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This grilled chicken salad recipe combines juicy chicken, crunchy vegetables and a tangy Italian vinaigrette, topped with pepperoncini and Parmesan for a zesty, satisfying meal. Substitute grilled tofu for vegetarian and vegan!

Grilled chicken salad on plate with serving spoons.
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Here’s a dinnertime match made in heaven: grilled chicken salad! In our family we eat main dish salads on repeat for simple meals, and this one is a celebration of summer grilling on a plate. You’ve got juicy chicken, crunchy lettuce, and veggies, all nestled together with our favorite Italian vinaigrette dressing, zingy pepperoncini, and shaved Parmesan.

Why we love this recipe: Alex and I eat this type of meal non-stop in the summer, swapping in different proteins like tofu, shrimp or salmon. We recently served it for a patio party with a side of grilled bread and grilled broccoli, and it was a huge hit. Add a crisp white wine or a Hugo spritz and it’s summertime perfection! Let’s get cooking.

“We loved it! My husband and I loved how everything tasted together – so fresh, juicy, crunchy, and satisfying. I appreciated how the salad dressing did not drown the vegetables or make everything taste heavy. Overall a super delicious and easy recipe and we’ll be making it all summer long!” -Tanvee

Ingredients in this grilled chicken salad recipe

This grilled chicken salad recipe is our perfect summer dinner! It’s easily made vegetarian or vegan with tofu, and you can swap in many different types of veggies and dressings. But these are the ingredients you need for the way we love it best:

  • Chicken: Use organic chicken at all if possible. Buy it in cutlets or butterfly the chicken breast to help it cook evenly and ensure it is juicy after grilling.
  • Olive oil and seasonings: The chicken is marinated in a blend of garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, dried dill, salt, and pepper.
  • Salad dressing: Mix up our homemade Italian Dressing, or see the dressing ideas below.
  • Romaine and leafy lettuce: Using a mix of crunchy, leafy lettuce is ideal. Butter lettuce (aka Bibb lettuce) is our favorite for its sweet flavor.
  • Red onion: Or, substitute shallot for an even milder flavor.
  • English cucumber and tomatoes: Thinly sliced English cucumber has delicate skin and imperceptible seeds, adding a refreshing crunch. You can substitute standard cucumber, but you may want to peel it to remove bitterness. Use any type of chopped ripe tomato.
  • Pepperoncini: Tangy and slightly spicy peppers bring a zesty kick that livens up each bite.
  • Parmesan shavings: Salty and nutty Parmesan shavings elevate this salad (omit for dairy free).

Tip: To mellow the sharp flavor of red onion, you can soak it in cold water for 10 minutes before serving.

How to make grilled chicken salad (basic steps)

This grilled chicken salad recipe requires 30 minutes of marinating time, when you can prep the other salad components. Then grill the chicken and put it all together! Here’s the basic outline (or go to the full recipe):

Grilled chicken salad step 1: Season and marinate the chicken.

Step 1: If not in cutlets, butterfly the chicken by slicing it half horizontally. Mix it with olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, dill, salt, and black pepper until evenly coated. Cover and marinate refrigerated for 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours).

Grilled chicken salad Step 2: Whisk the dressing.

Step 2: Preheat a grill to high heat (450 to 550°F). Meanwhile, make the Italian dressing. Chop the lettuce, onion, cucumber, tomatoes, and avocado. 

Grilled chicken salad step 3: Grill the chicken.

Step 3: Grill the chicken breasts until grill marks appear and it releases from the grates, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook until the internal temperature is 165°F, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove to a platter and cover with foil. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Step 4: Place the greens on a plate, then top with the vegetables, grilled chicken, pepperoncini, Parmesan shavings, and fresh basil or dill. Drizzle with dressing and serve.

Grilled chicken salad recipe on platter with hand drizzling vinaigrette dressing.

Customize the proteins and veggies

This salad is so easily customizable to ingredients you have on hand and diet preferences! Many of us are cooking for multiple diets these days, and this one makes it easy to cook for many diets at once. Here are a few ideas:

More salad dressing ideas

If desired, you can also substitute different dressing recipes or purchased dressings. We like it with vinaigrette dressings like Greek Salad Dressing, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Easy Vinaigrette, or Honey Mustard Dressing.

