Copycat Panera Bread Fuji Apple Chicken Salad
This copycat Panera Bread fuji apple chicken salad is made with a fresh and delicious combination of mixed greens tossed with red onion, ripe tomatoes, chicken, roasted pecans, crisp apple chips, and Gorgonzola cheese. Drizzle the delicious fuji apple dressing over this salad and enjoy an incredible lunch or dinner!
This is one of my all-time favorite salad recipes! It has the perfect combination of flavors and textures — savory, sweet, salty, fresh, crisp and crunchy. This recipe is based off a favorite salad from Panera Bread Company®, the Fuji Apple Chicken Salad.
Creating a copycat of Panera Bread’s fuji apple chicken salad has been something I’ve wanted to do forever. After first trying the salad, years ago, it quickly became my favorite sandwich shop meal. Actually, it’s my favorite salad of all time. And I’m being completely honest when I say that this copycat version is actually tastier than the original. Let’s get to the details!
fuji apple chicken salad ingredients
Because I love Panera Bread’s salad so much, I wanted to stick with the classic ingredients. Why reinvent the wheel? Here’s what you need:
- mixed greens. Panera’s salad has a mix of arugula, romaine, baby kale and red leaf blend in their salad, but use whatever greens you prefer. I usually buy the large containers of pre-washed spring mix at the grocery store and use that.
- red onions. My favorite for salads because they have a beautiful color and a more mild, sweet flavor than other onion varieties.
- tomatoes. Panera uses grape tomatoes, but use whatever you have on hand. Tomatoes are in season right now, so you better believe I’m using fresh tomatoes from my husband’s garden.
- chicken. This is up to you! Use rotisserie chicken, leftover chicken, grilled chicken, frozen grilled chicken strips or use the baked chicken recipe from my favorite spinach salad.
- toasted pecan pieces. For the perfect nutty crunch!
- gorgonzola cheese. Love the the creamy, salty flavor gorgonzola gives to the salad. Feel free to sub with goat cheese for a little more tang, or even feta or blue cheese crumbles.
- apple chips. I’m obsessed with these! Bare baked apple chips can be found at most grocery stores and, in my opinion, they really take this salad to the next level. Don’t leave them off!
- fuji apple vinaigrette dressing. You can find Panera Bread’s fuji apple salad dressing at most grocery stores, in the produce department. It’s a white balsamic vinaigrette that is flavored with apple and adds the perfect finishing touch to this flavorful salad.
how to make panera bread’s fuji apple chicken salad
This easy fuji apple chicken salad is a breeze to throw together! Because we’re using cooked chicken and pre-made dressing, all you really have to worry about is chopping some veggies and throwing everything together.
- After washing and preparing all of the fresh ingredients, toss them into a large bowl.
- If you’re having to cook your chicken, be sure to let it cool some before tossing it in with the other ingredients.
- Just before serving, add desired amount of dressing and toss until everything is evenly coated. Alternatively, dressing can be served on the side.
- For presentation, reserve a bit of each ingredient to place on top of the salad before serving.
what to pair with this salad
Fuji apple chicken salad is a complete meal with plenty of protein from the chicken, complex carbs from the fruits and veggies and healthy fats from the nuts. This salad is a fabulous option for lunches and light weeknight dinners! But it’s also great for serving to family and friends at dinner parties and other get togethers because everyone loves it. You could also leave the chicken off and try some of these pairing ideas:
- Grilled salmon – the perfect summer pairing! I’ve been using this salmon seasoning blend and cooking method for years and it’s just a foolproof, all around delicious recipe for grilled salmon.
- Healthy burgers – the perfect lighter side to serve alongside grilled burgers.
- Pan fried cod – omit the corn salsa in the cod recipe and serve the cod atop this fresh salad instead!
- Crustless quiche – what an amazing side to serve alongside my favorite quiche recipe!
a few salad-making tips
- Add the dressing, apple chips and cheese to the salad just before serving. This salad doesn’t sit well with the dressing – the leaves will eventually wilt in the dressing and the apple chips will become soggy.
- Make your chicken ahead of time. If you’re serving this salad for a party, event or holiday meal; be sure that you have the chicken ready to go. This makes the final assembly super easy!
- Keep ingredients chilled until just before assembly. The colder the tomatoes, dressing, and lettuce, the fresher the salad tastes!
- Use pre-toasted pecan pieces. I like to purchase my pecans already toasted, so I don’t have to worry about this extra step. You can toast your own nuts by placing them on foil in the toaster oven for 2-3 minutes on the toast setting, or by toasting them in a dry pan on the stove. Watch carefully so that they don’t burn.
customize your salad
While this salad is super tasty as is, there are lots of different ways you can customize it based on your needs. Here’s some options:
- dairy-free. skip the gorgonzola or use a dairy-free cheese crumble.
- vegan. leave the chicken off or substitute it with tofu, tempeh or chickpeas and skip the cheese.
- dressing. if you can’t find Panera’s fuji apple dressing, try my homemade poppy seed dressing or balsamic vinaigrette. Both would pair really well with the flavors in this salad! And for a different store-bought dressing, Brianna’s poppyseed dressing® is a favorite that would be delicious with this salad.
- additional toppings. there are tons of options when it comes to adding extra toppings! Try adding avocado, bacon, dried cranberries, candied pecans or fresh apple slices.
salad storage & make ahead tips
Like most salads, this salad doesn’t keep well for a long period of time because the apple chips will get soggy and the nuts will become soft. However, it can be made in advance and stored as long as ingredients are stored separately. (Mixed greens, onion and tomatoes together and everything else stored in separate containers).
Do me a favor and make this salad ASAP. You’re going to love it. It’s:
full of texture
a perfect mix of sweet and savory
the BEST salad I’ve ever eaten. No lie.
more healthy salad recipes to try
- Healthy Greek Chickpea Salad
- Southwest Chicken Salad
- Favorite Italian Salad
- Strawberry Spinach Salad
If you try this fuji apple chicken salad recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
Copycat Panera Bread Fuji Apple Chicken Salad
- 10 ounces spring mix salad and chopped romaine (or other favorite greens)
- 1/4 to 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 2-3 ripe tomatoes, chopped (or 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved)
- 1-2 cooked chicken breast (or about 2 1/4 cups cooked shredded chicken)
- 2 cups apple chips
- 3/4 cup roasted pecan halves
- 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
- 3/4 cup Panera Bread Fuji Apple Vinaigrette
- Combine ingredients in a large bowl and evenly divide to serve 4 salads.
This recipe was first published February 2016. It was updated with new content and republished July 2021.