Caprese Chicken Salad

Chicken Caprese Salad with the most incredible balsamic marinated chicken, fresh tomatoes, melt in your mouth mozzarella, grilled asparagus, creamy avocado and crispy bacon all drizzled with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dressing =  Out of this world! 

This Caprese Chicken Salad will have you craving salad, dreaming about salad and not being able to stop eating salad!  It is one of my favorite salads of all time and soon to be yours! 

Chicken Caprese Salad with Avocado and Bacon

Easy Chicken Caprese Salad Recipe

I got my grill on with my Teriyaki Chicken Tacos with Grilled Pineapple Pear Salsa, and now I can’t stop!  And you won’t want to stop forking down this Caprese Chicken Salad.  This salad is fresh, savory, tangy and comforting all wrapped up in each crunchy, creamy bite.  Its one of my favorite salads ever.

So just like I couldn’t stop posting slow cooker recipes this past winter, you are going to be seeing a lot of grill recipes this spring/winter.  And if you don’t have an outdoor grill, you can still make all the recipes on an indoor grill pan or even a kitchen skillet, just adjusting cooking times as needed.  I love the grill not only for its ease and virtually zero cleanup but for the way it lends itself to fresh, healthier meals that just make you feel good.  I try and eat mostly healthy but I don’t consider Carlsbad Cravings a “health blog” — more of a smart cooking blog making smarter choices without sacrificing flavor.  And this Chicken Caprese Salad is loaded with flavor.

The star of this Chicken Caprese Salad ensemble is the tender, juicy, Balsamic marinated chicken.  After grilling my chicken and sampling a little piece, I kept sneaking more and more until I  had to slap my own hand or there wouldn’t be any chicken left for the pictures.  I couldn’t take the photos fast enough.  The chicken is soooo good,  I almost made a separate recipe just for the chicken – but I refrained hoping this salad  would be enough to entice people to make this juicy flavor fireworks chicken.

After you whisk up your Balsamic Chicken Marinade with hints of  Dijon, lemon juice, garlic and basil, you toss one tablespoon with your asparagus and tomatoes to marinate for more layers of flavor.  The fresh asparagus gets grilled for about two minutes per side for crisp tender perfection then its time to toss all your ingredients together – grilled asparagus, marinated tomatoes, so-addicting-you-will-want-to-eat-it-all-by-itself mozzarella, creamy avocados, crispy bacon,  fresh basil and Earthbound Farm Spinach with the crowning creamy Balsamic Reduction Dressing.

If you are familiar with balsamic reduction, then you know its one of the best things on earth.  If you aren’t familiar with it, you simply boil your balsamic vinegar until it reduces and thickens to a sweet, full bodied flavored reduction.  I thought the balsamic reduction itself was too strong as a dressing and it separates like the plague when whisked with oil, so I created a creamy balsamic dressing by whisking in a couple tablespoons mayonnaise, lemon juice, milk and a touch of Dijon. So silky, so full of flavor, so elevates this salad to better than the finest salad at the finest restaurant and bonus, its just so pretty too.

Caprese Chicken Salad with Asparagus, Avocado and Bacon.  Because it’s grilling season, because every cart counts and because you deserve an insanely delicious salad!

What is Caprese?

Caprese refers to something from or in the style of Capri, an Italian island.  Culinary speaking,  “Caprese” refers to its namesake  – Caprese Salad of fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.   I loooooove fresh and bright Caprese flavors and have celebrated them in my Caprese Avocado Chicken Wraps,  Caprese Pasta with Balsamic Chicken. Caprese Pasta Salad  and Sheet Pan Caprese Chicken and Veggies.

Caprese Chicken Salad with Avocado and Bacon and cheese.

Chicken Caprese Salad Ingredients

This chicken and avocado caprese salad has three main components: the salad itself, the chicken marinade, and the balsamic dressing. Here’s what you’ll need to make the salad:

