With sweet oranges, bitter endive, juicy chicken and creamy avocado, this Orange Chicken Salad is meal prep magic. Naturally Whole30, gluten free, and dairy free, these meal prep bowls are ready in thirty minutes, easy on the prep, easy on the eyes, and a delicious way to power you through the work day!
Weekend meal prep is a total lifesaver throughout the week, but it can also be a major drag on Sunday afternoon. There are a million things you’d rather do than meal prep – like nap, or binge-watch True Detective, or scavenge Pinterest for DIY projects you’ll never do.
Enter these orange chicken salad meal prep bowls. They’re ready in just thirty minutes, and jam-packed with winter’s best flavors, like sweet and juicy cara cara oranges and bitter, crunchy endive. With enough veggies to keep the doctor away, and enough protein and fat to keep you from needing a Snicker’s break, this orange chicken salad is meal prep magic.
How to Make Orange Chicken Salad Meal Prep Bowls
This orange chicken salad comes together in 30 minutes, and couldn’t be easier. Feel free to swap in whichever orange varietals you love, or your favorite method for preparing chicken.
First things first, get your hands on some chicken. Almost any chicken is going to work for this recipe – grilled, baked, roasted – but my go-to is poached.
Poached chicken is awesome for weekend meal prep. It’s simple, juicy, and most importantly, quick. I don’t particularly love the flavor of baked chicken without a marinade or grilled chicken sans brine bath. And while both are ding dang delicious properly prepared, they’re also time consuming. Fast n’easy poached chicken is a neat and tidy solution to a quick meal prep protein situation. Poached chicken is also super tasty cold or room temp, so there’s another win in the meal prep column!
You can add aromatics to the water bath for extra seasoning, but I didn’t want the chicken to be the star in this dish, so I kept it simple with just salt. If you do want to rock the aromatics game, consider a smashed garlic clove, a teaspoon of whole peppercorns, a sliced shallot, and/or a spring of fresh thyme or rosemary.
Next. Orange supremes. Sounds so fancy, right? It is kinda fancy, but it’s also pretty easy. And pretty. I used two cara cara oranges and two tangelos. Pick whichever orange varietals you love.
Let’s make some citrus supremes!
- Using a sharp paring knife, slice off the top and bottom of the orange.
- Stand the fruit upright on your cutting board. Slice off the skin and pith from top to bottom, following the curve of the fruit. Be careful not to cut too deep or you’ll remove too much flesh. Don’t take it too seriously though.
- Hold the trimmed orange in one hand. With the paring knife in the other hand, carefully slice along the membrane line on either side of a section. This will release the fruit in a neat, even slice. Repeat this process until each section has been sliced.
If you’re a visual learner, this is an excellent video showing how to cut citrus supremes.
Last thing – don’t toss away the residual membranes. You’ll juice those, and use that juice for the vinaigrette.
Place all of the salad ingredients into a four meal prep containers – baby spinach, avocado, chopped endive, diced poached chicken, and citrus supremes. Give everything a nice toss until evenly distributed.
Lastly, make the vinaigrette. Place a mesh strainer over a bowl. Squeeze the orange membranes over the strainer to release the juice. Combine a few tablespoons of the fresh squeezed orange juice with the dressing ingredients, whisk it up, and divide into small containers.
Hot tip: toss the avocados with a little bit of orange juice before adding them to the salad. The acidity will keep them from browning over the next day or two.
Divide the salad between four meal prep containers, top with almonds, and add a container of dressing. These keep in the fridge for up to 3 days before the avocado gets too brown and the spinach starts to wilt.
Dietary Accommodations, Variations, and Storage
- Naturally Whole30, paleo, and gluten free.
- Dairy free and soy free.
- Substitute sunflower seeds for the almonds to make it nut free.
- While I love poached chicken for this recipe, almost any chicken will work. Baked, grilled, roasted – it’s all good. If you’re using leftover roasted chicken, about 2 cups should do it.
- Salmon also works nicely here! Add smoked salmon (about 2 ounces per bowl) or a bake a 1-pound salmon fillet and flake it into the bowls.
- To prevent the avocado from browning, toss with some of the residual orange juice. The acidity should stave off the browning process for a day or two.
- Store these bowls with the dressing on the side in the fridge, and eat within three days; any longer and the spinach starts to wilt and the avocado gets too mushy.
More Healthy Meal Prep Recipes
- Ginger Scallion Pork Poppers with Citrus Slaw
- Whole30 Steak Bites with Sweet Potatoes and Peppers
- Chicken Salad with Almond Butter Dressing
- Ground Turkey Hash with Squash and Peppers
- Pesto Veggie Scramble Meal Prep Bowls
Did you make these Orange Chicken Salad Meal Prep Bowls? I’d love to know how they turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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- 4-quart pot
- Paring Knife
- Cutting Board
- Meal Prep Bowls
- 1 lb chicken breast
- 1 tbsp sea or kosher salt
- 4 oranges, sectioned into supremes
- ½ lb endive (about 2 medium heads), chopped
- 2 c baby spinach
- 1 avocados, diced
- ¼ c sliced almonds
- Make the poached chicken. Lay the chicken on the bottom of medium (4-quart) pot. Cover with cold water by 2” and add 1 tbsp salt; if you’re using additional aromatics, add them now (see post notes). Heat over high until boiling. Reduce heat to medium, adjusting heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer an additional 8-10 minutes, or until chicken reaches 165°F on an instant read thermometer. Drain, rinse under cool running water to stop the cooking process, then set aside under cool enough to handle. Dice into 1” bite sized pieces.
- Make the citrus supremes. Using a sharp paring knife, slice off the top and bottom of the orange. Stand the fruit upright on a cutting board. Slice off the skin and pith from top to bottom, following the curve of the fruit. Carefully slice along the membrane line on either side of a section to release the fruit in a neat, even slice. Repeat this process until each section has been sliced.
- Place a strainer of a medium sized bowl. Squeeze each orange membrane over the strainer to juice.
- Make the vinaigrette. Combine three tablespoons of fresh squeezed orange juice with the vinegar, whole grain mustard, salt, and pepper. Whisk until combined. Pour in the olive oil in a steady stream while whisking vigorously. Continue to whisk until the dressing is emulsified, then portion into small containers. Pack a container of dressing with each salad.
- When you’re ready to serve, pour the vinaigrette over the salad, toss, and dive in. These meal prep bowls keep in the fridge for up to three days.
- To prevent the avocados from browning, toss with a small amount of the reserved orange juice. The acidity should keep them fresh for an additional 1-2 days.
- Substitute 2 cups leftover roasted chicken for the poached chicken.