A Copycat Panera Bread BBQ Chicken Salad: Healthy Edition

Ever have a craving for a salad from your past? Say one from a restaurant called Panera Bread?

YES? Me too!

BBQ Chicken Salad Recipe Instructions

As a dietitian, I cannot justify eating salads when I go out to eat. Sure, some I will get because I love the toppings, but what I’m saying is the amount of calories, fat, and sodium in a salad is absolutely nuts!

Salads can be WHATEVER you want them to be. They can be full of a million calories, if that’s what you please, or they can be a great option for stocking up on veggies in one meal.

But when I go out to eat, I like to eat food that is different and truly WORTH the calories. I’ll order a bowl of pasta with vodka sauce before I order a salad. I save my salads for when I cook at home because they are SIMPLE & EASY to make. Meals like this take 30 minutes or less and those are my favorite types of home cooked meals.

Eating a salad is a great way to get in a lot of fiber rich veggies PLUS veggies are volumizing! They promote fullness with less calories as they take up more space in your stomach. And don’t get me started on the benefits of a high fiber diet. If you are looking at living a longer, healthier life, you need to incorporate multiple servings of veggies into your day. Honestly, just take a look at one study on vegetable consumption and the reduced risk of various diseases and next thing you know, you’ll be at the store stocking up on veggies.

But back to today’s topic.

I am NOT a chef, just a dietitian, but I get inspired to cook when I crave some of my favorite foods. Finding healthier alternatives is what helps me stay consistent, as well as many of my clients!

If I was to NEVER eat my favorite foods again, I’d no longer be considered a foodie. Food is life. Food is happiness, special occasions, and almost ALWAYS attached to our memories (again, if you are a foodie like me).

Now a little about the recipe.

Is it an exact copy of the Panera Bread BBQ Chicken Salad? NO.

Can you add additional toppings to this salad? YES!

I left out the tortilla strips, but those are my FAVORITE toppings to add to a salad. Adding texture to salads is KEY. But I will say, portion size is important. If you’re looking for a low to moderate calorie salad, it is important to portion out the toppings. My suggestion is to use the serving size on the container (if you don’t count calories). This will give you a general idea of portion sizes. Is it exact? No, but if you don’t wish to count calories, then this is a great option!

For example, the tortilla strips I use are 35 calories for 2 tablespoons. I did once portion this out. It IS doable if you have a lot of other topics, but if you wish to add more, you can!

If you are looking to make this just for yourself, you will have leftover chicken that you can use for lunch the next day or even repeat dinner the next couple nights. If you are feeding your whole family, make sure to buy enough chicken, as well as toppings.

Now some cooking tips!

Again, NOT a chef, just a dietitian, but I’d still classify myself as someone who likes to eat and enjoys finding healthy alternatives that actually taste GOOD.

My instant pot is my life saver! I cooked the chicken on high pressure for 15 minutes. I place the chicken on the rack and under the rack I add 1 cup of water. *IMPORTANT: Add at least 1 cup of water to your instant pot, otherwise you’ll burn your food!* You need to add water to allow the instant pot to create steam and cook the chicken.

After my chicken is finished cooking, I allow the pressure cook to stay on for an additional 5 minutes before I release the steam. I find it’s a little easy to shred the chicken!

Another tip?

Make food FUN. Like I said before, these types of recipes make me happy and satisfied. If you were to eat boiled chicken and boiled broccoli all the time because you thought this was HOW you lose weight, I would 99% expect you to quit before reaching your goal. Your food doesn’t have to be boring to lose weight. True story, I used to think this too until I challenged myself in the kitchen to overcome that limiting thought and start experimenting!

Hope you enjoy this recipe! Xx

Copycat Panera Bread BBQ Chicken Salad: Healthy Edition

Crave your favorite foods from restaurants, but don't want to eat out? Try this copycat recipe that is delicious and satisfying!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 1 people


  • 1 Pressure Cooker Can grill chicken instead of using an Instant Pot


  • 1 lb Chicken breast boneless, skinless
  • 4 tbsps BBQ sauce of your choosing
  • 3 cups Spring mix lettuce
  • 0.25 cup Black beans canned, unsalted
  • 0.25 cup Frozen corn fire roasted
  • 0.25 cup Grape tomatoes chopped
  • 1 tbsp Red onions chopped
  • 1-2 tbsps Salad Dressing of your choosing
  • 1 oz Shredded cheese
  • 1 tsp Salt measure to your liking
  • 1 tsp Pepper measure to your liking


  • Add 1 cup of water to pressure cooker. Place chicken on top of cooking rack. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Turn pressure cooker on high for 15 minutes.
  • While chicken is cooking, chop the tomatoes and onions.
  • Also, place skillet on medium heat and add black beans (previously rinsed) and frozen corn to skillet. Add salt and pepper (to taste) to mixture and cook for 5-7 minutes until corn is no longer frozen. Remove from heat and place in a bowl.
  • When chicken is finished cooking, release the pressure from the pressure cooker. Remove the chicken and place in a bowl. Begin to shred with a fork or a handheld mixer.
  • Add desired BBQ sauce to the shredded chicken.
  • Time to build your salad – Add lettuce, tomatoes, onions, corn, beans, cheese, and chicken to your bowl.
  • Serve immediately & enjoy!


Keyword bbq chicken salad, healthy recipes for weight loss, panera bread bbq chicken salad

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