Big, Beautiful Grilled Chicken Salad

updated Jun 3, 2021
The Best Grilled Chicken Salad

Packed with bright, fresh, bold flavors and juicy strips of chicken breast, this is the grilled chicken salad you'll eat on repeat all summer long.

Serves4 as a main

Prep20 minutes to 25 minutes

Cook9 minutes to 11 minutes

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close up of grilled chicken salad
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

This recipe is part of Kitchn 100 — the hundred recipes you need right now. Check out all of the amazing dishes, from Kitchn and beyond, here.

This bright and satisfying grilled chicken salad is the perfect easy summer dinner to add to your rotation. You’ll start with a bed of sturdy romaine lettuce for crunch, then toss in a handful of fresh herbs to brighten it up. Mix in cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, creamy avocado, lightly pickled red onion, and tangy goat cheese crumbles, then top it off with lime-kissed slices of juicy grilled chicken and a punchy vinaigrette. The big, bold flavors and crisp ingredients ensure you’ll never tire of this tasty, feel-good combo.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

A Punchy Marinade That Doubles as a Dressing

I’m all about efficiency in the kitchen and getting as much from my efforts as possible. In this case, that means making a bright, punchy marinade that doubles as the salad dressing. Whisk together fresh lime juice, apple cider vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, and olive oil; spoon out some for the marinade; and reserve the rest to be used as the dressing.

How Long Does the Chicken Need to Marinate?

I recommend marinating the chicken for at least 30 minutes. This is just the right amount of time to chop and slice the veggies, heat up the grill, and clean up any dishes. Or, if you like to plan ahead, you can let the chicken marinate in the fridge overnight.

The Best Grilled Chicken Salad

Packed with bright, fresh, bold flavors and juicy strips of chicken breast, this is the grilled chicken salad you'll eat on repeat all summer long.

Prep time 20 minutes to 25 minutes

Cook time 9 minutes to 11 minutes

Serves 4 as a main

Nutritional Info


For the dressing:

  • 2 small cloves


  • 1/3 cup

    apple cider vinegar

  • 2 to 3

    medium limes

  • 1 tablespoon

    Dijon mustard

  • 1 tablespoon


  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 cup

    extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad:

  • 2

    boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 to 1 1/2 pounds total)

  • 1/2

    small red onion

  • 1

    large or 2 small romaine lettuce hearts

  • 1/2 cup

    fresh herb leaves, such as parsley, cilantro, dill, mint, or a combination

  • Vegetable oil, for the grill

  • 2

    Persian cucumbers, or 1/2 medium English cucumber

  • 6 ounces

    cherry tomatoes (about 1 cup)

  • 1

    medium avocado

  • 4 ounces

    fresh goat cheese


  1. Mince 2 small garlic cloves and place in a medium bowl. Squeeze the juice from 2 to 3 medium limes until you have 1/4 cup, then add to the bowl. Add 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and a few grinds black pepper. Whisk until the salt is dissolved. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil and continue whisking until emulsified.

  2. Place 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast inside a gallon zip-top bag. Use the flat side of a meat mallet or a rolling pin and pound until 1/2-inch thick. Repeat with the second chicken breast.

  3. Make sure your zip-top bag does not have any holes in it from pounding the chicken breasts. If it does, replace with a new bag. Otherwise, return the chicken to the bag and add 1/4 cup of the dressing. Seal the bag and massage to coat the chicken. Place the bag on a baking sheet and arrange the chicken so it sits in a single layer. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Refrigerate the remaining dressing if marinating the chicken overnight.

  4. Prepare a gas grill for direct, high heat, or prepare a charcoal grill for both direct and indirect high heat (pile the coals on one half the grill). Meanwhile, remove the chicken and let sit at room temperature. Thinly slice 1/2 small red onion. Place in a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the dressing, and stir to combine. Core and chop 1 large or 2 small head romaine lettuce hearts crosswise into thin strips (about 10 packed cups). Place in a large salad bowl. Finely chop 1/2 cup fresh herb leaves and add to the bowl.

  5. When the grill is ready, scrape the grates clean. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade with tongs. Place on the grill, cover, and cook undisturbed until grill marks appear, about 4 minutes. If the meat sticks to the grill, continue to cook for another minute until it releases easily. Flip and cook the second side until grill marks appear, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium on a gas grill (or transfer to indirect heat on a charcoal grill) and grill until the chicken is cooked through and registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer to a clean plate and let rest while you finish the salad.

  6. When ready to serve, drizzle 1/4 cup of the dressing (rewhisk before using if needed) over the greens and gently toss to coat. Prepare the following ingredients, adding each one to the salad bowl as you complete it: quarter 2 Persian cucumbers or 1/2 English cucumber lengthwise, then chop into 1/2-inch pieces; halve 6 ounces cherry tomatoes (about 1 cup); thinly slice 1 medium avocado.

  7. Cut the chicken crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips and transfer onto the salad. Top with the red onion (discard the liquid) and crumble 4 ounces goat cheese (about 1 cup) on top. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The dressing can be made a day in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container. The chicken can be grilled a day in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container.