Strawberry Pecan Grilled Chicken Salad with Pecan Butter Vinaigrette
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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!!
Summer Strawberry Chicken Salad
This easy and healthy, yet satisfying strawberry pecan salad is perfect for easy-breezy summer dinners or casual entertaining. It’s got flavor and texture galore between the juicy chicken, crisp lettuce, sweet strawberries, crunchy lightly toasted Fisher Pecan Halves, savory cheese, and a creamy pecan butter vinaigrette.
The chicken is wonderfully juicy and tender thanks to a marinade using homemade pecan butter, among other ingredients. As a nice time saver, the marinade and the vinaigrette begin as one in the same. Yes to double-duty ingredients.
In the photo below, the pecan butter is darker and on the right, and from it you make both the marinade and vinaigrette, which is lighter and on the left.
Even though there are a few components to the strawberry chicken salad as you’ll notice in the recipe section, in simple terms it’s as easy as making pecan butter, marinating chicken, assembling a salad, and shaking together a vinaigrette. Easy peasy.
What’s in Strawberry Chicken Salad?
To make this grilled chicken salad with strawberries and pecans, you’ll need:
- Fisher Pecan Halves
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Apple cider vinegar
- Chicken breasts
- Shredded white cheddar cheese
- Dried cranberries
How to Make Strawberry Pecan Salad
First, make homemade pecan butter by breaking out your food processor and adding Fisher Pecan Halves. I have a detailed step-by-step photo post of what happens when you make homemade peanut butter and the same is largely true for pecan butter with regard to the transformation of whole nuts into smooth, creamy, heavenly nut butter.
Fisher Nuts are preservative free and non-GMO Project Verified. Fisher has nine varieties of recipe nuts certified as Heart Healthy by the American Heart Association. The resealable bag helps keep the nuts fresh for longer. Look for their new packaging on store shelves.
After making the pecan butter, add some to a ziptop plastic bag along with the chicken and other marinade ingredients. After marinating, grill your chicken, assemble the salad, and then drizzle with tart-yet-sweet pecan butter vinaigrette.
You’re going to love everything about this summer strawberry salad.
Can I Prep the Pecan Vinaigrette in Advance?
Absolutely! If you plan on making this strawberry chicken salad throughout the week, feel free to whip up a batch of pecan vinaigrette on Sunday to enjoy later. The vinaigrette will last many weeks in the fridge.
Can I Add Extra Veggies?
Of course! You’re welcome to load up this strawberry pecan salad as you see fit. Mix and match veggies, dried fruits, nuts and seeds, and so on.
Tips for Making Strawberry Chicken Salad
Store-bought nut butters just cannot compare to the pure and natural homemade flavor. You’ll likely have extra pecan butter after making this strawberry salad, which is great by the spoonful, on toast, crackers, or make chicken again. I added some cinnamon and sugar to some of the extra and made cinnamon-sugar pecan butter and it was delicious.
If your pecan vinaigrette dressing seems too thick, thin it out with a little vinegar and olive oil. Next time you make the vinaigrette, try adding less pecan butter. All blenders and food processors are different, so it’s possible that yours made a thicker pecan butter than mine did.
I love grilling the chicken fresh for this strawberry chicken salad, but you can grill a few chicken breasts in advance to throw into salads like this one throughout the week. Do whatever is easiest for you!
- 16 ounces Fisher Pecan Halves
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed
- kosher salt, to taste (I use 1 generous teaspoon)
- 1/2 cup pecan butter
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- about 1. 25 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast (I used 1 large breast that I halved lengthwise)
- about 6 cups lettuce (I used romaine; fresh spinach, baby kale, or your favorite greens may be substituted)
- 3/4 cup halved and hulled fresh strawberries
- 3/4 cup Fisher Pecan Halves, lightly toasted or candied if desired
- 3/4 cup shredded aged white cheddar cheese, optional (aged manchego, feta, blue cheese, or your favorite cheese may be substituted)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, optional (raisins, dried blueberries, or another dried fruit may be substituted)
Pecan Butter Vinaigrette
- 1/2 cup pecan butter
- 2 to 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 to 3 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
Make the Pecan Butter:
- To the canister of a large food processor (at least a 10 to 12-cup size) fitted with the S-blade, add the pecans, cover the canister, and turn to high power (Notes – I don’t recommend using a high-speed blender such as a VitaMix or Blendtec because I’ve burnt out motors. I have much better results in a food processor. If your food processor is smaller, you may need to do this in two batches).
