Our Harvest Chicken Salad is mayo-free and loaded with healthy veggies, yet super fast and easy to make. Great for packed lunches or healthy weekday dinners.
With its flavourful combination of juicy chicken, fresh greens, seasonal fruits, and crunchy nuts, our harvest chicken salad is sure to become a new favourite. Plus, it's easy to make and packed with nutrients, making it the perfect meal for any occasion.
Whether you're enjoying it for a light lunch, a refreshing dinner, or a crowd-pleasing potluck dish, this salad is bound to leave your taste buds dancing with delight and your guests asking for the recipe. Get ready to savour the essence of the harvest season in every bite.
In the mood for something deliciously spicy instead? Then look no further than our mouthwatering Cajun Chicken Salad or our Chicken Madras Salad. Both are bursting with their own unique spices and seasonings that will leave your taste buds craving more.
You Will Need
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Baby Gem Lettuce - used as a base for this salad but can be replaced with any lettuce you have on hand. Or you can even used mixed greens or baby spinach as a base.
If you are making this salad in advance or for packed lunches, then I suggest you use sturdier lettuce such as romaine/cos or iceberg lettuce.
- Red Cabbage - used to bulk up this salad and for some bright colour. For similar colour and bitterness, you may replace it with shredded radicchio or shredded green cabbage.
- Cooked Chicken - is used here for protein, and as we don’t like to waste food in our house, I used up some leftover grilled chicken to make up this salad. Use shredded chicken from the deli, a store-bought barbecue chook, a baked chicken breast or a rotisserie chicken.
- Orange - we used juicy organic navel oranges for some sweetness and a pop of colour. Choose whatever oranges you like, or even mandarins, blood oranges or pomelos will work.
- Avocado - used to add some creaminess and boost the satiety of this salad. We found some shepherd avocados that are wonderfully buttery and do not discolour quickly.
- Flaked Whole Almonds - for some crunch and some added protein, feel free to use your favourites- toasted walnuts, pecans, macadamias, pistachios or hazelnuts are also great in this salad.
- Vinaigrette - this is just a simple oil and vinegar dressing with some mustard and orange zest added to boost its flavour.
We've used white wine vinegar in this recipe, but if you're looking for some added health benefits, try swapping it for apple cider vinegar which is believed to support digestion, weight management, and blood sugar control.
Consider Adding - some dried cranberries for some sweetness or some diced celery or apple slices for some added crunch or why not crumble some crispy bacon on top for an extra flavour boost.
How to Make It (step-by-step instructions)
This hearty salad is an arranged or composed salad which means that the salad ingredients are arranged in a salad bowl or platter and not tossed together.
Top Tip 💡
Assemble the salad just before serving to maintain the freshness and crunch of the ingredients. This ensures the greens stay crisp and the fruit retains its natural juiciness.
Step 1 - Prepare Ingredients
Step 2 - Shake Up the Salad Dressing
Step 3 - Assemble Your Fall Harvest Salad
Serving Suggestions 🍽
This delicious harvest chicken salad recipe is a main meal in itself and doesn’t really need to partner with anything.
You can serve it at a barbecue alongside grilled meats or as part of a buffet as it can be made in advance and keeps well.
Also, it’s perfect to have on hand for a healthy snack throughout the week.
Common Questions and Tips
Can I Make Harvest Chicken Salad Recipe Ahead?
This salad can be made several hours in advance and kept chilled in the fridge until ready to serve. But I would slice up the avocado and pour over the dressing just before serving.
How Can I Meal Prep This Salad?
We will prep the salad first, then place it on top of the lettuce leaves.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken, red cabbage, orange slices, and almond flakes.
- To prevent browning, squeeze some lemon juice over the avocado slices and add them to the bowl. Alternatively you can leave the avocado out and add it just before eating.
- Season the mixture with salt and pepper, then toss until everything is well mixed.
- If you prefer a crunchy salad, arrange the salad leaves on the bottom of your containers. Top with the salad mix and place the vinaigrette in separate small containers to mix in before eating.
- OR for a marinated and softer salad, pour the vinaigrette into the chicken mix and toss well to combine. Then, place lettuce leaves on the bottom of your containers and add the chicken mix on top.
What Can I Do With The Leftover Chicken Salad?
This salad is still great if kept in the fridge even after a few days, and It also makes a great filling for sandwiches and wraps. Or you could add your favourite grain, such as brown rice, farro or freekeh, to bulk it up the next day.
Store the chicken salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Ensure the chicken is cooked thoroughly and stored at the proper temperature to maintain food safety. Before consuming, check for any signs of spoilage or an off odour, and discard if it appears or smells questionable.
Can I Use a Different Type of Protein Instead of Chicken?
Yes, you can easily swap the chicken for a different protein, such as shrimp or steak, or even use some tofu to make it vegan and vegetarian-friendly.
Which Diets Is It Suitable For?
Our Autumn / Fall Harvest Chicken Salad is not only a flavourful and nutrient-packed meal, but it also meets the criteria for Whole30 and Paleo diets, making it an ideal Whole30 chicken salad and a Paleo chicken salad option.
It is also gluten- and dairy-free, as this recipe excludes mayonnaise.
- Salad Spinner
- Mandoline / V-Slicer
- 1 small head gem lettuce* (approximately 120 grams / 4.5 ounces)
- 2 cups red cabbage, shredded (approximately 227 grams / 8 ounces)
- 2 cups cooked chicken, diced (approximately 300 ggrams / 10 ounces)
- 1 medium orange (approximately 155 grams / 5.5 ounces)
- 350 grams avocados (approximately 350 grams / 12.5 ounces)
- ¼ cup almond flakes, toasted
- Sea salt and cracked black pepper
- ⅓ cup avocado oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
- ¾ cup white wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon mustard (your favourite - yellow, Dijon, seeded)
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- Cut off the bottom end of the gem lettuce, separate the leaves, and wash them carefully under cold running water. Pat dry with a paper towel or spin dry using a salad spinner.
- Rinse the red cabbage, cut off the core, and finely shred it using a vegetable slicer. Then pop it in a colander to and wash it thoroughly under cold running water in your sink.
- Wash the orange, zest one teaspoon of the peel for the vinaigrette. Cut off the ends, then slice the skin close to the flesh to avoid the pith. Remove any remaining white pith and slice the orange into rounds.
- Wash the avocados, remove the pits, and slice them thinly lengthwise.
- Place all the dressing ingredients in a glass jar or tightly sealed container.
- Season the dressing with salt and pepper, then shake the jar/container vigorously until the ingredients are well combined and emulsified.
- Taste the dressing and adjust the seasonings according to your liking.
- Arrange the lettuce leaves on the bottom of a deep salad platter or bowl.
- Place the shredded red cabbage on top of the lettuce.
- Next to the red cabbage, arrange the cooked chicken.
- Place the orange slices next to the chicken, and fan the sliced avocado next to the orange.
- Pour the prepared dressing over the salad, ensuring it coats the ingredients evenly. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
- Scatter the almond flakes on top of the salad for added crunch and flavour.
- Keep the salad chilled until ready to serve, and toss it at the table just before serving to ensure the dressing coats all the ingredients evenly.