  • Chicken breasts: Marinated chicken cooked on the grill for an explosion of flavor in every juicy forkful.  
  • Spinach: You’re welcome to use a spring salad mix instead, if desired.
  • Basil: Measure the basil by pressing the leaves into a measuring cup and then mincing.
  • Tomatoes: Please use ripe cherry tomatoes for the best texture.  Cherry tomatoes are inherently sweeter than grape tomatoes, so aim for cherry if you can. 
  • Mozzarella pearls: You’re looking for mini balls of fresh mozzarella, not the low-moisture kind that’s pre-shredded.
  • Asparagus: Can be omitted if out of season.
  • Avocados: Slice or chop a large avocado for satisfying creamy bursts to complement the crunchy textures. 
  • Bacon: Adds a grounding earthiness to the salad with its salty bacon flavor and bonus, it’s shatteringly crispy.
  • Balsamic vinegar: Use a quality balsamic vinegar.
  • Olive oil: Use extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
  • Dijon mustard: Adds tanginess to the dressing.
  • Lemon juice: Fresh is best but you may use bottled in a pinch. 
  • Brown sugar: You need a pinch of sugar in the marinade to balance out the vinegar and mustard.
  • Herbs and spices: I used dried basil, garlic powder, and onion powder in this recipe.
  • Mayonnaise: Makes the dressing ultra creamy.
  • Milk: Just a splash of milk helps thin things out.
Showing how to make Caprese Chicken Salad by preparing tomatoes and asparagus.

How to Make Chicken Caprese Salad

  1. Whisk together all of the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Remove 1 tablespoon and add to a large bowl along with tomatoes and asparagus. Toss evenly to coat. Refrigerate.
  2. Add remaining marinade to a large Ziploc bag along with chicken. Marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat grill, then grill chicken until chicken is cooked through. (An inserted thermometer should read 165 degrees F.)
  4. Remove chicken from grill and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
  5. Grease grill and turn to high heat. Grill asparagus to desired tenderness. Let cool then cut on diagonal into 1-2-inch pieces.
  6. To make the Balsamic Dressing, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan, then reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring often. Cook until reduced in volume by half. Whisk in remaining dressing ingredients.
  7. Assemble salad and dig in!
Caprese Chicken Salad with Avocado and Bacon adding dressing over top.

Tips for Making Chicken Caprese Salad

  • Marinate Chicken.  You can get away with marinating the chicken for as little as 30 minutes if it is pounded thin, but the longer you marinate the chicken, the more flavorful it will become. I recommend at least 4 hours.
  • Pound chicken to an even thickness.  Pound the thickest part of the chicken so it’s even with the thinnest part to ensure the chicken cooks evenly.  You don’t want one side to be cooked perfectly and the other side to be raw or overcooked/dry.
  • Bring chicken to room temperature before cooking.  Transfer the marinating chicken to your kitchen counter 30 minutes before grilling.  Room temperature chicken cooks more evenly and quickly which translates into juicier chicken because there is less time for moisture to be released while cooking.

Recipe Variations to Try

  • Alternative proteins.  The chicken marinade would also be delicious on shrimp, salmon, pork or steak, so feel free to mix it up!
  • Salad Bar.  if you have picky eaters or want a fun entertaining idea, then consider a salad bar where everyone can pile on as much or as little of their favorite toppings.  Everyone is a winner with a salad bar!
  • Customize ingredients. The balsamic chicken salad ingredients and measurements are simply suggestions. You can add/swap any ingredients for your favorite veggies and fruits as long as you maintain a balance of sweet, tangy, and crunchy; if you swap out an ingredient, replace it with something with a similar flavor profile and texture. 
Mixing Chicken Caprese Salad with Avocado and Bacon in a white bowl.

HOW TO PREP AHEAD Chicken Caprese Salad

This easy caprese salad recipe is simple to make but does require some chopping. The good news is you can prep your ingredients while your chicken is marinating. To prep ahead:

  • Chicken: can be marinated 4 hours in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.   You can also cook the chicken completely ahead of time.
  • Chop vegetables: can be chopped 24 hours in advance except the avocados and stored in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator.  I will add the vegetables to separate paper towels, fold up the paper towels around the contents and place in sandwich bags – this keeps excess moisture away from the veggies to keep them fresh.
  • Cook bacon:  can be cooked up to 3 days in advance, crumbled and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Dressing: Can be prepared and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

HOW TO STORE Caprese CHICKEN SALAD

If you plan on storing chicken and avocado caprese salad, do not toss the salad with the dressing or the lettuce will become soggy and wilted.  Instead, store the salad and dressing in separate airtight containers. The avocados and bacon should also be removed from the salad or better yet, not tossed with the salad initially and instead added to individual servings.

The chicken caprese salad without dressing will stay nice and fresh for about 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Chicken Caprese Salad with Avocado and Bacon with serving spoons in a bowl.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH Chicken Caprese Salad

This caprese chicken salad is practically a meal-in-itself – the only thing left to add is carby bread! We love it with a side of cornbread  or buttery breadsticks. It’s also fabulous with favorite backyard barbecue sides such as Baked Mac and Cheese,  Potato SaladBaked Beans, and Corn Casserole.