- Allow the pecans to break down and they’ll go through various stages before turning into smooth pecan butter. As necessary stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- After allowing the pecans to process for about 5 minutes, my mixture was dry and that’s when I added 3 tablespoons olive oil. You may not need to add any, you may need to add more; add as necessary. Process another 3 minutes or until pecan butter is smooth.
- Add salt to taste and process briefly to incorporate.
Make the Chicken Marinade:
- Add all ingredients (you will have extra pecan butter, which you should set aside) to a large ziptop bag, seal bag, squish contents around to distribute evenly, and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour (overnight is best).
- Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat and oil the grates very well.
- Add the chicken, discard leftover marinade, and grill chicken for about 5 minutes on the first side and 3 to 4 minutes on the second side, or until done and cooked through and chicken reaches an internal temp of 165F.
- After chicken has cooked, remove it from grill and set on a plate to rest.
Assemble the Salad:
- To a large platter or serving bowl, add all the ingredients, slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces or strips and add it to the salad; set salad aside while you make the vinaigrette.
Make the Pecan Butter Vinaigrette:
- To glass jar with a lid, add all ingredients, cover with the lid, and shake vigorously to combine. Taste, check for flavor balance, and add more salt, pepper, honey, etc. if necessary to taste.
- Evenly drizzle vinaigrette over the salad, to taste, and serve immediately. Salad is best fresh.
- Extra pecan butter and pecan butter vinaigrette will keep in the fridge for many weeks; however I store pecan butter and all homemade nut butters at room temp for many weeks but do as you’re comfortable with because there are no preservatives.
- Tip: Add cinnamon and granulated sugar, to taste, to the extra pecan butter for cinnamon-sugar pecan butter; it’s delicious.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 481Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 445mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 7gSugar: 32gProtein: 10g
More Summer Salad Recipes:
Strawberry, Avocado, and Kale Salad with Strawberry-Apple Cider Vinaigrette – Make a kale lover out of anyone in this healthy salad with creamy avocado and juicy berries!
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!
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!
Ravioli and Summer Vegetable Spinach Salad – Crisp-tender zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, and chickpeas over spinach with cheesy ravioli and a dijon vinaigrette! A healthy yet hearty salad!
Spinach Blueberry Superfoods Salad – So many textures and flavors in this hearty salad filled with superfoods! Spinach, blueberries, dried cranberries, almonds, and more! Easy, satisfying, healthy, and tastes amazing!
Balsamic Chicken Caprese Salad – Juicy chicken coated in balsamic along with plump tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, and basil! Easy, healthy, ready in 15 minutes! The caprese salad you’ll make again and again!
Garden Fresh Quinoa Salad – Loaded with everything fresh, light, healthy! Great for parties, potlucks, and lunch boxes because there’s no mayo! Easy and flavorful!
Twelve Superfoods Salad – Trying to eat healthier? Make this easy, flavorful salad! Loaded with everything healthy and it tastes awesome! Kale, quinoa, edamame, blueberries, grapes, seeds, nuts, and more!
Loaded Chicken Taco Salad with Creamy Lime-Cilantro Dressing – Fast, easy, fresh and healthy! All your favorite taco flavors in one big kickin’ salad that everyone will love!
Honey Lemon-Glazed Salmon Salad – Coated with a tangy-sweet glaze that doubles as a light and bright salad vinaigrette! Fast, easy, fresh and healthy! An awesome 15-minute meal!
BLT Chopped Salad with Homemade Creamy Buttermilk Ranch Dressing – Fast, fresh, healthy, and satisfying!
Greek Pita Chip Salad — Greek salad just got a makeover!! Still uses classic ingredients like red peppers, cucumbers, onions, olives, and feta but now there are PITA CHIPS for extra crunch and texture! EASY, HEALTHY, ready in 10 minutes!!
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