Winter Chicken Salad

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Winter Chicken Salad starts with marinated chicken, sweet clementines, crunchy cucumbers, roasted red peppers, creamy goat cheese, and salted pepita seeds. Drizzle the delicious orange dressing over this flavorful salad to enjoy a light and fresh salad (even in the dead of winter!).

 

Overhead view of Winter Chicken Salad, on a tray and ready to add the dressing.

Winter Chicken Salad

Just because the weather is cooling down and summer produce isn’t as readily available doesn’t mean you can’t get in your greens in and still enjoy a stellar salad!

With so many comfort meals at this time of year, it’s nice to occasionally switch things up and get in a light, fresh-tasting meal that is still filling and delicious. Winter Chicken Salad is just that!

We start with a simple chicken marinade that takes mere minutes to whip together. The salad toppings are quick to assemble and the dressing is as easy as adding everything to a Mason jar and shaking it ’til combined. 

Process shots: Combine marinade ingredients; add in the chicken and chill; grill and then cut into bite-sized pieces or slices.

Winter Chicken Salad Toppings

Besides the chicken, we’ve got four other toppings. I’ll break those down here:

  • Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) add a sweet and nutty flavor, similar to sunflower seeds, but a bit sweeter. You can make your own roasted pepitas or buy them at the store. If you choose to buy them, make sure they’re roasted and salted (not raw). You can generally find them in the bulk section of a grocery store, or with other salad toppings like candied nuts, dried cranberries, etc.
  • Roasted red pepper strips add a smoky flavor that complements the chicken. You can purchase them in most grocery stores near things like pickles, capers, and artichoke hearts. They are typically sold in glass containers, either whole or cut into strips. I opt for strips to make them quicker to chop and add to the salad.
  • Persian cucumbers are perfect for this salad. I like them over regular cucumbers, which lack flavor and can be a bit watery. English cucumber or Persian cucumbers (Persian cucumbers are sometimes labeled as mini/salad cucumbers.) are crunchy and mild. The skin is thin and edible so there’s no need to peel. 
  • Goat cheese is the perfect tangy complement to all the other ingredients. It gets a little melty with the warm chicken and that is probably my favorite part of this whole salad! While I highly recommend using goat cheese, feta cheese will work in its place.

Process shots: combine the dressing ingredients; cover and shake to emulsify.

Clementine Dressing

This sweet-tart dressing is the perfect finishing touch for Winter Chicken Salad. We use clementines — both the zest and juice to infuse the dressing with a lovely orange flavor. A few notes on the dressing:

  • Use a microplane (like this one) to zest only the very outside bright orange part of the clementine. Avoid the white pith below the peel. (The microplane also comes in handy for grating the garlic in the chicken marinade.)
  • This citrus juicer makes juicing the clementines a breeze! If you use a lot of citrus in baking or cooking, you’ll be amazed how often a juicer comes in handy.
  • Make sure to use Dijon mustard, not yellow. There’s a big flavor difference.
  • Add honey to taste. We like a heaping tablespoon of honey in the dressing, but you may prefer the dressing slightly less sweet. (or maybe even sweeter!) Add slowly and to taste.
  • Add dressing to personal preference.  While we typically use all the dressing on this salad, you may like a less-dressed salad. Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to a week and use on other salads or to top leftover fruit.

QUICK TIP

We like using “Cuties”® clementine oranges in this Winter Chicken Salad. Clementines are a hybrid of mandarin and sweet oranges and are sometimes confused with tangerines. They’re small and easy to peel, usually seedless, and sweeter than most other citrus fruits. They add a refreshing sweetness to the salad and dressing.

Images of the various ingredients in Winter Chicken Salad.

Winter Chicken Salad Variation Ideas

  • Serve Winter Chicken Salad as a side dish instead of the main course. If you’d like to skip the chicken component, this salad makes a great side to a hearty winter soup or meal. It would pair nicely with this Shepherd’s Pie, Crockpot Roast, Chicken Pot Pie Soup, or Baked Ziti.
  • Swap the fruit. We had some delicious honey mangoes that were ripe and ready to use. So we tried those instead of the clementines in this salad and loved it! Pomegranate arils would also make a nice addition to this salad.
  • Use one type of lettuce. I love mixing different blends of lettuce for a more interesting and varied salad texture but feel free to use just mixed greens in this salad instead of the blend listed in the recipe.

View of the finished Winter Chicken Salad on a platter.

Winter Chicken Salad Storage/Make Ahead

As with most salad recipes, Winter Chicken Salad doesn’t sit or store well once dressed. With that in mind, only dress what will be eaten the same day and then store salad toppings, chicken, and dressing separately for leftovers. 

QUICK TIP

If you prepare the dressing in advance, don’t be alarmed if it clumps and separates in the fridge. To fix this simply shake the dressing together again until smooth (If it’s still clumpy, let it stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes and then shake again; the clumps are the fats in the olive oil separating and solidifying).

