Who says a salad can’t be fun and delicious? This Pittsburgh Chicken Salad is a take on a regional classic and has all the goods.
Enjoy the combination of chili-rubbed chicken, crispy fries, and creamy ranch dressing! This salad is a party in your mouth with a slightly healthier twist that will ensure no regrets.
💚 Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Easy to Make: With only a few steps involved, this Pittsburgh Salad recipe can be made quickly and easily, making it a great option for a complete meal any night of the week.
- Flavorful: The cajun rub on the chicken and the addition of sliced cucumbers, grape tomatoes, cheese, and ranch dressing provide a range of flavors and textures to the dish.
- Satisfying: With the addition of chicken, veggies, and french fries, this salad is a filling meal that leaves you satisfied.
- Customizable: If you have personal preferences or dietary restrictions, you can easily customize this recipe by swapping out ingredients or adjusting the seasoning to your liking.
- Balanced meal: This recipe includes a variety of vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates, making it a well-rounded and balanced meal option.
🧂 Ingredients Needed
- Chicken Cutlets: Chicken cutlets are thin, boneless pieces of chicken that have been pounded or sliced to an even thickness. Chicken cutlets cook quickly and are leaner than other cuts of chicken, making them a healthier choice. If you can't find chicken cutlets in the grocery store, buy chicken breasts and slice them in half lengthwise to make cutlets.
- Cajun Rub: The cajun rub is used to season the chicken cutlets and adds a blend of spices and herbs that give the chicken a distinctive and flavorful taste. Use your favorite store bought cajun rub or make your own.
- French Fries: French fries are added to the salad to provide a crispy and crunchy texture. Frozen fries work great here.
- Lettuce Mix: The lettuce mix serves as the base of the salad and provides a variety of leafy greens that are high in nutrients and low in calories. I used a mixture of romaine lettuce and iceberg lettuce with a little bit of kale for added health benefits.
- Cucumber: The sliced cucumber adds a refreshing crunch to the salad and provides a source of vitamins and minerals.
- Grape Tomatoes: The grape tomatoes add a burst of sweetness and juiciness to the salad, as well as providing a source of vitamins and antioxidants.
- Red Onions: Red onions are sweeter and milder making them perfect to enjoy in a salad.
- Shredded Cheese: Shredded cheese adds a rich and creamy flavor to the salad. Shred your favorite cheddar cheese or use a prepared shredded cheese mix.
- Ranch Dressing: I prefer a homemade ranch dressing on this salad as it adds a tangy and creamy flavor to the dish, but feel free to use your favorite dressing. Don't be afraid to experiment with different dressings to change up the flavors!
- Rub chicken cutlets with oil and Cajun seasoning, then air fry at 400 degrees F for 4 minutes on each side.
- Season french fries with salt and pepper if desired, then air fry at 400 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. Give the air fryer basket a shake once or twice while cooking.
- Evenly divide lettuce between bowls.
- Add cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions to salad bowls and sprinkle with cheese.
- Slice each chicken cutlet into strips and add to the top of each salad, then follow with hot fries.
- Drizzle with ranch dressing or any dressing of choice.
This famous regional dish is a type of salad that originated in western Pennsylvania. Basically it is a house salad with chicken and topped off with crispy french fries! The fries make a delicious addition instead of traditional croutons.
The addition of fries to the Pittsburgh salad is a tasty twist that's said to be a nod to Pittsburgh's love of french fries, which are commonly served sandwiches and as a side dish with meals in the city of Pittsburgh.
Yes, you can make a vegetarian or vegan version of Pittsburgh Chicken Salad by replacing the chicken with plant-based alternatives like tofu, tempeh, or seitan. Additionally, you can use vegan mayonnaise or yogurt-based dressings instead of traditional mayonnaise and choose vegan cheese or omit it altogether.
Absolutely! If you prefer homemade french fries, you can peel and cut potatoes into strips, season them to your liking, and bake or fry them until crispy. This is the best way to have control over the flavor and texture of the fries.
Yes, you can certainly use a different dressing of your choice. Some popular alternatives to ranch dressing for Pittsburgh Chicken Salad include balsamic vinaigrette, honey mustard, Caesar dressing, or even a tangy French dressing. Choose a dressing that complements the flavors in the salad and suits your taste preferences.
Absolutely! Grilled chicken would be an excellent choice to replace the air fried chicken. A rotisserie chicken, cast iron skillet chicken, or baked chicken will also go well on this salad.
💭 Expert Tips and Tricks
- Chicken breasts can be cut in half to make chicken cutlets if you're not able to find them in the store.
- Ore Ida Zesty Straight Fries are a great option if you don't want to worry about seasoning your fries!
- Slice your onions super thin for the best results.
- You can prepare the chicken and fries in the oven if you don't have an air fryer or prefer to bake them.
📌 French fries on a salad is an unexpected twist that makes having this Pittsburgh salad for dinner a lot more fun! The fries add a crunchy texture and they're much tastier than plain croutons.
