Chicken Salad Recipe

June 28, 2007 44 Comments

Chicken Salad Recipe

101 Ways to Make Chicken Salad

Making chicken salad on a hot summer night couldn’t be easier, especially if you have leftover roasted chicken from the night before. Whether you roast the chicken yourself or buy a rotisserie chicken at your local market, one of the best ways to use up leftovers is cut it up to pieces and make chicken salad.

There must be 101 ways to make chicken salad depending on what you have on hand to toss into it. I’m sure everyone has a favorite recipe from his or her mom or great aunt but in our house, we usually go with what’s on hand or in the refrigerator and get creative.

Basically, chicken salad is chicken, chopped up vegetables; some sort of fruit and a dressing that typically has mayonnaise associated with it. A classic chicken salad could be just chicken, celery, mayo and salt & pepper. That’s it. That simple.

Instead of giving you exact recipe with measured out ingredients, I’d wanted to give you some ideas as to what you can try in your own recipe. I’m not giving you measurements because I never make the same chicken salad twice and really don’t have them. I suppose if you come up with the most amazing homemade chicken salad recipe ever, you may want to write it down so you can make it again some time.

This list is by no means exhausted but it’s a good start. I encourage you to experiment with all your favorite ingredients and if you come up with something special, add it to the comments below.

Chicken Salad Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Serving Size: depends

Chicken Salad Recipe

This is a template for you to use to make almost any chicken salad that you want. Instead of giving you an exact recipe with measured out ingredients, here are some ideas for making your own the way you want it. I'm not giving you measurements because I never make the same chicken salad twice and really don't have them.







Seedless grapes


Toasted almond slivers

Capers - drained

Chopped sweet pickles or pickle relish

Water chestnuts

Hard-boiled eggs, chopped

Nuts - walnuts, pecans, cashews, pine nuts, sesame seeds

Fruits- apple slices, pear, raisins, cranberries, craisins, tomato, avocado, olives, mandarin oranges, cherries

Vegetables - asparagus, cucumber

Cheese - hard cheese, grated or thin slices of soft cheese

Beyond Mayonnaise Dressing

Sour Cream

Your choice of bottled dressing

Herbs - basil, parsley, tarragon, chervil, chives, sage, mint Spices - ginger, dry mustard, honey mustard, paprika, oregano


Jam or preserves


Citrus juice - lemon, orange, grapefruit

Peanut butter


Soy Sauce

Hot Sauce

Maple syrup


How To Prepare At Home

Assemble your preferred ingredients. Make sure that there is at least as much diced chicken as there is all other add-ins. For example, if you have 1 cup of diced chicken, make sure that all the add-ins you use equal no more than 1 cup, total.

Mix dressing ingredients together. Count on 1/3-2/3 cup dressing per cup of ingredients. Add less to begin with, and then add more if necessary. You are shooting for a nice balance between salad and dressing.

Fold the dressing into your prepared ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or two to let the flavors marry. Taste again and decide if you want to add a bit more dressing.

Serve as part of a salad plate, on top of greens or in a sandwich. However you like to eat chicken salad, because there is no one right way.


Last modified on Wed 1 July 2015 3:14 pm

Filed in: Chicken Recipes

Comments (44)

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  1. martha says:

    Just found your site, it’s great! Fave chicken salad is chicken, toasted almond slivers, grapes, green pepper and green onion in mayo w/lots of chopped tarragon. Any suggestions for low-fat mayo that doesn’t turn runny in the salad after the second day?

  2. Erika says:

    Chicken salad is rather like a blank canvas to me. All sort of possibilities and no shortage of new ideas. I always cut my mayonnaise by 1/2 and replace with low fat sour cream. It has a really fresh creamy taste without being oily or too high in fat!

  3. Marianne Sinclair says:

    I put curry and raisins in my basic chicken salad.

