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Applebee's Apple Walnut Chicken Salad Copycat Recipe
Applebee's Apple Walnut Chicken Salad
By Todd Wilbur

Recipe Type: Salad
Calories: 440
Cook Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Recipe Rating: 5.0 (7 reviews)
Menu Description: "A masterwork of flavors. Grilled, marinated chicken breast crowns this fresh mix of delectable greens, crisp apples, rich crumbled bleu cheese and sweet candied walnuts. Tossed in our tangy balsamic vinaigrette."

Sometimes I feel like a C.S.I. To re-create this salad I ordered several to-go and then sat down with a magnifying glass and carefully picked out each of the bits and pieces and separated them into smaller bowls. Sure this was tedious work, but it made it easy to measure out each ingredient for the most accurate clone recipe. Next, I cooked a ton of chicken, each with different versions of the marinade, until I found the one that worked. The smoky marinade for the chicken here is basically a brine that adds just the right amount of saltiness and flavor through osmosis, so be sure not to let the chicken soak longer than specified. Of course, the lead performer in any salad is the dressing, since it is responsible for much of what you taste. The tangy balsamic vinaigrette is delicious with honey, Dijon mustard, garlic, and tarragon in there. You can make an easy emulsion out of it with a hand mixer. The best part is that you'll end up with leftover vinaigrette that you can use to make a couple more meal-size salads, and then some. Case closed.

Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

Chicken Marinade
3 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon liquid hickory smoke

2 chicken breasts, pounded flat (1/2-inch thick)

Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
Pinch ground black pepper
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Candied Walnuts 
1 teaspoon peanut oil
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
2 cups chopped red leaf lettuce
2 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
1 apple, chopped into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese

1. Prepare chicken marinade by combining water, salt, garlic powder and liquid smoke in a medium bowl. Mix until salt dissolves. Flatten two chicken breasts with a kitchen mallet to 1/2-inch thick. Drop chicken in marinade, cover and chill for 3 hours. When chicken is done marinating, blot each breast dry, rub with oil, and grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side on high until done. Lightly pepper each breast while grilling.

2. Make the balsamic vinaigrette by combining all ingredients, except olive oil, in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until sugar is dissolved. Pour the oil in a thin stream into the bowl while mixing. Continue mixing for several seconds until the dressing thickens. Cover and chill.

3. Make the candied walnuts by combining peanut oil, honey, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium skillet over medium heat in the order listed. When mixture begins to bubble, add chopped walnuts and stir constantly until sugar begins to smoke and/or caramelize. Immediately turn off heat and keep stirring the nuts so that they do not burn. After a minute of stirring (off the heat), pour the nuts out onto a plate. When nuts cool, break them apart if they have stuck together.

4. Build each salad by tossing 2 cups romaine lettuce, 1 cup red leaf lettuce, and 1 cup iceberg lettuce with half of the chopped apple and 3 to 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette. Arrange greens on a plate and sprinkle on 2 tablespoons of crumbled bleu cheese followed by about 3 tablespoons of candied walnuts. Slice each chicken breast into thin strips and lay the chicken on top of the salad and serve.

: You can save time by using precooked grilled chicken breast strips that are available in the deli section of your supermarket. Foster Farms is one leading brand.

Makes 2 salads.

Submitted on: 08/17/13
Superlicious salad recipe.very time consuming though.
Lisa Ashby  
Submitted on: 02/09/10
This is a perfect match!!! I am so happy with it!
Submitted on: 08/28/07
I made this salad tonight, it is excellent. I used feta cheese instead of the bleu cheese. Easy to make. Will make this salad more often.
Submitted on: 06/19/07
I just purchased this recipe and made it tonight...what a fabulous salad and tastes just like the Applebees version. Great summer salad I will be using for many years to come!
Submitted on: 11/15/06
The balsamic Vinaigrette is a keeper, great flavor. The candied walnuts are easy to make as long as you follow the directions. Chicken is great. I have added mandarin oranges, avocado, cherry tomatoes and sliced red onions, tossed then sprinkled with parmesan, sometimes leaving out the chicken for a side salad. The best.
ChezGery,Chef in Medford Oegon  
Submitted on: 10/10/06
An excellent salad! I've had a variation of this salad that uses "pears" rather than apples:pecans at times rather than walnuts. We have used a reduction of apple cider(2 cups reduced to 1/2) then added to the Balsamic Vinaigrette. Also, kicking it up a notch we added a pinch of red pepper flakes,crumbled, to the Candied nut pieces. TSP recipe is fantastic! You will get raves with this clone!!!
Submitted on: 10/10/06
This is the BEST salad!