This Strawberry Spinach Salad with Grilled Chicken is a total showstopper and always a crowd favorite! Colorful, bursting with flavor and packed with nutrients, this salad is anything but boring or bland! It’s perfect for every occasion – from easy lunches and fast weeknight dinners to summer picnics, potlucks and barbecues!
Updated: This post was originally published in April 2018. I edited the photos and updated the post below to include more information about spinach strawberry chicken salad!
Hey, friends! Can we talk about salads for a second? I feel like they get a bad rap, and people either love them or loathe them. However, the people who (unfortunately) fall into the latter category seem to really, really detest them. And, I can’t help but think it’s a little misguided. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I get it. Some salads can be boring, bland and leave MUCH to be desired.
With that said, I’d like to introduce you to today’s salad. It’s a salad so fresh and fabulous it will rock your world… or at least rock your taste buds. And, if you are a salad hater, this is going to make you question your stance on a pile of leafy greens!
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Strawberry Spinach Salad
Fresh greens tossed with juicy strawberries, plump sweet peas, crisp sugar snap peas, salty feta, creamy avocado and crunchy nuts. All that sensational salad jazz gets topped with tender grilled chicken and generously drizzled with a silky, luscious, tart, slightly sweet mint vinaigrette.
This salad is light and fresh, yet satisfying and jam packed with both texture and flavor! Basically, it’s a salad done RIGHT.
What’s in a strawberry salad?
Fresh strawberry salad is a classic summertime dish and a wonderful way to use up seasonal berries! This salad is simple, yet packed with various textures and fresh flavors! However, you can easily customize it and swap ingredients or add whatever you have on hand or love! (Scroll down to see what you can add to this salad!)
- Ripe strawberries: Ripe, juicy strawberries are the key to a great strawberry salad! I highly recommend using the freshest, local strawberries you can find. However, if strawberries aren’t in season, you can mix it up and use blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or cranberries!
- Greens: Tender leafy greens and strawberries go hand in hand! You can use baby spinach, or try mixing things up and using a blend of greens! I like the combination of baby spinach, baby arugula, bibb lettuce and red romaine! (See below for fresh greens to try!)
- Cheese crumbles: Decadent feta cheese adds a touch of salty, creamy satisfaction to the salad! I also love using goat cheese if I’m craving a more decadent salad! For vegan-option, simply omit the cheese! (Or, see below for more cheese options you can try!)
- Peas: A combination of raw sugar snap peas and blanched fresh peas add both crunchy and tender texture!
- Avocado: Creamy avocado adds a rich texture to the salad. Plus, it adds nutrients and healthy fats so you feel satiated but not guilty!
- Nuts: Every great salad has a salty, crunchy element! Almonds, pecans, walnuts or pistachios are all wonderful options! Whichever nut you choose, make sure you toast them first! Toasting nuts makes them more crisp and flavorful! If you have a nut allergy, try using toasted sunflower seeds!
- Dressing: This salad is paired with a fresh and fabulous mint vinaigrette. It’s simple to prepare, yet incredibly flavorful!
- Chicken: Simply seasoned grilled chicken takes this salad from a stellar side dish to a marvelous main! However, it is entirely optional and can easily be omitted if desired!
What greens can I use?
Fresh strawberries pair brilliantly with young, leafy greens! Traditionally, strawberry salad is made with spinach. However, I prefer to use a mixture of fresh greens and lettuces of varying colors, tastes and textures. A blend of leafy greens will yield a more well rounded salad with plenty of crunch and texture! But, you can use just one type of salad green if desired! Or, use a bag of spring salad mix for ease and convenience!
- Baby Spinach has a slightly sweet, milder, more delicate flavor than mature spinach leaves. While baby spinach leaves are more tender they usually have their stems attached, which can have a bitter flavor. If you don’t care for the bitter taste, cut or tear each stem and discard them before proceeding with the salad.
- Red Romaine is an heirloom romaine with a crunchy texture and sweet, flavorful taste.
- Bibb Lettuce, also known as Boston or Butterhead lettuce, is a type of butter lettuce. It is soft in texture and has a smooth, buttery flavor a hint of sweetness.
- Baby Arugula, also known as Rocket, has a peppery flavor and is mildly bitter in taste.
- Radicchio, sometimes known as Italian chicory, is often mistaken for red cabbage. It is a variety of leafy chicory with a bitter and spicy taste.
What type of cheese for strawberry spinach salad?
- Feta Cheese is a a soft and crumbly brined cheese from Greece. It’s traditionally made with sheep’s milk and has a slightly grainy texture. Opt for a block of feta, as opposed to the pre-crumbled feta in a container, and crumble it yourself.
- Goat Cheese, also known as chèvre, refers to any cheese made from goat’s milk. While it’s available in many forms, I recommend soft, fresh goat cheese log for this salad. Use your hands to break the cheese into large crumbles.
