This strawberry chicken salad is the perfect summertime recipe! Fresh strawberries, pineapple, and tender chicken are served over romaine and topped with pistachios, goat cheese, and a simple homemade poppy seed dressing. This salad bursts with the juicy, sweet flavors of summer! It’s an easy 30-minute meal that you’re sure to love!
Loaded with summer juiciness. So loaded, and so TASTY.
Strawberries, pineapple, tender grilled chicken, creamy avocado, a little punch of crunch from pistachios...are you picking up what I'm putting down on your plate? If not, WHO are you? Totally kidding (kind of).
And there's a poppy seed dressing too. It's delightfully tangy and bright and yummy. You'll love how it pairs with the strawberries, the pineapple, the chicken, the whole beautiful salad, and then you'll just pour it on your face. So good.
🌟 Why you'll love this recipe
- Takes 30 minutes - I love a quick and easy throw together 30-minute recipe. You too? Uh huh, of course you do.
- Naturally gluten-free and easily adaptable should you need it to be dairy-free, vegetarian, or pescatarian - Leave off the goat cheese in the salad and the tiny bit of mayo used in the dressing for dairy-free. Not a fan of chicken? Just leave it off. The salad will still burst with flavor. Or maybe you're a pescatarian? Swap the chicken for salmon. See how I take care of you?
- Perfect for a weeknight dinner! Or a weekend dinner. Or a dinner party. Or a backyard BBQ. Basically, any time.
🛒 Ingredients & suggestions
- Strawberries: It wouldn't be a Strawberry Chicken Salad without the strawberries but other berries such as blueberries or raspberries would be awesome as well (or even in addition to the salad).
- Pineapple: There's nothing quite like fresh pineapple but if you're in a pinch and canned pineapple is what you have on hand, you'll be okay. Not sure how to slice a fresh pineapple? Scroll down further for a quick and easy tutorial.
- Chicken breast: I sliced two large chicken breasts in half lengthwise making four chicken cutlets and then pan-fried them. You could also bake or grill the chicken breasts whole and simply chop it up once cooked, or shred an already prepared rotisserie chicken, or use chicken tenders in place of breasts.
- Avocado: When shopping for the perfect avo place the fruit in the palm of your hand and give it a gentle squeeze. If you feel a slight give the avocado is ripe, if it is hard it will need to ripen for a few days, and if it is super soft it is already overripe and you should find a different avocado to take home.
- Goat cheese: Not a fan of goat cheese? Try feta or leave the cheese off all together.
- Pistachios: Adds a bit of crunch and a hint of slightly sweet nuttiness. Roasted and unsalted pistachios are my preference. Pecans, walnuts, sliced almonds, or pepitas would also be tasty substitutes.
- Romaine lettuce: Provides a nice crunchy texture and foundation to this salad but a simple spinach salad or mixed greens would work too.
- Chicken seasoning mix: This is my go-to all-purpose seasoning when I'm cooking chicken. I love that it doesn't contain salt so that I can control how much salt is in my meal. Feel free to use your fave seasoning though.
- Poppy seed dressing: With a handful of ingredients, this tasty homemade salad dressing is easy and comes together in just minutes (see the recipe card for details). There's no judgment though if you go with a store-bought dressing instead. Whatever makes dinnertime a little bit easier and fuss-free, right?!
For a full list of ingredients and quantities see the recipe card at the end of this post.
🍍 How to cut a pineapple
There's a first time for everything! If you've ever found yourself in the grocery store staring at a whole pineapple and wondering how to efficiently cut it into pieces, here is a quick tutorial on How To Deconstruct A Pineapple 101.
Step 1: Cut off the crown and the base.
Step 2: Cut off the sides and trim off any of the eyes that may remain.
Step 3: Cut the pineapple lengthwise into quarters. Then slice down the triangular tip to remove the core.
Step 4: Lay the pineapple quarters with the flat side down on your cutting surface. Slice it up. If you prefer smaller pineapple chunks, slice the pineapple quarters in half lengthwise first, then slice it into chunks.
🔪 Step-by-step salad instructions
Step 1: Place the chicken breast on a cutting board, flat side down. Put the palm of your non-cutting hand on the top of the breast, and using a very sharp knife, slowly cut horizontally through the breast. Cut from one side to the other, leaving the side of the breast opposite of where you started intact. Open it up flat and cut down the middle creating 2 separate chicken breasts.
Step 2: Brush the chicken with olive oil front and back.
Step 3: Sprinkle each side of the chicken with seasoning.
Step 4: Add chicken to a heated pan and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until done.
Step 5: Once the chicken has finished cooking, remove it from the pan and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Then cut across the grain into slices.
Step 6: Arrange all of the salad ingredients on a large platter or individual serving dishes and drizzle with poppy seed dressing. Dig in!
👩🍳 Recipe tips
Tip #1: Worried about overcooking your chicken? I'm with you friend. No one enjoys dry chicken. Here are a few tips to help avoid overcooked chicken.
- If the chicken has been sitting in the fridge let it sit out for about 20-30 minutes so that you're not starting off with completely cold chicken. The middle of a cold chicken breast will take longer to cook through than the outsides which will put you at risk for dry chicken.
- Allow your pan to get hot prior to placing the chicken on it. If the pan is cold, the chicken will heat up slowly causing the chicken's juices to seep out as the pan heats which will lead to dry chicken.
- Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes after it has cooked. Cutting into the chicken the moment it comes off the pan will result in the chicken losing a lot of its juices and what we really want is for the juices to stay inside so we don't end up with...you guessed it, dry chicken.
Tip #2: Wash your leafy greens but make sure you dry them well. Nothing ruins a salad faster than watery greens. A salad spinner is a worthwhile investment for quickly and efficiently drying your salad greens. If you don't have a salad spinner you can also gently blot the greens dry with a towel.
💭 Frequently asked questions
The poppy seed dressing can be prepared ahead of time and stored in a mason jar in the fridge. The chicken can also be cooked in advance and stored in the fridge until you're ready to assemble the salad. I wouldn’t recommend preparing any other parts of this salad in advance though. Once dressed, the salad should be eaten and enjoyed promptly. Otherwise, the avocado will begin to brown and the poppy seed dressing will cause the lettuce to wilt and berries to soften-not so tasty. I’d recommend only dressing what you will enjoy the same day. Store the dressing and salad components separately.
Yes, since it has mayo (or Greek yogurt) in it any leftover dressing should be stored in the refrigerator. The olive oil in the dressing will solidify from the cold temperature of being refrigerated so when you are ready to use the dressing again just take it out of the fridge about 20 minutes before you need it, to bring it back up to temperature; then shake it up to remix before dressing the salad.
You can really do whatever you want with this salad. Serve it on a huge platter and let people dig in or make individual servings. You could even prep it salad bar style, keeping all the ingredients separate, and allow people to construct their own salads.
Which btw, the ingredient amounts are TOTALLY up to you. If you're feelin' like you need a little more pineapple or some extra pistachios in your life, then go bonkers and add a little more to your salad.
I’ll share with you a general idea of what I used in the recipe card below, but truthfully I didn't do I whole lot of measuring (except for the poppy seed dressing). Just throw a little more of this and that on the salad until it looks good to you. That’s the beauty of this meal, besides the poppy seeds that will get stuck between your teeth. ♡
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