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This absolutely delicious chicken salad was inspired by the Napa Almond Chicken Salad at Panera. It is easy to make at home and so much like the restaurant version!
I am in love with the Napa Almond Chicken Salad at Panera. No joke. So much so that I decided I had to pick apart their ingredient list, which thankfully is available online. I was determined to figure out how to make my own version at home.
The resulting recipe is just plain awesome. I’m so happy with it and everyone here gave it a great big thumbs up. It’s a perfect lunch choice but also makes an easy soup and sandwich dinner.
Prep the Ingredients
I like to lightly toast the almonds to enhance their flavor and texture before adding them to the chicken salad.
- Spread sliced almonds out over a rimmed baking sheet and toast them in a 350 degree F oven for a few minutes. Allow them to cool while you prep the remaining ingredients.
- For the dressing combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, honey, apple cider, dry ground mustard, onion powder, dried crushed rosemary, fine ground sea salt, dried basil, and freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl.
Assemble the Salad
- Combine chopped cooked chicken, diced celery, and halved red seedless grapes in a large bowl.
- Pour the dressing over the top and mix it to combine it well.
This recipe is an excellent way to make use of rotisserie chicken or use your own fully cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast.
- Add the cooled, toasted almonds and mix lightly to combine.
- Assemble your sandwiches on sliced sourdough bread with green leaf lettuce and sliced tomatoes. This is how they serve it at Panera but you can add or substitute any toppings you love.
How Long Does Chicken Salad Last?
Chicken salad with a mayonnaise or dairy based dressing should be promptly refrigerated in an airtight container and consumed within 3 to 4 days.
Lighten it Up
This recipe can easily be lightened up by substituting light (reduced fat) sour cream or nonfat plain Greek yogurt for up to half of the mayonnaise. I’ve done it with sour cream and it was awesome. I don’t recommend eliminating the mayonnaise altogether for the best tasting result.
Napa Almond Chicken Salad (Panera Copycat)
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 3 heaping cups fully cooked chicken breast chopped (I used rotisserie chicken)
- 1/2 cup halved or quartered seedless red grapes
- 1/3 cup diced celery
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon dry ground mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon fine ground sea salt or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
For the Rest:
- 12 slices sourdough sandwich bread
- 2 small tomatoes sliced
- green leaf lettuce
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place the almonds on a small baking sheet and transfer to the oven for 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- Add chicken, grapes, and celery to a large mixing bowl.
- In a separate small bowl combine the dressing ingredients. Pour the dressing over the top of the chicken mixture and mix to incorporate the dressing throughout. Add the cooled almonds and mix lightly to combine.
- Divide the mixture between the bread and top with tomato and green leaf lettuce.