This copycat Panera Strawberry Salad recipe is loaded with fresh berries and candied pecans. Tossed with a sweet homemade lemon poppy seed dressing, it’s the perfect fresh salad warm summer days!
Why This Salad is Best
If you like green salads with fruit, you just might become obsessed with this Strawberry Pecan Salad. This sweet salad is based off our favorite Panera Strawberry Poppyseed Salad recipe!
- FRUITY- It’s made with strawberries, blueberries and juicy mandarin oranges.
- CRUNCHY- Candied pecans for a satisfying sweet crunch factor.
- ZESTY- red onion adds a perfect bite.
- HEARTY- Delicious with or without grilled chicken.
- PERFECT- The sweet and tangy dressing brings it all together.
We love making this salad after a trip to the farmer’s market for fresh fruits and veggies. It’s an easy, tasty way to fill your plate with all that good-for-you produce! And it’s so full of color!
If you love our spinach salad, you can swap out the romaine in today’s strawberry salad for spinach to give you a delicious, hearty meal.
What I love about this fresh salad recipe is how versatile it can be. LOVE mandarin oranges? Add more. Hate goat cheese? Swap it out for feta. Here’s an overview of your key ingredients.
- Strawberries. Remove the stems of fresh berries and slice them in half to add to the salad.
- Blueberries. Make sure to use FRESH berries, not frozen for this salad recipe.
- Mandarin oranges. We use canned orange slices with the juices drained out.
- Candied pecans. The salad starts by toasting pecans on the stovetop with sugar until the outsides become crisp and sweet.
- Romaine Lettuce. Or swap it for other fresh salad greens such as spring lettuce or baby spinach.
- Red onion. The sharp taste of the red onion provides a nice balance to all the sweetness going on in this salad.
- Goat cheese. The tangy flavor and creaminess of the crumbles make it perfect for sweet salads like this one. The fresher the better.
- Chicken breasts. Cook the chicken breasts on the stove or your grill first. Leftover shredded chicken or rotisserie chicken works here too!
- Lemon Poppyseed Dressing. You will need lemon juice, olive oil, sugar and poppy seeds, along with a little mustard.
Salad Tips and Tricks
- Make the poppy seed dressing ahead of time. Mix all the ingredients together and store it in a mason jar in the fridge. When the salad is ready, the dressing will be perfectly chilled and ready to drizzle over your Strawberry Pecan Salad. We save jelly jars to use for homemade dressing!
- Side dish or main course. To serve this salad as a side dish for your main course, simply omit the chicken. Adding the chicken turns it into a complete meal!
- Make it less sweet. Use unsweetened toasted pecans instead of candied nuts if you prefer a salad with less sweetness. You could also reduce the amount of sugar in the dressing to suit your taste.
I don’t recommend frozen berries for this recipe. They release a significant amount of moisture as they thaw which would make your salad mushy. This is one recipe where fresh berries are a MUST!
We often enjoy this salad as a one-bowl meal on its own. It would pair well with sides like freshly baked rolls or crackers, too.
Keep the strawberry theme going and make a No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake for dessert!
Our Strawberry Pecan Salad recipe is vegetarian if made without the cooked chicken breast. To make it vegan, omit both the goat cheese and the chicken.
This salad with strawberries is best served right away once it’s assembled. You could prep the dressing and cook the chicken in advance, if you like. Store them in tightly sealed containers in the fridge until you’re ready to make your salad.