★★★★★

Strawberry Salad Recipe

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!

If you think salad is boring, you haven’t eaten salad at my house. Spinach and Bacon Salad and Mexican Street Corn Salad are two more favorites that can turn anyone into a salad lover!

Strawberry salad just like Panera with pecans, oranges, and more.

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.

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients needed to make strawberry salad.

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

Step by step photos showing how to make strawberry salad.
  • 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.

Recipe FAQs

Can I use frozen berries?

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!

What side dishes go well with Strawberry Pecan Salad?

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!

How can I make this vegan?

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.

Can I make it ahead of time?

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.

Strawberry spinach salad served in a white bowl.

More Easy Dinner Recipes

Yield: 6 servings

Strawberry Salad

Prep Time 10 minutes

This copycat Panera Strawberry Pecan Salad 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!

Ingredients

For the Salad:

  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 12 ounce package Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 8 ounce fresh strawberries, halved
  • 4 ounce fresh blueberries
  • 2 ounce goat cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ cup red onion, sliced (cut into small pieces)
  • 15 ounce can Mandarin oranges, drained
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced

For the dressing:

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅔ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon poppyseeds

Instructions

  1. In a small skillet over medium heat, saute pecans with sugar. This will take several minutes for the sugar to dissolve as you stir the pecans. Set aside and cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine romaine, berries, oranges, cheese and onion. Add diced chicken. Toss gently.
  3. In a small mason jar, combine dressing ingredients and shake with lid on.
  4. When ready to serve, add candied pecans and drizzle with dressing. ENJOY!

Notes

  • Make the 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.
  • 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.
  • Lettuce- Swap out the romaine and use spinach instead! Spinach salad is a great way to get extra vitamins. You can also do ½ and ½ with the spinach and romaine.
  • Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    6

    Serving Size:

    1

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 556Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 33gCholesterol: 38mgSodium: 215mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 5gSugar: 28gProtein: 18g

    *Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.

    Did you make this recipe?

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    About Aimee

    Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

    Learn more about Aimee.

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    Posted on May 19, 2022

    Comments & Reviews

    1. Made this last night and it really was a fabulous combination of flavors. Totally agree that there is too much sugar in the salad dressing, so start out slow and add as you go. I made it as written and the viscosity was amazing, the poppy seeds stayed suspended. Too sweet for me so I added more fresh lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper. Flavor improved, but the dressing did separate. Do what works for you.

    2. Thank you for the recipe, but don’t you think 1/2 cup of sugar is way too much for the dressing, considering that there is only 1/2 cup lemon juice in it?

      1. You can totally change it to your preference. I based it off of how I think it tastes at Panera.

    3. This salad is absolutely delicious!!! I used agave and honey instead of the sugar in the dressing. I also used grape seed oil instead of olive oil. I did not candy my own pecans either… Trader Joe’s sweetened pecans were perfect. Mandarin oranges are so bland, I used a could Cuties instead. Can’t wait to eat it again tomorrow.

    4. This was a beautiful, delicious hit for our 4th of July, family dinner yesterday!  I had to make a couple of changes.  I left out the chicken.  Then had to use regular mustard and feta cheese because I didn’t have te other’s in hand.  Finally, I added a bit of butter to the pecan – sugaring process to make the sugar stay.  It was a success!
           Will add chicken this evening for a yummy, summer salad!!  
            THANK YOU!!!

    5. I made a similar salad after eating it at Panera and then realizing it was “out of season” there.  For the dressing,  I purchase a creamy poppyseed dressing–to it I add some of the pineapple juice out of the can of pineapple tidbits.  I include pineapple along with the other fruit, etc.  I wanted to ask if anyone is aware of a really good french garlic salad dressing–we used to purchase it from Brown Jug, a restaurant that was in our community–they served it with their salads but also sold it to customers.   Since it went out of busn., no one seems able to locate recipe.  It was a thick dark orangeish red dressing with a chutney that seemed heavy on garlic and some onion.  Any ideas?  Tyvm

    6. I just stumbled on this and it looks amazing!  I’m wondering if you’ve ever tried the dressing with honey rather than the refined sugar.  Same with the candied pecans?

    7. Just made this for a simple, light dinner. It’s great! Pretty simple overall, even the candied pecans weren’t too hard 🙂 I had to leave out the goat cheese and poppyseeds but it was/is (I’m still chowing down!) an awesome salad! Can’t wait to have some for lunch tomorrow! 

    8. July 6, 2015   – I’m making this salad again tonight !!  The first time I added the pecans without the sugar coating and also the poppyseeds (did not have any on hand)..  I added a comment on my Pinterest board after having it, but neglected to post directly to you.  My husband and I love this salad !!  A good way to get fruit into him, Lol !  It is on he menu again tonight (minus the chicken) .  Thank you for sharing this keeper.

      1. I love when people come back to tell me they tried my recipes. I love it more when the recipe is a success, haha!! Glad you and your husband enjoyed this one 🙂

    9. I have been eating & making a salad like this for years. I got the idea from a seafood place in Destin, FL that served the exact same salad. it is very good.

    10. Oh I really love the salads that have fruit in them! Especially for summer! The one you made looks so good!

    11. My favorite salad is fruit salad with nuts, cherries, fruit cocktail, and marshmallows. Always reminds me of family.

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