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This marinated chicken salad recipe features juicy, flavorful grilled chicken that’s marinated with apple cider, onion, fresh herbs, and spices. It’s absolutely perfect in a fall-inspired salad with apple, pecans, and brie cheese.

grilled chicken served over salad

I admit that my husband Mike is without a doubt the grillmaster in our house.

He’s very particular about the grilling process and basically has it down to a science. Which is why it was really strange when one day when I grilled (for like the second time, ever), he asked me how I made the chicken taste so good.

I had to laugh because I knew there was a compliment in there somewhere!

I told him that I marinated the chicken overnight. He said that was probably it.

grilled chicken salad dressing

Then I continued on to tell him that I followed his directions to the letter as far as grill technique, and he said that must be it.

And then I told him that I started with fresh chicken, and he said that answers his question.

(Who knew Mike was such a chicken connoisseur?! Kidding, honey…I knew all along.)

Suffice to say, this chicken is pretty darn good. So good in fact, that it makes even an amateur griller like me look good.

grilled chicken marinade with apple and onion

Marinated Chicken Salad Ingredients and Substitutions

Ingredients Explained

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas where applicable. For the full recipe (including the ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

Apple, Onion, and Thyme Marinated Chicken Ingredients

  • Fresh apple cider – You can use apple juice instead if cider isn’t in season, but for the sweetest, most intense apple flavor, use fresh apple cider.
  • Apple cider vinegar – Vinegar is great for tenderizing chicken as it marinates.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – Chicken breast is very lean, so we add olive oil to the marinade.
  • Honey – Honey adds a touch of sweetness that enhances the apple flavor.
  • Fresh thyme – The bright, citrusy flavor of fresh thyme pairs well with apple and chicken. You can swap out the thyme for rosemary or marjoram if you like.
  • Dijon mustard – This adds depth of flavor.
  • Coarse kosher salt and black pepper – We use these pantry-staple seasonings to make sure our grilled chicken isn’t bland.
  • Onion and garlic – These add a ton of savory flavor and aroma to our chicken marinade.
  • Apple – We essentially use three forms of apple in this marinade: cider, vinegar, and fresh! The fresh apple drives home the flavor, and also acts as a tenderizer.
  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts – I’ve noticed that chicken breast has a tendency to be stringy, dry, and gamey these days. This is why if possible, I recommend opting for the best chicken that your budget affords. Personally, I’ve noticed that organic, free-range chicken tastes noticeably better, and closer to how I remember chicken tasting when I was younger.

Salad Ingredients

  • Mixed field greens – Or you can use chopped lettuce or any baby greens you like.
  • Brie log – If you can’t find a brie log, a brie wheel is fine. Or go with camembert!
  • Pecans – Pecans add nutty crunch; make sure to toast them to develop their flavor. Feel free to swap them out for any type of nuts you like.
  • Apple chips – Or you can use fresh sliced apple instead.

Instructions

  1. Marinate the Chicken: Combine all ingredients for the marinated chicken in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Grill the Chicken: Remove the chicken from the marinade, and grill until fully cooked.
  3. Make the Dressing: To use the flavor-packed marinade as a dressing, add it to a medium saucepan. Cover the saucepan (leaving the lid ajar), bring it to a boil, and let it boil for 5 to 10 minutes. Turn the heat down as necessary so it doesn’t boil over. Turn off the heat and cool slightly, then process until completely pureed in a blender or food processor. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled as dressing for this salad.
  4. Assemble and Enjoy: To assemble the salads, divide the mixed field greens between 4 plates. Divide the chicken and brie on top, and sprinkle on the pecans and apple chips.
marinated grilled chicken on blue plate

Tips

  • Marinating Chicken: You only need to marinate the chicken for 4 hours, but if you have time I recommend marinating it overnight. That way you will end up with the most tender, juicy, and flavorful chicken!
  • Grilling Chicken: To help avoid tearing the chicken when you grill it, don’t flip it over onto the second side until it’s done searing on the first side. You’ll know when it’s ready because the meat will release from the grill grates and it’ll be easy to flip. Cooking times will vary depending on your grill and the size of your chicken breasts, but as a general guideline, we like to use a charcoal grill and cook for about 7 to 10 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook for about 5 minutes on the second side. A great way to check if your chicken is fully cooked is to make sure that the juices run clear and there is no pink inside. Inside the thickest part should register 165F on an instant-read thermometer.
  • Use the Marinade as Dressing: There’s a ton of flavor and nutrition in the marinade, so why not use it as dressing?! To do so, bring it to a boil, and then let it boil for 5 to 10 minutes. Puree it until smooth in a blender or food processor, and then serve it as salad dressing warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
  • Make a Big Batch: Since the grill is already hot, it’s easy to double the chicken if you’re cooking for a crowd or if you want to have pre-made lunches for the entire week. The cooked chicken will stay good for up to 4 days stored covered in the fridge.
healthy grilled chicken over leafy salad greens

