Remember what a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad accusation it was when we were young to be a (gasp!)….copycat???
Well, in the world of home cooking and trying to live on a budget, I learned years ago that it pays — with budgeting and health — to figure out how to copycat my favorite restaurant recipes at home. And it’s often not that hard!
Case in point. Panera Bread’s® delicious and oh-so-popular “Fuji Apple Chicken Salad”.
My office happens to be just down the street from a Panera. And probably more often than I should, I find myself standing at their pickup line waiting for my soup and salad. And of course, everyone is “ooohing” and “ahhhhing” as they watch everyone else’s meals be prepared. (Brilliant business model, yes?) Sure enough, it always seems like every third person is ordering this salad. And with good reason! The combination of apple chips, grilled chicken, glazed pecans, red onions, tomatoes, gorgonzola, and a white balsamic vinaigrette on a bed of mixed greens is pretty much a guaranteed success. I have always thought so! (Well, minus the tomatoes. I’m picky with my salads.)
Of course, once I realized I could make these at home with fresh ingredients year-round for a fraction of the price, this salad began gracing my table even more often! So thought I’d share it with you. Super simple. Quite healthy. Tastes wonderfully like the original. Give it a go!
You will love this quick and simple, yet delicious and crisp Favorite Apple Chicken Salad recipe! So healthy, and full of great flavor!
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (10 oz.) bag mixed greens
quarter of a red onion, sliced thinly
2 cups apple chips
1 cup glazed pecans
1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1 cup freshly-diced tomatoes (optional)
White Balsamic Vinaigrette Ingredients:
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar (or regular balsamic vinegar)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
To Make The Salad:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then mist it with cooking spray or oil.
Brush chicken breasts with olive oil, then season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Or you can add your favorite seasonings.) Place on prepared baking sheet, and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until internal temperature is 160 degrees and the juices run clear. Remove and let chicken cool for at least 10 minutes, then slice or shred.
Toss the remaining five ingredients together, then add your desired amount of vinaigrette. Toss and serve immediately.
***All ingredient amounts are approximate. I usually just toss in a little of this, a little of that.***
To Make The Vinaigrette:
Whisk all ingredients together until blended.
You can take the time to prepare each of these ingredients “homemade”…..or take a few shortcuts. When pressed for time, I’ll often substitute in rotisserie chicken meat, storebought glazed pecans and apple chips.
This sounds delicious and is such a beautiful salad! Presentation is half the battle with getting my husband to eat salads :-D
This looks amazing… I want to have it for lunch!
I LOVE this salad. Thanks for the homemade version!!
I love that you make homemade versions of your favorite salads. I need to do that too, I find myself at Panera and Unforked way too often for lunch! I love this salad too. Beautiful photographs, Ali!
I’m chomping the air….see you do to me?
I made this last night and it was delicious. I think the restaurant must have mixed the cheese with the vinegrette to get that white dressing. This tasted just as good and I knew what was in there. Way less complicated than other recipes I found. My boyfriend finally admitted that salad can be dinner meal. Hallejuah! I did sub fig infused white balsamic and turned out great. I think apple cider vinegar might have worked also.
What kind of apple chips did you use? The ones at Panera taste far better than any I’ve found and look exactly like the ones in your photos. Thanks for posting… definitely looking forward to making this soon.
Please help a beginner and let us know how you make those apple slices and what kind of apples you use. Also, as a beginner, how did you do the nuts. If I’m going to make this myself I don’t want to go to the store and buy dried apple slices…I might start off to the store and end up standing in line at “P’s). Thanks for posting a beautiful post.
How did you make the apple chips? I love the apple chips at pan era.
Hey Ali, Would you happen to know how to copy the Asian Sesame chicken salad from panera?? That my fav and too expensive to be getting everyday!
Your recipe looks so delicious! I never would have thought to add garlic to the dressing. I make a similar variation, but I use champagne vinegar instead of white balsamic. You can check it out here: https://www.inspiredwives.com/2012/11/apple-and-champagne-vinaigrette.html
Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. I am certainly going to try this twist.
This is not exactly the same baking method that you recommend in your “Baked Chicken Breasts” recipe. Do you suggest that I do it as written here or do the brine, seasoning mix, and higher heat that you recommend in the other recipe? Thanks!
Ah yes, I would probably recommend the Baked Chicken Breasts recipe. It was developed more recently and is, I think, better! :)