Copycat Panera Bread BBQ Chicken Salad

This Copycat Panera Bread BBQ Chicken Salad recipe is a delicious lunch or dinner. It’s as healthy as it is tasty and so quick and easy that it practically begs you to make it for a simple weeknight dinner!

Try some other refreshing salads: Summer Bounty Strawberry Salad, Rainbow Asian Chicken Salad and 7 Layer Taco Salad.

A close up image of bbq ranch dressing bring poured on a green salad with chicken, corn, black beans and tomatoes in a white bowl.

Panera BBQ Chicken Salad

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My family and I are unapologetic frequent fliers at Panera Bread. I am not the least bit sorry about it- I love Panera Salads! But my one complaint is that they change up their menu pretty frequently and always seem to get rid of my favorite items! Their BBQ Chicken Salad always seems to come and go- and hat’s my husband’s favorite. 

So I recreated it and that was definitely a good decision- it’s now mainstay in our rotation. And what’s not to like? Crisp green lettuce and grilled BBQ chicken anchor this salad. My Roasted Corn Salsa adds some additional veggie goodness, tomatoes (my own personal addition) bring the sweet and tasty acidity that only a tomato can. Top it off with some french fried onions for crunch and a drizzle of our favorite BBQ sauce and of course some BBQ Ranch dressing.

This salad is a refreshing bowl of happiness. But it’s also hearty enough to be a satisfying meal. Even better, you can prep everything ahead and throw it together at the last minute. So it pretty much has weeknight dinner written all over it!

A close up image of sliced grilled chicken in the bowl of BBQ chicken salad drizzled with BBQ sauce and BBQ ranch dressing.

Tips for how to make copycat BBQ Chicken Salad recipe

  • This is a great option if you’re looking to repurpose chicken leftovers.
  • Although I don’t remember what the Panera salad dressing was for this salad, we love to make our own BBQ Ranch dressing with equal parts of our favorite BBQ sauce and Ranch dressing.
  • Be sure to add the dressing and then the french fried onions at the last minute so you don’t end up with a soggy dressing.

Ingredient information that’s helpful to know:

  • Chicken: as I mentioned above I love to use leftovers for this. I encourage you to use a neutral-flavored chicken, like grilled chicken or shredded chicken.
  • Salad greens: you can use whatever salad green you prefer, I like romaine or leaf lettuce.
  • Roasted corn salsa: you can find the full corn salsa recipe here. You can also substitute pre-made corn salsa if you prefer.
  • French fried onions: don’t skip these- they add excellent flavor and texture!
  • Dressing: I left this pretty open in terms of dressing- the big thing is a mix of equal parts BBQ Sauce and Ranch dressing.

An overhead image of Panera bbq chicken salad in a white bowl with a blue and white stripe napkin next to it.

Can I make this ahead?

Yes! But I’d encourage you to pack the dressing and french fried onions on the side for optimal freshness.

Can I cook the chicken just before serving?

Sure! I like it grilled, but you can also grab a rotisserie chicken for convenience

What should I serve with this?

A few great recipes to round out and complete this meal are:

Storage and leftovers:

This will stay fresh without dressing for 4-5 days covered in the refrigerator.

Ingredients you can prep ahead:

  • Chop lettuce
  • Cook and chop. chicken
  • Make Roasted Corn Salsa
  • Wash tomatoes
  • Wash chives
  • Mix dressing

A side angle shot with a man's hands holding a bowl of green salad with BBQ chicken and vegetables on it with a fork sticking out of it.

Helpful tools:

  1. Mixing bowl
  2. Chef’s knife
  3. Cutting board
  4. Measuring cups
  5. Measuring spoons

If you tried this recipe please comment and rate it 🙂 I love hearing your feedback and answering your questions! And if you make it please tag me on Instagram with @thelifejolie so I can share it <3

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Copycat Panera Bread BBQ Chicken Salad
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins

This Copycat Panera Bread BBQ Chicken Salad recipe is a delicious lunch or dinner. It's as healthy as it is tasty and so quick and easy that it practically begs you to make it for a simple weeknight dinner!

Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: BBQ Chicken Salad
Servings: 2 servings
Author: Jessy Freimann, The Life Jolie
  • Lettuce, Chopped
  • Tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
  • Roasted corn salsa
  • Grilled BBQ Chicken breast, sliced (or any leftover chicken)
  • BBQ Sauce
  • French fried onions
  • Chives, chopped
BBQ Ranch Dressing
  • 1 part ranch dressing
  • 1 part BBQ sauce
Roasted Corn Salsa
  • 1 cup red onion diced
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 cup red bell pepper diced
  • 1 14.5 ounce can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Roast all corn salsa ingredients on a lined sheet pan for 30 minutes at 400 degrees and set aside to cook

  2. Toss the lettuce, tomatoes, corn salsa in a bowl to combine. Set aside.

  3. In a small bowl whisk together ranch dressing and BBQ sauce until well combined.

  4. Toss salad with BBQ ranch dressing to lightly coat. 

  5. Top with chicken, french fried onions, chives and a drizzle of BBQ sauce and serve immediately.

This Copycat Panera Bread BBQ Chicken Salad recipe is a delicious lunch or dinner. Chopped lettuce, tender grilled chicken, roasted corn salsa, tomatoes and crispy french fried onions round out this salad with tangy BBQ sauce and BBQ Ranch dressing drizzled over the top. It's as healthy as it is tasty and so quick and easy that it practically begs you to make it for a simple weeknight dinner!

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  • Reply
    September 28, 2016 at 5:27 pm Exactly what I've been craving! I've been having a hankering for a salad for the past couple of days
    • Reply
      September 29, 2016 at 8:30 am Me too, Valerie! I hope you enjoy it :)

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