  2. Type of tomatoes to use: any kind – cocktail, grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, field, plum, beefsteak tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes. 
  3. Variations and substitutes: 
    • Add diced avocado before serving
    • Garnish with finely chopped fresh herbs like fresh parsley, fresh dill, thyme, fresh basil or chives
    • Sprinkle on crumbled goat cheese, fresh mozzarella or feta cheese
    • Substitutes:
      • Use any other vinaigrette dressing instead of Catalina
      • Use white wine vinegar instead of red wine vinegar
      • Try chopped sweet onions or white onions instead of green onions (I prefer the milder and more colorful green onions for this tomato salad)
  4. Make Ahead:
    • The recipe can be made a day ahead and kept, covered in an airtight container, in the fridge. Leftovers will keep for another day or two but they get more watery after a day.
    • If you are making the side salad the same day, try to let the tomato salad sit for an hour before serving to let the flavors blend if you have time.
Nutrition facts are estimated.  


Calories: 246kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 236mg | Potassium: 292mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1012IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?We’d love you to rate it above under ‘rate this recipe’ or in the comment section below. Thanks!
5 from 8 votes (8 ratings without comment)

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