Chopped Chicken Salad — An EASY chopped salad with so much FLAVOR and CRUNCH topped with PERFECT juicy oven-baked chicken that’s ready in 15 minutes!! Homemade honey apple cider vinaigrette adds the finishing touch!!
Table of Contents
- Best Chopped Chicken Salad Recipe
- Ingredients in Chopped Chicken Salad
- What’s the Best Way to Cook Chicken for Salad?
- How to Make Chopped Chicken Salad
- Tips for the Best Chopped Salad Dressing
- Recipe FAQs
- More Chicken Salad Recipes:
Best Chopped Chicken Salad Recipe
When you’re in need of a great tasting salad with juicy chicken, fresh tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, crisp bell peppers, and creamy avocado over a bed of mixed greens, this chopped salad recipe is just what you need.
The oven-baked chicken is so tender, juicy, and ready in 15 minutes. I love grilled chicken and you can make the chicken on the grill, but for those of you without one or who don’t want to grill, it’s perfect in the oven.
While the chicken bakes, chop your veggies, and if you want to incorporate my one-minute-shake-together honey apple cider vinaigrette, go for it.
It’s light but packs a ton of sweet-and-sour flavor. Otherwise your favorite store-bought dressing is just fine.
Ingredients in Chopped Chicken Salad
It should go without saying, but salad recipes are inherently super flexible and you should incorporate what you have on hand and enjoy.
For the Chicken:
- Chicken breasts
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Brown sugar
- Chili powder
- Garlic powder
- Cayenne pepper, optional but recommended
For the Salad:
- Mixed greens
- Yellow bell peppers
For the Dressing:
- Olive oil
- Apple cider vinegar
- Mustard (either dijon or honey mustard)
- Salt and pepper
What’s the Best Way to Cook Chicken for Salad?
The star of this recipe is the juicy baked chicken for the salad! This easy oven-baked chicken is adapted from my 20-Minute Oven-Baked Chicken Breasts recipe.
I made 1 1/2 pounds of chicken in this chopped salad recipe versus 3 pounds in the other recipe, so the dry rub ingredients are roughly halved.
- Simply add the chicken breasts to a foil-lined baking sheet for easier and pound them to a uniform thickness.
- Drizzle the chicken with olive oil, season generously with salt and pepper, and then add a dry rub (which is the mixture of brown sugar, chili power, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, and optional cayenne)to both sides.
- Bake it and then let it rest before slicing into it. Resting it is essential so the juices stay in the chicken and that they don’t run off onto your baking sheet.
There you have it! The best — and easiest! — roasted chicken for any salad.
Tip for Roasting Chicken for Salads
Always pound chicken before baking it to use in salads.
The reason for pounding is that chicken breasts are thicker in the middle and thinner on the edges and if you don’t pound them, the edges will become dry and can burn before the center is cooked through.
Additionally, the pounding helps to tenderize the protein.
How to Make Chopped Chicken Salad
Once the chicken has been sliced, you can assemble the chopped chicken salad and pour over the dressing.
This chopped salad dressing is one of my favorites, adapted from this Apple White Cheddar Spinach Salad, which is a fall favorite.
Simply combine all the vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar or container with a lid (a canning jar works great here) and shake it up until combined. It’s such a versatile vinaigrette for a wide variety of salads and you can use is as a chicken marinade.
Tips for the Best Chopped Salad Dressing
The chopped salad dressing is optional, and you can always use whatever vinaigrette or salad dressing you have on hand. But if you want to be extra about things, definitely make it. And it’s not even really extra because you shake this up in one singular minute.
Because vinaigrettes and salad dressings are so personal based on personal taste preferences, don’t be afraid to add more or less oil, vinegar, honey, salt, etc. than I did.
Taste it and if it tastes at all flat, you likely need more salt. And from there, it will come down to if you want it sweeter, add more honey or a pinch of sugar. If you want it more acidic with more bite, add more vinegar.
There’s no single blueprint you have to follow to make a “classic” chopped salad, but generally speaking it’s any salad where the veggies and protein have been chopped into uniform, bite-sized pieces. That way, you get a little of everything in every single bite of the salad!
Of course! You’re welcome to customize this chopped chicken salad as you see fit.
You can meal prep the chicken, chop the veggies, and whisk together the chopped salad dressing ahead of time. Store the ingredients in separate containers to keep them fresh.
