California Grilled Chicken Salad

grilled chicken salad

 The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

  • Total: 33 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 18 mins
  • Marinating: 30 mins
  • Servings: 4 servings

This grilled chicken salad is so easy. It uses one mixture as both the marinade and the dressing (separated before marinating of course!). The flavor is incredible. It’s bursting with citrus, dijon mustard, and sweet shallots and is served over fresh, crunchy romaine. 

The other vegetables, bleu cheese, and kalamata olives add color, flavor, and tang. Feel free to change up the vegetables and cheese based on what you have on hand. The dressing/marinade is super versatile and will compliment many different ingredients.


  • For the Dressing/Marinade:
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons shallots (minced)
  • 1 small clove garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
  • For the Salad:
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup tomatoes (diced)
  • 1 cup kalamata olives (chopped)
  • 1 cup cucumbers (chopped)
  • 1 avocado 
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese (crumbles)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather your ingredients.

    grilled chicken salad marinade
  2. Whisk together the dressing/marinade ingredients in a bowl or measuring cup until the ingredients are emulsified and completely combined.

    marinade for chicken whisked together
  3. Pour half of the mixture into a large bowl, reserve the other half for the dressing. Add the chicken breasts, toss to coat, and cover. Store in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Any longer and the lemon juice will start to break down the chicken and cause it to become mushy when cooked.

    chicken marinated in dressing
  4. Heat a grill pan or your grill on high heat. Add the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes per side. Don’t move the chicken too soon or the grill marks will not form. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 165F.

    chicken grilling on a grill pan

Prepare the salad.

  1. Gather your ingredients.

    vegetables for grilled chicken salad
  2. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the vegetables. It’s important to have them cut into bite sized pieces for easy eating. 

    Wash and dry the romaine and cut into bite-sized pieces as well. Lay the romaine on a large serving platter or bowl.

    chopped romaine
  3. Save cutting the avocado for last. Peel and slice thinly. Or you can cut the avocado into chunks.

    sliced avocado
  4. Place the kalamata olives in one section, the cucumbers in another, and so on. This makes for a pretty presentation and some fun, mixing the ingredients together while eating. Cover and store in the fridge until the chicken is cooked.

    chopped salad
  5. Let the chicken rest for 2 to 3 minutes to let the juices absorb into the meat. Then slice the chicken and place it in the center of your salad.

    Drizzle the dressing over the entire salad and serve immediately.

    grilled chicken salad

Recipe Variations

  • Different vegetables, cheese, and pickles work great in this salad. 
  • Try feta or goat cheese, shredded carrots, or pepperoncini peppers. 
  • You can also mix up the lettuce. Add some arugula, spinach, or use iceberg lettuce.

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