Is there anything better than a grilled chicken salad in the summertime? Yes! A grilled chicken salad with candied walnuts and your own homemade vinaigrette dressing! This salad would make a great main dish when it’s too hot to heat up the kitchen for meal preparation.
The grilled chicken salad is a classic recipe which is easy to make and you can add whatever fruits or vegetables you want to include to make it your own. My grilled chicken salad includes salad makings, gouda cheese, dried cranberries, thin slices of red apple and crunchy and sweet candied walnuts. The homemade vinaigrette dressing is slightly sweet, yet tangy, and is the perfect addition to the pops of flavor found in every bite of the salad.
Candied Walnuts are the perfect mix of sweet and salty for this salad!
The candied walnuts are a quick and easy addition to the grilled chicken salad. The walnuts take 2-5 minutes to make on the stove (no oven needed), and require only 4 ingredients. The cooling time is about 5 minutes.
The tang from the apple cider vinaigrette dressing marries all of the flavors of this salad!
The apple cider vinaigrette dressing is easy to make as all the ingredients are blended together for about 2 minutes, and tastes so much better then store-bought dressings.
What if my chicken isn’t cooked for this recipe?
I used already cooked chicken breast for this salad. My favorite way to cook chicken breast is to brush the breasts with olive oil or butter, then season with an all-purpose seasoning and place in an oven-safe dish @ 350 for 30 minutes.
If you prefer to cook your chicken breast on the stove top, season both sides of the chicken, heat oil in a skillet (vegetable oil or canola oil work best) and cook for 7 minutes on each side.
Use an internal meat thermometer on the chicken to make sure the internal temperature is 165 degrees.
If you prefer, you can use a rotisserie chicken as it saves time when you are in a hurry.
Storing your walnuts:
Candied walnuts can be stored up to 3 weeks in an airtight container, or can be frozen up to 3 months.
Are there other ways I can use my candied walnuts outside of this salad recipe?
- Besides the grilled chicken salad, candied walnuts can be added to a cookie recipe or a muffin recipe, as a topping on oatmeal or on ice cream.
- Candied walnuts are great to serve with your Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner.
- Candied walnut halves are great for gift-giving. Put the walnuts in a clear jar with a lid and add a ribbon!
- For a variety of flavor, add a bit of cinnamon to your candied walnut recipe.
- These are also great for a high protein snack! Sweet and salty!
Use citrus juice instead of the apple cider vinegar for a variety in your dressing.
No food processor? No worries. Using a pint-size jar, add the vinegar, honey, garlic, salt and pepper and cover and shake until the salt dissolves, then add the oil and shake until all the ingredients are blended.
Dressing can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.
Other vinegars can be substituted for the apple cider vinegar. These include balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, and white wine vinegar.
- Spring salad mix – any type of salad will work! I prefer this salad mixture because it is so flavorful, but also so full of nutrients. But any salad you may have in your fridge will do!
- Chicken breasts cooked, sliced (or diced) – this recipe calls for pre-cooked chicken. My favorite way to cook chicken breast is to brush the breasts with olive oil or butter, then season with an all-purpose seasoning and place in an oven-safe dish @ 350 for 30 minutes. But the most fool proof way is a rotisserie chicken sliced, shredded, or diced!
- Smoked gouda cheese – I love gouda cheese paired with the other flavors of this salad. This is my favorite smoked gouda! But any cheese will do!
- Dried cranberries – you can also change it up and add dried cranberries, or even raisins!
- Red apple thinly sliced – my favorite apple for this recipe is the Gala Apple, or a Red Delicious. You will want the most crispiest, juiciest apple!
- Walnuts – For this recipe, I used halves, but wholes will do.
- Butter salted – If you are watching your sodium intake, skip the salted butter!
- Sugar granulated
Apple cider vinaigrette:
- Olive oil
- Apple cider vinegar – Use citrus juice instead of the apple cider vinegar for a variety in your dressing. I prefer the apple cider vinegar as it brings out the apple in this salad.
- Honey – You can substitute honey for agave, or even sugar!
- Garlic minced – you can use powdered garlic if that is all you have.
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste – I find I like to add a pinch of both to my vinaigrette. Then taste, and add more to you and your family’s liking!
Prepare a sheet of parchment paper on the side. Warm a medium saucepan on medium heat. Once warm, add your butter. Melt. Add in your sugar and walnuts. Mix and fold together so every walnut is covered in butter and sugar. Stir continuously until you see the caramel start to thicken. Should take about 2 minutes. Add in your water. Stir for 1 more minute.
Transfer your walnuts to the parchment paper, and evenly distribute them so they can cook evenly. Allow cooling.
Add all of your ingredients to a food processor.
Blend for about two minutes or until the color turns into a creamy consistency.
If you like this salad, you should check out this recipe!
Grilled Chicken with Candied Walnuts, Gouda cheese, Sliced Apples, and Apple Cider Vinaigrette Dressing on Spring Mix Salad
- 5 oz. Spring salad mix
- 4 oz Chicken breasts cooked, sliced (or diced)
- 6 oz Gouda cheese sliced
- 1/4 cup Dried cranberries
- 1 Red apple thinly sliced
- 1 cup Walnuts
- 1 tbsp butter salted
- 1/4 cup sugar granulated
- 1 tsp water
Apple cider vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Prepare a sheet of parchment paper on the side.
- Warm a medium saucepan on medium heat. Once warm, add your butter. Melt.
- Add in your sugar and walnuts. Mix and fold together so every walnut is covered in butter and sugar. Stir continuously until you see the caramel start to thicken. Should take about 2 minutes.
- Add in your water. Stir for 1 more minute.
- Transfer your walnuts to the parchment paper, and evenly distribute them so they can cook evenly.
- Allow cooling.
- Add all of your ingredients to a food processor. Blend for about two minutes or until the color turns into a creamy consistency.
- Add your spring mix to the bowl.
- Add your sliced chicken, candied walnuts, apple slices, and dried cranberries.
- Drizzle your vinaigrette over the salad or place it in a cup on the side to dip your salad in.