This crispy chicken salad is like comfort food on a bed of greens. It features crispy chicken strips, perfectly cooked eggs, fresh veggies, and a sweet honey mustard dressing. It makes a perfect weeknight meal or hearty meal-prep lunch.
If you love crispy chicken salads, you'll love this crispy buffalo chicken salad too.
I grew up LOVING crispy chicken salads. You're getting greens in your life but you also feel like you're indulging from the crispy chicken and honey mustard.
Why You'll Love this Crispy Chicken Salad
We aren't interested in boring salads around here if you couldn't tell by this grilled peach salad or buffalo chicken salad. We're always upping our salad game by adding delicious crispy chicken, fresh vegetables, and a favorite dressing. You're going to love this recipe for crispy chicken salad because it meets all those criteria and then some!
- Texture: You get a variety of textures in every single bite thanks to the crispy chicken tenders, creamy avocado, crunchy onion, and juicy tomatoes.
- Easy homemade fried chicken: we've got gluten-free options and our step-by-step instructions make it simple to make it at home.
- Flavor: you'll see a version of this recipe in a lot of your favorite restaurants for good reason—the flavors are incredible. Sweet and savory is a hard combo to reach in a salad, but we've done it.
- Healthy and exciting: you will look forward to eating a salad again!
- Kid-friendly: who knew the whole family could enjoy a salad?! Deconstruct the main components to serve kiddos crispy chicken, eggs, cheese and avocado.
Key Salad Ingredients
Here are the simple ingredients for this crispy fried chicken salad. The produce is fresh, easy, and affordable to find in your local grocery store. Jump down to the recipe card for exact measurements.
For the fried chicken tenders
- Chicken tenders: I find chicken tenders cook quickly because they're smaller, but you could slice skinless chicken breasts in half lengthwise (to create chicken cutlets), then cut those into strips.
- Eggs: this helps bind the breading to the chicken.
- Flour: dredge the chicken in this to hold it all together. We tested this with regular flour as well as 1:1 gluten-free flour and they both worked well.
- Panko breadcrumbs: this is where all the crispy crunch on the chicken comes from! We also tested this with gluten-free flour with success.
- Seasoning: a mixture of garlic powder, paprika, salt, and black pepper seasons the chicken.
- Oil for frying: we love to fry chicken in a clean (anti-inflammatory) oil like olive oil or avocado oil. Avocado oil has a higher smoke point (450°F), so that's always our first choice. We're frying the chicken at 325°F, so olive oil will be great too because it's smoke point is above 400.
For the crispy chicken cobb salad
- Lettuce: we used shredded romaine lettuce because we love the crunch and texture. Try shredded bib lettuce, iceberg lettuce, spinach, or a mix of them all.
- Hard-boiled eggs: use up leftover hard-boiled eggs or make a batch just for this recipe. The recipe notes include instructions or simple hard-boiled eggs.
- Avocado: add a creamy element to the salad, and bonus points for healthy fat and fiber.
- Red onion: the pungent red onion flavor adds balance to the sweet dressing. Submerge the sliced onion in ice water for a bit to take away some of the bite, if desired.
- Tomatoes: any tomato works here, but we love the juicy red ones or colorful grape tomatoes for the added wow factor.
- Cheese: try crumbled blue cheese or shredded cheddar cheese! Omit it all together for a dairy-free option.
How to Make Crispy Chicken Salad
The full printable recipe is below, but let’s walk through the steps with some photos and a video so you have a clear idea of what to expect. This crispy chicken salad recipe is really easy and these step-by-step instructions will make sure it turns out every time.
Video: Watch How to Make this Crispy Chicken Salad Recipe
Pat the chicken tenders dry with a paper towel and season both sides with kosher salt and pepper. Create a dredging station with a bowl of flour, a bowl of eggs, and a bowl of Panko breadcrumbs, flour and seasoning.
Dredge each chicken tender in the flour, then the beaten egg, then the panko mixture, and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet or plate. Repeat with the remaining tenders until they're all coated.
To fry the chicken, pour the oil into the bottom of a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat and use an instant-read thermometer to heat the oil to 325°F, which is the ideal oil temperature for frying chicken.
When the oil is up to temperature, place half of the chicken tenders in the oil. Fry the chicken for approximately 4 minutes on each side, until the breading is golden brown and the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken reaches 160°F (just under the target temperature of 165°F), to allow for carryover cooking.
Success tip: Check the temperature of the oil again after adding the chicken. The oil temperature will drop when you add the cold chicken, so adjust the heat as needed to keep the temperature as close as you can to 325. Bring it up to high heat after you add the chicken then lower it to medium heat as needed while it cooks.
Transfer the cooked crispy fried chicken to a paper towel-lined plate and allow it to rest and cool and rest while you assemble the salad.
Add the lettuce to a large bowl and top with hard-boiled eggs, sliced avocado, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and cheese if desired. Slice the chicken into large chunks or strips and place the crispy chicken pieces on top. Serve with fresh herbs, like green onions, if desired, and the prepared dressing.
