If I could pick a single word to describe an ideal summer evening, it would be “ahhhhhh.” It might not score big literary points, but in a single syllable, it encapsulates the feeling of utter relaxation and release that accompany leisurely warm-weather nights. To me, ahhhhhh translates to outdoor patios, cool beverages, and plates piled high with simple, beautiful dishes such as this grilled Balsamic Chicken Salad.

Blackberry balsamic chicken salad with feta tossed in a white bowl

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Loaded with blackberries, feta, and avocado, this salad epitomizes summer cooking.

  • It’s fresh and healthy.
  • It celebrates seasonal ingredients.
  • Best of all, it requires hardly any cooking at all.
Healthy grilled balsamic chicken salad with blackberries in a bowl surrounded by whole pecans

5 Star Review

“We make this at least once a week and riff on the ingredients list. Such an easy and filling salad!”

— Hilary —

How to Make Balsamic Chicken Salad

This perfect summer salad couldn’t be easier (or more delicious). Simply marinade, grill, slice, toss, and enjoy.


The Ingredients

  • Balsamic-Honey Marinade. One of the best parts about this salad is the chicken marinade which does double-duty as the final salad dressing too. This is one of my favorite tricks that I do often, like with this Teriyaki Salmon Quinoa Bowl recipe.
  • Chicken. The grilled chicken makes this salad filling and satisfying while adding summer flair.
  • Avocado. Makes the salad feel luscious and creamy.
  • Feta. Gives this salad a scrumptious salty tang.
  • Red Onion. Brings the bite and a little crunch.
  • Basil. Showers the salad with fragrant freshness.
  • Pecans. Provide warmth and added crunch.
  • Blackberries. My favorite juicy, summery addition that adds a touch of sweetness. (If you have as much love for blackberries as I do, you’ll love these other blackberry recipes.)

Substitution

If your on-hand ingredient list does not match the recipe exactly, fear not. This balsamic chicken salad recipe is ultra-flexible.

  • Have extra strawberries and blueberries you’d like to toss in? Go for it!
  • Out of pecans but there’s an extra bag of almonds lurking in your pantry? Use them instead!
  • Swap the feta for some extra grated parmesan of slices of brie.

Think about the different salad elements: crunch (nuts), bite (red onion), creamy (avocado + cheese), and sweet (berries), then find different ways to represent them with the ingredients you have on hand.

Overhead image of grilled balsamic chicken salad with pecans, blackberries and avocado

The Directions

  1. Whisk together the marinade ingredients.
  2. Marinate the chicken breasts for at least 30 minutes, reserving half of the marinade to use later as dressing.
  3. Grill the chicken. Let rest, then slice.
  4. Toss the remaining ingredients together in a large serving bowl with the reserved dressing. Top with the grilled chicken. ENJOY!

How to Store Balsamic Chicken Salad

  • This salad, once composed, is best enjoyed shortly after it is made.
  • To Store. Leftover chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Let come to room temperature, then use to top additional salads throughout the week.

More Chicken Salad Recipes

Summer grilled chicken salad in a bowl with blackberries, feta and pecans

I hope this simple but satisfying balsamic chicken salad lets you carve a little extra ahhhhhh time into your agenda.

A bowl of balsamic chicken salad with blackberries and avocado

Balsamic Chicken Salad

5 from 5 votes
Balsamic Chicken Salad with blackberries, avocado and feta tossed in an easy balsamic salad vinaigrette that's both a marinade and dressing.

Prep: 40 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 55 mins

Servings: 2 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 small chicken breasts about 6 ounces each, lightly pounded to an even thickness
  • 6 cups fresh spinach loosely packed
  • 2/3 cup blackberries halved if large
  • 1/4 small red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 small avocado peeled, pitted, and sliced into wedges or chunks
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pecan halves roughly chopped

Instructions
 

  • In a small bowl or large measuring cup, briskly whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper until blended.
  • Place the chicken breasts in a shallow dish or large ziptop bag and pour half of the balsamic mixture over the top. Cover the dish (or seal the bag) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Reserve the other half of the (unused) balsamic mixture for serving.
  • Spray an indoor grill pan or a regular nonstick pan with nonstick spray and heat to medium high. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, shaking off any excess. Discard the used marinade. Once the grill pan is hot, place the chicken breasts the pan and cook for 3 minutes. Flip, then cook for 3 minutes on the other side. Flip the chicken back to the first side, then reduce the heat to medium. Continue cooking the chicken for an additional 9 to 10 minutes, turning once or twice, until it is cooked through and reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. The actual cooking time may vary depending upon the thickness of your chicken. Remove to a plate, cover with foil to keep warm, and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut into bite-size pieces or longer slices as you prefer.
  • To serve: Place the spinach, blackberries, and onion in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with remaining dressing, then toss to coat. Place the avocado and chicken on top, then sprinkle with the feta, basil, and pecans. Enjoy immediately.

Notes

  • This salad, once composed, is best enjoyed shortly after it is made.
  • Leftover chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Let come to room temperature, then use to top additional salads throughout the week.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 2), with dressing and without marinadeCalories: 542kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 47gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 115mgFiber: 8gSugar: 9g

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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12 Comments

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    1. YAY Patty I’m so glad to hear the recipe was a winner! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave this great review.

  1. Made this last night for dinner, and had it again for lunch. Absolutely delicious. I did substitute crisp leafy lettuce for the spinach, and added a dash of dijon and garlic to the dressing. The combination of blackberries, avocado and pecans was divine. Perfect for a summer dinner or lunch!5 stars

    1. YAY Kim! I’m so excited to hear that the recipe was a hit for you. Thanks so much for sharing your tweaks—they sound delicious!

  2. It only took me about a year to make this, but this recipe is a definite keeper.  My husband enjoyed it as much as I did, and even at the avocado!  Thanks for sharing such a great recipe. 

    PS.  I did leave out the onion, but substituted some snipped chives, because raw onion is just too much for us these days.5 stars

    1. Hi Susan, I’m so happy you enjoyed this recipe – and glad to know your chive substitution was just as delicious. Thanks so much for sharing your feedback!

  3. Looks great! However, I am not sure it’s a good idea to save the chicken marinade to use for later unless it’s boiled or something. Am I mistaken?

    1. Hi Jason! Use the part of the marinade that is reserved (not the part that gets poured over the chicken) and you will be good to go!

  4. This was the first week for blackberries at our farmers market, and I bought them because I remembered this recipe.  It’s a  little chilly for grilling, so I poached the chicken and shredded it. The salad is delicious. I kept the ingredients separate so we can have the leftovers later in the week.5 stars