LOOKING FOR MORE CHICKEN SALAD RECIPES?

Want to try this Caprese Chicken Salad Recipe?

Pin it to your SALAD, CHICKEN OR GRILL Board to SAVE for later!

Find me on Pinterest for more great recipes!  I am always pinning :)!

©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Grilled Caprese Chicken Salad with the most incredible balsamic marinated chicken, fresh tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, grilled asparagus, creamy avocado and crispy bacon all drizzled with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dressing. Out of this world! #summersalad #springsalad

Grilled Caprese Chicken Salad with Avocado, Bacon and Asparagus

Caprese Chicken Salad with the most incredible balsamic marinated chicken, fresh tomatoes, melt in your mouth mozzarella, grilled asparagus, creamy avocado and crispy bacon all drizzled with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dressing =  Out of this world! 
Servings: 6 -8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 pound chicken breasts pounded to even thickness
  • 1 5 oz. pkg. baby spinach
  • 1 cup basil leaves, roughly chopped or chiffonade
  • 1 pint grape/cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 6 oz mozzarella pearls
  • 8 oz asparagus, tough ends trimmed/snapped
  • 1-2 Avocados, chopped or sliced
  • 4-6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic Chicken Marinade

Balsamic Reduction Dressing

  • ¾ cup quality balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Instructions

  • Whisk together all of the Balsamic Marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Remove 1 tablespoon and add to a large bowl along with tomatoes and asparagus. Toss evenly to coat. Refrigerate.
  • Add remaining marinade to a large Ziploc bag along with chicken. Marinate 30 minutes up to 4 hours.
  • When ready to grill, let chicken sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes (time permitting). Meanwhile, grease and preheat the grill to medium heat, 375-450°F. Grill chicken undisturbed for 5-7 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through. (An inserted thermometer should read 165 degrees F.) Remove chicken from grill and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
  • Grease grill and turn to high heat. Grill asparagus for 2 minutes per side or to desired tenderness. Let cool then cut on diagonal into 1-2-inch pieces.
  • To make the Balsamic Reduction Dressing, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan, then reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring often. Cook until reduced in volume by half, about 8 minutes and just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Whisk in remaining dressing ingredients, adding additional milk a teaspoon at a time iif desired for a thinner dressing.
  • Toss spinach, basil, asparagus, tomatoes and mozzarella in a large bowl. Top with chicken, bacon, and avocado. Drizzle individual servings with Balsamic Reduction Dressing.

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @CarlsbadCravings and Use #CarlsbadCravngs

Leave a Review, I Always Love Hearing From You!

Carlsbad Cravings© Original

Reader Interactions

leave a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

39 Comments

  1. Malinda @Countryside Cravings says

    Oh man this salad looks to die for!!! I love grilling too especially when it warms up because it keeps the heat out of the house! Can’t wait to try this!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Malinda, I think you will love this salad! Love to hear that you love the grill too! I didn’t start grilling until a couple years ago and now I can’t stop :)!

      • Terri says

        This salad looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it. We love to grill too.

        • Jen says

          Thanks Terri! I hope you love it as much as us!

  2. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way says

    The salad looks perfect even with those *ahem* chicken pieces missing. I counted!! Did you know that if you just shop the perimeter of the store you will hit all of the healthy items. It is the middle aisles that cause all of the problems. Before going to the store I put on my running shoes, make sure my Fitbit is nice and secure and then I’m prepared for the marathon. Eyes ahead, no dawdling, just get what is on the list. Your salad fits perfectly in my plans today. It looks so good and filling my need to eat healthy. YUM!! Have a great day. Don’t forget your running shoes next trip to the store 🙂

    • Jen says

      LOL! you caught me! many chicken pieces missing 🙂 What a fabulous tip about keeping to the perimeter of the store – and I love that you are a no dawdling shopper with your fitbit and shoes – that’s the way to go! It really does make a difference to shop with a purpose or you can waste so much time, money and end up with many impulsive items. I hope you have a great day too and are able to run up that fitbit – but hopefully not all from the grocery store 🙂

  3. Dorothy Dunton says

    Hi Jen! What perfect timing! We are getting about a pound of asparagus each day from our garden and I needed a new recipe! I love all the components in this salad and I can’t wait to try this dressing! I would use thigh meat simply because we prefer dark meat. 🙂

    • Jen says

      Whoa, a pound a day – that is amazing! You are an expert chef as well as a gardener! I really hope you love this recipe so you can make it often and use up all that asparagus! Enjoy!