💡 Substitutions and Variations
- Use sliced steak instead of chicken breast to make a Pittsburgh Steak Salad.
- Add a hard-boiled egg for added flavor and protein.
- Use waffle fries or another kind of fries if you like.
- Instead of using Cajun rub, try using a different spice blend or marinade to season the chicken. You could use lemon pepper seasoning, garlic and herb marinade, or even a spicy chipotle rub.
- You can customize the salad by adding additional vegetables like sliced green peppers, shredded carrots, or chopped broccoli. This will add more color, flavor, and texture to the dish.
- Instead of using a standard bag of mixed greens, try using a different type of lettuce like arugula, spinach, or kale. This will add more nutrients and different flavors to the salad.
- If you don't like shredded cheese, try using crumbled feta or blue cheese instead. This will add a tangy and salty flavor to the salad.
- Instead of using ranch dressing, try using a balsamic vinaigrette, honey mustard dressing, or a homemade avocado salad dressing. This will add different flavors and textures to the salad.
- If you like heat, add sliced jalapenos or red pepper flakes to the salad. This will add a spicy kick to the dish.
- To add some crunch, try adding sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, or chopped walnuts to the salad. This will also add some healthy fats and protein to the dish.
🥫 Storage and Reheating
I recommend eating this salad right away if possible. If you do need to store leftovers, separate the chicken and fries from the other ingredients and store in an airtight container.
When it comes time to eat your Pittsburgh salad leftovers, reheat your chicken and fries in the oven or air fryer and re-assemble the dish.
🍴 What To Serve With This Dish
While this salad is a full and round meal in and of itself, here are a few options for additional sides you could pair for a true feast! Serve with Roasted Red Pepper Soup for a classic soup and salad combo, add a Cornbread Casserole on the side, or pair your salad with Air Fryer Corn Ribs or Stovetop Mac and Cheese.
✔️ More Salad Recipes You'll Love
- Avocado Mango Salad - This filling and refreshing salad has the perfect blend of hearty and sweet flavors for an excellent summer meal.
- Buffalo Chicken Cobb Salad - Fans of buffalo chicken will love this super healthy and tasty salad!
- Easy Halloumi Salad - This distinctly Mediterranean salad is a great option for a sophisticated appetizer or side dish.
- Orzo Arugula Salad - This recipe from Cocktails and Appetizers features crisp arugula and delicious orzo!
Pittsburgh Salad Recipe
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📋 Recipe Card
Pittsburgh Chicken Salad
- 2 chicken cutlets
- 1 tablespoon blackening seasoning (aka cajun seasoning)
- 2 servings frozen French fries (seasoned or unseasoned)
- 6 cups lettuce mix
- ½ cup sliced cucumber
- ½ cup sliced grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
- ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
- 2 tablespoon shredded cheese (or more to taste)
- ranch dressing
For the Chicken
- Rub chicken cutlets with blackening seasoning and spray with olive oil on both sides.2 chicken cutlets, 1 tablespoon blackening seasoning
- Oil air fryer basket lightly. Air fry chicken at 400 degrees F for 4 minutes on each side or until internal temp is 150 degrees in the thickest part of chicken. Air fryer cooking times will vary.
For the French Fries
- If the French fries are unseasoned, sprinkle them with salt and pepper to your liking.2 servings frozen French fries
- Oil air fryer basket lightly. Air fry the French fries at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until crispy to your liking, shaking the basket twice during cooking. Air fryer cooking times will vary.
Assemble the Salad
- Divide lettuce mix evenly between two salad bowls, then divide the cucumber, tomatoes, and sliced onions evenly between the two serving bowls.6 cups lettuce mix, ½ cup sliced cucumber, ½ cup sliced grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
- Sprinkle each salad with shredded cheese.2 tablespoon shredded cheese (or more to taste)
- Slice each chicken cutlet and place on top of each salad, then distribute the French fries as well.
- Serve with a drizzle of homemade ranch dressing or dressing of your choice.ranch dressing
- If you can't find chicken cutlets in the grocery store, buy chicken breasts and slice them in half lengthwise to make cutlets.
- Use your favorite store bought blackening seasoning, cajun rub, or make your own (here's a recipe for blackening seasoning.)
- Instead of the air fryer, the chicken and fries can also be baked in the oven. Or use leftovers and heat them up prior to adding them to the salad.
- I recommend Ore Ida Zesty Straight Fries.
- I used a mixture of romaine and iceberg lettuce with a little bit of kale for added nutrition.
- I recommend using a hothouse cucumber (also known as an English cucumber or seedless cucumber) as it is sweeter than a traditional cucumber with thinner skin.
- For best results use grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes. My favorite little tomatoes to use on a salad are the NatureSweet Cherubs tomatoes. They are so tasty!!
- I recommend slicing the onions very thin for best results.
Nutritional information is an estimate. The nutritional values for your final dish may vary based on measuring differences and products used.