The Best Flavorful Low-Carb Chicken Salad Recipes

The Best Flavorful Low-Carb Chicken Salad Recipes

Read time: 7 minutes

  • Salads can include more carbs than you might think.
  • Try one of our low-carb chicken salad recipes to switch up your salad routine, try new ingredient combinations, and stay on track if you’re choosing a low-carb lifestyle. 
  • If you live with diabetes, consider checking your blood sugar before and after trying a new recipe.

Carbohydrates can sneak up on you in the most unexpected places. You might think that salads are a safe bet when you’re trying to eat foods that are low in carbs, but the truth is, plenty of dressings, croutons, and veggies are loaded with them.

While no food should be totally off limits in a healthy diet, making intentional choices about when, where, and how to incorporate carbs can make eating more delightful and help keep your blood sugar in range.

We’ve gathered our favorite beginner-friendly low-carb chicken salad recipes that blend flavor with balanced nutrients to help you find your salad sweet spot. We’re featuring chicken because it’s a lean protein, rich with vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and iron. This combination of nutrients strengthens immunity, promotes blood sugar regulation, supports red blood cells, and bolsters cardiovascular health.

Before you get started cooking these low-carb chicken salads, take a moment to refresh your memory on how to handle chicken safely. Eating undercooked chicken or food that’s been contaminated by raw chicken juice can lead to food poisoning.  

  • You don’t need to rinse raw chicken before cooking, but be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling it. 
  • Frozen chicken should be thawed on the bottom shelf of your fridge ahead of time.
  • Chicken should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. To be sure your chicken is the right temperature, insert a thermometer into the thickest part. 
  • If you have leftover chicken, store it in the refrigerator within two hours or within one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees. It should be eaten within three to four days. 

If you’re pressed for time, you can use canned or pre-cooked chicken for any of these low-carb chicken salads, although that will increase the amount of sodium overall. 

Consider checking your blood sugar before and after trying a new recipe if you live with diabetes to learn more about your personal glycemic response to a food. If you have any questions, reach out to your One Drop clinical health coach. Bon appetit!

Butternut Squash and Walnut Chicken Salad

Butternut squash is best from early fall through winter, making this salad a hearty option for when the days are getting shorter and you’re spending more time inside. This savory-sweet veggie is full of fiber, which is helpful if you’re trying to improve heart health or manage your weight. For a lower-carb version, use half of the butternut squash recommended. This will lower carbs to 12 grams per serving.

Are you cooking for one? Simply halve each ingredient or make the full recipe and save half the dressing and half of the prepared ingredients, so you can quickly put together another salad on a different day. If you can’t find gorgonzola or don’t like the taste, substitute feta or blue cheese crumbles.

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Servings: 2
Serving size: ~2 cups

Estimated Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Calories: 279
Carbs: 24g
Fiber: 4g
Fat: 13g
Saturated Fat: 4g
Protein: 21g
Sodium: 666mg

Ingredients

  • 4 cups mixed greens (110g)
  • 3 oz grilled chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 cup frozen, cubed butternut squash (205g)
  • ¼ cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese (28g)
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, chopped (85g)
  • ¼ cup red wine vinaigrette dressing (30ml)
  • ½ oz walnuts (about 7), for garnish (14g)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg (optional)

Directions

  1. Cook frozen butternut squash per package instructions. Allow to cool.
  2. Wash the mixed greens and broccoli in cool water and pat dry. Add to a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  3. Add the chicken, gorgonzola, and black pepper to the mixing bowl.
  4. Drizzle with red wine vinaigrette dressing and top with walnuts. Add butternut squash once it has cooled slightly and top with nutmeg (optional).

Strawberry Grilled Chicken Salad

If you’ve never thought of combining strawberries with chicken, you’re not the only one. But trust us, this unconventional pairing just works. The sweetness of the strawberries and the slight bitterness of the char from the grilled chicken create a scrumptious contrast. 

The dressing features tarragon, a tangy spice that’s been used for centuries to flavor chicken. If tarragon doesn’t tickle your fancy or you can’t find it at the store, you can substitute any other fresh herb. Basil and thyme are great options, too. 

You can also add two cups of cooked quinoa to increase the fiber to six grams (note: this will increase the carbs to 30 grams per serving). And if you want to reduce the saturated fat content, use half the feta per serving or try a reduced fat feta instead.

