This 3 ingredient fennel salad is bright in flavor, delicious, crunchy, and perfect served alongside grilled meat and fish, braised dishes and even pasta. Just 10 minutes is all it takes to throw this together—but you can also prep it ahead of time and pull it out whenever you’re ready.

Why I love this Fennel Salad Recipe

For one, it’s as simple as can be. With just three ingredients, the fennel really gets to shine. The key it to use both the fennel bulb and the fennel fronds, which act as an herb.

It’s totally versatile. If you’ve got some fresh herbs on hand, throw those in! Have some kale? That would be great.

Make this a few times according to the recipe, then get creative and play around with additional ingredients.

And finally, I love how refreshing and crunchy it is. This fennel salad is perfect served along savory meat and fish dishes.

Ingredients Needed

  • Fresh fennel bulb 
  • Fennel fronds (acting as my herb)
  • Lemon (use both the zest and the juice)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Cracked black pepper

It’s simple. But the thing about fennel is that it does best when served simply. The flavor and texture of fennel speaks for itself.

Step-by Step Instructions to Make this Recipe

If the short ingredient list wasn’t proof enough…here’s how easy this salad comes together:

  1. Trim the fennel bulb (save the fronds!) and very thinly slice the fennel bulb (use a sharp Chef’s Knife or a mandoline).
  2. Add some olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest to the fennel and give it a good toss.
  3. Chop the fennel fronds, add to the salad; then season with a good amount of cracked black pepper and kosher salt.
  4. Let the salad rest for 15 minutes or so (this helps soften the fennel) and enjoy!
shaved fennel in a dish with lemon dest, fennel fronds and black pepper

Can you make fennel salad ahead of time?

This is one of the best salads to make ahead of time! I might even argue it does better if it is made ahead of time. The benefit of making this salad ahead is that the fennel has a chance to soften a bit from the acid and salt.

How far in advance can you make it? Two days is about as far ahead as you can make it—any longer and it loses a bit of its vibrancy and flavor. 

If you do end up making it ahead of time, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

Fennel Salad Variations

  • Orange: use orange juice and zest in place of the lemon for a slightly sweeter take.
  • Add some nuts: toasted slivered almonds or pine nuts would be delicious in this.
  • Add an herb: fresh parsley, basil, tarragon or chives would pair well with this salad.
  • Cheese: crumbled feta cheese or Parmesan would add a wonderful dose of savoriness.
  • Add something briny: sliced green olives or capers do well in this salad as well.

What if my fennel bulb is trimmed without the fronds?

Many grocery store (including Trader Joe’s) sell fennel bulbs without the fronds. (Such a crime). If these are the only fennel bulbs you can find I recommend grabbing a bunch of parsley, tarragon or chives and adding that in place of the fennel fronds.

What to Serve Fennel Salad with…

Did you make this fennel salad recipe?! Let me know how it went—leave a comment and star-rating below. And if you snapped a pic, share it on IG and tag me @zestfulkitchen. I love seeing what you make!

Simple Fennel Salad with Lemon

4.65 from 31 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Yield 2 cups
Category Salad/Side dish
Cuisine Mediterranean
Author Lauren


Crunchy, bright and simple, this fennel salad is the perfect side dish for everything from grilled fish and meat to braised dishes and pastas.


  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and very thinly sliced (or shaved)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • Kosher salt
  • Cracked black pepper or red pepper flakes


  • Combine fennel, fennel fronds, olive oil, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon lemon zest in a medium bowl; season with salt and a good amount of cracked pepper.
  • Let salad stand 15 minutes before serving (to soften the fennel).


If you’re short on time and can’t wait for the salad to rest for 15 minutes, slice the fennel even thinner to create shaved fennel pieces.
When serving this fennel salad with a fatty cut of meat (such as lamb chops) I don’t add the olive oil to the salad. Why? Without the oil the tart acidic flavor of the salad cuts through the fatty, savory meat just a little bit better.


Serving: 1/2 cupCalories: 48kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 0.5gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0.5gSodium: 178mgFiber: 2g
Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestfulkitchen and #zestfulkitchen!
shaved fennel in a dish with lemon dest, fennel fronds and black pepper

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This recipe and article were originally published on May 4, 2020.

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine,,, and more.

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  1. 5 stars
    I made this to go with my grilled spatchcocked chicken last night and it was the perfect side dish. I will be making this more often, especially to go with anything grilled!

  2. 5 stars
    This was so good! I made it last night for the family. I added red and yellow bell pepper for color. It was just the right amount of tartness with the flavor of the fennel. Luckily I made a huge batch so we have some for today.

    1. Hi Lisa! So happy to hear you enjoyed this recipe. LOVE the idea of adding some bell pepper for color, I will have to try that the next time I make this!