Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Salad

$4.84 recipe / $1.61 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.88 from 24 votes
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I was lucky enough to get a bunch of fresh broccoli last week, so I wanted to share this super simple salad that I made with it, along with some ideas for variations to use some other things that you might have on hand. There are several ways you can eat this Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Salad, so make sure to scroll down to the “How to Serve” section to see how I ate mine! I seriously gobbled this stuff up in record time, and was immediately wanting more, so I know this is going to be a new regular for me!

Overhead view of a large white bowl full of broccoli cheddar chicken salad with a fork

What Kind of “Cooked Chicken” Should I use?

This recipe is pretty flexible and can use just about any type of precooked chicken like rotisserie chicken, grilled chicken, or canned chicken breast. If you have raw chicken breast on hand, simply season your chicken with a pinch of salt and cook in a skillet with a touch of oil until the chicken is browned on the outside and cooked through (internal temperature of 165ºF). Let the chicken cool before chopping and adding to the salad.

Can I Use Frozen Broccoli?

This recipe works best with fresh broccoli. Frozen broccoli florets will probably be too wet and soft to achieve the proper texture in this salad.

What Else Can I Add to This Salad?

I kept this salad pretty simple because I’m working with what I have during this lock down, but if you have some of these other ingredients on hand they would be awesome in this Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Salad:

  • Cooked bacon or bacon bits
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Finely diced red onion in place of the green onion
  • Shredded Parmesan in place of the cheddar for more of a Caesar salad vibe
  • Diced hard boiled egg
  • Small shaped cooked pasta like mini shells or orecchiette

When adding additional ingredients, you may need to increase the amount of dressing used to make sure everything is covered.

How to Serve Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Salad

Okay, here’s where it gets fun. I could barely stop forking it into my mouth right out of the bowl, but I also ate it a couple other ways. It’s really good rolled into a tortilla (or pita) as a wrap sandwich, especially with the tomato flavored wraps that I happened to get from Aldi. That tangy flavor was the perfect juxtaposition for the salad. The next day I also made it into a quesadilla by stuffing it inside a regular tortilla and toasting it in a skillet until the inside got warm and the cheese melted. That was so insanely good that I immediately made a second one after I finished the first! And of course you could mix this with some cooked and cooled pasta for a really good pasta salad, as mentioned above.

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Salad in a wrap sandwich, open and facing the camera close up

Love hearty salads? Check out my round up of 19 Refrigerator Salads for Eating Healthy on the Go!

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Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Salad

4.88 from 24 votes
This chunky chopped Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Salad is a great fresh salad that can be eaten on its own or turned into several different easy lunch ideas!
Close up side view of a bowl of Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Salad
Servings 3 about 1 cup each
Prep 15 mins
Cook 0 mins
Total 15 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh broccoli (about 2 cups chopped) ($1.89)
  • 1 cup chopped cooked chicken* ($1.16)
  • 2 oz. cheddar, shredded (about ½ cup) ($1.00)
  • 2 green onions, sliced ($0.25)
  • 1/3 cup ranch dressing ($0.49)
  • freshly cracked pepper to taste ($0.05)

Instructions 

  • Finely chop the broccoli. It's important that the broccoli pieces be very small. Chop the chicken into small pieces as well.
  • Add the broccoli, chopped chicken, shredded cheddar, sliced green onions, and ranch dressing to a large bowl. Stir well until everything is evenly coated in dressing. Add freshly cracked pepper to your liking.
  • Serve as is, stuff into a tortilla or pita for a sandwich, or stuff into a tortilla and toast in a skillet until the inside is melted for a quesadilla. Keep any remaining salad refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.

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Notes

*Use any type of pre-cooked chicken, like rotisserie chicken, grilled chicken, or canned chicken breast.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 360.63kcalCarbohydrates: 13.1gProtein: 30.4gFat: 22.23gSodium: 610.43mgFiber: 4.17g
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Close up side view of a bowl of Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Salad

How to Make Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Salad – Step by Step Photos

Chopped broccoli on a cutting board

Finely chop one pound of fresh broccoli. It’s really important that the broccoli be in tiny pieces, so once you think you’ve chopped it enough, just go ahead and chop it a little more. ;)

Chopped chicken on a cutting board

You’ll also need about 1 cup chopped cooked chicken. This can be any type of cooked chicken, like rotisserie chicken, grilled chicken, canned chicken breast, or a piece of chicken that you just cook up in a skillet real quick (that’s what I did). Just make sure you let your chicken cool a bit before adding it to the salad. Again, you want the pieces to be pretty small.

