Healthier Fried Chicken Salad with Buttermilk-Basil Dressing

Is Fried Chicken Salad Healthy?

This Fried Chicken Salad is much healthier than similar versions from a restaurant.  I always like to compare apples to apples and I did find a couple of fried chicken salads with a mayonnaise based dressing.  Many restaurants will serve this type of salad with a mustard based dressing, which is less fat than mayonnaise based.  That being said, our homemade version is less than half the fat and sodium of the restaurants.  It is also important to choose chicken strips that are high quality with minimal breading.  Look for brands that are the lowest in sodium.  

Healthier Fried Chicken Salad with Buttermilk-Basil Dressing
Recipe Highlights
  • Low Carb
  • Ready in 30 minutes or less
  • Make Ahead Meal
Make Ahead Options

Makes a great Grab-N-Go option.  I like to make salads in advance, so lunchtime is a no brainer.  Prepare the dressing as directed in recipe and divide into four servings (3-ounce condiment cups with lids work perfectly).  Divide salad greens, cooled chicken, and cheese between four 32-ounce storage containers.  Place one dressing container inside salad container.  Seal and label.  Refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Ingredients for Fried Chicken Salad with Buttermilk-Basil Dressing

  • Fresh Basil – The recipe calls for 1 cup, but I have used as little as 1/2-cup and it works just fine.  Just use what you have as long as it is fresh.  Dried basil is not as good and the texture of the dressing will be different.
  • Mayonnaise – I use regular because it tastes better and has less Sodium.  You can use reduced fat mayonnaise which will slightly increase the Sodium.  In the recipe, I used Sir Kensington’s Organic Mayonnaise.
  • Low Fat Buttermilk – You only need 1/3-cup so think about other recipes that need buttermilk.
  • Garlic – I used the jarred garlic since it’s getting processed into the dressing.
  • Granulated Sugar – a little sugar added to a dressing helps make other flavors pop.
  • Onion Powder an Kosher Salt
  • Mixed Salad Greens – Any combination of salad greens will work.  A Spring Mix usually contains 3 or 4 lettuce, spinach, collard greens, radicchio, and more.  My family likes spinach, so I usually get the Half Spinach Half Mixed Greens blend.
  • Frozen Crispy Chicken Tenders – Look for all white meat chicken tenders with not a ton of breading.  Choose the lowest Sodium, highest quality Brand.  Foster Farms Crispy Chicken Strips is what I used in the recipe, but I can’t always find these.  Tyson has a new “Air Fried” Chicken strips that I haven’t tried yet, but the Saturated Fat is a little less than Foster Farms.
  • Reduced Fat Shredded Cheddar Cheese – This is more of a garnish and you can use mild, sharp, extra sharp, or any combination you like.

The SMART Menu

What’s a SMART Menu?  I call them smart because the Sodium and Fat (specifically Saturated Fat) are lower than most meals.  Fast Carbs (FC) and Slow Carbs (SC) are balanced to keep blood sugars level.  Plus, the Food Groups give the meal variety.

Side Swaps:

Swap the Flatbread Crackers for

  • 8 Wheat Thins crackers (Starch)
  • 5 unsalted Saltine crackers (Starch)
  • 1 container of Non Fat Greek Yogurt (Dairy)
Menu - Fried Chicken Salad with Buttermilk-Basil Dressing + 6 Flatbread crackers
Fried Chicken Salad with Buttermilk Basil Dressing.

Healthier Fried Chicken Salad with Buttermilk-Basil Dressing

Tonia Bloom
Crispy fried chicken strips with a creamy buttermilk-basil dressing is a summertime favorite.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Lunch, Main Dish
Diet Blue, Low Carb
Servings 4
Cost $2.81 per serving


  • 1 cup Fresh Basil chopped
  • ½ cup Mayonnaise
  • cup Low Fat Buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic chopped
  • ½ teaspoon Granulated Sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Onion Powder
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 8 cups Mixed Salad Greens
  • 8 ounces Frozen Fried Chicken Strips
  • 1 ounce Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese shredded


Cook the Fried Chicken:

  • Cook chicken tenders per package directions (oven method works best). Cut cooled chicken into 1½-inch pieces.

Make the Dressing:

  • Place basil, mayonnaise, buttermilk, garlic, sugar, onion powder, and salt in a food processor. Process 15-30 seconds, or until dressing is smooth.

Assemble the Salad:

  • Evenly divide the salad greens between 4 bowls. Top with fried chicken and cheese. Drizzle with dressing (one serving is about ¼-cup).
Nutrition Facts
Healthier Fried Chicken Salad with Buttermilk-Basil Dressing
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Carb Count
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Keyword Chicken Recipes, Heart Healthy, Quick Dishes, Salad Dressing, Salads - Main
Food Groups ***Meat = 2 servings, Starch = .5 serving, Vegetable = 1 serving, Fat = 1.5 servings
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Posted by Tonia Bloom

Posted 5/30/2023

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