Amazing textures, perfect combination of flavor, and full of nutrition this Panera Bread Chicken Salad Recipe gives the restaurant version a run for its money. Forget the boring ham and cheese sandwich and take your lunch to the next level with this Panera copycat recipe.
About this Chicken Salad
It’s no secret I’m a big chicken salad fan. Dill Cucumber Chicken Salad, Healthy Pesto Chicken Salad, Bacon Ranch Chicken Salad, Rainbow Chicken Salad, you name it, I love it. Something about the variety of textures and flavors all marinated together is just so satisfying.
When I’m going to Panera, you best believe I’m getting the You-Pick-Two with the Green Goddess Salad alongside the Napa Chicken Salad Sandwich. So to be able to enjoy the delicious chicken salad whenever I wanted, I decided to use grocery store ingredients to recreate my own version of this recipe.
And after trying it once, I can confidently say that this copycat Panera Bread Napa Almond Chicken Salad is going to become a meal prep staple for me. Plus you get quadruple the amount for a fraction of the cost!
Whether you’re throwing it between two slices of hearty bread, scooping up with crackers, adding on top of a simple greens salad, or just enjoying with a fork, there are so many ways to enjoy this recipe all week long
- Chicken - This is a great recipe to repurpose leftover chicken! You can also use rotisserie chicken or cook and shred your own chicken specifically for the salad.
- Add-ins - A good chicken salad has a variety of textures. This is achievable with diced celery, sliced almonds, and red grapes added in.
- Red Onion - optional, as it’s not in Panera’s recipe BUT it really makes it tasty! Pickled red onions would be amazing, too.
- Dressing - The homemade salad dressing is a combination of mayo, mustard, lemon, honey and some spices. I also used Greek yogurt to lighten it up a bit (Panera uses only mayo) and you can’t tell the difference. Feel free to use only mayo if desired.
See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
Substitutions and Variations
Chicken salad is highly customizable. Here are just a few ways to switch up the salad ingredients:
- Play with textures. Instead of shredding chicken, try dicing into cubes!
- Fruit: Instead of grapes, use diced apple - green or red both work great!
- Nuts: Slivered almonds are used in the restaurant version, but walnuts or pecans are also a great way to bring out an even nuttier flavor.
- Dressing: I like this homemade creamy dressing, but if you’re looking for something quick greek yogurt/mayo mixed with store bought honey dijon salad dressing is an option, too.
- Add cheese! Goat cheese, gorgonzola cheese, or feta cheese I think could work to mix into the chicken salad. You could also throw a slice of your favorite deli cheese on the sandwich, instead. I suggest a white cheddar or munster.
How to Make This Recipe
1. If not already done, cook and shred the chicken. Finely dice the celery and red onion. Slice the grapes into quarters.
2. In a large mixing bowl, add all of the dressing ingredients. Mix together until well combined.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the mixing bowl: shredded chicken, diced celery, onions, red grapes, and sliced almonds. Fold together until everything is well coated.
4. Build the sandwiches! Add lettuce and sliced tomatoes onto one half of each sandwich and ¼ of the chicken salad recipe to the other piece of bread. Fold the sandwiches together and enjoy fresh! It’s so flavorful, you’ll love it!
- Toast the almonds prior to using! If you have time, baking the almonds before using will highlight the nuttiness and flavor to this chicken salad. Simply preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the sliced almonds on a small baking sheet and bake for 3-4 minute or until golden brown. Allow them to cool prior to using.
- Using raw chicken breasts? Here is a quick way to prep them. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the thinly sliced chicken breasts on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until internal temperature of 165°F. Use two forks to shred the chicken prior to using. Allow chicken to cool.
- I love getting a little something in EVERY bite and this comes from chopping your ingredients finely. I use a vegetable chopper to ensure that the veggies are all the same size: celery and (optional) onion. It's easy to use and creates the best texture! Each grape I sliced into 4 even pieces. You can do even smaller if you prefer/have large grapes.
You can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The chicken salad may have some excess moisture after sitting for a few days. Mix well prior to serving or use a slotted spoon to transfer the salad away from excess water.
There’s so many ways to enjoy this chicken salad. I love it classically as a sandwich between two slices of hearty dark rye bread. You could also enjoy open face on toast. This chicken salad is also one of my favorite light lunches with crackers or on top of a bed of romaine lettuce or in lettuce wraps for something more low carb. And no shame, simply with a fork is also a great way to have it!
To make this easy recipe into a delicious meal, serve along side some potato chips or potato salad, a simple greens salad, coleslaw, fruit salad or pasta salad. Or do it like Panera would, with a side of soup - french onion soup or broccoli cheddar soup are my go-to's!
More Recipes You'll Love
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Copycat Panera Bread Chicken Salad Recipe
- Mixing Bowl
- Cutting Board
- Rubber Spatula
- 3 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded
- 1 cup celery, diced
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- 1 cup red grapes
- ½ cup red onion, diced
- 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt, use all mayo if preferred
- ⅓ cup light mayo
- 1 tbsp spicy mustard
- 1 tbsp honey
- ½ lemon, juiced
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
- 8 pieces hearty bread, I like dark rye
- sliced tomatoes
- lettuce, or baby spinach
- pickles, optional
- If not already done, cook and shred the chicken. Finely dice the celery and red onion. Slice the grapes into quarters.
- In a large mixing bowl, add all of the dressing ingredients together. Mix until well combined.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the mixing bowl: shredded chicken, diced celery, onions, red grapes, and sliced almonds. Fold together until everything is well coated.
- Build the sandwiches! Add lettuce and sliced tomatoes onto one half of each sandwich and ¼ of the chicken salad recipe to the other piece of bread.
- Fold the sandwiches together and enjoy fresh! It’s so flavorful, you’ll love it!
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I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. It’s my passion to create dishes that can be shared with others. Tell me something you loved or just say hi!
Courtney Paige says
This recipe is INSANELY delicious!! So so good. Better than Panera in my opinion!
Sydney Van Acker says
the greek yogurt in the dressing is highly preferred in my opinion!! Love Panera chicken salad and i love this version even more
This was so good! My husband loves this from Panera and usually hates Greek yogurt. He didn't even notice it! Summer staple for sure!
Amy Jo says
YUM!!! I made this for meal prep and it was GREAT🤩🤩