Shredded cheddar and sliced green onion on a cutting board

You also need two ounces shredded cheddar (about ½ cup) and two sliced green onions.

Ranch dressing being drizzled over the salad ingredients in the bowl

Add the chopped broccoli, chopped chicken, shredded cheddar, and sliced green onions to a large bowl, then add ⅓ cup ranch dressing.

Ranch dressing bottle from Aldi

I used this ranch dressing that I got from Aldi. Another brand that I really like is Ken’s Steakhouse buttermilk ranch. Or you can make your own ranch dressing using my Homemade Ranch Dressing recipe!

Finished broccoli cheddar chicken salad in the bowl with a spatula

Stir until everything is coated really well with the ranch dressing. I also added some freshly cracked black pepper just for an extra kick!

Close up side view of a bowl of broccoli cheddar chicken salad with freshly cracked pepper on top

So good as is, or made into a wrap sandwich, quesadilla, or even a pasta salad!

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  1. As salad, I didn’t care for it, but as a wrap / burrito filling, it’s amazing!

  2. I made this with Bolthouse farms yogurt ranch and it was so good in a wrap. I will definitely make it again!

  3. This salad is phenomenal – definitely a regular in our house! I’ve made it with chicken and it’s great, but wanted a vegetarian option so recently subbed a can of chickpeas for protein and added a handful of chow mein noodles for crunch, and it’s AMAZING. So easy and quick to prep, too! 

  4. I love that so many Budget Bytes recipes use such simple ingredients. I thought I had “nothing to eat” for dinner, but a little digging in the fridge revealed that I had everything I needed for this recipe! I used red onion instead of green, and I also threw in some pepitas for some extra crunch. I ate it cold right from the bowl and it was delicious!

    Even though recipes like this are extremely simple, they’re really helpful for people like me who don’t have a “kitchen intuition” yet. Many other blogs are too complicated for me. Without this recipe, I probably would have eaten plain chicken for dinner, forgotten about the broccoli in the fridge drawer, and thrown out the last bit of onion… As I’ve done many times before. So, thank you for making tasty recipes for “real life”!!

  5. do you think it would be just as good if i used firm tofu instead of chicken? as a vegetarian option

    1. Unfortunately, I don’t think tofu would be a good option for this salad, but chickpeas would probably be great!

  6. Could you use leftover roasted broccoli?  I have a bunch and it’s lightly roasted so not mushy, would it hold up?

    1. I definitely think raw works best for this, but I think whether or not it would be good with roasted broccoli just comes down to personal preference.

  7. I made this and used it for a quesadilla filling and it was so delicious, far better then I was expecting. Kids liked it too.  Great way to use up some leftover chicken and broccoli that I had on hand. 

  8. Uhhhhh……WHY IS THIS SO GOOD?! I can’t understand it. It’s so few ingredients, such simple and fast preparation….and it tastes amazing! Beth, you’ve done it again! I love it when you come up with these super simple recipes that tick all the boxes – healthy, easy, and hold up as leftovers so I can batch cook and eat on it all week. This might be my favorite recipe of yours, I’m so happy I found it.

    1. Haha, I always ask myself the same question!! I’m glad you appreciate these simple “recipes.” as much as I do. Sometimes I hesitate to post them because they don’t feel like real recipes! :P

  9. Great weekday lunch – I didn’t have ranch on hand so I made a quick red wine vinaigrette. Followed the rest of the recipe as-is; I used the frozen Tyson chicken strips and chopped them up into smaller pieces. Loved it!

  10. I first time visiting your website but really your recipes r amazing keep it up

  11. Really good! I made it twice, the first time totally following the recipe. The second time, I used cooked shrimp instead of chicken, added some left over bow tie pasta and used YOUR Creamy Avocado Dressing instead of just ranch. Oh yeah, babeee. Thank you so much for the recipe.