- Gorgonzola is a mild, Italian blue cheese, made from unskimmed cow’s milk. It can vary in flavor and texture, from buttery or salty, to crumbly and firm. I recommend a creamy variety such as Gorgonzola Dolce, which is mild, creamy and sweet in flavor.
- Emmental is a yellow, semi-hard Swiss cow’s milk cheese that has a nutty, buttery flavor. I recommend shredding or dicing emmental cheese for this salad.
- Gruyère is a yellow hard Swiss cheese that has a sweet but slightly salty taste. It’s flavor varies widely with age. You can either shred or cube gruyere cheese for this salad.
- Parmigiano-Reggiano is a pale-golden, hard cow’s milk cheese. You can shave, dice or freshly grate parmesan for this salad.
How to customize my strawberry salad?
This salad recipe is easily adaptable and incredibly flexible! The recipe below is a great starting point if you like your salad fully loaded! Feel free to swap out the fruits, cheese, or nuts to your preference! Or, simply add whatever ingredients you and your family love or have on hand!
What to add to strawberry spinach salad:
- Red onion: Thinly sliced or diced red onions are a great way to add both color and flavor! If you don’t like the raw bite, try pickling red onion or soak it in cold water for 15 minutes before draining and using in the salad.
- Red Bell Pepper: Finely diced bell peppers are a fantastic way to add a bit of savory, sweet fresh crispness! Plus, their red color is a welcome addition!
- Cucumber: Strawberries and cucumbers are a natural combination! Remove the seeds or use a seedless cucumber before slicing the cucumber and adding it to the salad!
- Fresh Fruit: Diced pears and mango, or halved grapes add a welcome juicy sweetness!
- Dried Fruit: Dried apricots, blackberries or cranberries, as well as pomegranate seeds or toasted coconut flakes are a great way to add another layer of texture and flavor!
- Fresh Herbs: Basil, chives and scallions add fresh, herbaceous taste!
- Seeds: Poppy seeds, toasted sunflower seeds or toasted pumpkin seeds would add a delicious flavor and crunchy texture!
- Caramelized Nuts: If you want to add a crunchy sweet element to the salad, caramelized nuts, such as pecans work beautifully!
- Grains: Add cooked and cooled quinoa or farro for added nutrients.
- Legumes: Crispy roasted chickpeas are a delicious way to add a ton of texture and flavor, as well as vitamins, minerals and fiber! My honey roasted chickpeas are amazing in this salad!
- Noodles: Cooked and cooled small-shaped pasta, or toasted and crushed ramen noodles are a wonderful way to add texture and make the salad more filling!
- Bacon: Cooked and crumbled salty bacon is a no-brainer if you are a bacon fan!
- Dressing: Not a fan of mint? Creamy balsamic or poppy seed dressing will work beautifully!
How to make spinach strawberry salad?
This healthy strawberry salad recipe starts with the freshest ingredients and ends with an unbelievably flavorful mint vinaigrette!
(Scroll down for the detailed measurements and instructions in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.)
To make this salad:
- Season and cook chicken: Season the chicken breasts as desired. Grill until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear.
- Make the dressing: Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing. Set aside.
- Assemble the salad: In a large bowl, combine greens, both types of peas and cheese. Drizzle with enough dressing to lightly coat. Toss to combine.
- Serve: Portion salad out in individual bowls. Top with strawberries, avocado and nuts. Drizzle with more dressing and enjoy!
Can I make this in advance?
This strawberry spinach salad can be made ahead of time as long as you follow a couple easy tips!
- Dressing: You can make the mint vinaigrette up to 3 days in advance. Store the strawberry salad dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator and give it a good shake or whisk before using. I actually prefer to make the vinaigrette ahead of time so the flavors have a chance to develop and meld together.
- Salad: You can chop and prepare all the strawberry spinach salad ingredients in advance as well! To make the salad ahead of time, gather all of the salad ingredients except the avocados (they will turn brown) and the nuts (they won’t stay crunchy). Add the ingredients to a large bowl in individual sections so that they are separated. Do not toss the salad together! Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. When ready to serve, add the avocados, nuts and the desired amount of salad dressing. Toss to combine, serve and enjoy! Tip: Dress the salad as shortly before serving as possible. If you don’t plan to eat all of the salad, dress only what you plan to eat right away. This strawberry spinach salad will become soggy if dressed too far in advance.
Is this salad healthy?
This salad is packed with fresh, good-for-you ingredients!
- Strawberries are a rich source of fiber and vitamins, plus they are sodium-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free and low-calorie. Nutrient-rich and packed with antioxidants, strawberries are a superfood that offer a wide range of health benefits including, improved eye care, and relief from high blood pressure, arthritis and various cardiovascular diseases.
