Balsamic Chicken and Spinach Salad Recipe

Nothing says spring quite like strawberries. This week, bring the fresh aromas of the season into your home with one of our Top 10 Meals of 2017, featuring balsamic chicken, strawberries, almonds, and goat cheese over a bed of spinach.

  • By Brittany Yamamoto-Taylor
  • April 21, 2018

When strawberry spinach salads hit restaurants several years ago, many people’s first thoughts were, “What? Why?” and “Eww, that sounds too weird.” We admit that the strawberries + spinach pair is not what comes to mind when thinking of a delicious flavor combo.

But, the flavors don’t only work, they soar. The bitter green and sweet red meet for a perfectly refreshing taste of spring that leaves you wondering why you never tried this recipe before.

“Another super quick meal packed with amazing flavor. There was not a drop left. The kids initially ‘eww’ed at the strawberry / dressing combo . . . but then were amazed by how the flavors came together.”

— Meghan U.

While some restaurants top their strawberry, chicken, and spinach salad with a fruity vinaigrette, we temper that sugary sweetness with a well-balanced dressing. Our balsamic vinaigrette mixes honey, vinegar, mustard, and lemon for a splendid blend of sweet, sour, savory, and acidic.

Salads can struggle with having enough going on to keep your interest, but this particular salad is marvelously satisfying. You can really pack in the flavor by letting the vinaigrette serve as both a dressing and chicken marinade. This trick saves you time while ensuring your dinner has a some real gusto. For best results, let your chicken marinate overnight.

Every community experiences spring a little differently. At the end of April, some rooftops are still covered with snow while others soak up the heat of the sun. To let everyone get in on this delicious dish, we’ve given instructions for both stovetop and grill. If the weather is friendly, get outdoors, fire up the grill, and breathe in the crisp air of spring!

Prepping Smarts

  • Our balsamic vinaigrette combines shallots with vinegar, mustard, honey, oil and lemon juice. This can be done up to 5 days ahead of time. You can choose to save yourself some time after a long day or you can easily make a double batch and enjoy this excellent dressing on a side salad or as another marinade throughout the week. Learn how to dice shallots and whisk together a quick homemade vinaigrette with our videos below!
  • After making the vinaigrette, you have both your salad dressing and chicken marinade ready to go! Up to one day before your meal, use half of the vinaigrette to marinate chicken, tenderizing with a fork. See how to easily tenderize chicken with our short video tutorial below.

How to Dice Shallots

This short video shows you how easy it is to chop shallots, which lend a lot of flavor to your cooking.


How to Make a Vinaigrette

Vinaigrettes are a wonderful way to dress up not just salads, but proteins and vegetables too, and they're very easy to make.


How to Season & Tenderize Proteins with a Fork

Maximize flavor and tenderize proteins with this little trick.

Equipment Smarts:

  • If you don’t have an outdoor grill or the sun isn’t shining, you can still enjoy some tasty chargrill marks by using a ridged grill pan. If you don’t have a grill pan, you can certainly use a common skillet to get a nicely seared chicken breast.

For more kitchen and equipment and tool smarts, visit our Essential Kitchen Cookware and Tools

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Balsamic Chicken and Spinach Salad

The combination of flavors in this fresh, spring-minded salad make it feel restaurant-worthy. We’ve given instructions for both stovetop and grill, so feel free to fire up the grill if time and weather permit.

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 20 min

Total time: 40 min

Serves: 4


  • Shallots - 1 clove, diced
  • Vinegar, balsamic - 3 Tbsp
  • Mustard, Dijon - 1 Tbsp
  • Honey - 2 Tbsp
  • Oil, cooking - 1/2 cup
  • Lemon juice - 1 Tbsp
  • Chicken breasts, boneless and skinless - 1 lb
  • Strawberries - 1 pint, quartered
  • Spinach, baby - 8 oz
  • Cheese, goat - 4 oz (sub feta)
  • Almonds, sliced - 1/3 cup



  1. Balsamic vinaigrette – Dice shallots. Combine shallots with vinegar, mustard, honey, oil and lemon juice. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  2. Marinate chicken – Combine chicken with half the vinaigrette (reserve the other half for dressing) and tenderize with a fork. Marinate for at least 20 minutes and up to a day. (Can be done up to 1 day ahead)


  1. If using a grill: Preheat grill to to 400F / 204C degrees, keeping one section on higher heat and another section on lower heat. Clean and brush grates with some oil. Remove chicken from marinade (discard marinade) and place over high heat. Sear chicken for 2 to 3 minutes on each side and transfer to lower heat. Cook until internal temperature reaches 165F / 74C degrees, an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. If using the stovetop: Place a grill pan or skillet over medium heat. Brush pan with some oil and sear chicken (discard marinade) on both sides for 2 to 3 minutes. Lower heat to medium, cover with foil, and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165F / 74C degrees.
  3. When chicken is finished cooking, cover and let it rest for 5 minutes.
  4. While chicken rests, quarter strawberries.
  5. Slice chicken. Assemble salads by topping spinach with sliced chicken, strawberries, crumbled goat cheese and almonds. Finish with reserved half of vinaigrette at the table. Enjoy!

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Balsamic Chicken and Spinach Salad Recipe | Cook SmartsBalsamic Chicken and Spinach Salad Recipe | Cook Smarts


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