Panera Bread has over 2,000 bakery-cafe restaurants across the United States, and there’s no end in sight for this iconic brand.
Part of the appeal of Panera is that it is a fast-casual chain serving food that’s actually good for you. The growth of Panera was a game-changer because we all used to think that fast had to mean unhealthy.
Panera serves a range of menu items, including sandwiches, soups, warm bowls, baked goods, and even pizzas. But salad is one of my favorite things to order at Panera because they are not dull or bare but exciting and super tasty!
Their salads are packed with colorful ingredients and loads of flavor, so you can’t go wrong with them. And they’re certainly healthier than the burgers and fries you’ll find at other fast-casual chains.
Best Panera Salads
In this article, I’ll be discussing the best Panera salads so that you know what to order the next time you visit this restaurant.
Green Goddess Cobb Salad With Chicken
The Green Goddess Cobb Salad with Chicken is one of the best Panera salads because of its classic mix of hearty ingredients.
You’ll get antibiotic-free chicken mixed with kale, arugula, red leaves, red onions, and grape tomatoes for an ultra-healthy green and red base.
But the best elements of this salad are the more flavorful (and fattier) toppings of Applewood-smoked bacon and fresh avocados.
Of course, you can’t have a Cobb salad with hard-boiled eggs, and it’s nice to feel assured that the ones in this salad are cage-free.
Caesar Salad With Chicken
Panera’s Caesar Salad with Chicken is a classic combination of romaine, chicken, parmesan, and Caesar dressing we are all familiar with.
But perhaps what makes this salad stand out among other caesar salads – besides the antibiotic-free chicken – is the homemade black pepper focaccia croutons.
I usually don’t care too much for croutons in a salad because they just feel like an unnecessary filler. But in Panera’s caesar salad, they’re the main character!
They are crunchy, tasty, and add a highly flavorful element that keeps me from adding too much caesar dressing.
BBQ Chicken Salad
Finding a good BBQ chicken salad isn’t as easy as finding a good Cobb or Caesar, but Panera gets the job done with their delicious BBQ Chicken Salad.
On a bed of fresh romaine lettuce, you’ll find corn salsa and black beans that add a little sweetness and texture to the salad. Then, the onions add a nice sharp flavor, while the chicken gives it that hearty, filling factor.
But the best part of this salad is, unsurprisingly, the tangy, zesty BBQ sauce made with apple cider vinegar. It’ll transport you to your favorite southern BBQ spot while allowing you to stick to your diet.
This is the perfect salad for lunch if you want something safe but not too basic.
Asian Sesame Salad With Chicken
If you’re looking for a more nutty flavor, go with the Asian Sesame Salad with Chicken.
This healthy dish includes heart-friendly ingredients like toasted almonds and sesame seeds.
With that, you’ll get some Asian-inspired flavor with the help of cilantro, wonton strips, and a delectable Asian sesame vinaigrette that will have you licking your fork.
The best part is, as with all of Panera’s salads, you can get this one with antibiotic-free chicken – and a free French baguette!
Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad With Chicken
The BBQ Chicken salad isn’t the only one at Panera with a tasty mixture of black beans and corn.
The Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad with Chicken is a fan-favorite due to its bean and corn salsa as well as other flavorful ingredients like fresh cilantro, feta, and avocado.
Plus, instead of cheddar or pepper jack, as you might expect, Panera includes feta cheese on this salad for an unexpected but highly-welcomed twist!
I love that they put these Southwest-inspired ingredients on a bed of arugula because it gives the salad a nice peppery flavor. And, of course, the Chili-lime Roja Ranch Dressing ties everything together for a creamy, exceptional finish.
The Greek Salad is one of the healthiest and lightest options at Panera, with the feta cheese, black olives, and Greek dressing being the main heavier ingredients.
This salad is true to its name, including a Greek-inspired combination of grape tomatoes, red onions, black olives, and feta cheese.
It would be more authentically “Greek” if there were green bell peppers instead of lettuce, but I appreciate the bed of romaine and how it ties all of these robust flavors together.
Additionally, I can dismiss the lack of bell pepper due to the inclusion of pepperonici, a tasty golden Greek pepper similar in taste to banana peppers.
Fuji Apple Salad With Chicken
Panera’s Fuji Apple Salad with Chicken doesn’t just come with any old apples. As its name implies, it specifically includes Fuji apples, a popular type of apple known for its sweet flavor and enjoyable texture.
The apples are not fresh but in chip form, which I don’t mind. The apple chips add a particular crunch to the salad without adding too much moisture you might get from a regular apple-based salad.
In any case, the real star of the show in this salad is the Gorgonzola cheese. There’s just something about this cheese blended with the apple flavor that is to die for!
Red onions, pecans, and grape tomatoes add both a dynamic flavor and a complex texture.
Finally, I appreciate how the white balsamic apple vinaigrette adds additional apple flavor to the mix if the chips aren’t cutting it.
Strawberry Poppyseed Salad With Chicken
If the apple salad sounds sad to you because you’d prefer natural fruit in your salad, you’re in luck.
Panera’s Strawberry Poppyseed Salad with Chicken includes real strawberries, fresh blueberries, citrusy mandarin oranges, and tangy pineapple for a sweet, fruity, and colorful addition to your green bowl.
All of this fruit lies on a bed of Romaine lettuce. I greatly appreciate the addition of pecans for a crunchy texture and poppyseed dressing to meld the fruity and nutty flavors together.
This is a great meal for those hot summer days where you want something light and refreshing.
Panera Citrus Asian Crunch Salad With Chicken
If you’re looking for an Asian-inspired salad, but sesame seeds and wonton strips aren’t your favorites, you might opt for the more intensely flavored Citrus Asian Crunch Salad with Chicken.
The carrots, edamame, and pickled red onions provide a fresh take on salad toppings. At the same time, teriyaki sauce adds a touch of sweetness, and the tangerine soy-ginger dressing finishes the salad with a memorable kick.
Instead of the chicken breast used in other Panera salads, this one comes with seared chicken thigh, which is a nice touch. Chicken breast might not have enough flavor to compete with these other strong ingredients.
Plus, I love that this salad is not on a bed of standard greens but a potent mixture of all of my favorites in what they call a “Power Vegetable Blend.”
Best Panera Salads
- Green Goddess Cobb Salad with Chicken
- Caesar Salad With Chicken
- BBQ Chicken Salad
- Asian Sesame Salad with Chicken
- Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad with Chicken
- Greek Salad
- Fuji Apple Salad with Chicken
- Strawberry Poppyseed Salad with Chicken
- Panera Citrus Asian Crunch Salad with Chicken
Just because you want your food to be relatively quick and convenient doesn’t mean it has to be unhealthy!
These powerhouse salads from Panera will fill you up and give you all the energy you need for the day without making you feel bloated or exhausted like other fast food menu items.
The best Panera salads have a unique combination of ingredients in terms of flavors, textures, and dressings.
Which of these Panera salads will you try next?
Want to go for the classic soup and salad combo? Check out our favorite Panera soups to complete your meal!
You can make your favorite Panera salads and more with recreated Panera Bread recipes!
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