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A large shallow bowl filled with a hearty winter chicken salad over fresh baby arugula, with a fork angled into the center of the bowl.

Winter Chicken Salad {Gluten Free + Paleo}

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  • Author: Nyssa Tanner
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


This winter chicken salad is the best salad for those moments during the colder months when you crave something fresh but hearty and filling. Made with your favorite salad greens, chicken breast, roasted sweet potatoes, apples, avocado, nuts, and a bright homemade lemony salad dressing. Easy to throw together and full of flavor and phenomenal texture! Gluten free, paleo, dairy free, & easily made Whole30 compatible.



For sweet potatoes

  • 2 cups sweet potato, diced
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

For salad

  • 4 cups arugula or tender salad greens
  • 1 cup apple, diced
  • 1 cup avocado, diced or sliced
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 1 1/22 cups cooked chicken, shredded or chopped 

For salad dressing

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil mayonnaise (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (optional – omit for Whole30)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Roast sweet potatoes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Add cubed sweet potatoes to a rimmed baking sheet and toss to coat with olive oil, paprika, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Spread out in a single layer so the edges can crisp up nicely. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until tender and starting to caramelize on the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  2. Prep salad ingredients. While the sweet potatoes are roasting prep the remaining salad ingredients. Dice the avocado and apple, toast the pecans, and shred the chicken. Set everything aside.
  3. Make the dressing. In a small bowl or jar whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, lemon zest, avocado oil mayonnaise if using, honey if using, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper until well combined and emulsified.
  4. Assemble the salads. Divide salad greens evenly between two bowls. Top with shredded chicken, roasted sweet potato, apple, avocado, chopped pecans, and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing (you likely won’t use it all) and toss to combine. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper if desired. Serve immediately and enjoy!


This recipe makes 2 very large, entree size salads, or 4 smaller salads. Feel free to serve as suits your appetite.

See section above in blog post about how to prep the salad ahead of time.

Go ahead and use your favorites spices or spice blend when roasting the sweet potatoes! You could also keep it super simple and just use salt and pepper. 

Fill this salad with things that YOU love! One of the best things about homemade salads is that they are easily customized to include the ingredients you love best. So feel free to include other veggies / fruits / nuts / seeds that YOU like! The more fun you have making it the more you’ll enjoy it. Guaranteed!

Adjust the salad dressing to taste. Because of the lemon and mustard the dressing can be quite tart. You may want to adjust to taste by adding a bit less lemon juice and/or adding a little more honey or maple syrup to sweeten it up a bit!

Use your favorite salad greens. I chose arugula because I love the bright peppery flavor and tender texture, but whatever salad green(s) you like best will work for this versatile salad!

Toast your nuts & seeds! For the most crunch (TEXTURE!!) toast your nuts and seeds if they aren’t already toasted. Toasting also helps bring out the warm nutty flavor that is so completely irresistible.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: No cook
  • Cuisine: Healthy