Copycat Panera Asian Sesame Chicken Salad

Change things up for lunch with our delicious Copycat Panera Asian Sesame Chicken Salad. It is so simple to make and tastes absolutely amazing. This is one of the best salad recipes ever. Perfect for a healthy lunch, snack, dinner, or side.

I live in Utah, and as you fellow Utah people know, there is no Panera here. I don’t know why? It would be extremely popular here, because it already is, and it’s not even located here.

Every time I go to California, I make it a point to go to Panera. It’s always at the top of my list. Their food always tastes so fresh and delicious, and it doesn’t leave you feeling sick after you leave.

If you have never been to Panera, I highly recommend you go. You are not going to regret it. However, if you don’t have the opportunity, no stress. You can try this recipes in the comfort of your home.

We love going to Panera Bread for their delicious Asian Sesame Chicken Salad. We came home and made our own version, and it tastes pretty close.

I think you are going to love it. It is delicious, easy, and comes together quick. I make this for lunch, dinner, or even a large snack on days when I am so hungry.

You could even bring this as a side to a pot luck.

tips on making copycat panera asian sesame chicken salad

  • A key ingredient to this recipe, is the chicken marinade. I make this marinade whenever I grill chicken now. I am obsessed with it. It’s simple, delicious, and makes your chicken so tender and juicy.
  • If you are in a hurry and don’t have time to marinade your chicken, that is just fine, but if you can plan to make this recipe ahead of time, do. I will even let my chicken sit in this marinade for 24 hours, and it is so juicy.
  • This recipe calls for spinach, but you could really use any green leaf base. I am on a butter leaf salad kick lately. It would taste delicious with this salad.
  • For the salad dressing, we do highly recommend boiling the vinegar. It creates a delicious and less salty taste, to the salad dressing. If you don’t boil it, it will be a very potent tasting dressing.
  • If you are in a big hurry and don’t even have time for the chicken, you could also use pre-made grilled chicken strips. It won’t be as good, but I get it, life is busy and sometimes shortcuts are just best.

How to get juicy and tender chicken

Juicy and tender chicken, has a lot to do with the type of chicken you are using. Chicken breasts aren’t always the most juicy chicken choice.

They dry out a lot quicker, and can be thick, which requires more heat and cooking time.

There is nothing wrong with using chicken breasts, but if you do, we recommend you hammer, mallet, or roll them out to make them equal thickness.

We prefer using a chicken thigh, wing, or chicken tenders. The meat usually is juicier, and is less thick, that the chicken cooks more easily.

I have used both chicken breasts and tenders when cooking this recipe, and both taste great, I just prefer the thickness and juice of the chicken tenders.

Marinading also helps the chicken get juicy. Using acidic liquids to marinade your chicken in, will help it get more juicy and tender. That’s why we often using high sodium liquids or acidic fruits like lemon to marinade chicken.

Thawing a chicken breast also has a lot to do with how juicy it will be. We don’t recommend defrosting it in the microwave. This will often dry it out. The best method is to plan ahead and let it thaw in the refrigerator.

looking for another delicious chicken marinade

Did you know we have a Youtube Channel? We have hundreds of delicious, easy, healthy, and fast recipes, your family is going to love.

We take you through each recipe, step by step, and show you exactly how to make it.

Each recipe is tried and true, so you know your picky eaters will love it.

Watch how to make another simple chicken marinade, our Grilled Lemon Chicken, here:

looking for more salad recipes?

Italian Fresh Green Salad
Seven Layer Green Salad
Layered Bacon and Swiss Green Salad
Layered Cobb Salad

Serves: 4

Copycat Panera Asian Sesame Chicken Salad

20 minPrep Time

15 minCook Time

35 minTotal Time

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Marinade:
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Dressing:
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
  • Toppings for salad:
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 1 (11 ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 cup wonton strips

Instructions

  1. In a medium sized bowl mix together all of the marinade ingredients. Pour into a gallon size bag with the chicken breasts and let marinate for 20 minutes. Make sure to turn every few minutes so all sides of the chicken breast get covered with marinade.
  2. Cook on the grill over medium-low heat until cooked through. Make slices in each chicken breast after grilling.
  3. Dressing:
  4. Bring the vinegar to a boil in a sauce pan. Remove from heat and add in the sugar and stir until dissolved. Cool slightly and then add in the canola oil and salt, pepper, and toasted sesame seeds.
  5. Prepare each plate by placing spinach leaves and romaine lettuce on them. Top off with a grilled chicken breast. Add salad dressing and then top each salad off with cilantro, almonds, oranges and wonton strips.
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