Variations

  • Switch Up the Fruit: Use pear if that’s your thing (instead of apple cider use pear juice, and instead of apple chips use dried pears). Orange is also a delicious choice!
  • Change the Cheese: If brie isn’t your favorite, go with whatever you like. A couple of my other favorites are sharp white cheddar and blue cheese in this chicken salad with apple.
  • Swap Out the Nuts: Instead of pecans, you can use walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, or whatever your favorite is.

Special Diet Friendly

This salad is naturally gluten free. To make it paleo, omit the brie.

More Fall Inspired Salad Recipes to Make

marinated chicken over greens with brie and nuts

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Marinated Chicken Salad with Apple Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Other Time4 hours
Servings: 4 servings
This marinated chicken salad recipe features juicy, flavorful grilled chicken that's marinated with apple cider, onion, fresh herbs, and spices. It's absolutely perfect in a fall-inspired salad with apple, pecans, and brie cheese.

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Ingredients
 

Apple, Onion, and Thyme Marinated Chicken:

Salad:

  • 6 cups mixed field greens or any baby greens you like
  • 4 ounces brie log sliced
  • 1/2 cup pecans toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened apple chips broken up a bit

Instructions
 

  • Combine all ingredients for the marinated chicken in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade, and grill until fully cooked, about 12 to 15 minutes. (There should be no pink in the center and it should reach 165F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the thickest part.) Let the chicken rest for 5 to 10 minutes after grilling and then slice it cross-wise.
  • Add the marinade to a medium saucepan (including the onion, apple, and garlic). Cover the saucepan (leaving the lid ajar), bring it to a boil, and let it boil for 5 to 10 minutes (turn the heat down as necessary so it doesn’t boil over).
  • Turn off the heat and cool slightly, then process the boiled marinade until completely pureed in a blender or food processor. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled as dressing for this salad.
  • To assemble the salads, divide the mixed field greens between 4 plates. Divide the chicken and brie on top, and sprinkle on the pecans and apple chips.
  • Serve.

Notes

  • Make a Big Batch: Since the grill is already hot, it’s easy to double the chicken if you’re cooking for a crowd or if you want to have pre-made lunches for the entire week. The cooked chicken will stay good for about 3 days stored covered in the fridge.
  • Grilling Chicken: To help avoid tearing the chicken when you grill it, don’t flip it over onto the second side until it’s done searing on the first side. You’ll know when it’s ready because the meat will release from the grill grates and it’ll be easy to flip. Cooking times will vary depending on your grill and the size of your chicken breasts, but as a general guideline, we like to use a charcoal grill and cook for about 7 to 10 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook for about 5 minutes on the second side. A great way to check if your chicken is fully cooked is to make sure that the juices run clear and there is no pink inside. Inside the thickest part should register 165F on an instant-read thermometer.
  • Tip When Making the Dressing: When you puree the marinade after boiling, leave the onions, apples, and garlic. They will add body and an almost creamy texture to the dressing!

Nutrition

Calories: 482kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 793mg | Potassium: 808mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 953IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Marinated Chicken Salad, Marinated Chicken Salad Recipe

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marinated chicken salad recipe pin

This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on September 16, 2014 and updated on September 23, 2021.

Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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Recipe Rating




16 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I could eat a salad for every meal if they all look like that! Yummy! ☺️❤️

  2. This salad is on my must-try soon list! So delicious!

  3. My husband does all the grilling too. Great salad – so refreshing and with the added chicken you can totally make this for dinner.

  4. Whoa, it IS grilled to perfection! And with greens, apples, brie, pecans? Such a scrumptious salad!

  5. My husband is the grill master in our house, too, and no matter how much I try, I never grill chicken as well as he can. I’ll be having him grill some for me very soon for this salad. It sounds so great for fall!

  6. This makes me think I should probably dig the grill out of the back of the garage before summer is well and truly over. :) Sounds delicious!

  7. hahahhahahah. Men ;). It looks and sounds delicious! So, whether it was the chicken, the marinade, or the grilling instructions- its a fabulous meal!

  8. A wonderful marinade and lovely salad!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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