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Portillo’s Poppy Seed Salad with Fruit and Chicken

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The best part of a salad is always the toppings and this beauty is loaded with the good stuff.  All of the fruit, chicken, nuts, and cheese go deliciously with the simple to make poppy seed dressing.  You will find yourself serving salad a lot more frequently after you try this Portillo’s inspired chicken and fruit poppyseed salad!

Salad topped with chunks of pineapple, mandarin oranges, strawberries, blueberries, chicken, pecans, and blue cheese served over lettuce.

As we head into spring, it is time to start thinking about eating more fresh food. Hooray! It’s about dang time.

Sitting down to a fresh salad full of greens, tons of fruit, some candied nuts, cheese and chicken is a perfect way to celebrate. Top that off with a little homemade poppy seed dressing to tie it all together and you are really in business. 

You are really going to thank yourself for making this one!

homemade poppyseed dressing being drizzled over salad out of a glass jar.

With winter winding down, our thoughts are already turning to the garden.  The seed magazines have been showing up with increased regularity and the CSA sign up form has already been sent in.

The fruits and vegetables in the store are starting to look better too and the prices are getting more affordable as the parts of the world that are growing the produce get closer to our region. All of that is a good sign after a long cold and wet winter.

bowl of salad with romaine tossed with berries, oranges, pineapple, pecans, chicken and cheese.

We do eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies all year long, but the percentage of fresh to frozen is about to go up dramatically! And I for one couldn’t be more excited.

I do look forward to comfort food and casseroles as fall and winter come around, but spring and summer and their bounty of produce is hard to beat. After all of that heavy food I am looking forward to some lighter and brighter fare.

Recreating a favorite restaurant salad:

I cannot tell you how much I love this salad! So I was sooooo excited to dig in. It did not disappoint at all.

I based it off a salad I used to order every time I went to the Chicago area with my old job.  I used to go up there a few times a year and my coworker and I would always hit Portillo’s for a chicken and fruit poppy seed salad.

If we were meeting elsewhere, my fabulous coworker would sometimes even pick me one up and bring it to me! That is how much I loved them (and she was the best!!!)

big bowl of salad greens topped with pineapple, orange sections, berries, chicken, pecans and cheese.

With my new job, I don’t travel nearly as much as I used to. So I don’t get to grab my favorite salad nearly as much.

Then I was headed on a trip for training at work that was going to bring me past a Portillos. I was so excited for the chance to get my hands on a salad.

When I got there, it wasn’t on the menu!  I ordered another salad with berries, cheese and chicken hoping it would be just as good.

It might have been good, but it could never live up to the salad of my memories.  So I decided I had to take matters into my own hands.

That is where we find ourselves today.  With this lovely magnificent beauty of a salad.  It has all of the good stuff and it lives up to my dreams and memories.

jar of homemade poppy seed salad dressing.

Portillo’s Official Dressing Recipe

Portillo’s was nice enough to give us their dressing recipes when they took a couple of salads off their menu. So, I have updated the recipe card to reflect their recipe.

The poppyseed dressing is super simple to make.  It just takes a handful of ingredients and is the perfect thing to bring together everything else.

It is super easy to just measure all in the ingredients and throw them in a jar. Give it a good shake and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to dig in. 

Then just give it another quick shake before you use. Of course you can use a bowl and a whisk if you prefer.

Assembling the Salad

The rest of the salad is pretty simple too.  You could totally leave the chicken off if you are serving it as a side salad or starter for a party.

In fact, this would be a perfect fresh salad for a brunch.  It is a nice cross between a fruit salad and a green salad. The best of both worlds!

But if you are serving it as a meal, the chicken really helps make it feels substantial.  So I would definitely recommend it if you are serving this as a dinner salad.

I love the combination of all of the fruit and blue cheese, so that is what I went with.  If you are not a blue cheese fan, you could easily sub in feta or your favorite.

Portillos copycat fruit and chicken salad drizzled with homemade poppy seed dressing.

If you really wanted to fancy it up, you could make little goat cheese balls and roll them in chopped pecans. That would be pretty and delicious too!

I am not one for telling you what to do… but you have to make this salad! Please give it a try and let me know if you like it as much as I do.

bowl of salad with romaine tossed with berries, oranges, pineapple, pecans, chicken and cheese.

Portillo’s Poppy Seed Salad with Chicken and Fruit

Servings: 1 Serving
Author: Carlee
The best part of a salad is always the toppings and this beauty is loaded with the good stuff. All of the fruit, chicken, nuts and cheese go deliciously with the simple to make poppy seed dressing. You will find yourself serving salad a lot more frequently after you try this!
4.75 from 16 ratings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 16 minutes


Salad Ingredients

  • 1 cooked chicken breast or cubed leftover chicken
  • 2-3 cups romaine lettuce chopped
  • 2-3 strawberries sliced
  • 2-3 Tablespoons blueberries
  • ¼ cup pineapple chunks
  • ¼ cup mandarin orange sections
  • 2-3 Tablespoons candied pecans
  • 2-3 Tablespoons blue cheese or feta, goat cheese, etc.
  • 2 -3 Tablespoon poppy seed dressing

Portillo's Poppyseed Dressing

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar


Poppy Seed Dressing

  • Place all ingredients in a jar. Shake to combine.
    ¼ cup mayonnaise, 2 Tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon poppy seeds, 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Refrigerate until ready to use. Just give another shake before serving.

Salad Assembly

  • Thoroughly wash all fresh fruit and lettuce.
  • Chop lettuce into bite sized pieces and slice strawberries. Dice chicken.
  • Arrange lettuce in a bowl.  Top with fruit, cheese, nuts. 
  • Drizzle dressing over the top and dig in!


The dressing can be made in advance. Just keep it covered in the refrigerator for up to a week. 
Stir or shake the dressing before using it to dress the salad.
I don’t recommend putting dressing on the salad ahead of time, because it will make the lettuce wilt faster. However, you can assemble the salad ahead of time if needed. Then just drizzle with dressing and serve when you are ready. 


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 608kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 49gFat: 31gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 128mgSodium: 916mgFiber: 10gSugar: 39g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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4.75 from 16 votes (15 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating


Thursday 2nd of March 2023

So I live in the Chicagoland area and this was a weekly salad for me. I was completely devastated when they took it off the menu, like whyyyy?! Anyway, so glad I stumbled upon this. And just fyi, they eventually posted on their site the actual dressing recipe for fans of the salad so they could make it at home! We obviously weren’t the only ones!

Portillo's Poppyseed Dressing • 1/4 cup Mayonnaise • 2 tbsp Milk • 1 tsp Poppy Seeds • 2 tbsp Sugar • 1 tbsp Cider Vinegar

Thanks for helping me recreate this!!


Thursday 2nd of March 2023

Thanks for sharing! I wish they would bring the salad back, but now I'm going to try this dressing recipe.


Thursday 14th of March 2019

Thank you!

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies

Sunday 10th of March 2019

This is my kind of salad! I am craving good salads so much right now!


Thursday 14th of March 2019

I love comforting winter food, but after all these cold months I am ready for warmer weather and fresher food too!

Julie | This Main Line Life

Thursday 21st of February 2019

Looks delicious. I love salads with fruit in them. x, Julie


Tuesday 26th of February 2019

Me too, they are my favorite!


Wednesday 20th of February 2019

This salad is beautiful! I love all of the good stuff in it and how colorful it is!


Tuesday 26th of February 2019

Thank you so much!