Leftover storage

Leftover chicken stores up to 3 days, refrigerated. If making in advance, refrigerate the components separately. Bring the dressing to room temperature before serving.

Sides for pairing with grilled chicken salad

We love this grilled chicken salad as a grilled dinner idea or summer dinner idea to enjoy al fresco on the patio. But of course you can enjoy it any time of the year! Here are a few ways we’d suggest pairing it:

Dietary notes

This grilled chicken salad recipe is gluten-free. For dairy-free, omit the Parmesan cheese. For vegetarian and vegan, use grilled tofu. For pescatarian, use grilled shrimp.

Frequently asked questions

Can I make this salad ahead of time?

Yes, but it’s best to grill the chicken and chop the vegetables separately. Assemble the salad just before serving to keep the ingredients fresh and crisp. Store the dressing separately and toss it in when ready.

Can I substitute the grilled chicken with another protein?

Absolutely! This salad would also be delicious with grilled salmon, grilled shrimp, grilled tofu or marinated tempeh.

I don’t have fresh basil or dill. Can I use dried herbs instead?

No, we don’t recommend adding dried herbs to this salad. Simply omit from the recipe, or use other fresh herbs like chopped parsley.

What other dressings would pair well with this salad?

Balsamic vinaigrette, lemon vinaigrette, or a creamy herb dressing would all be delicious alternatives.

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Grilled chicken salad

Grilled Chicken Salad


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Rest Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

Get ready for a flavor explosion! This grilled chicken salad recipe combines juicy chicken, crunchy vegetables and a tangy Italian vinaigrette, topped with pepperoncini and Parmesan for a zesty, satisfying meal.


Ingredients

Scale

For the chicken (or grilled shrimp, grilled salmon, or grilled tofu*)

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 4 cutlets (1 to 1 ½ pounds, organic if possible)*
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the salad

  • 1 recipe Italian Dressing**
  • 1 romaine heart (3 cups)
  • 5 cups leafy lettuce, like butter (Bibb) lettuce or other varieties
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes, and drained
  • 1 English cucumber (2 cups chopped)
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado, sliced (optional)
  • ½ cup jarred sliced pepperoncini
  • ¼ cup Parmesan shavings or shreds
  • Fresh basil or dill, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. If not already butterflied, place your hand over the top of each chicken breast. Use a sharp knife to carefully slice the breast horizontally, leaving the edge intact so it can open up like a book (or butterfly!). Unfold the breast like a book, then cut along the fold to separate the two halves.
  2. Add the chicken to a container and add the olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, dill, kosher salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Mix with your hands until evenly coated. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours). 
  3. Preheat a grill to high heat (450 to 550°F).
  4. Meanwhile for the salad, make the Italian dressing. Prepare the romaine, lettuce, onion, cucumber, tomatoes, and avocado. 
  5. Grill the chicken breasts until grill marks appear and it releases from the grates, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook until no longer pink in the center and the internal temperature is 165°F, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove to a platter and cover with foil. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing for maximum juiciness.
  6. Place the greens on a plate, then top with the vegetables, grilled chicken, pepperoncini, Parmesan shavings, and basil or dill. Drizzle with the desired amount of dressing and serve. If making in advance, refrigerate the components separately; bring the dressing to room temperature before serving. Leftover chicken stores up to 3 days, refrigerated.

Notes

*For the protein, you can also substitute baked tofu, sauteed shrimp, or baked salmon.

**If desired, you can also substitute different dressing recipes or purchased dressings. Try Greek Salad Dressing, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Easy Vinaigrette, or Honey Mustard Dressing.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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2 Comments

  1. Jo Anne Newman says:

    Great salad! Will definitely make again.






  2. Tanvee says:

    My husband and I loved how everything tasted together – so fresh, juicy, crunchy, and satisfying. I appreciated how we could use all the salad dressing and it did not drown the vegetables and make everything taste heavy and too oily. I used chicken thighs, which were excellent. I let them marinade for just under 24 hours and the flavour was great!

    I love pepperoncinis, so I will take any reason to use them!

    Overall a super delicious and easy recipe again, and we’ll be making it all summer long :)