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!
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!
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.
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:
- 2 Ingredient Applesauce
- Savory Butternut Squash Soup
- Everything Pita Chips
- Detox Lentil Soup
- Copycat Panera Bread Napa Almond Chicken Salad Sandwich
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
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Copycat Panera Bread BBQ Chicken Salad
- 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
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Roast all corn salsa ingredients on a lined sheet pan for 30 minutes at 400 degrees and set aside to cook
- Toss the lettuce, tomatoes, corn salsa in a bowl to combine. Set aside.
- In a small bowl whisk together ranch dressing and BBQ sauce until well combined.
- Toss salad with BBQ ranch dressing to lightly coat.
- Top with chicken, french fried onions, chives and a drizzle of BBQ sauce and serve immediately.