This roasted red pepper chicken salad with balsamic dressing is different than your normal run-of-the-mill chicken salad and that’s just how I like it, a little different.

Lately we have been on a search for a good chicken salad that doesn’t have all of the mayo in it. I think we have finally figured one out! WAHOO!!!

a photo of a ciabatta roll stuffed with red pepper chicken salad and fresh spinach sitting on a wooden cutting board.

Now there’s nothing wrong with a chicken salad recipe with mayo in it, because all chicken salads have their place, but we just knew there had to be something different and just as delicious!

A good bread like ciabatta or a baguette makes this so much more yummy. The pine nuts add a light crunch and nutty flavor that goes beautifully with the basil and roasted red peppers. Oh, and the dressing? So LIGHT! I love that! Give these a try this week and let me know what you think!

a photo of a bowl of chicken salad complete with roasted red peppers, fresh spinach, and chopped fresh basil.

Ingredients for Balsamic Chicken Salad

This chicken salad recipe only uses a few ingredients, but it checks all the boxes…flavor, texture, freshness. You’re going to love it!

For the Salad

  • Chicken – you could roast your own whole chicken or buy a rotisserie
  • Red Bell Pepper – char them on the stove top or in the oven (see section below) for maximum flavor
  • Pine Nuts – toast them slightly to bring out the nutty flavor, adds the best crunchy texture
  • Red Onion – diced small for a little extra crunch and flavor
  • Basil (fresh) – imho there’s nothing better than fresh basil, chiffonade
  • Spinach – baby spinach is preferred
  • Ciabatta (or baguette) – a good bread is always key to a great sandwhich
  • Olive Oil – helps give the bread the perfect golden toastiness
  • Garlic – flavor

For the Dressing

  • Olive Oil – the base of the balsamic dressing
  • Balsamic Vinegar – adds tang and sweetness
  • Honey – adds sweetness and thickens the dressing
  • Dijon Mustard – adds flavor and body to the dressing
  • Kosher Salt – flavor and cutting the sweetness
  • Pepper – adds flavor

The full recipe including all the measurements can be found in the recipe card at the end of the post.

a photo of a roasted red pepper chicken salad sandwich with fresh spinach on a ciabatta roll. the sandwich is cut in half with the cross section facing the camera.

How to Roast Peppers

You can roast bell peppers either on the stovetop or in the oven. I prefer to char bell peppers right on the stovetop of a gas stove. You can place the whole pepper right on top of the burner and then turn them with tongs until they are charred on all sides.

Place the peppers in a ziploc bag and seal it so they can sweat. The skin will loosen as the peppers steam.

If you don’t have a gas stove, you can char peppers in the oven using the broil setting. Turn the peppers every couple of minutes so they get charred on all sides. Sweat them in a ziploc bag the same as above.

How to Toast Pine Nuts

To toast a small batch of pine nuts, it is fastest to toast them on the stovetop. Place them in a skillet with no oil or butter or anything over medium heat. Move them around with a wooden spoon or by gently shaking the skillet. The pine nuts will start to get golden and very fragrant. It will only take about 3 minutes so don’t walk away from the stove!
a photo of a large serving bowl full of roasted red pepper chicken salad coated in a homemade balsamic dressing.

Can I Make This Chicken Salad Ahead?

Yes, this is a great make ahead salad. You can make it up to a day ahead of time. Just don’t add the toasted pine nuts until right before serving.

Can I Freeze Balsamic Chicken Salad?

To be honest, I have never tried it. Since there isn’t any dairy in it, I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to. Just don’t add the pine nuts or fresh spinach before freezing.

a photo of an open faced roasted red pepper chicken salad sandwich sitting on a torn piece of white parchment paper.

How to Store Balsamic Chicken Salad

This salad stores great for up to 3-5 days in an airtight container. Keep in mind the pine nuts will lose their crunch and the spinach will get a little wilty.

How to Eat Balsamic Chicken Salad

We almost always eat this salad on a good chunk of bread as shown in the photos, but sometimes I just eat it like a salad. It just depends on what the occasion is. Sandwiches for a legit family dinner or for a bridal shower…salad for a quick lunch.

This salad would also work great in a wrap, in a pita pocket, or on a croissant. You could even cook some pasta and add it in to make it in to a pasta salad or to make it stretch a little farther.

You are going to love the combination of the light balsamic dressing with the roasted red peppers and crunchy pine nuts. This is a bright fresh version of a chicken salad minus all the mayo!

Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Salad with Balsamic Dressing

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Servings: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes


For the Salad

  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Pine Nuts, toasted
  • 1 Tablespoon Red Onions, diceed
  • Basil , sliced, to taste
  • Ciabatta , or baguette
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • Spinach
  • 3 Cups Chicken, shredded, cooked (I roasted a whole bird for more flavor)

For the Dressing

  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Honey
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste


  • Heat a gas stove to high heat and place the peppers directly on the heat. Turn occasionally until black and charred. Alternatively you can roast under the broiler in the oven.
    1 Red Bell Pepper
  • Remove to a ziploc and seal to steam the peppers for 15-20 minutes. Remove the skins, seeds and stem and chop. Set aside.
  • Whisk the dressing together and toss all ingredients in it except the spinach.
    1/4 Cup Pine Nuts, 1 Tablespoon Red Onions, 1/2 Cup Olive Oil, 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar, 1 teaspoon Honey, 1/2 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt, Fresh Ground Black Pepper, Basil
  • Heat the oven to broil and brush olive oil on the insides of the bread and toast in the oven slightly until browning begins. Rub with a sliced garlic clove and pile on the chicken and spinach!
    3 Cups Chicken, Ciabatta, Olive Oil, 2 Cloves Garlic, Spinach


This would be a great recipe to use leftover chicken or you could cook the chicken ahead of time and put it in the freezer to cut down on prep time.


Serving: 1gCalories: 276kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 6gFat: 26gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 230mgPotassium: 145mgFiber: 1gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 662IUVitamin C: 26mgCalcium: 11mgIron: 1mg
Author: Sweet Basil
Course: 100 Family Favorite Easy Healthy Recipes

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