|BBQ Chicken Salad with Bacon and Apples
You are in for a very special treat because I am sharing one of my favorite salads with you today! Now that summer is coming to a close and fall is knocking at our doors, I have a great salad recipe for you to try before BBQ season comes to an end. But we're not going to be doing any BBQ-ing with this recipe, just using BBQ sauce, haha. (Although you can use leftover BBQ chicken in this recipe if you'd like.) So if you're one that only likes BBQ in the summer, get out the last of your BBQ sauce and give this a try!
This is a restaurant quality salad. It's massive and beautiful. It has all sorts of goodie and yummy flavors going on. It has BBQ chicken, bacon, apples, avocados, bleu cheese, pecans, more BBQ sauce, and ranch dressing. You can't fit much more in there! Also, you can easily double the recipe to make for your family. I've doubled and tripled this recipe and it's worked beautifully.
I made some changes from the original version of this recipe which are reflected below. I cooked the chicken in reserved bacon grease (you don't have to do that), only used one apple (Fuji is my favorite), made the avocados optional (great creamy texture but the subtle flavor gets lost with all the other flavors), added pecans, and used BBQ sauce and ranch dressing as the dressings. This recipe is very versatile, so if you want to use already cooked chicken, go for it! If you don't like some of the ingredients, but want to add others, swap them out. Change up the flavors any way you'd like.
For gluten-free, make sure to check your ingredients (bacon, BBQ sauce, ranch dressing). I used Hormel bacon, Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce, and Brianna's Homestyle Classic Buttermilk Ranch. Also, check your bleu cheese or omit the bleu cheese and use a different cheese, like mozzarella.
If you're a slow cook like I am, this may take awhile to get together but it is so worth it. Joe teased me the first time I made this because he said it's the longest time he's ever had to wait for a salad. In all fairness, yes I am a slow cook but I made a whole package of bacon so we could have leftovers for New Mexico Pile-Ups for dinner the next day and I doubled the recipe so I cooked the bacon and chicken in batches. Seriously, it shouldn't take you nearly that long and I hope I didn't just scare you away!
PS - This recipe was also worth the bacon grease splatter to the eye. Just as painful as it sounds. It probably contributed to the longest preparation time ever for a salad... :-)
|Everything all mixed together!
BBQ Chicken Salad with Bacon and Apples
Adapted from Sweet Treats and More
2 slices of bacon
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, halved and cut into 1-inch cubes
3-4 Tbs. BBQ sauce, for coating the chicken (I like Sweet Baby Ray's)
4 c. finely chopped romaine lettuce
1 fuji apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 ripe avocado, pitted and sliced (optional)
2 Tbs. chopped green onion
3-4 Tbs. crumbled bleu cheese (omit or use a different cheese for gluten-free)
2-3 Tbs. chopped, toasted pecans
2 Tbs. BBQ sauce, for drizzling on top of salad
2 Tbs. ranch dressing, for drizzling on top of salad
salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until cooked through and crispy. Remove bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel and let cool. Once bacon is cooled, cut into small pieces. Leave the bacon grease in the skillet.
Season chicken cubes with salt and pepper. Add chicken to the skillet with the bacon grease and cook on medium heat until the chicken is browned on all sides and cooked through. (You might have to do this in batches depending on how big your skillet is and how much chicken you're cooking.)
Remove chicken from heat and toss with 3-4 tablespoons of barbecue sauce and set aside.
In a large bowl toss together the chopped lettuce, bbq chicken, chopped apples, avocado, bacon crumbles, blue cheese crumbles, pecans, and green onion. Drizzle with another 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce and 2 tablespoons ranch dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Divide into two bowls or plates and serve.
(You can also build each salad separately on two plates. It looks prettier this way! This is also better if you plan to have leftovers. If you plan to have leftovers, build the salads separately. Also, keep lettuce and green onions in one container and all of the other toppings in a separate containter, except BBQ sauce and dressing. When ready to eat, assemble the salad and then drizzle with BBQ sauce and ranch dressing.)
Makes 2 large salads! (You can easily double the recipe for this!)