Savor fresh, whole foods with this orange chicken salad with strawberries recipe! This delicious alternative to Mandarin orange chicken salad has no mayo and is under 400 calories. You’ll love this protein-packed, healthy salad with no added sugar. This strawberry chicken salad fits easily into a variety of special diets including Whole30, Paleo, keto, gluten free, and low carb.
Why, hello there! Are you looking for an alternative to Chinese chicken salad that is still tasty and packed with orange flavor? Or maybe you’re looking for a lighter chicken salad recipe without mayo?
If you’re bored of chicken served in the usual ways, you’ve got to try this orange chicken salad recipe. It really ticks all of boxes for flavor and good nutrition.
This is a salad with strawberries, citrusy orange chicken, fresh greens, and crisp cucumber. Then everything is drizzled with a sweet strawberry rhubarb salad dressing with no sugar added. Yes, we’ve got strawberries on the chicken salad and in the dressing!
It’s the perfect time to make berry recipes where I live because the berries are ripe and in season. I can’t get enough of them. Veggies are great for topping salads, but don’t forget about fruit!
I could easily make a whole site with just salad recipes. There would be chicken salads, fruit salads (including berry salads), chicken and fruit salads...
The foods you can use for salad combinations are truly endless. Salads are definitely one of my favorite ways to squeeze in a healthy meal.
📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
One serving of Chicken Salad with Strawberries has 367 calories, 16.6 grams net carbs, and 37.7 grams protein. Nutrition information was calculated without the chicken marinade, since it is not eaten. Calories and carbohydrate content may be (slightly) underestimated due to marinade that adheres to the chicken.
Why make Orange Chicken Salad? Here are a few reasons I love this easy recipe:
- Gluten free: If you have celiac disease or NCGS, you can make this strawberry chicken salad gluten free by swapping soy sauce for coconut aminos.
- Healthy: We’re getting lots of phytonutrient-packed fruits and vegetables here. Phytonutrients are the colorful plant pigments in fruits and veggies that are non-essential but potentially beneficial to our health. Additionally, we’re getting lots of essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C.
- Protein: Chicken breast is a lean, high-quality protein. It’s also rich in an assortment of essential nutrients, including vitamin B12, a nutrient that doesn’t naturally occur in plants.
- Fresh flavors: When the weather heats up, a crisp, fresh salad can be really satisfying. The orange and strawberry flavors paired with the cool greens are extremely refreshing!
- Whole foods: Ideally, we should aim to make most of our diet nourishing whole foods, not ultra-processed foods. This chicken strawberry salad would be a great choice for an everyday meal when strawberries are in season. (If you don’t mind the cooking and clean up, that is.)
- Delicious: This strawberry chicken salad truly tastes like a treat. IDK why some people say they don’t like salad, because you can put all of your favorite foods on there! We’re really hitting that nice place where good taste and health meet with this one.
Here's what you need to make chicken salad with strawberries:
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used chicken tenders strips)
- Strawberry chicken salad dressing (details below)
- Chicken marinade (details below)
- Baby spinach
- Sliced strawberries
- Chopped cucumber
- Chopped pistachios
- Feta cheese crumbles (avocado can be used for dairy free)
This salad is all about the fresh strawberries. Save this dish for when they are in-season where you are. (Seriously, save it to Pinterest for later!)
I love to go strawberry picking and get berries that are red throughout the berry. The ones I get from the store tend to be whiter in the middle than I’d prefer. Get the best berries you can; they are such a treat!
If you are allergic to strawberries or (gasp!) don’t like them, you can substitute with raspberries. Blueberries may work in this chicken salad recipe as well.
I used baby spinach as our salad base. Baby kale, chopped romaine lettuce, spring mix, butter lettuce, arugula, or other leafy greens can also be used.
The pistachio nuts are there for crunch. You can use walnuts to save some money, or almonds or pecans if you prefer. Sunflower seeds are a perfect swap to make this chicken salad nut free.
You could also substitute the feta cheese if you’d like. I think blue cheese or crumbled goat cheese (chevre) would be tasty swaps. If you like good old cheddar though, I don’t see why you couldn’t use it instead.
🍓 Chicken Salad Dressing
I went with a strawberry rhubarb dressing for this dish. Rhubarb pairs wonderfully with strawberries, and there are so many great ways to serve them together beyond pie. You could use poppy seed dressing from the store if rhubarb is not in season.
Here’s what you need for your orange chicken salad dressing:
- Chopped strawberries
- Chopped rhubarb
- Fresh squeezed orange juice
- Granular Swerve (or other 1:1 sugar substitute)
- Fresh mint
If you’re doing the Whole30, you will need to skip the Swerve. However, rhubarb is extremely tart and does benefit from the addition of some sort of sweetener, IMVHO. Try using pureed Medjool dates if you need a less refined sweetening option.
