A Grilled Chicken Salad is the quintessential summer dinner, and this recipe is my favorite! Tender chicken is paired with crisp greens, feta, strawberries, avocado, and cherry tomatoes, all tied together with a zippy honey mustard dressing.
Why You’ll Love This Simple Grilled Salad
- It Starts with the Best Chicken. My reader-favorite Grilled Chicken recipe, to be precise, with your choice of marinade. Always tender, always juicy, and perfectly charred for maximum flavor.
- It’s Full of Contrasting Textures and Flavors. Crunchy almonds! Juicy strawberries and tomatoes! Crisp greens! Creamy avocado! Sweet, savory, salty, umami—all supremely delicious elements that are a must in any of my salad recipes.
- It Keeps Your Kitchen Cool. Anyone else just want to abandon their kitchen for the summer? Okay, that’s not exactly an option when you’re a food blogger, but if I can avoid standing over the stovetop or turning on the oven when its warm, that’s a win in my book.
- That Dressing, Though. With honey, Dijon, and bright, citrusy lemon, it’s lick-the-spoon good and perfect for bringing everything together. So much flavor!
- It’s Made to Be Eaten Al Fresco. Grill the chicken outside, toss the salad and dressing together in the kitchen, then eat dinner on the patio so you can enjoy that cool evening breeze. Oh, and make yourself a Skinny Margarita or St. Germain Cocktail too. You can’t have dinner on the patio without a fancy drink. (I made up that rule, but it’s a good one.)
How to Make Grilled Chicken Salad
For the Salad
- Grilled Chicken Breasts. I like to make these for dinner one night, then set aside two breasts to make this grilled chicken salad the next night. Cook once, eat twice!
- Sliced Almonds. Feel free to swap in walnuts or even cashews. Delish in Chinese Chicken Salad too!
- Red Onion or Shallot. These give the salad a little punch, but I have a secret for mellowing their flavor to make them palatable even if you’re not usually a raw onion fan.
- Romaine Lettuce and Baby Spinach. The salad’s green base.
- Strawberries. Strawberries not lookin’ so hot at the grocery store? Swap in blueberries.
- Cherry Tomatoes. Adds color, flavor, and pops of juicy acidity.
- Avocados. These add a creamy texture and some healthy fats to your salad.
- Kosher Salt. Don’t forget to season your salads!
- Feta Cheese. Goat cheese is delicious in this grilled chicken salad, too.
For the Dressing
- Lemon Juice. Freshly squeezed, not the bottled kind!
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. Our dressing base.
- Honey. Adds a touch of sweetness.
- Dijon Mustard. This adds a nice depth to the dressing, making it much more flavorful than a simple lemon vinaigrette.
- Kosher Salt and Black Pepper. Classics.
- Toast the Almonds. This brings out their flavor.
- Soak the Red Onion. This removes the harsh bite.
- Make the Dressing. A liquid measuring cup is an easy vessel.
- Toss Everything Together. ENJOY!
- Grilled Shrimp Salad. Swap the grilled chicken with grilled shrimp—I have an awesome Grilled Shrimp Seasoning recipe!
- Grilled Chicken Salad With Whole Grains. Add Cooked Quinoa or farro to your salad for extra texture and protein.
- Fruity Grilled Chicken Salad. Swap the honey Dijon dressing for a balsamic vinaigrette, then used sliced ripe peaches in place of the tomatoes.
- Veggie-Packed Grilled Chicken Salad. Instead of strawberries, add slices of cucumber and fresh corn cut off the cob.
- Rotisserie Chicken Salad. No time for grilling? This salad recipe works with rotisserie chicken or even leftover Baked Chicken Breast.
- BBQ Chicken Salad. Use my BBQ Chicken Salad for inspiration.
- To Store. It’s best to store the salad, dressing, and chicken separately. The chicken and salad will last in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, while the dressing will last a week. If assembled, the salad will keep in the refrigerator for about a day.
- To Reheat. Warm the chicken in a skillet over medium-low heat, or microwave it until it’s heated through.
