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.
  • Skip Panera and try our homemade kitchen sink cookies and orange scones at home!

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 dinner 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

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments section below!

Strawberry Salad

4.70 from 40 votes
By: Aimee
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!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

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
  • cup olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon poppyseeds

Instructions 

  • 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.
  • In a large bowl, combine romaine, berries, oranges, cheese and onion. Add diced chicken. Toss gently.
  • In a small mason jar, combine dressing ingredients and shake with lid on.
  • 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 1/2 and 1/2 with the spinach and romaine.
  • Video

    Nutrition

    Calories: 556kcal, Carbohydrates: 35g, Protein: 18g, Fat: 40g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 33g, Cholesterol: 38mg, Sodium: 215mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 28g
    Course: Side Dishes
    Cuisine: American
    Did you make this recipe?Mention @shugarysweets or tag #shugarysweets!


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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. 5 stars
      This is a wonderful salad, and it is easy to make. I used feta cheese and didn’t add the chicken. I made the dressing as listed. The combination of the fruit, cheese, and lettuce is light and very refreshing. This is now a ‘go to’ salad in our house!

    2. please make this into a home delivery I love your salads but would prefer them to be ready made and delivered whatever the cost

    3. 5 stars
      This salad is a huge hit in our home! I use 1/2 romaine and 1/2 baby spinach. I also use very little dressing when I toss it. It doesn’t take much and tastes so fresh. I make mine meatless but sometime will try with chicken. Super good!

    4. 5 stars
      I’ve made this salad multiple times and it’s definitely a family favorite. I love the dressing just as it is. Not a fan of onions so I left them out but this is absolutely a terrific refreshing salad!

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