Need lunch? Strawberry Chicken Salad with Candied Walnuts will be sure to please. It's easy, quick to make, healthy, and delicious.
There are so many compatible flavors going on in this salad. Juicy strawberries, leafy greens, and red onions. Crunch and sweetness from the candied walnuts. Tanginess from the Homemade Balsamic Dressing and feta cheese. Savory grilled chicken. This salad is truly well-balanced, and one of those recipes where I can't think of anything else I would add to it.
That's my idea of a perfect lunch.Jump to Recipe
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Strawberry Chicken Salad Recipe
There are several things I need in a lunch recipe. First, it needs to be something I can assemble and meal prep fairly quickly (in an hour or less time). Second, it needs to be healthy and rejuvenating. Often I make hearty dinners, so I try to fit in the majority of our vegetables during the lunchtime hour. My body seems to feel the best when I take in a bunch of vegetables in the middle of the day all week long. And third, it needs to be tasty & easily transportable.
One of the easiest lunch solutions I've discovered is mixing a variety of salad greens with marinated chicken on top. Along with that, I add different types of fruit and proteins like cheeses, legumes, nuts, and seeds. I like to get creative and experiment with varying flavor combinations.
Needless to say, this Strawberry Chicken Salad has become one of my top five favorite meal prep lunch salads. If you try it out, it's not hard to see why.
Do I Have to Make the Candied Walnuts?
No worries, buck. When I've been on a time crunch, I made this salad with plain old walnuts/pecans and it was just as delicious.
If you have the time (an extra 10-15 minutes) to make the candied walnuts, I still highly recommend it if you want a slightly more elevated salad experience. They add a crunchy, sweet, and toasty flavor element to this recipe. Plus, you can save the leftovers of whatever you didn't use to mix with popcorn, top ice cream, or put on other salads.
You can find the only three-ingredient recipe for my candied walnuts here:
Do I have to make the balsamic dressing?
Hmm, I think you should. The homemade balsamic dressing in this recipe is one of my favorite elements of this salad. It's simple to make; all you need is a glass jar or container to add everything to and then you shake it up until it is smooth. I love this balsamic dressing recipe so much that it's also one of the main stars of another recipe I have here on the blog called European Veggie Sandwich with Roasted Eggplant & Fresh Mozzarella – Gluten Free.
The dressing can also be used to marinate the chicken if you'd like. I tend to keep it simple and just marinate the chicken in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Notes on Strawberry Chicken Salad:
- I "grill" my chicken on a grill pan on my electric stovetop. This helps it crisp up and gives it fun grill marks. You can simply sear the chicken in a cast iron skillet or frying pan and then set it in the oven to finish cooking all the way through. Tip: Don't overcook the chicken. Remove right at 165. We will be eating it cold on this salad so if you overcook it, it might be a little dry.
- You can make the dressing a day ahead if you'd like. Store in the refrigerator. Sometimes if your refrigerator is set too cold, the olive oil will solidify after a couple of days. In this case, either leave the dressing out at room temp for 30 minutes before eating or heat the jar (never heat mason jar lids) in the microwave for 10-20 seconds, just until brought back to room temperature.
- Store the salad dressing separately from the salad. Add only when you are just about to eat.
- This salad would also be delicious with grilled or roasted salmon.
Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Salad with Candied Walnuts
For the Chicken:
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts halved lengthwise
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
For the Salad:
- 2 cups strawberries halved
- spring lettuce mix
- ¼ red onion
- feta cheese sprinkled on to your liking
- handful of Candied Walnuts
For the Balsamic Dressing:
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoon honey
- salt & pepper to taste
For the Balsamic Dressing:
- Add all of the ingredients to a mason jar or sealed container; shake until smooth. Taste test on a piece of lettuce. If too tart, add a dash of sugar or more honey. Be careful not to make it too sweet.
For the Salad:
- Wash and trim chicken breasts. Cut in half lengthwise & place in a Ziploc bag. Add 3 tablespoon olive oil, 3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and S&P. Shake. Allow to marinate while you prep the salad.
- At a clean station, wash and slice strawberries in half. Slice red onion thinly. Place salad greens in meal prep containers or on plates. Set aside.
- Heat a cast iron skillet, grill pan, or frying pan with a pat of butter over medium heat. Add chicken and sauté until browned on both sides. Test doneness. If not cooked through, warm in an oven heated to 350 F for 5-10 minutes. Allow chicken to rest and cool on a plate. Once cooled, cut into bite-sized slices.
- To assemble the salad: Lay a bed of lettuce on a large plate. Top with grilled chicken, strawberries, feta cheese, red onion, and candied walnuts. Drizzle over the balsamic dressing.