Crispy Chicken Salad with creamy honey mustard dressing is a homemade version of a restaurant-worthy meal. Baked on a sheet pan, the chicken tenders get extra crispy but are a healthier take on crispy fried chicken.
This recipe is an entirely self-serving creation. Here in Kansas City we have a fantastic restaurant called Summit Grill. And at that restaurant they sell a crispy chicken salad drizzled with honey mustard dressing. From the first time I tasted that salad, I’ve never ordered anything else at Summit. The combination of crunchy, crisp vegetables, warm bites of chicken, and creamy dressing is out of this world. It’s satisfying, fresh, and incredibly delicious. But also expensive.
And so I set out to make my own version. Inspired by my favorite sheet pan baked chicken tenders, featured with cornflakes here, and topped with hot honey here, I knew I could make a healthier version that would be almost as good. And that we could enjoy on a weeknight without too much effort.
What Is Crispy Chicken Salad?
The most common version of a crispy chicken salad is a romaine salad with fresh vegetables like bell peppers and shredded carrots. The salad is topped with warm fried chicken tenders or sliced fried chicken and drizzled with a creamy honey mustard dressing.
Tips to Shortcut this Salad
Want to make this salad even simpler? Buy store-bought fried chicken from the prepared food counter or frozen chicken tenders (cook them in the oven or air fryer). Store-bought honey mustard also works great here if you’d prefer to skip making your own.
How to Make It
- Make creamy honey mustard dressing. Whisk together plain yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, honey, garlic powder, vinegar, salt and pepper.
- Combine thinly sliced chicken with ¼ cup of dressing. This will quickly marinate and flavor the chicken and help the breading to stick.
- Bread chicken. Coat the chicken in breadcrumbs, pressing them into the breadcrumbs to coat them well.
- Bake chicken. Line the chicken pieces up in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet. Bake at 450°F for 12 minutes.
- Make salad. Toss together romaine lettuce, carrots, bell peppers, cheese, and green onions with some of the dressing.
- Assemble. Divide the salad between serving bowls. Top with chicken and drizzle with remaining dressing.
- Chicken - Boneless, skinless chicken breast works well here, but you can use chicken thighs if you prefer. Or purchase pre-sliced chicken tenders to save time.
- Panko Breadcrumbs - These Japanese-style breadcrumbs are extra crunchy, giving the chicken a crispy crust.
- Romaine Lettuce - Romaine lettuce gives the salad base a fresh crunch. You can use any other salad greens that you prefer. I sometimes like to use half romaine and half baby spinach for more flavor.
- Shredded Carrots - Save yourself some time and buy pre-shredded carrots for this salad. Or you can grate carrots using a box grater or food processor.
- Red Bell Pepper - Slice these extra thin so that you get a little in every bite.
- Sharp White Cheddar - This ingredient really stands out in this salad. I like to use pre-shredded white cheddar to save time, but if you purchase a block of cheese, it’s also delicious chopped into small cubes for more in each bite.
- Green Onions - Chopped green onions add a tart bite to the salad. You can skip these if you prefer, though they add great flavor.
- Honey Mustard Dressing - The recipe below includes a recipe for a simple, lightened-up honey mustard dressing, but feel free to use store-bought if you prefer.
The Secret to Crispy Chicken
- Be sure to use all the breading - If the panko breadcrumbs don’t stick easily to the chicken, firmly press the chicken into the breadcrumbs or press more breadcrumbs on top of the chicken once it's on the pan. Try to use all of the breadcrumbs.
- Spray lightly with oil - Spray the breaded chicken lightly with cooking oil spray or drizzle them lightly with extra oil.
- Broil at the end - If the chicken is not browning as much as you’d like, turn on the oven’s broiler in the last minute or two. This burst of heat will get the crispy top of the chicken an extra chance to brown.
Air Fryer Crispy Chicken
The air fryer works great for making homemade crispy chicken tenders. Dredge the chicken tenders in honey mustard dressing and then coat in panko breadcrumbs. Preheat the airfryer to 400°F. Spray the chicken generously with cooking spray or oil and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.
Keep in mind that this works best if you’re making a smaller portion of the crispy chicken. If making four servings, it’s best to cook them on a sheet pan so that they can all cook at the same time.
- Add avocado or cherry tomatoes - Avocado and cherry tomatoes are both great additions to the salad.
- Make it gluten-free - This salad is easily gluten-free. Just be sure to use gluten-free panko breadcrumbs.
- Shallow fry chicken - If you’d rather fry your chicken instead of baking it in the oven, use a cast iron skillet with a thin layer of cooking oil. Fry the chicken pieces in batches, transferring them to a paper towel-lined plate as they finish cooking.
More Salads that Make a Meal
- BBQ Chicken Salad
- Arugula, Steak, and Crispy Potato Salad
- Thai Chopped Chicken Salad with Peanut Vinaigrette
- Thai Beef Salad (Nam Tok)
- Pan-Seared Chicken with Balsamic Tomato Salad
- Global Chef’s Knife - You only really need one chef's knife to use for everything and this is my favorite. I've had it for 7+ years. It's incredibly lightweight. If you, like me, are under 5'4", the 6-inch is a perfect size (if you're taller, get the 8-inch).
- Half Sheet Pan - The perfect size pan for everything from roasting vegetables to baking cookies.
- Mixing Bowls
Crispy Chicken Salad
- Half Sheet Pan
- Mixing Bowl
- Cutting Board
Creamy Honey Mustard Dressing
- ¾ cup Plain or Greek Yogurt
- ¼ cup Mayonnaise
- 2 Tablespoons Red or White Wine Vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
- 2 Tablespoons Stone-Ground Mustard
- 2 Tablespoons Honey
- ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ⅛ teaspoon Black Pepper
Crispy Chicken Salad
- 1 ½ pounds Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast, thinly sliced
- 2 cups Panko Breadcrumbs (see note)
- 2 Tablespoons Cooking Oil
- Salt and Black Pepper
- 2 hearts Romaine Lettuce, chopped
- 10 ounces Shredded Carrots
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 cups shredded Sharp White Cheddar
- 3 stalks Green Onions, chopped (use the dark and light green parts)
- Preheat the oven to 450°F / 232°C.
- Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing.
- In a mixing bowl combine ¼ cup of the dressing and the chicken (reserve the rest of the dressing for topping the salad). Stir well to coat the chicken.
- Pour the panko breadcrumbs into a bowl or shallow baking dish.
- Drizzle the oil over a large rimmed sheet pan and tip the pan until there is a thin layer of oil covering the entire surface.
- Working with one piece of chicken at a time, press it firmly into the panko breadcrumbs to coat it on both sides.
- Line the chicken up in a single layer in the sheet pan.
- Spray the tops of the chicken with olive oil or nonstick cooking spray or drizzle them lightly with some more oil. (This helps them to brown.)
- Season the tops of the chicken pieces generously with some salt and pepper.
- Bake the chicken until golden on top and cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. In the last few minutes of cooking, you can turn on the oven’s broiler to give the chicken a darker brown crust.
- In a large bowl toss lettuce, carrots, bell pepper, cheese, and green onions. Add in about half of the dressing, tossing everything to coat.
- Divide salad between serving bowls and top with crispy chicken. Serve extra dressing on the side to drizzle over the finished salads.