These Whole30 chicken salad lettuce wraps are the perfect compliant “sandwich”! This quick and easy weekend prep recipe lasts all week, and gets better the longer it marinates. Elevate your packed lunch with this crunchy, tangy, sweet, and savory Whole30 chicken salad recipe.
Hey, hey, hey Whole30 friends! Guess what day it is? No, it’s not cheat day. No…it’s not the end of the challenge. It’s Whole30 hump day! That’s right, today is the start of the second half of your January Whole30 journey. Huzzah!
The halfway point is critical. By now you’ve probably kissed the carb flu buh-bye (so real, so brutal). You may have dropped a few pounds, and your skin is probably dewey AF. You’re likely sleeping like a teenager, and waking up feeling all bright and shiny. And it only gets better from here.
All that being said, you might still be feeling out some organizational strategies to make mealtimes less hectic. Two weeks is hardly habit-forming, so if you’re not really into a groove yet, that’s totally fine – and in fact pretty close to completely normal. Most experts say it takes up to six weeks to form new habits, so be patient with yourself and focus on getting a little bit better every day.
Enter the practice of lunch prep. Setting aside a couple hours over the weekend to cook and prepare your lunches for the work week will make a huge difference in how you approach your midday meal:
- You won’t fuss about what to pack for lunch each day. Say yes to less stress and more calm.
- You’ll feel a sense of control and power over your midday meal choices.
- You’ll save time and moolah during the week. No extra modifications to your take-out, no hodge-podging a compliant meal at the convenience or grocery store.
These simple benefits are actually huge, and completely worth the effort.
This dried cherry chicken salad is one of my favorite lunch prep recipes for January Whole30. It’s fast, easy on the eyes (and on the prep!), gets better as it marinates, and makes a super duper portable packed lunch. This no mayo chicken salad is loaded with vegetables (hello nutrients!) and the perfect balance of sweet, savory, crunchy and tangy.
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Whole30 Chicken Salad Recipe Notes
A couple times a month I roast a whole chicken, usually on Sundays. Roasted chicken is my go-to comfort food, slathered with gravy and served with seasonal sides. We typically eat about half for dinner, and the remainder gets tossed into a no mayo chicken salad (I’m not a mayo fan) or a soup or stew. Then I cook down the carcass into a rich, nutritious bone broth in my slow cooker and stash that into the freezer.
My chicken salads change with the seasons, based on what produce is available, but winter veggies are my favorite. Hearty winter produce like carrots, radishes, and fennel are the perfect companion to tender roasted chicken, sweet dried cherries, and an herby balsamic vinaigrette. I prefer a mix of fresh roasted white and dark meat for this Whole30 chicken salad, but use what you have. Grab a pre-roasted chicken from the grocery store, or poach a chicken breast or two. Make it easy for yourself!
The base of this salad is lots and lots of fresh raw vegetables – carrots, celery, fennel, radishes, and green onions. Slice or julienne your vegetables thinly for diversified texture and a hit of each flavor in every bite. If you have a mandoline slicer, it’s terrifically useful here and makes the prep a snap. I thinly slice the fennel, celery, and green onions, and go for a julienne with the carrots and radishes. Do whatever’s fast and easy for YOU. Just remember – the thinner the better.
Toss all the veggies into a bowl along with the roasted chicken (either shredded or diced), some slivered almonds, and dried cherries.
For the dressing, I punch up my basic balsamic vinaigrette with a little balsamic reduction and some chopped parsley. It’s slightly sweet and pairs so well with the dried cherries and chicken, but still tangy and bright.
At this point you can serve it as is, but I like to stuff my chicken salad into lettuce wraps. I go totally non-seasonal here and get some bib lettuce from the co-op – they’re the perfect Whole30 compliant “wrap”. Just spoon the chicken salad into the lettuce cups and you’re done!
These make a nice little presentation for a family style meal or party platter. They’re also perfect little “sandwiches” to pack into your lunchbox. Bonus – you don’t need to pack utensils to eat these cute and tidy Whole30 chicken salad wraps. These glass snapware containers fit two snuggly, the perfect portion size. These keep in the fridge for up to 4 days as assembled lettuce wraps (the bibb lettuce gets a little soggy after that), and the chicken salad by itself keeps for up to a week.
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Whole30 Chicken Salad
- 1 head bibb lettuce, leaves separated, 12 total
- 2 c. shredded roasted chicken, about 8 oz.
- 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
- 1 medium carrot, julienned or thinly sliced
- 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 4 radishes, julienned or thinly sliced
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 c. dried cherries, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 c sliced almonds
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp balsamic reduction
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
- Line a baking sheet or your kitchen counter with a cotton towel or paper towels. Carefully remove each whole bibb lettuce piece, starting from the outside and working your way in. Rinse each piece of lettuce under cool running water to remove any dirt or grit. Shake off excess water and place on the towels to air dry while you prepare the chicken salad.
- In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, balsamic reduction, parsley, salt, and pepper and whisk until combined. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified.
- Pour the balsamic vinaigrette over the chicken salad and toss until combined.
- Spoon 1/12th of the chicken salad in 12 individual lettuce cups. Pack two cups in a sealed container and store in the fridge for up to four days, or arrange on a platter and serve immediately. Alternatively, store the chicken salad and lettuce cups in separate sealed containers to keep in the fridge for up to a week. This chicken salad can be enjoyed immediately, but the flavor gets better after marinating for at least an hour.
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