I think a great salad is hard to come by unless you're eating it at a restaurant. This balsamic chicken salad will have you asking for more. It only takes 20 minutes from start to finish, including cooking your own chicken and preparing your own dressing! You can shorten the time even more if you buy store bought cooked chicken breast.
I love this salad because it is bursting with bright flavors. It feels so refreshing and summery. It has chicken, nuts, fruit, cheese, and a tangy sweet balsamic dressing. I love this recipe as a lunch option, but it would also make a great dinner component, if served with warm bread, soup, or a pesto or alfredo pasta.
Why You'll Love This
- Protein Packed – This salad is a great midday meal, because it contains three great sources of protein to fuel the rest of your day. Walnuts, chicken breast, and parmesan all pack a protein punch.
- Taste the Rainbow – This colorful salad is not only visually appealing, but also contains a range of vitamins and antioxidants. Vitamins A, B6, B9, C, K, manganese and potassium can all be found in this meal.
Ingredients For Balsamic Chicken Salad
- Chicken Breast – You will need to sauté two large boneless, skinless chicken breasts for your chicken salad.
- Salt and Pepper –The chicken gets a little salt and pepper to season it. We will also need salt and pepper for the dressing.
- Mixed Greens – Choose 5 ounces of your favorite mixed greens for the base of the salad. Mixed containers are nice for their mild flavor and variety. However, you could use whatever salad greens you prefer for this dish.
- Walnuts – Walnuts are a great source of protein and omega-3s. They add a nice crunch to this salad!
- Parmesan – Shredded parmesan adds a necessary savory element to this sweet and tangy salad. You could swap it for feta or goat cheese if you prefer.
- Strawberries – Rinse, hull, and halve your strawberries before you begin. Choose nice, ripe strawberries that are a bright, deep red in color.
- Blueberries – Blueberries add a delicious, juicy element to this dish. Plus, they are rich in antioxidants.
- Mandarin Oranges – You can separate your own mandarin segments, or buy them canned. If you are preparing fresh oranges, you will likely want to remove the pith - the white, stringy outer membrane. It can lend a little bitterness to the oranges, and they also look nicer without it. An easy way to remove it is to allow your oranges to soak in boiling water for 5 minutes prior to peeling. This way, the pith and peel should remove easily once they have cooled.
Ingredients for the Homemade Balsamic Dressing
- Olive Oil – Olive oil also comes in twice in this recipe. You will need a little for frying your chicken breast, and more for creating your salad dressing. Olive oil is the perfect choice for a salad dressing base, but it can be swapped out if you have another favorite oil. Note that coconut oil is not a good choice for salad dressing.
- Balsamic Vinegar – You can’t have balsamic chicken salad without balsamic vinegar! This sweet, thick vinegar is made from grapes, making it the perfect vinegar for dressing a fruity salad like this one. True balsamic vinegar was originally used as medicine, and is antiviral, and aids in insulin sensitivity and digestive health, so enjoy generously!
- Dijon Mustard – Dijon helps to round out the flavor of the dressing, bridging the tanginess and sweetness.
- Honey – All salad dressings need a sweetener. I like honey for its natural sweetness and health benefits including being antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. However, you could also substitute agave or maple syrup if you prefer!
- Garlic Powder – A little garlic goes a long way in this salad dressing. Powder works better than fresh garlic in this recipe, as it is more easily incorporated.
How to make Balsamic Chicken Salad
1. Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Whisk vigorously.
2. Salt and pepper the chicken then sauté in 1 tbs olive oil for 3-4 minutes on each side until cooked.
3. Arrange your salad with the mixed greens with walnuts, blueberries, strawberries, orange segments, cheese and sliced chicken. Add balsamic dressing.
Step by Step Instructions
First, make your balsamic vinegar dressing! Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic powder, and ¼ tsp of salt and ¼ tsp of pepper in a mixing bowl. Whisk together until all of your ingredients are completely incorporated. Set your dressing aside, or transfer it to a bottle for serving.
Next, it is time to cook the chicken breast. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tbs of olive oil. Place your chicken breasts in the skillet, and season them with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper on each side.
Sauté your chicken breasts for about 3-4 minutes on each side, until it is done. Once your chicken has finished cooking, allow it to rest for 3-5 minutes. Then, slice it into bite sized pieces appropriate for your salad.
Now it is time to assemble the salad. Place your mixed greens in a large salad bowl. Top the greens with walnuts, strawberries, blueberries, mandarin orange segments, cheese, and chicken.
Top with croutons or other optional garnishes, if desired. Serve with your homemade balsamic dressing. Enjoy!
- Dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Separation is normal. Simply shake or stir to reincorporate.
If the oil in your dressing solidifies in the refrigerator, you can microwave it in 15 second intervals until you are able to reincorporate the oil.
- If you wish to prepare this recipe for make-ahead lunches, you can assemble as follows:
- Prepare large glass jars for assembly
- Pour about 2-3 tbs of your dressing into the bottom of each jar.
- Layer the rest of your salad ingredients into the jars as follows: blueberries, mandarin oranges, strawberries, chicken, cheese, greens, walnuts.
- Close the jars and store overnight in the refrigerator. When you are ready to enjoy your mason jar salads, simply shake them up to mix the ingredients, and pour into a bowl or eat right out of the jar!
Oil and vinegar is a great, healthy way to dress your salads. Vinegar comes with several health benefits, and olive oil is a healthy fat. While you can choose to dress your salad with just these two ingredients, you will likely find that you are missing a little salt and sweetness. This balsamic dressing uses simple ingredients that taste great without making the dish unhealthy. I like honey as a natural sweetener, but you can play with this recipe and swap the honey and olive oil for other options if you prefer.
Prepare your salad dressing by whisking all components in a bowl. Grill or sauté your chicken breast and allow it to rest. Slice and mix in a large bowl along with your other salad ingredients.
Is balsamic vinegar a healthy salad dressing?
Balsamic vinegar has numerous health benefits, and in fact was originally marketed as medicinal. Including vinegar in your diet can improve your gut health and more! Choosing a vinegar based dressing, rather than one built from mayonnaise is one simple way to make your meal healthier.
Looking for more delicious summer dishes? Try these:
Balsamic Chicken Salad
For the Salad
- 2 Chicken Breast boneless & skinless
- ¼ tsp Salt
- ¼ tsp Pepper
- 1 tbs Olive Oil
- 5 oz Mixed Salad Greens container
- ¼ cup Walnuts
- ⅓ cup Parmesan Cheese shredded
- ½ cup Strawberries halved
- ½ cup Blueberries
- ½ cup Mandarin Orange Segments canned
For the Dressing
- 1 cup Olive Oil
- ¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 2 tbs Dijon Mustard
- 2 tbs Honey
- ½ tsp Garlic Powder
- ¼ tsp Salt
- ¼ tsp Black Pepper
- In a mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Whisk vigorously until well fully incorporated. Set aside.
- Over medium-high heat, give the chicken breast a light sprinkle of salt and pepper, then sauté in 1 tbs olive oil for 3-4 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of chicken. Let rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing.
- To make the salad, top the mixed greens with walnuts, blueberries, strawberries, orange segments, cheese and sliced chicken. Serve balsamic dressing alongside salad.
Separation after refrigeration is normal.