Prep time: 2 hrs 35 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Servings: 4
Serving size: 1 ½ cups with 3 oz chicken breast

Estimated Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Calories: 393 
Carbs: 11g
Fiber: 3g
Fat: 25g
Saturated Fat: 5g
Protein: 33g
Sodium: 441mg

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (56g)
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (32g)
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard (10g)
  • 1 packet stevia (2g)
  • 3 tbsp tarragon, chopped
  • ½ tsp black pepper, or to taste
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 8 cups fresh spinach (240g)
  • 4- 3oz boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 12 large strawberries, sliced (216g)
  • ½ small onion, thinly sliced (55g)
  • ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled (75g)
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds (30g)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, stevia, tarragon, salt, and black pepper to make the dressing.
  2. Brush dressing over chicken. Refrigerate and let marinate for about 2 hours. Place the thinly sliced onions in the remaining half of the dressing and store in the fridge. This will help take away some of the “bite” of the onion.
  3. Grill the chicken breast until thoroughly cooked. Cut into strips or cubes.
  4. Separate the ingredients into 4 separate bowls and assemble the salad with all remaining salad ingredients. Top with chicken breast.
  5. Toss and enjoy.

Roasted Vegetable Chicken Salad

This low-carb chicken salad requires a little bit of planning since the chicken needs to marinate, but it’s so worth the effort. When vegetables are roasted at a high temperature, they tend to caramelize, bringing a subtle sweetness that complements the savory chicken. Together, they create a warm and luscious dish that tastes just as good as leftovers the next day. Note: if you can’t find heirloom tomatoes or they’re not in your budget, any tomato will work just as well. 

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Servings: 4
Serving size: ~2 cups

Estimated Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Calories: 474
Carbs: 11g
Fiber: 4g
Fat: 25g
Saturated Fat: 5g
Protein: 53g
Sodium: 279mg

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 3 breasts) (588g)
  • 4 cups mixed greens (110g)
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts (176g)
  • ¼ cup feta, crumbled (37g)
  • 2 small zucchini squash, sliced lengthwise (200g)
  • 1 cup baby heirloom tomato, halved (180g)
  • 4 tbsp hemp hearts (40g)

Dressing

  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus 1 tbsp (56g)
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar (32g)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp red chili pepper flakes, optional

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, add the dressing ingredients and whisk thoroughly.
  2. Marinade the chicken breast in about 4 tbsp of dressing. Place in a zip lock bag, in a bowl, or on a covered plate. Then, store in the fridge for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  4. Drizzle zucchini and Brussels sprouts with 2 tbsp olive oil.
  5. Place your chicken breasts, zucchini, and Brussels sprouts on a large sheet pan. Cook for 20 minutes until chicken is fully cooked and vegetables are tender. Allow chicken to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  6. In a large bowl or on a plate, combine the remaining ingredients. Cut the chicken into strips or cubes. Then, add the chicken, zucchini and sprouts to the salad. Finally, toss with the remaining dressing.

Zesty Grape Chicken Salad 

Deli-style chicken salad has been a staple at picnics, potlucks, and parties for a couple of hundred years with good reason. It’s endlessly versatile. This low-carb chicken salad can be scooped onto a plate, pressed between two slices of bread, or dolloped on a lettuce wrap. For a lower carb option, cut the amount of grapes in half. You can also try chopped apple instead of cranberries.

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 0 mins
Servings: 6
Serving size: ~ 2 cups

Estimated Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Calories: 277
Carbs: 12g
Fiber: 4g
Fat: 7g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Protein: 32g
Sodium: 6380mg

Ingredients

  • 2 cups boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded (12oz)
  • ½ cup grapes, halved (46g)
  • ⅓ cup pecans (toasting optional) (33g)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced (197g)
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped (120g)
  • 6 cups kale, chopped (124g)

Dressing

  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp Dijon mustard (90g)
  • ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt (142g)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (1 fl oz)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp ground sage, optional

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients and set aside.
  2. Toast pecans, if desired. Wash and chop the onion and celery. Wash and dry kale.
  3. Add chicken, onion, celery, and grapes to the bowl with the dressing and mix well.
  4. Serve the chicken salad over a bed of mixed greens or baby kale and top with pecans.

This article has been clinically reviewed by Alexa Stelzer, RDN, LD, CDCES, clinical health coach at One Drop.

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Sara Huneke
Aug 18, 2022

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