This delicious meal-sized salad is inspired by Panera’s fuji apple salad with fresh apple slices, gorgonzola, tomatoes, pepitas and a white balsamic vinaigrette.
Given how much I love salads, you might not be surprised to hear that I have tried pretty much every salad at popular fast casual restaurants. I basically survived off of Panera Bread‘s fuji apple salad during college and it’s still my go-to order when we happen to stumble upon a Panera!
Naturally, I set out to recreate my own version of this salad at home! I made a few changes so it’s not exactly like the Panera version, but it definitely tastes like a salad you’d get at a restaurant. And it’s the perfect salad for the beginning of fall/end of summer because it uses both apples and tomatoes.
Fuji Apple Chicken Salad Ingredients
spring mix, romaine and/or baby spinach – any greens you have on hand will work, but I like using a spring mix, romaine and/or baby spinach
Fuji or Honeycrisp apple – Panera’s version of this salad uses crispy apple chips, but I like the flavor and crunch that raw apples add so that’s what I’m using. I recommend using Fuji or Honeycrisp apples.
grilled chicken breasts – see my note below about how to make the grilled chicken
crumbled Gorgonzola – fresh gorgonzola cheese adds a ton of flavor to this salad! If you don’t like the flavor of gorgonzola you can swap it for your favorite cheese. Goat cheese or feta would be nice subs.
pepitas or toasted pecans – Panera’s version uses pecans, but I’m using pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for this version. Either work great!
I’m a big fan of grilled chicken breast on salads (I love my apple cider vinegar chicken), but I know that everyone doesn’t have access to a grill. If you don’t own a grill or simply don’t want to heat up your grill, you can make faux grilled chicken breasts inside on a grill pan!
Either way, you’ll want to season the raw chicken breasts liberally with salt and pepper so they’re plenty flavorful. Preheat your outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium-high heat, spray or coat with a little oil and place your chicken on the hot surface. Grill for 7-8 minutes, flip and cook an additional 7-8 minutes or until no pink remains and the interior temperature of chicken reaches 165ºF. Let rest a few minutes before slicing to make sure the chicken stays nice and juicy.
You can use the chicken breast on the salad right away or make the grilled chicken in advanced, let it cool and store in the fridge until you’re ready to prep the salads. I personally don’t mind cold chicken breast slices on my salads.
Customize Your Salad
While this salad is super flavorful as is, there are some different ways you can customize it based on your needs:
Dairy-free – skip the gorgonzola or use a dairy-free cheese crumble.
Vegan – feel free to substitute grilled tofu or tempeh or roasted chickpeas in place of the grilled chicken and skip the cheese.
Additional toppings – there are so many extra toppings that pair well with the flavors! Try adding avocado, dried cranberries or chopped dates, candied pecans or homemade croutons. I personally love this salad with chopped dates added!
Panera vs. Homemade Nutrition Facts
The ingredient list for Panera’s Fuji Apple Salad is 10 lines long of tiny font… I won’t bore you with the list but there are some recognizable words (like greens blend) and some not-so-recognizable (different oils, sweeteners and preservatives). As you can tell from the homemade version, we’re using real, whole food ingredients.
Panera’s salad comes out to be 580 calories – 36 grams of fat, 38 grams of carbohydrates and just 32 grams of protein. My homemade version is just 415 calories – 20 grams of fat, 21 grams of carbohydrates and a whopping 42 grams of protein! I’ll take the homemade version over Panera’s any day!
Grill chicken breasts if you haven’t already. See notes above for how to grill the chicken. This step can be done up to 2 days in advance. Just keep grilled chicken breasts in the fridge until ready to prep the salad.
Divide greens among two individual plates and top with remaining ingredients. Add dressing to taste and enjoy.
Serving: 1/2 of recipeCalories: 415kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 42gFat: 20gFiber: 7gSugar: 12g