Once you've had Panera's Fuji Apple Salad, it will most definitely keep you coming back for more. So much so, that learning to make it at home could save you a pretty penny or two. Lucky for us, this salad is seriously easy to replicate, and you'll have no trouble at all throwing it together in your very own kitchen!
Today, in addition to an identical copycat recipe for Panera's Fuji Apple Salad, we'll also cover money-saving substitutions for the restaurant's lettuce mix, quick-fix options for the sliced chicken, the brand of apple chips Panera uses, and even how to make the salad in advance for a week's worth of lunches!
THE PANERA FUJI APPLE SALAD AT HOME
To save a little money and for convenience-sake, I started making the salad at home. I don't always have time in my day to drive out of my way to Panera, but I can always find time for this salad. And friends, I can happily report this is one easy salad to make at home.
Making the Fuji apple salad at home is seriously simple to do, and requires little prep, but before you can prep it, you'll need to know what goes in it. Let's get to it, shall we?
FUJI APPLE SALAD INGREDIENTS
The best salads are all about bringing different elements together and making them work together in one bowl. The ingredients for the Panera Fuji apple salad are as follows: thinly sliced chicken breasts, a mix of greens (we'll get back to that one), apple chips, tomato wedges, thinly sliced onion, blue cheese, pecans, and that Fuji apple dressing we all know and love.
THE LETTUCE MIX
Panera's got the lettuce mix on lock. It's full of flavor, and the perfect combination of bitter and sweet. They use mostly Romaine in the mix, and this adds both a sweetness and a refreshing crunch to the salad. Then, they throw in other greens like kale, arugula, and radicchio which adds a slightly bitter note to the mix. However, if you buy all three of those greens, you might be jumping up there in cost, so I suggest calling it a day and going with baby arugula.
For this salad, you'll want to slice chicken breasts as thinly as you possibly can so that it doesn't go stealing the show. I'm sure we are all aware, the apple chips and the dressing are the stars here. However, the chicken adds substance to the salad, and that protein will help you to stay full longer. Yes, please.
For this salad, I use my oven-baked chicken recipe. It's easy to make and turns out perfect every single time. However, if you're short on time, purchase a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and slice up the breasts, saving the dark meat for another meal. Some grocers are now selling cooked and shredded white meat chicken, and this would also be great in your salad.
In addition to the chicken, other savory items for the Panera Fuji apple salad include thinly sliced onion, which also adds a nice touch of spice, as well as the creamy, salty blue cheese. Again, something we don't want to leave out of the salad -- the blue cheese.
Blue cheese is great big flavor on its own, but when combined with other loud ingredients, it isn't quite so strong. Blue cheese and apples are a perfect salty-sweet combination, and if you were to leave out the blue cheese, you would surely miss it.
If you aren't a full-on blue cheese lover, try toning things down by using a Maytag or young Gorgonzola blue cheese.
As we discussed earlier, salads are all about bringing a combination of ingredients to the party and making them work together. To balance out all that savory, salty goodness, we're gonna need a little sweet. Crunchy pecans and bright tomatoes add a lovely sweetness to this salad, but no ingredient can truly compare to those addictively crunchy, addictively delicious Seneca apple chips.
THE APPLE CHIPS -- PANERA USES SENECA BRAND APPLE CHIPS
I am in no way affiliated with this brand, but if you are going to make the Fuji apple salad at home, you are going to want to use Seneca Apple Chips. I initially tried using an alternative brand, and to put it nicely...I was not amused. Seneca Apple Chips seem to maintain a bit more of that apple flavor and boast more tartness than alternative brands, and truly, I believe the success of the Panera Fuji apple salad has quite a bit to do with the quality and flavor of Seneca's apple chips.
Sadly, I don't have a retailer close by that sells them...so I order them from Amazon.com by the case. Told you this salad was addicting.
WHERE TO GET PANERA FUJI APPLE DRESSING
Let's face it: Panera's Fuji Apple Dressing is amazing, and they really did a knock-out job with it. I tried replicating it at home, and to tell you the truth, I most definitely did not knock it out of the park. I had every intention of trying again, this time with frozen apple juice concentrate rather than concentrated apple juice by the bottle, but then I saw it: A bottle of Panera Fuji Apple Vinaigrette Dressing sitting there next to the produce section at Target. I grabbed two bottles and that was that. Mission accomplished.
FEED A CROWD + MAKE-AHEAD LUNCHES
There are so many reasons to love this salad, and I could list them again, ingredient-by-ingredient, but instead, I'll save you the redundancy and leave you with this: This is a seriously easy salad to make at home. If you aren't using this recipe for entertaining purposes (which I highly recommend you do -- your people will totally love you for it), this salad recipe will make enough to feed you at least four lunches or dinners.
Prep your ingredients and store them in separate containers in the refrigerator so the ingredient's flavors don't absorb into one another. Then, assemble the salad fresh each day. It's a simple matter of taking a pinch (or handful) from each container, throwing it in a bowl, and tossing it up with some store-bought dressing. Which, when you think about it, is far more convenient and much more cost-effective than going out of your way to hit up a Panera drive-thru. Win for us.
MORE RESTAURANT-STYLE SALADS YOU'LL LOVE
And, if you love salads for lunch or entertain often, I think you're probably going to want to check out these other amazing Anthony Kitchen salads :
- Fajita Salad
- Southwest Chicken Salad
- Fried Green Tomato Salad
- Apple, Bacon and Blue Cheese Salad
- Pear Salad with Goat Cheese
- Watermelon Salad with Feta
- Chicken Caesar Salad
- Healthy Taco Salad
I think you'll find the salads above as addictively delicious as our beloved Panera Fuji apple salad. All of which are just as easy to throw together and positively beautiful for entertaining. Please, enjoy!
An easy homemade version of Panera's Fuji Apple Salad with sliced chicken, dried apple chips, blue cheese and more!
- 4 cups chopped Romaine lettuce washed and dried
- 3 cups thinly sliced, cooked chicken breasts
- 2 cups baby arugula washed and dried
- 2-3 cups Seneca dried apple chips
- 4 vine-ripened tomatoes (on the smaller side), sided and cut into 6 wedges
- ½ red onion thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup crumbled blue cheese Maytag or Gorgonzola
- ⅓ cup pecan halves (chopped if you'd like)
- Panera Fuji Apple Vinaigrette Dressing
Combine Romaine, arugula, apple chips, sliced chicken breasts, tomato wedges, sliced red onion, blue cheese crumbles, and pecan halves in a large mixing bowl.
Drizzle with the desired amount of vinaigrette dressing and gently toss to combine. Serve and enjoy.