- To Freeze. With so many fresh ingredients, this is not a recipe that freezes well.
Meal Prep Tip
Prepare the chicken in advance and store it in an airtight container for up to 3 days. You can assemble the salad ahead of time, but don’t dress it until you’re ready to serve to keep the greens from getting soggy.
Transform your grilled chicken salad into a wrap! Tuck the ingredients into a tortilla, roll it up like a burrito, and you’ve transformed your salad into a portable lunch. Or take inspo from Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad and toss it with cooked pasta noodles.
What to Serve with Grilled Chicken Salad
- Soup. Soup and salad is always a good combo! Try it with a light vegetable soup like Roasted Carrot Soup or Instant Pot Tomato Soup.
- Bread. Pairing salad with a crusty piece of bread makes me feel like I’m eating at a cafe. Buy a baguette from your favorite bakery, or if you’re feeling ambitious, try my Crock Pot Bread.
- Summery Cocktail. A Skinny Blackberry Margarita? Don’t mind if I do!
Recipe Tips & Tricks
- Make Sure the Greens are Completely Dry. Before you assemble the salad, use a salad spinner to get them good and dry. This makes for a more flavorful salad, and it also keeps it from getting soggy.
- Don’t Overdress the Salad. You can always add more dressing, but you can’t go back.
- Toss the Salad with Clean Hands. I know this sounds WEIRD, but it’s the best way to get things distributed, not over dress the salad, and not crush softer ingredients, like avocado.
- Or, Wait to Toss. If you know you’ll be enjoying leftovers, only dress the part of the salad you plan to eat right away.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Non-slip Cutting Board. I like this cutting board because it doesn’t soak up odors and flavors—which means no more fruit that tastes like onions!
- Mixing Bowls. Yes, these are glass, but they’re totally indestructible because they’re Duralex.
- Citrus Juicer. I love this lemon juicer because it has an insert for limes too. Convenient!
Get out and enjoy dinner al fresco tonight with this summery grilled chicken salad.
Frequently Asked Questions
Grilled chicken salad is a great way to get in your protein and veggies. The combination of lean protein, fresh produce, healthy fats, and fiber makes it a super-nutritious meal option.
Yes, you can make grilled chicken salad ahead of time, but I recommend storing the chicken, dressing, and the rest of the ingredients separately and then putting them together right before serving.
A light vinaigrette is best with grilled chicken salad; a creamy, heavier dressing takes away some of the lightness and freshness of this recipe. I make a dressing with olive oil, lemon juice, and Dijon, but a balsamic vinaigrette or vinaigrette made with red wine vinegar works well too.
Grilled Chicken Salad
For the Salad:
- 2 medium Grilled Chicken Breasts diced into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 small red onion or 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
- 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce about 1 large heart
- 4 cups baby spinach about 4 ounces
- 8 ounces strawberries hulled and quartered (about 1/2 pint)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved (about 6 ounces)
- 2 ripe avocados diced, divided
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup feta cheese
- Toast the almonds: Add the almonds to a large skillet and heat over medium. Cook, stirring constantly to prevent burning, for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue cooking and stirring until they are fragrant and just starting to turn golden, about 3 to 5 minutes more. Immediately transfer to a plate or bowl to cool.
- Place the sliced onion in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad (this keeps the flavor but removes the harsh onion bite).
- Make the dressing: In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup with a spout, briskly whisk together the lemon juice, oil, honey, mustard, salt, and pepper until evenly combined.
- In a large bowl, place the romaine and spinach. Add the strawberries, tomatoes, and 1 of the avocados. Sprinkle with salt. Drain the red onion, pat it dry, and add it as well. Add the chicken. Spoon about half of the dressing over the salad and toss to coat (I find that clean hands are an ideal tool for tossing). Assess the amount of dressing. You want the leaves to be nicely moistened but not swimming in dressing. Add a little more if needed to suit your preferences.
- Add the remaining avocado, feta, and almonds. Toss again lightly to combine. Serve immediately, with extra dressing on the side as desired.
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