      • Dorothy Dunton says

        Hi Jen! You flatter me! I am just a self taught cook who likes to eat real food. Gardening allows us to control what we eat. Gary does most of the gardening, but I do tend to my herb garden and help with the harvest of the big garden. Thank you for you kind comments!

        • Jen says

          Of course – you are the one always giving me reasons to smile with your kind comments! You sound like the most delightful, thoughtful, talented, interesting woman! I love picturing you and your husband gardening together and cooking together!

    • Jen says

      Thank you Anna, if you love Caprese salad, I think you will especially love this! the marinade and dressing is to live for! xo

  4. Lisa Noble says

    Amazing meal! I made this just this week and my family loved it. To feed them such a healthy dinner and still get rave reviews is terrific. A million thanks – we’ll be having this again!

    • Jen says

      I am thrilled your whole family loved this salad Lisa, thank you so much! And bonus they didn’t even notice it was “healthy” 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to comment!!!

  5. Jennifer says

    This looks delish and I am going to make tomorrow night? How do you think it would be if I substituted steak for chicken? Or shrimp for chicken?

    • Jen says

      Hi Jennifer, I think this would be delicious with either steak or shrimp – especially shrimp!

  6. Penny says

    This salad looks amazing, my husband and I can’t wait to try it on the weekend.
    We live in an apartment so don’t have a grill – would oven baked chicken taste as good? And do you suggest a particular heat & time to get the best flavour?
    Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Thank you Penny! I just added Stovetop Chicken Directions to the Notes of the Recipe – hope that helps! Enjoy!

      • Penny says

        Great, thank you! I know we will both love this recipe

  7. Alexandra says

    How much balsamic vinegar in the marinade and dressing? Thanks

  8. Emma says

    This salad looks delish! I don’t like half the ingredients and have to simplify for my carers (I’m bed-ridden) but I love looking at colourful meals like this and I’m heavily inspired by yours.

    And can I just say, I LOVE that your recipe card has customisable servings that automatically calculates ingredients for you. I’m not great with maths so trying to convert is a real headache for me!

    • Jen says

      Hi Emma, sorry for me delayed comment as I was recovering from surgery when you left this and now I’m just behind but THANK YOU for your kind words! I love colorful food as well, in fact salads are my most favorite foods to photograph because they are so happy looking! I am so glad you love the ingredient quantity calculator! It truly is super helpful for me too, I hope it gets a lot of use 🙂 All the best to you!

  9. Sarah B. says

    I just made this wonderful salad for my family for dinner! It was so delicious and everyone loved it! I will definitely make it again and I think it would be a hit to bring to a potluck dinner or to serve for company! This recipe is a keeper! Thank you!

    • Jen says

      YAY! I am so happy it was a hit with everyone Sarah and a keeper, thank you so much! And yes, absolutely perfect for potlucks!

  10. Diane says

    Hello there! I’m looking forward to making these salads for a crowd this week but am a little confused at the serving calculator. These will be entree sized salads so I want to be sure I have enough of everything. What does the -8 mean after where you put the amount of servings in?

    • Jen says

      Hi Diane! You can disregard the -8 when using the serving calculator – it just works in the original meaning the salad serves 6-8. Hope that helps!

  11. Christie says

    Another homerun recipe from Carlsbad Cravings! The marinade and dressing are spectacular as are all the other ingredients in the salad! Thank you hank you for helping me get my kids to eat more salad!

    • Jen says

      yesssss! I’m thrilled it was another hit! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment Christie!

  12. Carol says

    We made this for supper tonight. Everyone agreed it was amazing! Thanks for the great recipe!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Carol! Thanks for taking the time to comment! I’m thrilled it was a hit!

  13. Jenn says

    Hello!
    Do you have the macros for this amazing recipe?

  14. Sydney says

    Hello! I just made this salad but I was wondering if you knew the amount of calories? I used everything but the bacon.

  15. Dawn says

    Can use romaine instead of spinach? Also how did you plate it?

  16. Allison says

    Can you use balsamic glaze instead of the reduction dressing?

    • Jen says

      Hi Allison – totally personal preference – balsamic glaze will be much sweeter.