Healthy Strawberry Chicken Salad with Almonds & Poppyseed Dressing

A healthy chicken salad recipe that has the perfect balance of savory grilled chicken breast, greens, fresh sweet strawberries,  avocado, and crunchy candied almonds all tossed with a creamy homemade Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing. Inspired by Paneras Strawberry Poppyseed Chicken salad but made healthier and lower in sugar. A great lunch salad perfect for meal prepping #chickensalad #copycatrecipes, #refinedsugarfree #saladrecipes #panera

A healthy chicken salad recipe that has the perfect balance of savory grilled chicken breast, greens, fresh sweet strawberries,  avocado, and crunchy candied almonds all tossed with a creamy Lemon Poppyseed Dressing. 

creamy lemon poppy seed dressing being poured on top of healthy strawberry chicken salad

This Healthy Grilled Chicken Salad with Strawberries, Candied Almonds, and Poppyseed Dressing is all I’ve been craving lately. Seriously, I cannot stop eating this. It is to die for. Colorful like a spring flower bouquet, so fresh, satisfying and packed with nutrients but not heavy. Da bomb.

It’s also kind of a copycat Panera Strawberry Poppyseed Chicken Salad recipe. Sans the mandarin oranges, blueberries, and pineapple because I feel it would make this a very very sweet salad and I wanted to keep the sugar content lower. Plus fresh blueberries are a pretty rare find where I live. Feel free to add them if you find some good ones.

Let’s just say, if you are looking for a fun and refreshing salad for spring and summer, this is the one.

The chicken grills up to juicy perfection and adds the savory bit. If you are not a fan of chicken, you could easily add some grilled shrimp or salmon. Or make this vegetarian by adding feta or grilled halloumi.  A million options are out there.

overhead shot of a healthy chicken salad with candied almonds, strawberries and avocado

I could eat bowl after bowl of this strawberry chicken salad and I just might for the rest of spring and summer. The savory grilled chicken paired with the creamy avocado chunks, fresh strawberries, and crunchy and sweet candied nuts is JUST SO GOOD.

honey being drizzled into a small jar with yogurt and lemon juice to make salad dressing

Let’s talk about the Poppyseed Dressing for a moment.

In the recipe card, I give you two options. One Greek yogurt-based Panera Copycat Poppyseed Dressing. And then a dairy-free version using my homemade cashew cream as a base.

I love them both and take turns making them – depending on whether or not I have Greek yogurt in the house, because cashew cream has become such a staple that I literally ALWAYS have a jar in my fridge.

When making the Greek Yogurt Poppyseed Dressing, I add a touch of olive oil for that perfect round and creamy mouth feel. Depending on the fat content of your Greek yogurt, you might want to add slightly less or more. For the dairy-free version, I don’t add any oil as the cashew cream is so rich that you don’t have to add any more fat.

How to make Chicken Salad with Poppyseed Dressing:

Make Lemon Poppyseed Dressing:

Greek Yogurt being mixed with lemon juice, salt and honey to make lemon poppy seed dressing

Step 1 –  Choose the dressing version you want to go with. Mix all the ingredients except poppy seeds in a small bowl or jar.

poppy seeds being stirred into lemon dressing

Step 2 – Add the poppy seeds and mix again. Set aside.

Grill the chicken:

chicken being flattened and grilled in a grill pan for making a healthy chicken salad recipe

Step 3Prepare the chicken. Place one chicken breast between two sheets of parchment paper and pound it until it has an even thickness. You can use a mallet if you have one, but any round flat surface will do – I used a round glass Tupperware. Repeat with the other breast and set aside.

Step 4 – Heat a grill or on a grill pan. Season the chicken with a bit of salt. Cook until nice grill marks appear and it’s no longer pink inside. Don’t overcook it, dry chicken isn’t good! Remove from the heat, set aside to cool and cut into strips or cubes.

Assemble the salad:

overhead shot of healthy chicken salad with candied almonds, avocado and strawberries

In a large salad bowl or large serving plate, arrange the greens, strawberries, avocado, onion, and candied almonds. When ready to serve, drizzle with poppyseeds dressing and enjoy!

overhead shot of healthy dairy-free lemon poppy seed dressing in a small glass jar

Does the Poppyseed Dressing need to be refrigerated?

Yes, both variations of the dressings should be refrigerated and will keep in the fridge for about a week. Yes, I know that commercially bottled poppyseed dressing keeps for months and months but those are also loaded with sugar, which serves as a preservative. Either way, you are better off making this skinny poppyseed dressing in smaller amounts and more often.

overhead shot of a big bowl with strawberry chicken salad with almonds and avocados with creamy poppy seed dressing in the background

Can I make Strawberry Chicken Salad in advance?

The chicken and candied almonds can easily be prepared ahead of time, so can the dressing. Depending on your base, you could pre-chop some lettuce but I went for a packaged mix here, so no prep time needed. The onions can be sliced and stored in an air-tight container.

