Panera BBQ Chicken Salad

Panera BBQ Chicken Salad is loaded with flavor! This delicious salad with grilled chicken, black bean corn salsa, crispy fried onions, and barbecue ranch dressing is great for a hearty lunch or dinner.

copycat Panera BBQ chicken salad and a fork on a napkin.

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What Makes the Panera BBQ Chicken Salad So Good? 

With everyone trying to cut down on carbs, yet few willing to give up on tasty and filling meals, it is no wonder that the BBQ Chicken Salad Panera Bread serves is one of the chain’s most popular.

With its juicy grilled chicken, hearty black bean corn salad sauce, crunchy fried onions on top of fresh romaine lettuce, and dressed in an apple cider-BBQ sauce dressing, this recipe ticks all the right boxes.  

Why This Is the Recipe for BBQ Chicken Salad From Panera You Must Try

A lot is going on in this recipe, but don’t get too overwhelmed. You can easily make each of these Panera BBQ Chicken Salad components separately and keep them in the fridge to throw together quickly before dinner.

This Barbecue Chicken Salad makes a healthy any day-of-the-week meal with just a bit of prep work. Check out the “Make Ahead Tips” section below for suggestions.

Panera Bread BBQ Chicken Salad Ingredients

To make the Ranch-BBQ Salad Dressing, you’ll need: 

  • Premade ranch salad dressing 
  • Kraft Hickory Smoke BBQ Sauce 
  • Apple cider vinegar

You can use your favorite BBQ sauce in place of Kraft Hickory Smoke BBQ Sauce, but the smoke-flavoring and the sweetness really add to this recipe. Heinz Kansas City Style Sweet & Smoky BBQ Barbecue Sauce is a good alternative.  

To make the Apple Cider Vinegar BBQ Drizzle, you’ll need:

  • Kraft Hickory Smoke BBQ Sauce 
  • Apple cider vinegar 

To make the Black Bean Corn Salsa, you’ll need:

  • Black beans, canned 
  • Mexicorn 
  • White vinegar 
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt 
  • Sugar
  • Black pepper 
  • Cumin 
  • Chili powder 

A can of Mexicorn is a mixture of corn and green and red peppers. If you prefer, you can use all corn or spice things up with a spicy Southwest-style canned corn

To assemble the salad, you’ll also need:

  • Grilled chicken breast, sliced very thin
  • Romaine lettuce
  • French’s Original Crispy Fried Onions – or you can use some store brand french fried onions

Cook the grilled chicken according to your favorite recipe, or buy precooked grilled chicken strips at the store. 

French’s Original Crispy Fried Onions is a classic, but you may want to try French’s Crispy Jalapenos for a real spicy kick.

Panera BBQ chicken salad ingredients on a baking sheet.

How to Make Panera BBQ Chicken Salad

There are a lot of steps to making this recipe, but all of them are super easy. If you can open a can and stir, you can do this.

To make the Ranch-BBQ Salad Dressing:

  1. Mix ranch dressing and bbq sauce together.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.
Panera barbecue ranch dressing ingredients in a bowl.

To make the BBQ Drizzle:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the BBQ sauce and apple cider vinegar.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and stick it in the refrigerator. 

To make the Black Bean Corn Salsa:

  1. Combine the vinegar and vegetable oil in a small bowl.
  2. Stir in the salt, sugar, black pepper, chili powder, and ground cumin. 
  3. In a separate, large mixing bowl, combine the well-drained black beans and Mexicorn.
  4. Add the vinegar mixture to the black bean mixture and mix well to coat. 
  5. Cover the bowl of Black Bean Corn Salsa with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge. 
Panera black bean corn salsa ingredients in a bowl.

To assemble the salad:

  1. Cut the romaine lettuce into large pieces. Wash and dry.
  2. Place a good amount of lettuce on each plate.
  3. Top the romaine with a few tablespoons of the Black Bean Corn Salsa and five or six slices of grilled chicken. 
  4. Pour just a little of the Apple Cider Vinegar BBQ Drizzle over the top of the salad. 
  5. Serve the salad with some of the bbq ranch dressing.
copycat Panera BBQ chicken salad with barbecue ranch dressing.

How To Serve BBQ Chicken Salad 

Make an individual salad for each person on a wide, shallow bowl or large dinner plate. Place the Ranch-BBQ Salad Dressing and crispy fried onions on the table and let your guests add as much as they want. 

Make this salad your own!

You may want to try some of these toppings on this salad. I highly recommend the following:

  • Crispy tortilla strips
  • chopped fresh cilantro
  • A healthy squeeze of lime juice
  • Sliced red onions

What Goes With BBQ Chicken Salad 

The BBQ Chicken Salad Panera serves is a meal by itself, but a few buttermilk biscuits or traditional cornbread would make it even more filling. 

Make-Ahead Tips 

  • The Black Bean Corn Salsa will taste better after a day or two in the fridge. Give the salsa a good stir before serving.
  • Take the Panera Bread BBQ Chicken Salad ingredients out of the fridge for about five minutes before making the salad. The salad tastes better if the ingredients are not ice-cold. 
  • Don’t cut the romaine lettuce ahead of time.

How To Store Leftover BBQ Chicken Salad 

Keep each component of the salad in its individual container in the fridge.

The Black Bean Salsa, salad dressing, and BBQ Drizzle should last at least four or five days, but you should use the freshly grilled chicken within a day or two. Packaged grilled chicken strips will last longer. 

overhead view of copycat Panera BBQ chicken salad and a fork on a napkin.

More Panera Bread Copycat Recipes

Favorite Salad Recipes

Check out more of my easy salad recipes and the best Panera Bread recipes here on CopyKat!

overhead view of copycat Panera BBQ chicken salad and a fork on a napkin.

Panera BBQ Chicken Salad

You can make Panera Bread's BBQ chicken salad with barbecue ranch dressing at home with this easy copycat recipe.
5 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Panera BBQ Chicken Salad
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories: 650kcal


BBQ Ranch Salad Dressing

  • ½ cup store brand ranch salad dressing
  • ½ cup Heinz Hickory BBQ sauce

Apple Cider Vinegar BBQ Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup Heinz Hickory BBQ Sauce

Black Bean Corn Salsa

  • 1 16-ounce can black beans
  • 1 12-ounce can Mexicorn
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder


  • 3 cups romaine lettuce washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 6 ounces grilled chicken breast very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons French’s Original Crispy Fried Onions


BBQ Ranch Salad Dressing

  • Combine the ranch dressing, BBQ sauce, and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl. Stir well.
  • Cover and refrigerate as you make the remaining parts of the salad.

Apple Cider Vinegar BBQ Sauce

  • Combine the BBQ sauce and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl.
  • Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Black Bean Corn Salsa

  • Rinse the black beans in a colander, and then transfer the beans to a medium bowl.
  • Drain the corn and place it into the bowl (it is not necessary to rinse the corn).
  • In a separate small bowl, combine the vinegar, vegetable oil, salt, sugar, black pepper, cumin, and chili powder. Mix well.
  • Pour it over the black beans and corn. Stir to combine.
  • Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the salad.

Salad Assembly

  • Place the romaine lettuce in a serving bowl.
  • Sprinkle about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the corn black bean salsa over the lettuce.
  • Top with the grilled chicken.
  • Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar BBQ sauce over the salad
  • Sprinkle two tablespoons of French’s Original Crispy Fried Onions on top.
  • Serve with the BBQ ranch salad dressing.


Calories: 650kcal | Carbohydrates: 68g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 16g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 2740mg | Potassium: 890mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 52g | Vitamin A: 6667IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 3mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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