Learn how to make the ultimate Grilled Chicken Salad recipe with a simple formula for mixing and matching tender, juicy grilled chicken with leafy greens, veg, fruit, nuts, and a delicious dressing for healthy salad recipes that never get boring!
Table of contents
- Fresh and Summery Grilled Chicken Salad
- Why This Healthy Grilled Chicken Salad Recipe Works?
- Ingredients You Will Need
- Top Tips to Grill Chicken for Salad
- How to Make Grilled Chicken Salad
- Recipe Notes and Tips
- Optional Add-ins and Recipe Variations
- Serving Recommendations
- Making This Recipe in Advance
- More Healthy Salad Recipes
Fresh and Summery Grilled Chicken Salad
When the sun comes out, for our family, that means it’s grilling weather! We get to spend time as a family outdoors, eat great food, and step away from our digital devices for a while; what could be better? When the grill is ready, along with grill classics, you can never have enough summery salad ideas like this grilled chicken salad.
Not to sound shameless, but I’m a bit of a salad ‘queen’; there’s no reason for them to be anything other than delicious (definitely not boring!), like this, Italian chopped salad, asparagus dijon salad, and white bean salad. That’s certainly the case with this grilled chicken salad recipe; packing in tons of flavor, it’s like summer in a bowl. Even better, it’s still packed with nutrition, is protein-dense, and will leave you fully satisfied- perfect for cookouts, picnics, potlucks, gatherings, or just a mid-week meal!
This grilled chicken breast salad idea is a treat for your tastebuds too with a delicious combination of protein, healthy fats, leafy greens, crunchy nuts, and savory-sweet fruit and veg. Whether you are firing up the grill fresh, have leftover grilled chicken from the night before, or have spent a weekend testing chicken marinades (or was that just me?!), learning how to make the best grilled chicken salad recipe is a must-do for all!
Best of all, this recipe is super (duper) versatile. Follow my outlined formula below for the perfect ratio of flavors and textures. Grilled chicken salad has never looked (or tasted) as good!
Why This Healthy Grilled Chicken Salad Recipe Works?
- This grilled chicken salad is super fresh and bright – it’s like summer in a bowl!
- The entire salad is wonderfully balanced with soft, tender, creamy, and crunchy textures and consistencies!
- It’s also a very balanced meal nutritionally with a combination of protein, greens, healthy fats, and fruit.
- This recipe is super versatile; as long as you follow my formula for the best grilled chicken salad below, then there are tons of ways to customize it to your liking based on what you have available!
- It’s also packed with protein with the combination of grilled chicken and toasted nuts.
- Prepare this salad fresh or meal-prep it in advance!
- Weather not playing ball? This leafy green salad with grilled chicken and fruit is just as enjoyable with other types of chicken (listed below).
Ingredients You Will Need
This grilled chicken salad supreme perfectly balances different flavors and textures by following a simple formula (that is restaurant quality, if I do say so myself!). Luckily, it’s super versatile, so if you want to sub something out – just sub it with an item of the same ‘category’ to maintain the perfect balance!
The perfect formula for best salad with grilled chicken:
- Leafy greens: I used mixed baby greens as the base of my summer chicken salad. They are a staple in our fridge because they are pre-washed, organic, cheap, and every store carries them. Chopped romaine, kale, or arugula would also be delicious! Basically, choose whatever greens you prefer.
- Juicy fruit: If you’re not a sweet and savory salad type of person, don’t panic. Tomatoes and avocados are two options in this category. What you’re looking for are soft and juicy ingredients that pack in a ton of flavor. For those who want a super summer chicken salad, then the addition of fruit like raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries is recommended! Other fruit options include apple, peach, mango, or clementine.
Top tip: You can toss them in raw or grill them up alongside the grilled chicken – particularly with tomatoes and strawberries.
- Toasted nuts: Nuts will help add crunch and healthy fats to the salad; when toasted, they also pack a punch of flavor. I like to use unsalted roasted mixed nuts. However, you could use an individual variety like walnuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, or even pine nuts. For a nut-free option, you could use sunflower seeds or pepitas.