🍊 Chicken Marinade
Chicken breast is lean meat and can end up a little dry. I resolved this issue by marinating the chicken in a simple orange-ginger marinade. A quick run through the oven in the marinade results in chicken that is incredibly moist and tender.
Here’s what you need to make orange chicken marinade:
- Orange juice (fresh squeezed)
- Orange zest
- Reduced-sodium soy sauce (use coconut aminos for gluten-free, Whole30, and Paleo)
- Grated fresh ginger root
Without the marinade, this wouldn’t be an orange chicken salad! If you don’t happen to like orange flavors, use your favorite BBQ chicken or marinated chicken instead. (Just be sure to use BBQ rubbed chicken, not sauced, as barbecue sauce won’t go well with the salad dressing.)
You’ll want to have the following pieces of kitchen equipment on hand for this recipe:
- A good knife
- Food processor (essential for making the salad dressing)
- Baking dish (I used an 8-inch by 8-inch/20x20-cm glass baking dish)
- Meat thermometer
- Stovetop grill (optional)
- Salad containers
After oven baking the orange chicken, I like to put it on my stovetop grill. This is mainly for aesthetic purposes to get nice grill lines. Feel free to skip this step if you are short on time.
Salad containers with lidded dressing cups are great to have if you’ll be meal prepping. I’ve linked to the ones I use in the recipe card below.
🔪 How to Make Orange Chicken Salad
Think of this recipe for chicken salad with strawberries in three easy steps:
- Marinate and cook the orange chicken
- Blend the strawberry salad dressing
- Assemble the salads
Make the chicken marinade by mixing orange juice, zest, coconut aminos, and ginger together. Put the chicken strips in a single layer in a glass baking dish. Pour the marinade over the chicken and allow it to marinate for 2-12 hours in the refrigerator.
If you’ll be having the salad for dinner, start marinating the chicken in the morning before work. After work, it will be fairly easy to put together.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200C). Bake the chicken in the marinade about one-third of the way from the top of the oven for 25 minutes. After baking, check the chicken with a meat thermometer to ensure it reached a safe minimum internal temp of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74C).
After baking, lift your chicken out of the marinade. I chose to grill the chicken on the stovetop for two minutes on each side to get some nice grill lines, but this is optional. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and set aside in the fridge until serving time.
To make the strawberry chicken salad dressing, chop the strawberries and rhubarb into ½-inch (1.27 cm) pieces. Put rhubarb, strawberries, orange juice, Swerve, mint, and water in a small saucepan. Let the dressing cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When the rhubarb has softened and Swerve has dissolved, take the mixture off the heat and let it cool a bit. Put the mixture in a food processor, and blend until smooth. Refrigerate the strawberry rhubarb salad dressing until serving time.
To serve your spinach salad with strawberries and chicken, divide the baby spinach between four bowls. Top each bowl with an equal amount of sliced strawberries, orange chicken, cucumbers, feta, and pistachios. Drizzle with chilled strawberry dressing and garnish with cilantro right before serving.
How long does this homemade chicken salad last? If you keep the salad dressing separate until serving, this salad will last for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. However, the berries will be freshest if you enjoy this salad right away. This isn’t my favorite recipe for meal prep.
🥗 Side Dishes
What goes good with chicken salad? This orange chicken salad with strawberries is a complete meal. If you need a heavier meal, here are some foods to serve with chicken salad:
- Italian bread (Have you tried my Air Fryer Garlic Bread?)
- Crackers (Or try my Keto Parmesan Crisps!)
- Soup (How about some Vegan Gazpacho?)
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). The marinade was not included in the calorie count on this dish since it is not consumed.
As a high-volume eater, this is precisely the sort of lunch option that I favored during my weight loss journey. All of the strawberries and non-starchy veggies I’ve tucked in here provide a lot of volume for very few calories. The protein from lean chicken breast rounds out the meal and will help to keep you full.
Strawberries align well with most dietary patterns (low-carb, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, etc.). In addition, two cups of strawberry halves are under 100 calories. Compare the amount of food you get to one of those 100-calorie snack packs; strawberries are the clear winner for fat loss!
All chicken salads are not the same, however. For instance, salads that are drowning in mayo or other added fats may not be the best choice for weight watchers.
Added fats and oil typically add 100-120 calories per tablespoon. If you’re trying to maintain the calorie deficit needed for weight loss, the calories from added fats can add up fast.
