In need of something new for lunch? My Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Salad with Candied Walnuts will be sure to please. It’s easy and quick to make, healthy, and flatters the taste buds.
There’s so many compatible flavors going on in this salad. Freshness from the strawberries, leafy greens, and red onions. Crunch and sweetness from the candied walnuts. Tanginess from the balsamic and feta. Savory-ness from the 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
For More Healthy Chicken Salads:
Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Salad Recipe
There’s 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 lunch time 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 Balsamic 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 to this salad. Its simple to make; all you need is a glass jar or container to add everything to and then you shake it up until 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 tablespoons of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Notes on Strawberry Balsamic 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-an hour 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 separate 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 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
For the Salad:
- 2 cups strawberries - halved
- spring lettuce mix
- 1/4 red onion
- feta cheese - sprinkled on to your liking
- handful of Candied Walnuts
For the Balsamic Dressing:
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp honey
- salt & pepper to taste
- Wash and trim your chicken breasts. Cut in half lengthwise & place in a ziploc bag. Add 3 tbsp olive oil, 3 tbsp 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.
- To make the Balsamic Dressing: Add all of the ingredients to a mason jar or sealed container. Stir; 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 too sweet.
- 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.
- Assemble the salad; lettuce, grilled chicken, strawberries, feta cheese, red onion, walnuts, and balsamic dressing.
- See my other blog post listed above to see how to make my three ingredient Candied Walnuts