- Cheese: Cheese adds a salty, savory flavor and creamy texture and is a must in my book. Soft cheese that crumbles like feta and goat cheese are favorites. Gorgonzola would also work – but isn’t the most ‘child-friendly’.
- Grilled chicken: You can have a grilled chicken salad without delicious grilled chicken. Even better, if it’s not grill weather, then you can still enjoy a delicious grilled salad chicken. Keep reading (next section) for all my top tips on the chicken!
- Salad dressing: Luckily, just as the actual summer chicken salad recipe is versatile, so is the choice of salad dressing. For this particular version, I used my healthy poppy seed dressing, which is creamy with a slight sweet onion flavor. However, based on the ingredients you use, you could also use a honey mustard dressing, healthy ranch dressing, Asian salad dressing, or a simply herby vinaigrette (olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and dried herbs).
Using a delicious chicken marinade? Why not double it up and use the leftovers as a salad dressing (if the flavors make sense, of course).
This green salad with grilled chicken combination just never fails. The main thing is to make sure not to omit any of the above categories entirely. However, you can add in bonus ‘extras.’ Keep reading below (after the recipe how-to) for more information on recipe add-ins and variations!
What did I use? This time I combined the grilled chicken with baby greens, raspberries, tomatoes, feta, mixed nuts, and thinly sliced red onion. Topped off with my creamy poppy seed dressing to finish.
Top Tips to Grill Chicken for Salad
- For even cooking: If you don’t have even-sized pieces, pound the chicken with a meat mallet to ensure all of the chicken is even in thickness, so it cooks evenly.
- Seasoning/Marinade: If you use my simple grilled chicken breast, then it has a simple marinade with lemon, olive oil, garlic, oregano, and salt & pepper and only requires 30 minutes of marinating. However, want something with a little more flavor? Why not try grilled lemon rosemary chicken or coconut lime chicken.
- Cook it to perfection: Follow all the tips on my recipe post. As a general rule, make sure to grill the chicken until the internal temperature reaches 165F for tender, juicy results.
- Don’t forget the resting time: As soon as the chicken has reached the internal temp, remove it from the grill and allow it to rest, under foil, for 5 minutes. This is critical for allowing the juices to redistribute/settle for super tender, juicy chicken.
- No grill? Don’t panic: This salad is just as enjoyable with other types of healthy chicken breast recipes like air fryer chicken breast, air fryer chicken tenders, or Instant Pot chicken breast.
How to Make Grilled Chicken Salad
- Marinate the chicken: Add the chicken and marinade ingredients to a large dish, mix with tongs, and allow to marinate for 30 minutes (minimum), up to 24 hours (depending on the marinade).
- Grill the chicken: Grill the chicken over medium-high heat (450F) for around 10 minutes, flipping once – or until the internal temperature reaches 165F). Once cooked, allow the chicken to rest under some foil for 5 minutes.
- Prepare the salad ingredients: Meanwhile, either as the chicken marinates or cooks, you can prepare the salad ingredients. First, wash and chop the produce. If you want to grill any of the ingredients, make sure to do so simultaneously as the chicken cooks. At the same time, toast the nuts/seeds in a dry pan for a couple of minutes, stirring often, until fragrant (be careful; they will burn quickly!).
- Prepare the dressing: In a small bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients and use a fork or whisk to mix them well- then set aside.
- Assemble the salad: In a large bowl, add the greens, sliced grilled chicken, fruit, nuts, and vegetables. I recommend serving the dressing in a jug on the side so people can add as much as they’d like and, if you have any leftovers, they’ll store better.
Recipe Notes and Tips
- Maintain the balance: This chicken salad with grilled chicken, fruits and nuts is super versatile, but for the best results, it’s best to maintain the balance of flavors and texture. Want to swap out one veg? Use something similar in its place, etc. (you get the idea)
- Match marinated chicken to similar flavors: i.e., using Greek chicken? Pair with other Mediterranean flavors like tomatoes, kalamata olives, cucumber, avocado, and feta, etc, like in this Greek salad recipe.