Shortcuts and Recipe Tips
Here are a few tips to help you make this salad perfect every time.
- Use an instant-read thermometer: This is crucial to getting the oil and chicken the right temperatures. The oil should be between 325°F for frying and the internal temp of the chicken should be pulled from the oil when it's just below the target temperature of 165°F.
- Continue checking the oil temp: The temperature of the oil will change when you add the chicken, so keep an eye on on it while the chicken cooks.
- Air fry the chicken strips: skip the added oil and use your air fryer for the chicken. See the recipe notes for instructions!
- Use frozen crispy chicken: omit the frying and purchase your favorite frozen brand of chicken. We really like Applegate chicken strips or Real Good grain-free chicken.
- Hard boil your eggs in advance
- You can purchase store-bought honey mustard dressing, but our healthy honey mustard is so easy!
To get perfectly crispy fried chicken, use an instant-read thermometer to keep an eye on the oil temperature and the internal temperature of the chicken. The oil should be maintained at 325°F to crispy chicken that cooks all the way through.
You can skip the oil and frying by using your air fryer to make the crispy chicken. Place the breaded chicken in an even layer and spray it generously with quality cooking spray. Air fry at 400°F for approximately 10 minutes, flipping and spraying again halfway through.
Crispy chicken salads can get a bad rap because of the crispy chicken and heavy dressing. However, you can use quality frying oil and clean ingredients to make this salad a little. It's full of protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
This recipe has 467 calories in a serving, including the dressing. This makes about 6 servings!
Storing and Reheating
Leftover crispy chicken salad will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 2 days. I don't recommend storing dressed salad because it will become soggy. Remove the avocado prior to storing, and store the chicken separately if possible to keep it crispy.
To reheat the chicken, cover it with a wet paper towel in the microwave and heat until warmed through, or reheat at 375°F in the air fryer to keep it crispy.
You can also enjoy the chicken cold, which makes this a great meal-prep salad. Place the chicken on top of the salad and bring the avocado and dressing on the side.
If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it!
More Delicious Salad Recipes
Crispy Chicken Salad
Honey Mustard Dressing
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup mayonnaise homemade or store-bought (I like Primal Kitchen)
- ¼ cup Dijon mustard (yellow mustard will work too)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white distilled vinegar
- 1 lb chicken tenderloins (Note 1 chicken breasts)
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup all-purpose flour gluten-free if needed
- ¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs gluten-free if needed
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika (I like smoked paprika)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅓ cup coconut or avocado oil plus more if needed
Crispy Chicken Salad
- 8 cups romaine lettuce chopped
- 3-4 hard boiled eggs quartered (Note 2)
- 1-2 avocado sliced or chopped
- ½ red onion thinly sliced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- Deep skillet like a cast-iron skillet
- Start by making the salad dressing. Add all of the ingredients to a small dish and whisk until smooth. Place in the fridge until ready to serve.
- To make the crispy chicken salad, pat the chicken tenders dry with a paper towel and season both sides with kosher salt and pepper
- Create a dredging station with three shallow bowls large enough to fit each chicken tender. Add ¼ cup of flour to the first bowl then whisk the eggs in the second bowl. To the third bowl, whisk together the remaining ¼ cup of flour, Panko bread crumbs and seasoning.
- Line a large plate or baking sheet with parchment paper to place each piece of dredged chicken. Using one hand, place a chicken tender in the bowl of flour and turn to coat it on both sides. Transfer it to the bowl of beaten eggs to coat, then cover it in the panko mixture last. Turn it to coat well to ensure all sides are covered in breading. Transfer the chicken to the prepared plate or pan and repeat with the remaining tenders. Your fingers will be coated in the mixture, but it’s best to wait until you’re done with all of the tenders before washing them.
- To fry the chicken, pour the oil into the bottom of a large, deep skillet, like a cast iron skillet, over medium-high heat. Use an instant-read thermometer to determine when the oil is hot enough to add the chicken. The oil should reach 325°F before adding the chicken.
- When the oil is up to temperature, place half of the chicken tenders in the oil. Check the temperature of the oil again, doing your best not to touch the thermometer to the bottom of the pan to get an accurate reading. The oil temperature will drop when you add the cold chicken, so adjust the heat as needed to keep the temperature as close as you can to 325. Fry the chicken for approximately 4 minutes on each side, until the breading is golden brown and the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken reaches 160°F (just under the target temperature of 165°F), to allow for carryover cooking.
- When the chicken is done, transfer it to a paper towel line plate and repeat with the second half of the chicken. Allow the chicken to cool and rest while you assemble the salad.
- Add the lettuce to a large bowl and top with hard-boiled eggs, sliced avocado, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and cheese if desired. Slice the chicken into large chunks or strips and top the salad. Serve with prepared dressing.
SO good the whole family loved it! Even my toddler.will definitely make again.
Molly Thompson says
That's the best compliment!!! Thank you!
Soooo good! I used 1/2 cup of regular flour because I didn't have any tapioca on hand and they were delicious!
Jessica Harmon says
Could the chicken be baked in the oven?