I love roasting chicken breasts for this chicken chopped salad, but you may use any other leftover or meal prepped chicken you have on hand. Breasts and thighs in any spice blend or marinade will work!
Or, make the chopped salad with rotisserie chicken from the store. Do whatever is easiest for you.
Pin This Recipe
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used 2 large breasts)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- kosher salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
- 1 to 1.5 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
- 10 ounces fresh lettuce (I used a bagged greens mixture with cabbage and shredded carrots)
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes (I used halved cherry tomatoes; use Roma, regular, or your favorite tomatoes)
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced into bite-sized pieces
- 1 medium bell pepper, seeded and diced or sliced into bite-sized pieces (I used yellow; any color is fine)
- 1 medium ripe avocado, diced or sliced into bite-sized pieces
- croutons, optional and to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons mustard (I prefer dijon but honey mustard will work)
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- Preheat oven to 425F (use convection if you have it) and line a baking sheet with foil (optional but highly recommended, see Notes below)) for easier cleanup.
- Place the chicken on the baking sheet, and pound to an even thickness. I use an empty wine bottle, but a meat pounder or tenderizing tool, a rolling pin, or a heavy frying pan all work. The chicken doesn't need to be pounded 'thin', but it needs to be of pounded to a uniform thickness so it all cooks through at the same time.
- Evenly drizzle the chicken with olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper; set aside.
- To a small bowl, add the remaining ingredients, stir to combine, and evenly spoon the dry rub over the chicken on both sides. I add a bit more to the side that's facing up than the side that's on the bottom in contact with the baking sheet.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through (165F) and done.
- Allow chicken to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing into it (cover with foil if desired to keep it warmer). Resting the chicken really helps lock in the juices and moisture so don't skip this step.
- While chicken bakes, to a large platter or bowl, add the lettuce, and chop the vegetables and add them to the bowl, and optionally add the croutons.
- When chicken is done resting, slice it and add it to the bowl. Make sure to get any run off juices from the sheet pan into the salad bowl because there is a ton of flavor in the juices.
- To a small jar or container with a lid (a canning jar works great), add all ingredients, put the lid on and shake vigorously until combined; taste vinaigrette and tweak as necessary to taste. If it is at all flat, it likely needs more salt. Alternatively, use your favorite store bought vinaigrette or dressing.
- Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad as desired (you may not need all of it), toss to combine, and serve immediately.
Storage: Extra chicken will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months. If you don’t use all the vinaigrette, extra will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 746Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 30gCholesterol: 145mgSodium: 942mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 9gSugar: 31gProtein: 57g
The nutrition information is skewing high because it's taking into account all the dry rub for the chicken and olive oil (some is lost to the sheet pan) as well as all the vinaigrette (you likely won't use all of it).
More Chicken Salad Recipes:
Apple, White Cheddar, and Grilled Chicken Salad — All the flavors just POP in this fast, easy, and healthy salad!! The Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette doubles as marinade + salad dressing to save time!!
Pecan Strawberry Chicken Salad — The grilled chicken is so JUICY and moist thanks to a homemade pecan butter marinade!! Sweet strawberries and crunchy pecans add extra texture and FLAVOR!!
Sunflower Chicken Salad – LOADED with juicy chicken, veggies galore, sunflower seeds, and a sunflower seed butter dressing!! EASY, healthy, ready in 15 minutes! A HEARTY and satisfying salad!!
Balsamic Chicken Caprese Salad — Juicy chicken coated in balsamic along with plump tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, and basil!! Easy, healthy, ready in 15 minutes!
Crunchy Peanut Salad with Chicken — Crispy fried chicken with crunchy cabbage, carrots, peanuts, cilantro and the EASIEST and BEST homemade peanut sauce that coats every bite!!
Chicken Gyro Salad with Tzatziki Sauce — Chicken gyros transformed into a HEALTHY salad with an EASY homemade tzatziki sauce that’s loaded with tangy dill FLAVOR!! Ready in 20 minutes!!
15-Minute Teriyaki Chicken and Mango Salad — Fast, EASY, healthy, and sweet mango is the perfect complement to the savory teriyaki chicken!! Save this recipe for when you need a FRESH and TASTY spin on chicken salad!!