I do not recommend chopping the strawberries and avocados in advance as they are best consumed fresh. If you must, drizzle them with some lemon juice. The strawberries will lose some of their juice, which you could stir into the dressing. Strawberry Poppyseed Dressing, anyone?

Tips for making this healthy chicken salad recipe:

  • As a short-cut, you can skip the candying part and just quickly toast the nuts in a pan or in the oven (350 F for 7 minutes).
  • Any leafy green mix works really well as a salad base – think kale, arugula, baby spinach, maybe even some beet shoots or sprouts.
  • If you cannot find fresh strawberries, use nectarines,  peaches, grapes, blueberries, mango, raspberries or charred pineapple.

 

lemon poppyseed dressing being poured on top of healthy chicken salad with strawberries
5 from 4 votes
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Healthy Strawberry Chicken Salad with Candied Almonds & Creamy Poppyseed Dressing

A healthy chicken salad recipe that has the perfect balance of savory grilled chicken breast, greens, fresh sweet strawberries,  avocado, and crunchy candied almonds all tossed with a creamy Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing. 

Course Appetizer, dinner, lunch
Cuisine American
Keyword creamy chicken salad, healthy chicken salad recipe, salad with strawberries
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 790 kcal
Author Marie

Ingredients

  • 1 large chicken breast or two small ones
  • 4 cups mixed greens or baby spinach
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries hulled and sliced
  • 1 avocado not too ripe, cubed (drizzled with a bit of lemon juice if not serving straight away to prevent browning)
  • 1/2 red onion cut in half and sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup candied almonds or pecans homemade - see quick recipe below, or store-bought

Poppy Seed Dressing – Greek Yogurt Version

  • 3 tbsp greek yogurt
  • 1.5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tsp honey
  • 3 tbsp light olive oil or a neutral flavor oil like avocado oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds

Poppy Seed Dressing – Dairy Free Version

  • 1/2 cup cashew cream
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds

Candied Almonds

  • 1/2  cup  raw sliced almond you can also use pecans
  • 1/2 tbsp  real maple syrup
  • pinch  sea salt

Instructions

Dressing

  1. Start by making the dressing. Mix all the ingredients except poppy seeds in a small bowl or jar. Add the poppy seeds and mix again. Set aside.

Candied Almonds

  1. Prepare the candied almonds. Prepare a sheet of baking paper on your kitchen counter. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Place the almonds in a single layer and toast until fragrant. Always keep an eye on them because they can burn very quickly.
  2. When the almonds are toasted, add the maple syrup and a pinch of salt, and stir to coat the almonds. Cook for an additional 30 to 45 seconds, stirring constantly to make sure it doesn't burn. Spread the pecans on the prepared baking sheet and let cool.

Chicken

  1. Prepare the chicken. Place one chicken breast between two sheets of parchment paper and pound it until it has an even thickness (you can use a mallet if you have one, but any round flat surface will do - I used a round glass Tupperware!). Repeat with the other breast and set aside.
  2. Heat a grill or grill pan. Season the chicken with a bit of salt. Cook until nice grill marks appear and it’s no longer pink inside (but don’t overcook it, dry chicken isn’t good!). Remove from the heat, set aside to cool and cut into strips or cubes.

Salad

  1. Assemble the salad. In a large salad bowl or large serving plate, arrange the greens, strawberries, avocado, onion and candied almonds. When ready to serve, drizzle with poppyseeds dressing and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

  • As a short-cut, you can skip the candying part and just quickly toast the nuts in a pan or in the oven (350 F for 7 minutes).
  • Any leafy green mix works really well as a salad base - think kale, arugula, baby spinach, maybe even some beet shoots or sprouts.
  • If you cannot find fresh strawberries, use nectarines,  peaches, grapes, blueberries, mango, raspberries or charred pineapple.
Nutrition Facts
Healthy Strawberry Chicken Salad with Candied Almonds & Creamy Poppyseed Dressing
Amount Per Serving (1 /2)
Calories 790 Calories from Fat 513
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 57g 88%
Saturated Fat 7g 35%
Cholesterol 73mg 24%
Sodium 461mg 19%
Potassium 1497mg 43%
Total Carbohydrates 38g 13%
Dietary Fiber 13g 52%
Sugars 16g
Protein 38g 76%
Vitamin A 21.8%
Vitamin C 95.4%
Calcium 20.5%
Iron 19.4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

If you tried this Healthy Strawberry Chicken Salad Recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe below and let me know how it went in the comments – I love hearing from you! You can also follow me on InstagramPinterest and Facebook for more deliciousness and behind-the-scenes!

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Chicken Clean Eating Dairy Free Main Dishes Meal Prep Meat Quick & Easy Meals Recipes Refined Sugar Free Salads Spring Recipes Summer Recipes
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