Key Ingredients & Substitutions For Classic Chicken Salad
- Chicken breasts Baked or poached boneless, skinless chicken works best here. But if you have leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken, those work great too!
- Celery Celery adds color and crunch, perfect for any chicken salad- but this is the best!
- Green onions These darker green onions provide a milder onion flavor and work well as a garnish. Chives, shallots or sweet onion will work here, too.
- Italian parsley The Italian variety is vibrant and light to not overwhelm the other flavors. It plays nicely in this creamy salad. Substitute with cilantro for a bolder flavor.
- Fresh tarragon Surprise! Tarragon is a delightfully aromatic spice with a light licorice taste. And I think it is a bit underused. Fresh out? Try fresh basil in its place.
- Mayonnaise If you are not a fan of mayo, try sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.
- Lemon juice A freshly squeezed lemon has the best flavor and more vitamins. Plus, you can use the rind for zest over the top of the chicken salad. But you can use the store-bought bottled version.
- Dijon mustard Stone ground mustard or yellow mustard works as well.
- Kosher salt Kosher salt has a coarse grain that enhances flavor rather than just making it salty. Use a pinch less if you need to use table salt.
- Black pepper Most kitchens have black pepper, but you can use white pepper too.
How To Cook Chicken For Chicken Salad
If you are going to cook chicken specifically for chicken salad, the easiest thing to do is to poach it.
What I like to do is put a pot of 2 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt on to boil. As the water is heating, I cut skinless boneless chicken breasts into large chunks. When the water boils, I add the chicken, and return the pot to a simmer. Then I turn off the heat, and cover the pot and let the meat sit for 15 minutes in the hot water while I prepare everything else. Poaching chicken this way allows the chicken to cook gently, so the chicken retains more moisture.
After the chicken is finished cooking you can save the poaching liquid as light chicken broth.
Poaching aside, you can easily use any cooked chicken for this chicken saladrotisserie chicken, grilled chicken, or roasted chicken. My parents will often use leftovers from their favorite baked chicken, and even include some of the crispy skin in the salad.
Ingredients In Chicken Salad
- Use leftovers from last nights dinner or leftover rotisserie chicken or grilled chicken.
- To Make Chicken for chicken salad I like to use either poached chicken or baked chicken breasts or thighs.
- You can use canned chicken in a pinch but of course fresh is best when possible.
- Ensure the chicken is cooled and shred or chop the chicken into bite sized pieces.
- As this is a classic chicken salad recipe, Ive kept the additions to a minimum. Celery for crunch, green onions for flavor.
- This recipe can be made with a variety of nuts, veggies, and fruit for added flavor and texture.
- Chicken salad with grapes, avocado or dried cranberries is a favorite. Pecans or almonds pair well with this recipe.
- Mayonnaise is the base of this recipe and its simply seasoned.
- You can get creative and substitute some of the mayo for ranch dressing or your favorite salad dressing recipe.
- Create an Avocado Chicken Salad by replacing some of the mayonnaise with mashed avocado.
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Tips: Shredding Chicken With Ease
- Shred with your KitchenAid mixer! First, cut each chicken breast into 3 to 4 pieces.
- Place them into the mixing bowl and insert the paddle attachment.
- Mix at the lowest speed for about a minute, then slowly increase the speed and mix until the chicken is shredded evenly.
- This process only takes about 1 to 2 minutes.
At this point, you will want to chop all your veggies and herbs and get them ready to add to the cooked chicken. Finely chop or dice it all up and set aside until the chicken is cool.
What Makes It So Delicious
So many folks have made this salad and asked us in complete sincerity: What makes this chicken salad recipe so darn delicious?
Well, there are several reasons, we believe: Here are some of the main ones:
- Roasting the chicken ensures flavorful, juicy chicken for the salad. In a pinch, you could certainly use a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket.
- The addition of seedless grapes, almonds, and fresh dill are part of what makes this dish so wonderful.
- A mix of mayonnaise, Dijon, and lemon juice adds a freshness that is just so very delicious. It all adds up to the best chicken salad sandwich you can imagine!
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How To Serve It
Sometimes I find myself eating this chicken salad by the spoonful straight out of the bowl because its that good. But to turn it into a meal, heres a few ideas.
- Sandwich: Stuff it between sandwich bread with layers of lettuce, spinach, or tomato slices.
- Wrap: Turn it into a wrap with homemade cassava flour tortillas.
- Lettuce Wrap: For a lighter, low-carb option, use large romaine or butter leaf lettuce to wrap it.
- Extra Green Salad: Pour a spoonful on top of a bed of greens such as spinach.
- Dip: Serve it with flax seed crackers or chips.
Salads With Chicken For Simple Dinners
Green Goddess dressinga mix of mayonnaise, sour cream, herbs, anchovies and lemonwas created at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in the 1920s, as a tribute to an actor starring in a play called The Green Goddess. The creamy dressing is typically tossed with a green salad, but it’s also addictive in Melissa Rubel Jacobson‘s chicken salad, made with a rotisserie bird.
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Tips For Perfect Chicken Salad:
- Be sure to let chicken chill first before adding to the dressing otherwise it will warm the dressing and it just wont be the same.
