Home ยป Strawberry Poppyseed + Vegan Chicken Salad

Strawberry Poppyseed + Vegan Chicken Salad

panera bread copycat recipe strawberry poppyseed dressing salad recipe

Here’s another Panera Bread copycat recipe with a vegan twist! My homemade version of Panera’s Strawberry Poppyseed and Chicken Salad is one of the most colorful salads I’ve ever had! Crunchy Romaine lettuce tossed with fresh strawberries, blueberries, pineapple and mandarines topped with crispy vegan chicken, toasted pecans and my creamy Poppyseed Dressing.

panera bread copycat recipe strawberry poppyseed dressing salad recipe

I made my own dressing for this recipe but Panera Bread actually sells a bottled version of their somewhat iconic Poppyseed Dressing. Their recipe stars with water, sugar and oil and while my No Blend Poppyseed Dressing tastes very similar, it’s a little more creamy and happens to be both dairy-free and oil-free!

It’s one of those great “put it all in a container and shake it up” kind of dressings which means no whisking, no blending, and it’s ready in under 1 minute. Gotta love that!

If you’re looking for a plant-based replacement for crispy chicken, I recommend using Gardein’s Crispy Chicken Tenders. I find them in the frozen section at my local grocery store but any vegan chicken you like will work here.

panera bread copycat recipe

NOT INTO CHICKEN? Sub Chickpeas!

I sometimes make this recipe using roasted chickpeas in place of the chicken. I toss a can of chickpeas with a drizzle of olive oil, a generous sprinkle of poultry seasoning, and some salt and pepper. Then bake at 375 for about 15 minutes or until warmed through and slightly crispy. Bake at 400 if you want them to be crunchy rather than crispy.

homemade panera bread salad dressing recipe

INGREDIENTS

Romaine Lettuce: You can make this salad with whatever lettuce you like but to keep it as close to Panera’s original recipe as possible, I went for Romaine. I think it’s a good option because it provides a nice crunch that compliments the softer, ripe berries. Mixed greens would be delicious too though!

Strawberries are without question the star of the show here. They add the perfect amount of sweetness and acidity and I especially love the way the tart berries taste with my creamy Poppyseed Dressing.

Pecans: I think pecans might be the MVP of this recipe even though it seems like you just kind of sprinkle them on top as a garnish. Generally speaking, toppings are so much more than garnish in my kitchen. They have a way of elevating an otherwise simple dish to a whole new level by providing additional flavor and texture. And that is definitely the case here with these toasted pecans. Pecans lend themselves nicely to both sweet and savory flavors, and so this ingredient helps tie the sweetness of the berries and the savory vegan chicken together while adding a pleasant crunch at the same time.

Not into Pecans? Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, almonds or sunflower seeds would also be tasty!

Watch Me Make the Strawberry Salad and Poppyseed Dressing in this Video!
panera bread copycat recipe strawberry poppyseed dressing salad recipe

Strawberry Poppyseed and Chicken Salad

Nicole Vranjican
A Panera Bread inspired salad recipe made with crunchy Romaine lettuce, fresh strawberries, blueberries, pineapple and mandarine oranges topped with crispy vegan chicken, toasted pecans and my creamy No Blend Poppyseed Dressing.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 2 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 5 cups Romaine lettuce chopped
  • 1 cup strawberries sliced
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup pineapple chopped
  • 1/2 cup mandarine orange segments
  • 1/3 cup pecans chopped
  • 8 pieces vegan chicken
  • No Blend Poppyseed Dressing recipe below

No Blend Poppyseed Dressing (this makes a 12oz of dressing)

  • 1 cup plain unsweetened almond milk yogurt I used Kite Hill, see notes below for subs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp white rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp light agave
  • 1/2 tsp onion granules
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt I use Morton's
  • 1 tbsp poppyseeds

Instructions
 

Directions

  • Bake the vegan chicken according to the package directions.
    Toast the pecans in a dry, medium sized skillet set to medium high heat for about 1 minute or until lightly golden and toasted. Remove from the pan and set aside.
    Make the Dressing: In the meantime, add the yogurt, water, orange juice, agave, and spices to a container with a lid. Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds or until well combined. Then taste and seaosn with addtional salt as needed.
    Make the Salad: Next combine the lettuce, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, mandarines and pecans in a large mixing bowl and add about 1/4 cup of dressing. Mix well then divide between two large plates.
    https://nikkivegan.com/best-ever-vegan-ranch-recipe/Top each salad with the warm vegan chicken and an addiitonal drizzle of dressing.
    Enjoy!

Notes

The base of this creamy dressing is plain unsweetened almond milk yogurt. I chose this because it’s incredibly creamy and it doesn’t have a strong flavor. I find that coconut and cashew based yogurts can impart too much flavor so I don’t recommend using those here.
If you’re not using almond milk yogurt, I think the best option would be vegan mayo. Mayo based dressing have the consistency of ranch dressing, like this one.
Speaking of consistency, if the yogurt you’re using isn’t very thick, use a little less water to start with and then add more gradually until you reach the preferred consistency.
This dressing makes 12 ounces of dressing so you’ll have leftovers to use for salads or to serve as dip with veggies throughout the week. Leftover dressing will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for about 10 days.
A zesty vinaigrette would also be delicious in place of poppyseed dressing if you’d like to change it up! Store bought balsamic vinaigrette or a simple homemade red wine vinaigrette made with extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper would be great too!ย 
Keyword strawberry popyseed chicken salad

If you like this recipe please leave a comment and rate this post below! And if you’re on Instagram, tag me in a pic so I can see your recreation! @nikkivegan  

For more free vegan recipes, don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel here.

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Nicole Vranjican

Hey! I’m Nicole and I make practical vegan recipes for REAL life. I cook with simple, easy to find ingredients and I’m passionate about creating delicious plant-based meals that everyone will love!

I hope you enjoy my recipes and videos :) Happy Cooking!

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