Applebee's Apple Walnut Chicken Salad copycat recipe by Todd Wilbur
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Applebee's Apple Walnut Chicken Salad

Score: 5.00. Votes: 7
In stock (1 item available)
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Menu Description: "A masterwork of flavors. Grilled, marinated chicken breast crowns this fresh mix of delectable greens, crisp apples, rich crumbled bleu cheese and sweet candied walnuts. Tossed in our tangy balsamic vinaigrette."

Sometimes I feel like a C.S.I. To create this Applebee's apple walnut chicken salad copycat recipe, I ordered several to-go and then sat down with a magnifying glass and carefully picked out each of the bits and pieces and separated them into smaller bowls. Sure this was tedious work, but it made it easy to measure out each ingredient for the most accurate clone recipe. Next, I cooked a ton of chicken, each with different versions of the marinade, until I found the one that worked. The smoky marinade for the chicken here is basically a brine that adds just the right amount of saltiness and flavor through osmosis, so be sure not to let the chicken soak longer than specified. Of course, the lead performer in any salad is the dressing, since it is responsible for much of what you taste. The tangy balsamic vinaigrette is delicious with honey, Dijon mustard, garlic, and tarragon in there. You can make an easy emulsion out of it with a hand mixer. The best part is that you'll end up with leftover vinaigrette that you can use to make a couple more meal-size salads, and then some. Case closed.

Find more of my salad knock-off recipes here. 

Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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Chicken Marinade
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon hickory-flavored liquid smoke
  • 2 chicken breasts, pounded flat (1/2-inch thick)
  • oil
  • ground black pepper
Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • Pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Candied Walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups chopped red leaf lettuce
  • 2 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
  • 1 apple, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese
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    • Instructions

      1. Prepare chicken marinade by combining water, salt, garlic powder and liquid smoke in a medium bowl. Mix until salt dissolves. Flatten two chicken breasts with a kitchen mallet to 1/2-inch thick. Drop chicken in marinade, cover and chill for 3 hours. When chicken is done marinating, blot each breast dry, rub with oil, and grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side on high until done. Lightly pepper each breast while grilling.

      2. Make the balsamic vinaigrette by combining all ingredients, except olive oil, in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until sugar is dissolved. Pour the oil in a thin stream into the bowl while mixing. Continue mixing for several seconds until the dressing thickens. Cover and chill.

      3. Make the candied walnuts by combining in the order listed, peanut oil, honey, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium skillet over medium heat. When mixture begins to bubble, add chopped walnuts and stir constantly until sugar begins to smoke and/or caramelize. Immediately turn off heat and keep stirring the nuts so that they do not burn. After a minute of stirring (off the heat), pour the nuts out onto a plate. When nuts cool, break them apart if they have stuck together.

      4. Build each salad by tossing 2 cups romaine lettuce, 1 cup red leaf lettuce, and 1 cup iceberg lettuce with half of the chopped apple and 3 to 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette. Arrange greens on a plate and sprinkle on 2 tablespoons of crumbled bleu cheese followed by about 3 tablespoons of candied walnuts. Slice each chicken breast into thin strips and lay the chicken on top of the salad and serve.

      : You can save time by using precooked grilled chicken breast strips that are available in the deli section of your supermarket. Foster Farms is one leading brand.

      Makes 2 salads.

Average rating:

Score: 5.00. Votes: 7
Rating of votes (7)
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Lisa Ashby
Feb 8, 2010, 22:00

This is a perfect match!!! I am so happy with it!

Jun 18, 2007, 22:00

I just purchased this recipe and made it tonight...what a fabulous salad and tastes just like the Applebees version. Great summer salad I will be using for many years to come!

I'm Todd Wilbur,
Chronic Food Hacker

For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

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