- Add in a fruit if desired. Its good with diced grapes or apples . Sweeten the dressing with a hint of honey to pair with it.
- Add in a nuts for more crunch. Pecans, walnuts or sliced almonds are good choices.
- Use fresh herbs for added flavor. I like to use parsley but this is also delicious with 2 tsp chopped fresh dill.
- For the creamiest chicken salad use full fat mayonnaise.
- If using a rotisserie chicken buy a large chicken or 2 small to have enough chicken breast meat.
Chicken Salad With Walnuts And Grapes
Grapes, walnuts, and chicken come together in a creamy mayo-sour cream dressing. Toss this tasty salad in 20 minutes and serve it on bread, lettuce leaves, or with mixed greens with slices of avocado. It makes a great last-minute lunch if you have leftover chicken or turkey. Add radicchio for a pungent crunch, or use crushed roasted seaweed for a salty and crunchy texture.
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Behind The Recipe: The Best Homemade Chicken Salad
When ordering a chicken salad for lunch, you really never know what will end up on the plate. Every chef seems to prepare chicken salad differently.
You may get a finely shredded version or large cubes of chicken. Your plate could include all sorts of ingredients like red onions, seeds, dried cranberries, nuts, and even fruit, like seedless grapes.
Likewise, many families have a time-honored classic chicken salad recipe that has been handed down for generations.
Digging in, I found any quality chicken salad recipe starts with creamy and bright ingredients. From there, you can make it your own with any variation of ingredients you like best. That being said, I think youll enjoy mine!
Your shares are how this site grows and I appreciate each one. Do you know someone who would enjoy this recipe? Id love it if you would share it on or on your favorite board!
Crunchy Middle Eastern Chicken Salad
The Spruce Eats / Anita Schecter
Give your chicken salad a Middle Eastern spin with this impressive recipe. Greek yogurt tahini serves as the dressing, and it’s easy to make with just a few ingredients. That’s mixed with shredded chicken, carrots, almonds, cilantro, and za’atar seasoning, which you can whip up, too. Try this salad on naan bread with baby spinach.
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Add Aromatics For More Flavor
All you really need for poached chicken is water with a pinch of salt. But that doesnt mean you have to stop there. Aromatics will give it an extra punch of flavor. Heres a few ways to do this:
- Salt: This is essential. I highly recommend adding 1 teaspoon of salt to the poaching liquid to enhance the flavor of the chicken.
- Herbs: A few favorites are parsley, a sprig of thyme, rosemary, or 1-2 bay leaves.
- Aromatics: Peeled garlic cloves, fresh onions, whole peppercorns, or peeled ginger work wonders. And for an asian twist, you can use kaffir lime leaves or lemongrass.
- Fruit and Veggies: Add chopped carrots, celery, or lemon slices into the mix for freshness and depth of flavor.
- Chicken or Vegetable Broth: Swap water for broth to intensify the savoriness of the meat itself.
Ranch Chicken Salad Cups
This Ranch-inspired chicken salad makes the most of bright, tangy flavors like sour cream, buttermilk, scallion and dill to create a chicken salad that compliments the vibrant summer produce at your local farmers market . Mixed with tomatoes, avocado, bacon and lots of shredded chicken, this homemade Ranch dressing will highlight the sweet tomatoes, creamy avocado and salty bacon. If you want to add more veggies to your meal, serve the salad in lettuce cups and top with additional tomatoes.
Get the Recipe: Ranch Chicken Salad Cups
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What You Need For Ultimate Chicken Salad Recipe
Simple and fresh, this chicken salad will come together quickly. Cook your chicken ahead of time or purchase an already cooked chicken to save on time. This chicken salad will become a favorite to make! The total amounts of ingredients is located in the recipe card.
- Cooked Chicken: chopped or shredded chicken is best.
- Grapes: I used red grapes, they are a bit sweeter than green. Slice in half or cut into cubes.
- Pecans: You can purchase chopped pecans for this salad.
- Green onions: I like to finely chop the green onions for a bit of a kick in each bite.
- Celery: Finely diced using a knife or a shredder.
- Mayonnaise: Do not use salad dressing, it will alter the taste.
- Juice from ½ lemon: Yes, you can use bottled.
- Dijon Mustard: Adds the perfect amount of zippy flavor to this chicken salad.
- Salt and pepper: Add to taste!
Brown Sugar Is The Secret To The Best Chicken Salad Ever
We love chicken salad for its creamy, tangy dressing tender pieces of chicken and bits of crunchy celery, red onion, and nuts. Even with some dried fruit or grapes, youd hardly consider chicken salad sweet. So when The Pioneer Womans recipe called for tablespoons of brown sugar, it certainly raised an eyebrow. But as Studio Food Editor Amelia discovered, a touch of sweetness was everything basic chicken salad needed.
Rees recipe calls for yogurt and half-and-half in the dressing, which keeps things from getting too sweet, but you can easily adapt Rees secret ingredient to your own favorite chicken salad. Just add a tablespoon of brown sugar for every cup of dressing in your recipe for the best chicken salad ever.
