This easy to make Ranch Chicken Salad will be a healthy grab-and-go lunch to prep for your week!

Healthy Ranch Chicken Salad :: An Easy Gluten & Dairy Free Meal Prep for the Week!

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Sweet Summer!

Oh sweet summer! We just about live for our beautiful Lake Michigan beaches, and our sweet little Lake Michigan beach town! If you have been around here very long, you know that I tend to take a bit of a break from writing in the summer to enjoy the girls being home from school, and also to soak in all the sun and beach sand here! I just had to pop in to share a recipe we have had on repeat during these warmer and *busier* months of summer, though, and I can’t wait to hear about how you use it in your home!

Healthy Ranch Chicken Salad :: An Easy Gluten & Dairy Free Meal Prep for the Week!

Wait…summer, busier?!

Well just a different kind of busy! Long gone are the days of littles that enjoyed the beach in the early morning only to crash for afternoon naps or a little afternoon downtime. These tweens and teens – boy, oh boy! They love their friend hang out time, and they also tend to be involved in more activities. We even have one that has a little babysitting job this summer! That means mom is in the car playing chauffer (or, I guess since we are in 2023 we can call me an Uber driver?!). And with mom in the car driving the people all over the place, that means sometimes there is less time in the kitchen. When that happens, I have found just a little bit of planning ahead will keep real food that actually counts still on the table without me having to stay up all night preparing food.

Healthy Ranch Chicken Salad :: An Easy Gluten & Dairy Free Meal Prep for the Week!

Chicken salad with a twist!

Chicken salad has been on repeat all summer this year, and for good reason! Not only is a cold meal that doesn’t heat up the house, and a great protein source, it also is easy to make big batches up if you do it the right way! I like to use my Instant Pot to make a whole chicken for the meat. This saves me money since whole chickens are less per pound than cuts of chicken, and it makes a lot so we have enough to scoop from for multiple days. I’ll get to the chicken cooking method in a minute, but lets talk about that “twist!” A couple of months ago, a friend of mine told me that she used my DIY Ranch Seasoning Mix from my Sheet Pan Ranch Chicken Dinner recipe for chicken salad, and THAT, my friends has become a summer favorite in our house too over the last couple weeks!

Healthy Ranch Chicken Salad :: An Easy Gluten & Dairy Free Meal Prep for the Week!

Let’s start with the chicken…

To get started, you’ll need to choose a method for getting your cooked chicken. Whether that be leftovers from grill night, or you make a whole chicken, you’ll want a good 3-4 cups in order to make enough chicken salad for a few days. I like to use my Instant Pot to make a whole chicken in the summer so I’m not heating up the whole house, but a slow cooker will achieve the same outcome without turning the oven on. If you are in the cooler months of the year, and don’t mind turning the oven on, my Mayo Roasted Chicken makes the most incredibly flavorful, juicy chicken in less time than you think!

Prep Day Shredded BBQ Chicken

Now for the easy part!

Once your chicken is ready, the rest is done in minutes! Pile in all of the ingredients for the chicken salad into your food processor and pulse away. You can see how coarsely chopped the stuff is here – I don’t fuss with making it perfect. If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop it up and mix in the mayo and seasoning by hand. You can customize your Ranch Chicken Salad to your tastes too! I always use onion and pepper, and, depending on the season, I use fresh fruit too. Usually I add apple or grapes to chicken salad, but since we are in the middle of summer, I used peaches this week, and it was incredible! Blueberries are another summer fruit that works good. Change up the veggies to what is in season too! You can add spinach to bump up the veggies without changing the flavor, or broccoli works well too. 

Healthy Ranch Chicken Salad :: An Easy Gluten & Dairy Free Meal Prep for the Week!

Let’s talk about the chicken salad consistency

If you like a chunkier chicken salad, pulse or chop the components less. You can also take it to a full puree to make a super spread-able chicken salad for pinwheels and wraps. This method goes over well with toddlers, and makes a great way to get some meat on their plate! I always fall somewhere in the middle of chunky and smooth as you can see in the image below. To achieve this, I pulsed a few times, scraped the sides down, and then repeated that 3-4 times. It works great for sandwiches as well as making it a fun scoop-able chicken salad for veggies or crackers.

