Say hello to the Honey Mustard Chicken Salad with Spinach and Arugula! This easy salad is perfect for a picnic, an office potluck, or a barbecue! With a few simple tricks, you can make juicy chicken salad with very little fuss. I love how healthy and nutritious this homemade chicken salad is!Homemade Chicken Salad with Spinach and Arugula is the kind of salad that is infinitely adaptable and is always welcome on the table, no matter the day or season. What really makes this salad great, though, is how interchangeable the ingredients are. Swap arugula for romaine lettuce or baby kale and use chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs!
Benefits of Arugula and Spinach
Arugula’s and spinach’ popularity has as much to do with their health benefits as its taste. Arugula as being particularly high in cancer-fighting agents, while the delicious spinach is a nutrient-dense food that is high in fiber and phytochemicals.
- Cancer Fighting Powerfoods! Arugula especially is one of the brassica family vegetables along with broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage that is high in cancer-fighting agents.
- Rich in Chlorophyll.
- Both spinach and arugula are hydrating Leafy Greens that are is low in sugar, calories, carbohydrates, and fat.
- Good for Bone Health.
- Help Reduce Inflammation in the Body!
How to make Chicken Salad Dressing
The base of this chicken salad dressing is honey and Dijon mustard! And I use apple cider vinegar to cut through the sweetness of honey. However, you can omit apple cider vinegar, if you wish. Just take my word for it (or try it for yourself) – the vinegar definitely helps to balance off the sweetness of honey.
While the chicken rests off of the heat, combine honey, dijon mustard, garlic, a little bit of apple cider vinegar (optional) and sea salt. Mix everything, then divide the dressing into two parts. We will use half of the dressing to marinate the chicken, and the remaining half to add to the salad
How to cook juicy chicken for the salad
I love to cook the chicken thighs on the stovetop — hello, easy chicken! If you’d prefer to bake your chicken, you can still take advantage of some of the suggestions, I am sharing a proper method below.
Marinate the chicken half an hour before cooking. This way, the honey mustard marinade has a chance to improve the flavor and texture of the chicken. This is especially true if using chicken breasts. They are pretty lean, so marinating before cooking is essential for making the most flavorful chicken.
Sear on one side, then flip. First, patiently sear one side of the chicken thighs for about 4 minutes until browned then flip them, and turn down the heat to medium. The second side will slowly turn golden brown, and the reduced heat from the pan will gently cook the middle.
What does marinating do to chicken
Marinade prevents the chicken (especially chicken breasts) from drying out and making it chewy. It also helps in tenderizing the chicken and makes it juicier. Marinating even for half an hour helps reduce the time of cooking.
Equipment you will need to make chicken salad
- Small bowl to combine dressing ingredients. You can use a small measuring cup as well.
- Whisk or fork to mix the dressing.
- Plate or baking dish to marinate the chicken.
- Skillet to sear the chicken in. I recommend using non-stick, stainless steel, or cast iron skillet.
- Measuring spoons. We want to be able to come up with the same flavor and texture each and every time!
How to assemble honey mustard chicken salad
While the chicken rests off of the heat, combine spinach, arugula, cherry tomatoes, onion, avocado and corn kernels in a large bowl. Add a bit of water to the remaining salad dressing and drizzle it over. Now add sliced chicken and sprinkle with bacon. Enjoy!
How to store chicken salad
I recommend refrigerating in an airtight container and it will last about a week in the refrigerator. I like to refresh the flavor with a little salt and pepper, and an extra scoop of Dijon mustard.
Optional Substitutions and Add-ins
- As some of us do not enjoy pungent onions, we can always use green onions instead, or omit them altogether.
- You can add a variety of nuts to this chicken salad recipe. I would go with walnuts and cashews.
- Chicken salad with additional veggies will add more flavor and texture. How about adding cucumbers? Or celery?
- And don’t forget to add crumbled goat cheese or lovely feta!
More easy salad recipes
Honey Mustard Chicken Salad with Spinach and Arugula
- Small and large bowls
- Measuring spoons
- 1/3 cup honey
- 3 tbsp whole grain mustard
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp garlic (minced)
- sea salt
- 4 chicken thighs (boneless and skinless, or chicken breasts)
- 1/4 cup bacon
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 2 cups arugula
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes (sliced)
- 1 avocado (sliced)
- 1/4 cup corn kernels
- 1/4 red onion (sliced)
- 2 tbsp water (to thin salad dressing)
- Combine the dressing ingredients in the bowl. Pour half the dressing into a plate to marinate the chicken for at least half an hour (if possible, you can cook them right away as well). Refrigerate the remaining dresing to use on a salad.
- Pat chickens dry with a paper towel. Heat a large pan over medium heat with about a teaspoon of oil and sear chicken thighs on each side until golden and cooked through. Set aside on a plate (or cutting boad) to cool. Once cooled, slice chicken into strips.
- Add bacon to the same pan and cook it until crispy. Once cooked, chop it.
- Add spinach, arugula, tomatoes, avocado slices, corn, onion strips and chicken to a large bowl. Whisk 2 tablespoons of water into the remaining dressing and drizzle over the salad. Sprinkle the bacon over the top and season with a little extra salt and cracked pepper.