- Green peas, or “garden peas”, contain an impressive amount of fiber (4.4 grams per ½ cup serving), antioxidants, vitamin A and iron. They have been shown to help you better manage your weight by keeping you feeling full for longer, improve your heart health by lowering your cholesterol, and support healthy blood sugar control.
- Avocados are packed with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, such as folate, niacin and potassium, respectively. Plus they are low in carbs and sugar, and high in fiber and healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
- Nuts in general are a good source of protein and fiber. They also pack a number of vitamins and minerals. Plus, most of the fat found in nuts is monounsaturated fat, as well as omega-6 and omega-3.
- Chicken breasts are the most popular of all white meats for a reason! They are low in fat and a great source of lean protein! Plus, they are an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals!
What goes with it?
Most salads only have enough substance to be served as a starter or side dish. But, this fresh strawberry spinach salad with chicken has enough heft to be the entire meal itself! However, if you are serving a crowd or simply want more than a salad as your meal, below are dishes that pair beautifully with this salad!
What to serve with a strawberry salad:
- Creamy Dips with Chips or Fresh Vegetables: Your favorite creamy dip paired with chips or crisp vegetables is a great starter for this salad!
- Chips and Fresh Salsas: I’m particularly partial to fresh, homemade Salsa Verde with salty tortilla chips!
- Dainty appetizers: Crabmeat Deviled Eggs and Bacon Wrapped Shrimp are my favorite pairings!
- Sandwiches, Subs, Wraps and Paninis: I love this salad paired with an Avocado B.L.T or Bacon and Egg Sandwich.
- Summer Soups: Soup and salad is a classic combination for a reason! Light and fresh gazpacho is my pick.
- Light Summer Salads: A fresh Caprese Salad drizzled with balsamic or No Mayo Herb Potato Salad get my votes.
- Grilled Vegetables or Fruit: Fresh, seasonal grilled vegetables is an obvious choice. Try grilled corn on the cob and zucchini. Or, if you are looking to shake things up, try grilling your favorite fruit! Grilled pineapple or peaches taste fabulously with this salad.
- Breakfast Casseroles: Try a crustless quiche or french toasts if you want to serve this for brunch.
- Strawberry Recipes: Lean into strawberry season and pair your strawberry chicken salad with strawberry breakfast casserole for brunch or strawberry cake with cream cheese for dessert.
Fresh, fabulous and packed with ALL the flavor, this Strawberry Salad with mint vinaigrette NEEDS to grace your table. Do it and make boring, bland salads a thing of the past!
Until next week, friends, cheers – to sensational salads!
More summer salads with chicken
If you love this salad, try one of these fresh and bright salad recipes next:
- Grilled Honey Chicken & Pea Salad
- Chicken Salad with Bacon
- Broccoli Salad with Chicken (or bacon!)
- Moroccan Chicken Couscous Salad
- Chicken Salad with Cranberries
How to make Strawberry Spinach Salad 👇
Strawberry Spinach Salad with Grilled Chicken
- Mixing Bowl
- Grill or Skillet
Optional for serving: Micro greens, lemon wedges
- Preheat grill, grill pan, or cast iron skillet over medium high heat and brush the grates with oil.
- Season and cook chicken: Season chicken as desired (SEE NOTES). Place it on the grill. Grill for 4-8 minutes per side, or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear (SEE NOTES). Remove chicken from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the dressing: Whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust for seasoning as desired. Set aside.
- Assemble: In a large bowl, combine the greens, peas and feta. Drizzle with just enough dressing to very lightly coat the greens. Toss to combine. Portion salad mixture into individual serving bowls.
- To serve: Slice or dice the chicken and add it to the top of each salad along with some of the strawberries, avocado and nuts. Drizzle with more dressing or serve remaining dressing on the side. Dnjoy!
- Greens: I like to use a fresh mix of young, tender, leafy greens (baby spinach, red romaine, baby arugula) for a variety of texture and flavor. However, you can use just one green, such as baby spinach, if desired!
- Chicken: Season the chicken as you see fit! You can season the chicken simply, with just salt and pepper, or you can jazz it up a bit with a homemade all-purpose grill seasoning. I like to use a mix of garlic powder, dried parsley, dried basil, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and pinch of cayenne. Seasonings are a great way to switch things up and customize the chicken to your specific taste!
- Grill time: Grilling time for the chicken will depend on the size and thickness of your chicken. Since chicken cutlets are thinner they will require less time than thick chicken breasts. Always cook your chicken to 165 degrees F.
- Make ahead: The dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. You can prepare all the ingredients in advance and keep everything in the fridge until ready to serve. Don't add the dressing and nuts to the salad until you are ready to eat it. The salad will get soggy if you add the dressing in advance.
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