- Create a salad bar: If you’re serving many guests, then a salad bar is a fun way to enjoy this grilled salad chicken and accommodate picky eaters. Add all the various toppings in different dishes and allow people to pile up their plates with the ingredients and dressing of choice.
Optional Add-ins and Recipe Variations
- BONUS vegetables: If you want to pack in even more nutrients, then you can add several veggies to your summer chicken salad. Some of my favorites for grilled chicken salad ideas include grilled corn, mushrooms, cucumber, asparagus, olives, green onion, etc.
- Extra protein: Chicken pairs well with other proteins like crispy bacon and Instant Pot boiled eggs.
- Swap out the protein: This salad can also be served with grilled salmon, shrimp, or even carne asada steak!
It sure is – this salad with grilled chicken recipe combines protein, healthy fats, fiber, and plenty of fresh, healthy ingredients with a healthy salad dressing for a super nutrient-dense meal!
By following a simple formula of different types of ingredients then you’ll make a delicious grilled chicken salad recipe every single time! This formula contains a perfect balance of textures and flavors for a salad even children and veggie-haters will love!
You can enjoy this salad alone, alongside pita or grains, with a starter appetizer such as olive oil bread dip, or as part of a larger spread alongside several side dishes like:
- Healthy potato salad
- Healthy coleslaw
- Mexican corn salad
- Baked mac and cheese
- Balsamic grilled vegetables
- Bacon wrapped asparagus
Making This Recipe in Advance
Make-Ahead: You can prepare all the elements in advance. Chicken can be left to marinate overnight, the salad ingredients can be prepared at the same time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge, and you can make the dressing up to a week (or more) in advance!
You can also meal-prep this grilled chicken salad recipe for work lunches. To do this, make up a layered mason jar with the dressing as the bottom, then meat, then the vegetables. You can shake it up before eating.
Store: If the salad is dressed, then make sure to eat it on the same day (within 12 hours). If the salad, dressing, and nuts are stored separately, then you can store them for up to two days, covered, in the refrigerator. If you make up a large batch or two of grilled chicken, then you can make a week’s worth of salads!
More Healthy Salad Recipes
Grilled Chicken Salad
Healthy Poppyseed Dressing
Grilled Chicken Breast
Grilled Chicken Salad
- Mixed baby greens
- 1 cup raspberries strawberries or blueberries
- 1 cup grape tomatoes cut in halves
- 1/4 cup feta or goat cheese crumbled
- 1/2 cup toasted mixed nuts unsalted
- 1/3 cup red onion thinly sliced
- To make poppy seed dressing: In a small bowl add yogurt, maple syrup, vinegar, mustard, poppy seeds, onion powder, salt and pepper. Stir well with a fork to combine. Set aside.
- To make grilled chicken: In a large bowl add chicken, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. ; Stir with tongs and let marinate for 30 minutes.
- Grill on medium high heat (450 degrees F) for 10 minutes, flipping once. Rest under foil for 5 minutes.
- To make grilled chicken salad: In a large salad bowl, add greens, sliced grilled chicken breast, raspberries, tomatoes, feta, nuts and red onion.
- Drizzle with healthy poppyseed dressing and toss gently to combine. Serve immediately.
Make-Ahead: You can prepare all the elements in advance. Marinate chicken overnight, store salad ingredients in airtight container, and you can make the dressing up to a week (or more) in advance!
Store: If the salad is dressed, then make sure to eat it on the same day (within 12 hours). If the salad, dressing, and nuts are stored separately, then you can store them for up to two days, covered, in the refrigerator.
- Leafy greens: Chopped Romaine, kale or arugula would be delicious!
- Toasted nuts: You can use any raw nuts like cashews, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts and toast on a skillet on medium heat until fragrant, stirring often not to burn.
- Chicken: Chicken thighs would work as well.
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