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The Best Chicken Salad Recipe
I dont know if Ive been to a bridal or wedding shower where chicken salad stuffed in croissants wasnt served. Dont tell the bride but those little chicken sandwich pockets might be my favorite part of the party.
Ive shared my healthified chicken salad with Greek yogurt and avocado dressing with a few ingredients twists and turns, but this is my take on the classic chicken salad recipe. First, my fave chicken salad has to have tender, shreddy lean white chicken breast with plenty of crunchy celery and toasted almonds. Just like in Whole Foods Markets Sonoma Chicken Salad, red grapes add plump bites of sweetness with a touch of red onion for added heat. Finally, add dollops of my super simple lemon-spiked mayo dressing are mixed in and this chicken salad party is good to go.
Chicken And Rice Salad
This lovely chicken and rice salad is an excellent picnic dish because it’s a whole meal in itself. Cooked rice and chicken, mayo, veggies, and olives provide lots of flavors and a rich texture. Use the salad to fill heirloom tomatoes or whole peppers. Serve it on iceberg lettuce leaves, make rice paper roll wraps, cold flour tortilla sandwiches, or stuff some pitas.
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My Favorite Chicken Salad For The Win
This chicken salad has become a go-to meal for us, especially in the hot summer months. Its light and refreshing but still filling and satisfying.
Im sure if you asked ten people to make chicken salad, youd get ten strikingly different versions. This happens to be my favorite classic chicken salad, but the salad ingredients are wildly adaptable.
If youre a crazy, live-on-the-edge soul who adds things like mandarin oranges or pineapple or dried fruit to your chicken salad, you can still find a happy place with this classic chicken salad recipe. The add-ins can be changed up an infinite number of ways its the chicken and dressing that are the foundation .
And stay tuned for another chicken salad recipe coming soon. I know! Who am I and how did I get here? Its a delicious curried chicken salad that has a dressing like youve never seen before. YUM!
How To Serve Chicken Salad
You can serve this amazing chicken salad a number of ways.
Its delicious on top of lettuce leaves, like romaine, endive, butter, or bibb. And its fantastic on many different types of bread with or without lettuce.
Hearty multigrain bread slices are perfect with chicken salad. So are decadent croissants. And its delicious rolled up in flatbread or tortillas!
And I wouldnt be any kind of friend if I didnt tell you this chicken salad is pretty fantastic when you forego lettuce OR bread and eat it straight out of the bowl.
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Chicken Salad Sandwich Recipe
One of the most classic salad recipes and truly delicious, this easy chicken salad recipe is creamy, sweet, and perfect on its own or sandwiched between two slices of bread or nestled into a buttery croissant. This delicious recipe can also be enjoyed as a wrap, in a pita pocket, or in lettuce cups.
What Makes This The Best Chicken Salad
Ive tasted a lot of delicious chicken salads in my time but this ones tops them all.
Lots of fresh ingredients in this recipe make it stand out from the crowd. Not only do they add natural sweetness and delicious flavor, but a lovely crunch as well.
I love that it can be prepared in advance which makes it ideal for entertaining. In fact, its one of my favorite recipes for tea sandwiches. To prepare this chicken salad for tea sandwiches, do a nice fine dice on the chicken, apples, grapes and celery.
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What Makes This Chicken Salad Special
The “secret sauce,” so to speak, of this chicken salad, is the tablespoon of plum preserves my mom adds to the mayo-based dressing. You could use any berry jelly or jam, but as we always have a lot of plum jam on hand , that’s what mom reaches for first.
Mom balances out the sweetness from the dab of jam with a bit of lemon juice.
The result? Wonderful!
Chicken Salad With Herb Mayonnaise
This herby chicken salad uses roasted chicken breasts, but rotisserie chicken works well, too. Parsley, dill, chives, oregano, and lemon juice give the salad a lively flavor. Serve in lettuce cups, or in sandwich bread with sliced tomato and lettuce. Add deep-fried sweet potato chips to the plate for a delicious lunch.
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Ingredients For Chicken Salad
The 5 ingredients in this chicken salad are so simple, but each one is important for the best taste, texture, and color.
- Chicken we use 2 large chicken breasts from a whole roasted chicken, but you can use rotisserie chicken or sauteed chicken breasts instead. Leftover dark meat chicken will also work.
- Celery adds a great crunch to the salad and lightens up the flavor. Even if you arent a fan of celery, dont skimp on it and I hope you give it a try.
- Grapes add sweet juiciness to the salad. Just like in our Broccoli Grape Salad, the grapes are a refreshing addition and make the salad feel fancy.
- Pecans we toasted nuts on a dry skillet to give them even more flavor.
- Red onion finely chop half of a medium red onion, or you can add red onion to taste. You can also substitute for chopped green onion, but red onion keeps better refrigerated.
Chicken Salad With Curry
Curry chicken salad is wonderful in pita pockets with a simple salad on the side. It also makes a great meal when mixed with cooked cubed potatoes. The curry powder gives it a powerful character while the sweet raisins and mayo tone it down, making a flavorful salad. Stick with the toasted almonds or add cubed peeled apples or pecans for extra crunch.
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