Grilled chicken salad, served with a delicious citrus vinaigrette and garnished with dried cranberries, crumbled feta cheese and slivers of roasted almonds. It includes a wide variety of textures, colors and flavors. Crunchy roasted almonds add a wonderful nutty flavor to this already delicious salad and serve as a healthy substitute to croutons. Feta, red onions and shallots add a touch of savory taste. Dried cranberries add that sweet and tart taste to balance out the savory bits. The list goes on.
The best part is that this salad is very popular with children. I couldn’t think of an easier way to make my kids eat plenty of raw veggies.
Grilled chicken salad health benefits
This chicken salad is as healthy as it is delicious. It includes a variety of fresh greens and raw vegetables, including cherry tomatoes, red onions, red and green bell peppers, as well as shredded carrots and beets. Raw vegetables provide a ton of health benefits. There isn’t a better way to incorporate so many vitamins and antioxidants in your diet than a salad like this.
You can further add other nutritious vegetables to this recipe or make substitutions. Your imagination is the limit here. Instead of spring mix, try spinach, a superfood with many health benefits. Or incorporate watercress which is packed with nutrients, antioxidants and other health properties.
Steps to make a great grilled chicken salad
Making this grilled chicken salad involves 5 easy steps. Each step comes with a few little secrets to help you make the greatest tasting grilled chicken salad.
Prepare the vegetables and the greens. You want to have all of the salad ingredients ready to make salad assembly quick and easy. Some veggies are best cut into bite size pieces, like bell peppers. Pungent veggies, like onions, are best chopped or thinly sliced. Tough to bite ones, like carrots or beets, are best shredded.
Prepare the dressing or vinaigrette. This grilled chicken salad recipes comes with a recipe for a vinaigrette that is so delicious that you can literally drink it. It’s perfectly balanced and not too oily. You can use it as a salad dressing or as a marinade for your grilled chicken.
Cut your chicken breast in half lengthwise to come up with two thin chicken cutlets. These cutlets will cook quick over high heat and won’t dry out. Season the chicken with salt and pepper if desired. But really, all you need is a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette to season them perfectly. Massage them for a few minutes and they will quickly absorb the dressing and become flavored inside out. There is no need to marinate them longer than 15 minutes after that. Then grill the breasts, shortly before assembling and serving the salad.
Assemble the salad. Toss the tomatoes, peppers and onions with a little bit of the vinaigrette to cover them evenly. Good dressing coverage makes the salad taste great with every bite. No need to toss the spring mix with the dressing as the leaves will stick to each other and won’t look as elegant. Besides, the spring mix will be at the bottom where the dressing will end up anyway.
Finally, add the garnish. Nutty, crunchy roasted almonds are a fantastic addition to the chicken salad. Pieces of feta will add some savory notes to contrast sweetness of of the dressing and the bell peppers. Dried cranberries are a great addition too, as well as chopped parsley. They add more depth to the flavor.
More tips to make the best tasting grilled chicken salad
- Always grill the chicken right before assembling and serving the salad. Chicken breasts are at their peak of taste and juiciness hot from the grill.
- While I highly recommend using freshly grilled chicken for this salad, chilled and refrigerated grilled chicken works very well in this salad too. There is no need to warm it up, though you can if you wish.
- If don’t have access to a grill, you can still make this delicious grilled chicken salad. Use a grill pan to grill the chicken on the stove. You can also cook the chicken on a regular skillet following my method in the 10-Minute Pan-Fried Chicken Breast recipe.
- For a lower sodium version of this salad, skip feta cheese and reduce the amount of dressing. You can also reduce the amount of salt in the dressing but it will affect the taste.
For the grilled chicken:
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- kosher salt (to taste, if needed)
- 2 Tbsp citrus vinaigrette (from the recipe below)
For the grilled chicken salad:
- 8 cups spring mix (loosely filled)
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)
- 1/2 red onion (chopped)
- 1/2 green bell pepper (cored, quartered and sliced)
- 1/2 red bell pepper (cored, quartered and sliced)
- 1/4 cup almonds (roasted, then slivered; see notes)
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup feta cheese (crumbled)
- 2 cups shredded carrots (raw)
- 2 cups shredded beets (raw)
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
For the citrus vinaigrette:
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (very good quality)
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 3 Tbsp orange juice (freshly squeezed)
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 shallot (small, minced)
- To prepare the vinaigrette, place all of its ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together vigorously, until well blended.
- Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise (to come up with two thin cutlets) and place in a large bowl. Season with salt if desired. Add two tablespoons of the citrus vinaigrette and gently massage with your hands for a couple of minutes to get the meat absorb the liquid. Let rest and marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes while you are preparing the vegetables.
- Place the red the onion, bell peppers and cherry tomatoes in a separate medium bowl. Add two tablespoons of vinaigrette and toss gently using your hand. Set aside.
- Fire up your grill and set the temperature to medium, about 300F. Grill chicken breasts over direct heat about 2-3 minutes per side, or until cooked and the internal temperature reached 165F. Set aside and keep warm.If you don't have access to a grill, you can cook the chicken breast in a skillet using an easy method provided in the 10-Minute Pan-Fried Chicken Breast recipe.
- Assemble the salad by spreading spring mix on the bottom of a serving plate. Add one half of a chicken breast, sliced into bite size pieces. Add the red onion, bell pepper and tomato mix on both sides of the chicken. Add the shredded carrots and beets. Garnish with crumbled feta, almonds, cranberries and chopped parsley. Drizzle with more dressing and serve.