Apple Walnut Chicken Salad – Imitation Applebee

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This Applebee-copied cat salad has been one of my favorite salads for years. The list of ingredients is long, but the impact of the flavor that comes from all the components is surprising.

Smoked grilled chicken, a mix of romaine lettuce and red leaves, apple, celery, red onion, pieces of blue cheese, candied walnuts and a balsamic vinaigrette that is out of this world. This is a recipe I got from Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3: The Secret Formulas to Double Your Favorite Restaurant Dishes at Home (Top Secret Recipes). I think all Top Secret cookbooks are a lot of fun to cook. Often times they really taste like something, and even if they don't, they are almost always delicious.

It's probably been close to two decades since I ate at an Applebee's, so I'm not sure how this recipe compares to the real one. Or if it's still on the menu.

The chicken is marinated in brine for 3 hours. The brine has a hint of liquid smoke flavored with walnut, which makes the chicken taste like it's been roasted to perfection on hot coals and wood chips. But I just roasted it in my pan.

All components can be prepared ahead of time and the balsamic dressing recipe is a huge batch that you can use in salads all week. It is one of my favorite dressings, and it doesn't really taste that much like balsamic vinaigrette. Not surprising considering how little balsamic it has in relation to the other ingredients. It has a lot of sugar and honey, and sweetness is the predominant flavor. But it seems to me that there is enough balsamic flavor, red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard. If you don't like sweet vinaigrettes, you may not be a fan.

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Chicken Apple Apple Walnut Salad – Imitation Applebee

Servings: 2

Grilled chicken marinated with vegetables, apples, blue cheese, candied walnuts and a strong balsamic vinaigrette.

Chicken marinade

  • 3 cups of water

  • 1 tablespoon of salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon walnut-flavored liquid smoke

  • 1 boneless chicken breasts, mashed to 1/2 inch thick

  • Petroleum
  • black pepper

Balsamic vinegar

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar

  • 3 tablespoons of honey

  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon

  • pinch of ground black pepper
  • 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Candied walnuts

  • 1 teaspoon of peanut oil

  • 1 teaspoon of honey

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt

  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts


  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce

  • 4 cups chopped red leaf lettuce

  • 1 apple, diced

  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced

  • 1/2 cup diced celery

  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

  • Make chicken marinade. Combine water, salt, garlic powder, and liquid smoke in a medium bowl. Mix to dissolve the salt. Place chicken in marinade, cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.

  • Make balsamic vinaigrette. Whisk all ingredients except oil in a medium bowl. Gradually pour in oil while whisking continuously. Cover and refrigerate.

  • Make candied walnuts. Combine (in the order listed) the peanut oil, honey, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium skillet over medium heat. When the mixture starts to bubble, add nuts and stir constantly until the sugar begins to caramelize. Turn off the heat and keep stirring the nuts so they don't burn. After 1 minute of stirring. Pour the walnuts on a piece of wax paper to cool.

  • Grilled chicken. Heat a gas grill or skillet over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Rub with oil and season with pepper. Grill 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until done. Let cool and cut.
  • For each salad, mix 2 cups romaine lettuce, 2 cups red leaf lettuce, half an apple, onion, celery, and blue cheese. Mix desired amount of dressing and top with sliced ​​chicken and walnuts.

Disclosure: Spicy Southern Kitchen is an affiliate of

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