What to Put in a Salad with Chicken?

Salads often bring to mind a light, refreshing dish ideal for hot summer days or as a quick meal when you’re pressed for time. However, salads can also be hearty, nutritious meals that fill you up and provide a balanced profile of macros and micros. Among the most popular options in this category is the chicken salad. But what exactly should you put in a salad with chicken to make it truly special?

Inspired by a plethora of options such as this Grilled Lemon Herb Mediterranean Chicken Salad recipe, we are diving into the details to help you create a culinary masterpiece that is as delicious as it is nutritious.

The Base: Green Leafy Vegetables

Romaine Lettuce

Romaine lettuce is a classic choice for salads, known for its crisp texture and mild flavor. It’s rich in Vitamin A and K and offers a good crunch that balances well with the softness of the chicken.

Baby Spinach

If you’re looking for a nutritional powerhouse, baby spinach is your go-to. It’s full of iron, calcium, and antioxidants. Its slightly earthy flavor pairs well with sweet and tangy dressings.


For those who prefer a peppery kick, arugula is a fantastic choice. It has a distinctive, spicy flavor and goes well with robust and zesty dressings.

Protein: The Chicken

Grilled Chicken

Grilling the chicken will give your salad a smoky flavor and a charred exterior. Marinate the chicken beforehand in olive oil, garlic, herbs, and some lemon juice to infuse it with flavors.

Baked Chicken

If you’re looking for a healthier option, baking the chicken in a preheated oven can keep it juicy and tender. Add spices like paprika, garlic powder, and salt to enhance its taste.

Poached Chicken

Poaching is a method that involves cooking chicken in a simmering liquid, usually a blend of water and aromatics like garlic, onion, and herbs. This method retains the chicken’s moisture and soft texture.

Fruits and Veggies

Cherry Tomatoes

These little bursts of flavor add color and juiciness to your salad. They are also packed with Vitamin C and other antioxidants.


For a refreshing crunch, slice some cucumbers thinly and add them to your salad. They are hydrating and add a crisp texture.


Rich in healthy fats, avocados provide creaminess that can balance the other textures in your salad. They are also an excellent source of fiber and potassium.

Nuts and Seeds


Almonds provide a crunch along with a dose of healthy fats and protein. You can go for the toasted variety for an added flavor profile.

Chia Seeds

Though small, these seeds are nutritional giants, packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber. Sprinkle them over your salad for a slightly nutty taste.


Classic Vinaigrette

A mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and a pinch of salt and pepper can make a classic vinaigrette that goes well with almost any chicken salad.

Ranch Dressing

If you’re looking for a creamy option, a ranch dressing made from buttermilk, mayonnaise, and a blend of herbs and spices is a great choice.

Thai Peanut Dressing

For an exotic twist, opt for a Thai peanut dressing made from peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. This pairs particularly well with salads that have an Asian influence.


Fresh Herbs

Chopped herbs like parsley, chives, or basil can add an extra layer of flavor and make your salad visually appealing.


A sprinkle of cheese like feta or Parmesan can add a tangy or salty bite.

Bottom Line

Creating a chicken salad is far from mundane; it’s an art that involves a balance of flavors, textures, and nutritional components. By carefully selecting your base, adding a protein source like chicken cooked to your preference, and complementing it with fruits, veggies, nuts, and a suitable dressing, you can elevate your salad experience from a mere meal to a culinary journey. So the next time you’re pondering what to put in a salad with chicken, remember: the possibilities are endless, but the choices are all yours.

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