More Cold Weather Salads

FOLLOW ALONG! Subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates, recipes and content.

Winter Chicken Salad

5 from 1 vote
Winter Chicken Salad starts with marinated chicken, sweet clementines, crunchy cucumbers, roasted red peppers, creamy goat cheese, and salted pepita seeds. Drizzle the delicious orange dressing over this flavorful salad to enjoy a light and fresh salad (even in the dead of winter!).
Print Recipe

Winter Chicken Salad

5 from 1 vote
Winter Chicken Salad starts with marinated chicken, sweet clementines, crunchy cucumbers, roasted red peppers, creamy goat cheese, and salted pepita seeds. Drizzle the delicious orange dressing over this flavorful salad to enjoy a light and fresh salad (even in the dead of winter!).
Course Dinner, Main Course, Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword winter chicken salad
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 531kcal
Author Chelsea Lords
Cost $6.31

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 1 pound (16 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs) (~2 breasts)
  • 2 limes (2 tablespoons lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon lime zest)
  • 1 tablespoon grated garlic (~2-4 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: smoked paprika, dried oregano, and honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (use 1 full teaspoon for more spice)
  • Fine sea salt and cracked pepper

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons clementine juice and 1 teaspoon zest (~2 clementines)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 heaping tablespoon honey

Salad

  • 4 cups mixed greens lettuce (packed)
  • 2 cups kale (lightly packed)(or just use more mixed greens) (See Note 1)
  • 1 cup clementines (~3 clementines), chopped
  • Heaping 1/2 cup Persian cucumber (~1 cucumber)(cut into half moons)
  • 1/3 cup pepitas (roasted and salted)
  • 1/2 cup roasted red pepper strips coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup goat cheese crumbled

Instructions

  • MARINADE: Place all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl or large zipper-top plastic bag: 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon lime zest, 1 tablespoon grated garlic (I use a microplane to grate), 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste (I add 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Whisk or knead together in the bag.
  • CHICKEN: Slice large chicken breasts in half horizontally. Cover the chicken breasts with plastic wrap (to avoid splatter), and using a meat mallet or the bottom of a frying pan, pound breasts to even thickness (you don't want to flatten the meat, just even it in thickness). Pat chicken dry with a paper towel. Put in the bowl or bag with the marinade and make sure the marinade is generously coating chicken. Seal (or cover the bowl tightly) and refrigerate for 20 minutes up to 6 hours.
  • GRILL: Preheat grill to medium-high (400-450 degrees F.) Add chicken to the cleaned and greased grill (I rub grill grates with a vegetable oil-drenched paper towel). Grill for 4-5 minutes per side, turning halfway in between or until chicken registers 160 degrees F. Remove to a plate and tent with foil to rest for 5-10 minutes and then chop into bite-sized pieces.
  • DRESSING: Add all the dressing ingredients to a Mason jar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (I add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper) Place in the fridge while preparing the rest of the salad. Shake to recombine before dressing the salad.
  • SALAD ASSEMBLY: Combine the kale (See Note 1) and mixed greens in a large bowl or on a salad platter. Top with peeled and chopped clementines (I halve each segment), Persian cucumbers (cut into half moons), roasted and salted pepitas, coarsely chopped roasted red pepper strips, and goat cheese. Add the chopped chicken. Drizzle on dressing to desired preference. (You may not want to use it all; store leftovers in the fridge for up to a week.) Toss gently to combine and serve immediately.
  • STORAGE: This salad doesn't sit well with the dressing, so only dress what will be enjoyed the same day. Store any leftover salad, chicken, and dressing separately.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: if you opt to use kale, here's how to prepare it: Remove the thick stems and then very thinly slice (ribbon) the kale. The smaller the shreds of kale, the better! Once it's all chopped, put it in a colander (or the base of a salad spinner) and give it a quick rinse. Rub and massage the kale for about a minute and then give it another quick rinse. Allow the kale to dry completely before using in the salad or spin in the salad spinner to dry it quickly.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 531kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 675mg | Potassium: 1325mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 5070IU | Vitamin C: 108mg | Calcium: 184mg | Iron: 5mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.

More Recipes You'll Love

Chicken Salad {With Video}

20 mins

Chicken Salad {With Video}

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

Chicken Spinach Salad

30 mins

Chicken Spinach Salad

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

Creamy Balsamic Dressing (Spring Cobb Salad)

40 mins

Creamy Balsamic Dressing (Spring Cobb Salad)

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

Crispy Chicken Salad

25 mins

Crispy Chicken Salad

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

FREE BONUS

FREE BONUS

EASY MEAL SECRETS:
How to Make Mealtime Hassle Free!

5 secrets to easy, fast and delicious dinners.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Leave a Comment:

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




0 Comments

Never Miss a Recipe

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.