If you need a higher energy meal, try serving this salad in a wrap or a sandwich instead. I think the marinated chicken, berries, spinach, and feta would be excellent drizzled with some of the dressing and tucked in a wrap (or two). Alternatively, add some bread on the side.
Do you ever add fruit to your salads? What are some of your favorite fruits to use? Drop me a comment below and let me know your favorite additions to chicken and fruit salads!
To make this a keto strawberry chicken salad, swap out the orange juice in the marinade and dressing for lemon juice. You may need to add a low carb sweetener, to help balance the sour of the lemons.
To make a no dairy strawberry chicken salad, swap out the feta cheese for chopped avocado. Crumbled silken tofu is another good dairy free substitute for feta.
Applebee’s strawberry balsamic chicken salad has mixed greens, tomatoes, red onions, strawberries, grilled chicken, sliced almonds and a balsamic glaze. It’s topped with a lemon olive oil vinaigrette. Surprisingly, Applebee’s strawberry chicken salad has 870 calories, over twice the amount in my chicken salad with strawberries!
Martha Stewart’s chicken salad is a classic chicken salad recipe with mayo. You can find it here.
Paula Deen’s chicken salad is a twist on the mayonnaise-based classic that includes grapes and almonds. You can find it here.
Grilled chicken is a lean protein that is typically accompanied by an abundance of veggies in salad. The answer to “is grilled chicken salad healthy” ultimately depends on what’s in the salad and what your needs are. In general though, I would consider grilled chicken salad recipes to be nutritious options.
👩🏻🍳 Other Chicken Salad Recipes
Looking for more healthy salad recipes with chicken? Try these delicious recipes for chicken salad next:
- Berry Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
- Chick Fil A Kale Crunch Salad Copycat
- Chicken Salad with Lemon Ginger Dressing
- Spicy Chicken Southwest Salad
- Chicken Salad with Apples and Pecans
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Orange Chicken Salad with Strawberries (Whole30, Paleo)
For the orange chicken:
- 1 lb chicken breast tenders (454 grams, raw chicken strips)
- ½ tablespoon orange zest
- ½ cup orange juice
- ½ tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce (use coconut aminos for gluten free, Paleo, and Whole30)
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
For the strawberry dressing:
- 1 cup chopped strawberries
- 1 cup chopped rhubarb (peeled unless the skin is tender and pink; stems only, rhubarb leaves are poisonous)
- 2 tablespoons orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tablespoon Swerve, granular (skip or replace with pureed Medjool dates for Whole30)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- ⅓ cup water
For assembling chicken salads with strawberries:
- 8 cups baby spinach (not packed; approximately 10 ounces/283 grams)
- 4 ounces feta, crumbled (113 grams; substitute with chopped avocado for Whole30 or certain Paleo diets)
- 2 cups strawberries, sliced
- 1 English cucumber, diced (about 10 ounces/283 grams)
- ½ cup pistachios, chopped
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
To make the orange chicken:
- Combine all of the "for the orange chicken" ingredients except the chicken to make your marinade. Put the chicken strips in a single layer in an 8x8-inch (20x20 cm) oven-safe glass baking dish. Pour the marinade over the chicken and allow it to marinate for 2-12 hours in the refrigerator. Flip the chicken every few hours, if desired.
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). While it preheats, put the marinated chicken on the counter so you don't put the cold baking dish straight in the oven. Bake the chicken in the marinade about one-third of the way from the top of the oven for 25 minutes.
- Use a meat thermometer to check that the chicken reached a minimum safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Bake it a little longer if it has not.
- Lift your chicken out of the marinade once it has finished cooking. I chose to grill the chicken with a stovetop grill for two minutes on each side to get some nice grill lines, but this is optional.
- Cut the orange chicken into bite size pieces and let it chill while you finish the recipe.
To make the strawberry dressing:
- Chop the strawberries for the dressing and the rhubarb into ½-inch (1.27 cm) pieces. Peel the rhubarb if the skin is not tender.
- Put all of the "for the strawberry rhubarb dressing" ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- When the rhubarb has softened and Swerve has dissolved, put the cooked mixture in a food processor, and blend until smooth. Refrigerate the strawberry rhubarb dressing until serving time.
To make the chicken salads with strawberries:
- Divide the baby spinach between four meal prep containers or serving bowls.
- Top each bowl of spinach with an even amount of sliced strawberries, orange chicken, cucumbers, feta, and pistachios.
- Drizzle the salad with the strawberry dressing and garnish with cilantro right before serving. Yum!
This recipe has been updated from 2020 to include new photos, a recipe video, and more nutrition information. Enjoy!