We had a rough winter in Denver this year! Lots of snow (which we needed) but also just very cold. Denver tends to have sunny winters so this one was colder than most. In any event, we are excited for park and picnic season now and I threw together this quick Chicken and Rice Picnic Salad to celebrate!

This picnic salad travels well and is great on a picnic spread. It has everything you could want in a salad. Brown rice, rotisserie chicken, a simple lemon thyme dressing, crunchy green beans, and dried cranberries for a little bit of sweetness.

If you’re not in picnic mode yet, this also works great for weekday lunches. It stores well in the fridge for a few days and is really filling.

Enjoy spring everybody!

Chicken & Rice Picnic Salad

5 from 1 vote
Author: Nick Evans
Servings: 5 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
This toss-together salad is perfect for your casual Sunday picnics. It also works great a weekday lunch option! Packed with rotisserie chicken, green beans, and cranberries, it’s the perfect mix of salty and sweet.


  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked and cooled
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 2 cups green beans, blanched
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ lemon, juice only
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme


  • Cook brown rice according to instructions. I like to rinse mine well with cold water and then bring  it to a simmer with about 4 cups of water per cup of brown rice. Turn heat down to low and simmer until rice is tender, maybe 25-30 minutes. When rice is tender, drain off any extra water in the pot, cover, remove from heat, and let rice steam for five minutes. Then fluff with a fork and cool.
  • For green beans, chop into about 2-inch pieces and bring a small pot of salted water to a simmer. Add green beans and blanch for 3 minutes until they are bright green, but still have some crunch to them. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon, fresh thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir in brown rice.
  • Fold in shredded chicken, dried cranberries, and green beans.
  • Chill salad until serving. Salad will keep well in the fridge for five days.


Serving: 1Plate | Calories: 462kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 91mg | Sodium: 566mg | Potassium: 221mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 326IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American

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How to Make a Picnic Salad

You could put a lot of different things in this salad and it would probably work.  Just a few ideas:

  • You could leave the chicken out entirely or sub it with something like seared tempeh for a vegan version of this salad.
  • Add slivered almonds or toasted pine nuts for extra crunch.
  • Add baby spinach to make it more of a full-on salad situation.
  • Any dried fruit would work great in it – not just cranberries.

This is what I landed on though for my add-ins.

For the green beans, I just blanched them in salted water for a few minutes and then chopped them into about 2-inch pieces.

Add-ins - Chicken Rice Picnic Salad
The add-ins!

The Picnic Salad Dressing

I do think it helps to have a light dressing to bring all the flavors together. I whipped up this really quick one which is just lemon juice, olive oil, fresh thyme, salt, and pepper.

Dressing - Picnic Salad
The dressing

When your brown rice is cooked (you could use other grains as well), let it cool and then stir it into the dressing.

Rice mixed in - Picnic Salad
Rice mixed.

Then add in your shredded chicken, blanched green beans, and dried cranberries. You are done!

Mixed up - Chicken Rice Picnic Salad
Everybody together

Enjoy your Chicken and Rice Picnic Salad in the sun!

Chicken Rice Picnic Salad

Here are a few other great salad recipes!