Healthy Ranch Chicken Salad :: An Easy Gluten & Dairy Free Meal Prep for the Week!

Ranch Chicken Salad serving ideas!

The sky is the limit here! I’d also love to hear if you serve it in a new way – use the comments below to tell us how you serve chicken salad!

  • Use the chicken salad how you would use any dip or spread with veggie sticks, crackers, or even potato wedges or chips as the vehicles.
  • One of my girls prefers chicken salad straight out of the bowl with spoon, and there is nothing wrong with that!
  • There is always the classic sandwich too, and if you don’t tolerate grains, you can make a lettuce wrap, or mix the chicken salad into a big salad.
Healthy Ranch Chicken Salad :: An Easy Gluten & Dairy Free Meal Prep for the Week!
Healthy Ranch Chicken Salad :: An Easy Gluten & Dairy Free Meal Prep for the Week!
Healthy Ranch Chicken Salad :: An Easy Gluten & Dairy Free Meal Prep for the Week!

Onto the recipes!

Let’s start with the Ranch Seasoning Mix! It is posted in my Ranch Chicken dinner, but for your convenience, I added it here too. This mix is so nice to keep in the spice cabinet for Ranch potatoes, or making dips and dressings, as well as adding to this chicken salad. Ranch season packets could work, but flavors vary from brand to brand so play around with the amount (and watch those sneaky ingredients!). I like this Ranch season packet with clean ingredients if I’m using a packet.

Sheet Pan Ranch Chicken & Veggies :: Gluten & Dairy Free, PLUS a DIY Ranch Seasoning Mix!

DIY Ranch Seasoning Mix

Renee Kohley – Raising Generation Nourished

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • Whisk everything together in a jar or container that has a lid. Store at room temp in an airtight container.

Notes

To make Ranch dressing with your Ranch seasoning mix, whisk about 3-4 teaspoons of the Ranch seasoning mix with 1 cup of sour cream, Greek yogurt, mayo, or coconut yogurt and add splashes of raw milk or coconut milk to thin it out to the consistency you like. You can keep it thick like a dip, or drippier for dressing.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Sheet Pan Ranch Chicken & Veggies :: Gluten & Dairy Free, PLUS a DIY Ranch Seasoning Mix!

Ranch Chicken Salad recipe

And here’s how to make the Ranch chicken salad! This is going to be a lifesaver on a busy night or use it for packing those lunchboxes!

Healthy Ranch Chicken Salad :: An Easy Gluten & Dairy Free Meal Prep for the Week!

Renee Kohley – Raising Generation Nourished

Ingredients
  

  • 3-4 cups cooked chicken I use my Instant Pot to make an easy whole chicken to save money, but any cooked/leftover chicken works!
  • 1/2 cup mayo of choice Start with this amount, & add more if you like it creamier.
  • 1 tbsp Ranch Seasoning from the recipe above
  • 1/2 bell pepper sliced into strips
  • 1 small red onion (or 1/2 large) quartered, and then halved
  • 1 cup fresh fruit of choice use what is in season! I used peaches here because it is the middle of summer, but apples and grapes are our favorite! Blueberries are good in the summer as well.

Instructions
 

  • Put all of the ingredients into your food processor, and pulse until desired consistency. You truly could process until smooth if your kids prefer more of a spread-able texture that can be rolled up into a tortilla for pinwheels! Or, leave it chunkier by pulsing less. If you like it super chunky, hand chopping will give you the best result. For the texture you see in this post, you'll pulse a few times, then scrape the sides down, then pulse again a few times, and scrape down. I did this a total of 4 times I'd say.

Notes

  • I get the Primal Kitchen Mayo in the picture above from Costco. There are a few different healthy oil based mayos in the store now using avocado oil! OR you can make your own mayo in minutes. My classic mayo recipe is in my cookbook, The Little Lunchbox Cookbook.
  • Ranch season packets could work, but flavors vary from brand to brand so play around with the amount (and watch those sneaky ingredients!). I like this Ranch season packet with clean ingredients.
  • Change up the veggies/fruit to what is in season! You can add spinach to bump up the veggies without changing the flavor, or broccoli works well too. 
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Healthy Ranch Chicken Salad :: An Easy Gluten & Dairy Free Meal Prep for the Week!

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