Fire up the grill (or a skillet) for this balsamic chicken salad with fresh berries and feta. It also gets great crunch from candied almonds and tart, sweet flavor from balsamic vinaigrette.
Remember those Sweet and Salty Candied Almonds from earlier in the week? They started as an idea for this salad that celebrates the flavors of early summer. Fresh basil, chicken on the grill, fresh strawberries, crumbled feta cheese. This is a salad I could eat every day and probably never get tired of it.
Hopefully you have some outdoor dining planned in the days ahead. It’s been an unusually chilly spring here in Kansas City, so my grill pan (shown in photos below) is getting far more of a workout than my outdoor grill. Even if you decide to just cook the chicken inside in a skillet, you’ll love the way these classic flavors come together in this twist on the classic balsamic chicken salad.
- Chicken Breast - Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts for the salad. These can be quite thick and will take a long time to cook, so I almost always like to slice them in half lengthwise to thin. Halving them also gives you more surface area for the balsamic marinade.
- Salad Greens - Any salad greens will work here. I like mixed greens, but baby spinach, baby arugula, or Bibb lettuce would all be great.
- Cucumbers - Fresh cucumbers add crunch but are optional. This is also great with avocado or steamed and chopped green beans.
- Strawberries - Fresh strawberries are key in this salad. They add natural sweetness and bright color.
- Fresh Basil - Don’t skip the fresh basil in the vinaigrette, but add some to the salad too. Fresh basil makes everything feel so fresh and summery.
- Feta Cheese - Crumbed feta cheese is a great salty counterpoint to sweet strawberries. Lots of other cheeses would be great here as well - see below for ideas.
- Sliced Almonds - Finish the salad with almonds for great crunch.
How to Make Balsamic Basil Vinaigrette
In the summer, I love to add basil to almost any vinaigrette, and it feels right at home with balsamic vinaigrette. You can chop the fresh basil very finely and just whisk it into the vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, honey, and extra virgin olive oil. There will be small flecks of fresh basil which are nice, but if you have an Immersion Blender or small blender, you can also blend it until smooth.
Check out my post on How to make Balsamic Vinaigrette for more details on this delicious classic.
Vinaigrette for Marinade and Dressing
The balsamic basil vinaigrette for this salad does double duty. Use a small amount as a marinade for the chicken which will add flavor and help the chicken to get golden brown on the grill or pan. The rest of the vinaigrette is saved to drizzle over the finished salad. One vinaigrette - two uses!
- Serve with toasted or candied almonds - Plain sliced almonds are great in this salad but you can get more toasted flavor and crunch by toasting the almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often. The salad also feels extra special with Sweet and Salty Candied Almonds.
- Add avocado - Avocado adds a nice creamy element and more substance to the salad.
- Mix up the cheese - Salty feta balances the sweetness of the strawberries, but this salad is also great with goat cheese, blue cheese, or cubed white cheddar.
More of our Favorite Summer Salads
- Apple, Brie and Pecan Salad
- Watermelon, Feta and Arugula Salad
- Pesto Pasta Salad
- Bacon, Corn and Avocado Salad
- Instant Pot Italian Pasta Salad
- BBQ Chicken Salad
- Pasta Salad with Creamy Chipotle Dressing
- Thai Chopped Chicken Salad with Peanut Vinaigrette
- Nectarine, Arugula and Crispy Pancetta Summer Salad
- Outdoor Grill or Grill Pan
- Anchor 3-Piece Glass Mixing Bowls
- 3-Quart Casserole Dish for marinating
- 6-inch Global Knife
- Cutting Board
Balsamic Chicken salad with Fresh Berries and Feta
- Outdoor Grill or Grill Pan
- Mixing Bowls
Balsamic Basil Vinaigrette:
- 2 teaspoon finely chopped Fresh Basil
- 3 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
- 2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- 1 teaspoon Honey
- ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Grilled Balsamic Chicken Salad:
- 1 ½ lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, halved if thick
- Salt and Pepper
- 8 oz Mixed Salad Greens (use your favorite mixed salad greens and / or spinach, butterhead, or romaine)
- 8 oz Cucumbers, chopped
- 2 cups Strawberries, quartered (use other fresh berries if you'd like)
- 8 leaves Basil, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
- 6 oz Feta, crumbled
- 1 cup Sliced Almonds (the salad is great with Sweet and Salty Candied Almonds - see below)
- Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a jar and shake well (or whisk together in a bowl) to combine.
- If chicken breasts are quite thick, slice them in half lengthwise to thin. (I find that this helps them to cook more evenly and gives you more surface area for the vinaigrette to flavor the chicken.)
- Combine chicken with 3 Tablespoons of vinaigrette (reserve the rest of the vinaigrette for the salad), turning the chicken to coat. Refrigerate chicken and let it marinate for at least 20 minutes and up to a day.
- While chicken marinates, whenever you're ready to serve, heat up the grill, leaving one part with direct heat and another part over indirect heat. (If you prefer, you can also just cook the chicken indoors using a grill pan or skillet.)
- Drain marinade off chicken and season chicken generously with salt and pepper.
- Grill chicken over direct heat until grill marks appear. Transfer to indirect heat and continue cooking 4 to 6 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
- Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes (this will help keep it tender and moist). Thinly slice.
- In a large bowl, combine greens, cucumbers, strawberries, basil, and feta. Gently toss.
- Top salad with chicken and almonds. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette. Garnish with extra basil leaves. Serve immediately.
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