Grilled Chicken Salad Recipe with Pesto Ranch Dressing is a quick and easy salad recipe. This simple grilled chicken marinade recipe makes the most tender and juicy grilled chicken and delicious pesto ranch dressing that everyone will love.
This is a perfect grilled chicken breast recipe. It’s just what you need for those summer nights when you don’t want to heat up your kitchen. It’s easy enough for a weekday meal and fancy enough for guests!
How do you keep chicken moist on the grill?
There are a few things to keep in mind when trying to get really tender, juicy, grilled chicken breasts:
- Tenderize the chicken breast.
- Marinate the meat.
- Don’t over cook the chicken! When it reaches 165º F, it’s done.
How do you tenderize chicken?
Tenderizing your chicken makes a big difference. It’s really easy to do and only takes a couple of minutes.
One way is to place the chicken between two sheets of parchment paper and whack it on the thickest part of the chicken breast with a rolling pin or mason jar.
Another way is to put it in a gallon Ziplock bag and use the flat side of a meat tenderizer.
Only hit the thickest part of the meat to help even it out. The chicken will cook a lot more evenly if the meat is the same thickness all the way through.
Make sure you don’t over-pound your meat. A few good whacks will do the trick.
How do you marinate chicken?
To marinate chicken, you need to need a rub. The rub I use to make Grilled Chicken Salad is just oil, lemon juice, and a couple seasonings.
I use avocado oil because it has a high smoking point and doesn’t add a lot of flavors.
Good marinates call for some kind of acidic element, like lemon juice. White vinegar also works well. The acidity helps breaks down the muscle fibers and tenderizes the chicken as it cooks.
The seasoning and spices (I like to use Italian seasoning) just add that good flavor without adding the calories.
The easiest way to apply the rub to the chicken is to just combine everything and the chicken in a gallon Ziplock bag, and roll it around.
Let the chicken sit in the fridge and marinade for 2-24 hours. 24 hours is ideal, but 4 hours works too. The marinate will give the chicken so much flavor and it makes the most tender and juicy grilled chicken!
Ingredients in this delicious Grilled Chicken Salad Recipe:
- Chicken Marinade: Oil, lemon juice, seasoning
- Avocados: You can use these sliced or in chunks. Be sure to cut up your avocados right before you serve them they are fresh and don’t brown.
- Tomatoes: You can use your favorite tomato here. I used some halved cherry tomatoes but a large tomato, cut into chunks would work great too.
- Pepper Jack Cheese: My family loves a little spice but you could certainly use some mozzarella cheese here too. For salads, I like to add fresh mozzarella or just slice a few cheese sticks up. That works great too.
- Lettuce: Romain lettuce, butter lettuce–use your favorite variety of lettuce!
- Pesto Ranch Dressing: This is hardly a recipe but still worth sharing. We love this dressing on everything and even just a dip for fresh veggies. To make the pesto ranch dressing, use a 3/1 ratio. (1/3 cup pesto to 2/3 cup ranch dressing) Just mix it up and wa-lah! An incredible ranch dressing variation!
How to make Grilled Chicken Salad with Pesto Ranch
This is how to make Grilled Chicken Salad:
To start, tenderize your chicken breast in a Ziplock bag. Then add the marinade (oil, lemon juice, seasonings) to the Ziploc bag. Roll it around to mix. Refrigerate for 4-24 hours.
After the chicken breasts have marinated, put them on the grill on medium-high heat (350ºF). Wait 6-7 minutes and flip them. Keep cooking them until they reach an internal temperature of 165ºF.
When the chicken has cooled, slice it either into strips, or bite size pieces.
Combine the chicken with tomatoes, avocado, cheese, and lettuce.
In a blender, mix the buttermilk, mayo, pesto and ranch packet together to make the dressing. Drizzle that over your salad, and there you go! You’ve got yourself a tasty, healthy salad!
Grilled Chicken Salad Recipe with Pesto Ranch Dressing
Grilled Chicken Marinade
- 3-4 medium-sized Chicken Breasts plan on 4-6 ounces of chicken per person
- 1 large Lemon Or 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 Tablespoons Avocado Oil Olive oil or any vegetable oil would work
- 1 package Good Seasonings Italian Dressing Mix You can find this in the salad dressing isle by the ranch packets
Ingredients for Chicken Salad
- 1 large Avocado Cut into 3/4" chunks
- 1.5 cup Tomatoes Halved Cherry Tomatoes or just a large tomato cut into 1/2 " chunks works great.
- 1 cup Pepperjack cheese cubed into 1/2" chunks, Mozzarella cheese works great too
- 10-12 cups Lettuce Washed, and cut into bite-sized pieces
Pesto Ranch Dressing
- 1 cup Mayo
- 1 cup Buttermilk
- 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix You can find it in the salad dressing isle of the grocery store.
- 1/2 cup Pesto prepared
How to Make a Simple Grilled Chicken Marinade
- Start by tenderizing your chicken. Put the chicken in a gallon Ziplock bag, use a rolling pin, mason jar, or the flat side of a meat tenderizer to pound the thickest part of the chicken breast. Pound until it about 3/4" thick, similar to the rest of the chicken breast. (This should only take a few good whacks.)
- Add the Avocado Oil and juice the lemon into the Ziplock bag. Add the Good Seasonings Italian packet and seal the ziplock bag. Roll the bag around gently to mix all the ingredients together.
- Let the chicken sit in the fridge and marinade for 2-24 hours. (If you can let the chicken marinate for up to 24 hours, that's ideal. The marinate will give the chicken so much flavor and it makes the most tender and juicy grilled chicken.)
How to Grill Chicken
- After the chicken has marinated, turn the grill on med heat. Place the chicken breasts on the grill and cook on medium heat to keep the chicken breast tender and juicy. (The temperature of the grill should be about 350 degrees.) Cook your chicken breasts until golden brown 6-7 minutes. Use tongs to flip the breast over and grill for another 6-7 minutes or until golden brown
- Use a digital thermometer to ensure the chicken breast is done. The chicken breast should register 165 degrees F. When the chicken is done, place it on a platter with foil over it for 5 minutes to redistribute the juices and to keep the chicken warm and juicy.
- Slice the chicken into bite-sized strips.
How to make Pesto Ranch Dressing
- In a blender, combine the mayo, buttermilk, ranch dressing packet, the pesto. Pulse the blender a few times to mix all the ingredients.
Preparing Ingredients for the Grilled Chicken Salad
- Wash and slice cherry tomatoes in half. Cut the avocado into bite-sized pieces. Cube pepper jack cheese into bite-sized pieces and wash the lettuce. Cut the lettuce into bite-sized pieces.
- Assemble the salad by adding the Lettuce, tomatoes, cubed cheese, and avocado. Add the sliced grilled chicken and drizzle with the prepared Pesto Ranch Dressing. Enjoy!
Love chicken? Check out our favorite chicken recipes here:
- Greek Chicken Souvlaki
- Easy Chicken Cacciatore
- Best Chicken Strips
- BBQ Chicken Pineapple Kabobs
- Easy Chicken Fried Rice
- Salsa Chicken
- Coconut Chicken Curry
- Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Dip
- BBQ Chicken with Pineapple Salsa
- Honey Glazed Chicken Wings
How do you know when chicken is done cooking?
Chicken breast is done when the internal temperature of chicken reaches 165ºF. It’s best to take the chicken off the grill when it reaches 162-163ºF. The chicken will continue to cook after it’s take off the grill. You can take the chicken off the grill, then let sit under foil to cook to a safe internal temp.
Grilled Chicken Salad Recipe with Pesto Ranch Dressing is so easy and comes together so quickly. It includes a simple grilled chicken marinade recipe that makes the most tender and juicy grilled chicken and a delicious pesto ranch dressing everyone will love.