  4. mark says:

    I have my brother, Joe, to thank for this chicken salad variation. Start with leftover roasted chicken meat. Saute some diced bacon (1/2 cup or so) until chewy, or crispy, depending on how you like it. Remove bacon from pan, drain onpaper towels. Remove all but 1 Tbs bacon grease from pan. Saute finely diced red pepper and onion until soft in bacon grease. Meanwhile, roast some pecan pieces until lightly browned. Toss all ingredients together with mayo, salt and pepper and maybe throw in some dried cherries. Each time I make this, it is a little different, but the combination is fantastic and always better the next day after the flavors have had time to marry. Enjoy!

  5. derek says:

    I am working to try and replicate a delicious chicken salad my cousin made and will not share. It had grapes and cashews and was very sweet with a little tangy buzz. Any suggestions to make my quest shorter? right now I am just doing trial and error and I think my problem is in the spice arena (I am terrible at detecting exact spices) Any Ideas on a spice combination that will add a sweet tangy flavor? I wish I could be more specific.

  6. renee says:

    I add chipotle chili powder to the mayo- it adds a nice sweet and smoky element with a slight bit of heat.

  7. april says:

    i just found your site and I got 2 recipe’s to take home and try and hopefully they will be as good as they look. I’m looking forward to trying them. thank you

  8. Alma says:

    I love your recipes. I found your site 3 yrs ago and love love the recipes. Very simple and yummy. Thanks!

  9. Kimi says:

    I love to add sour cream with my mayo to cut out the richness and tang. Also, tarragon adds a nice flavor. Don’t forget the grapes and toasted pecans. Yummy!!!!

  10. caroline says:

    um, for a sweet tangy flavor use pineapple bits and the juice. This goes great with chicken salad that has dark purple grapes and nuts

  11. Rachel says:

    Very helpful! Another good additional ingredient to try is sunflower seeds.

  12. Zaved Akhtar says:

    hi i am a hotel management student and i tried this recipe .Really its nice aroma with good taste with the addition of white wine.

  13. tanu says:

    Here’s a quick chicken salad – indian style

    – slivers of boiled chicken (or small cubes if you so like
    – diced tomatoes and onions
    – a bit of green sprouts (optional)
    – chopped fresh coriander and/or mint
    – salt, dry cumin powder, pepper, dry mango powder (amchoor)
    – and lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice…

    proportions of everything else – depends on your taste…!

    its yummy…

    ps- if you get something called”chat masala” at a store near by..then replace all dry spices with this….it works better.

  14. Liz says:

    I especially like the “mayo/sour cream” idea from a couple of the responses. I think I’ll try this, and of course the pecans and purple grapes that I’ve already had from my aunt’s recipe!

  15. Winston Smith says:

    I usually substitute tuna for the chicken, use pepper instead of salt, and basil instead of pepper.

  16. Bliss says:

    Winston Smith: That would be a tuna salad, not a substitution. 😉

    I’m going to try this mayo/sour cream duo tonight and see how that works out. Great suggestion!

  17. Ileen says:

    Wow ! Simply delicious salad recipe.
    Tks so much for sharing. God bless you.

  18. Karen Sullivan says:

    I mix together chicken, diced green (Granny Smith) apple, celery, mayo and some dried minced onion, salt and pepper. It needs to sit until the minced onion softens. It’s pretty good.

  19. Pat McLoed says:

    I make a chicken salad with cubed chicken cubed cantaloupe green seedless grapes Toasted slivered almonds with a honey mayo dressing. I sometimes add a few drops of sesame oil to the mayo for an oriental flavor.

  20. Katie D says:

    My chicken salad was always missing something until I added honey. I use about a teaspoon full. More/Less depending on amount of servings. It is perfect now!

  21. RG says:

    Hi Katie, great tip. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  22. Nancy B says:

    I mix a small carton of non-fat plain yogurt with about 1/4 cup or so of mayo to cut down on the fat and calories.

    Great suggestion Nancy. Thanks for sharing. – RG

  23. Carrie V. says:

    I used to live down south and the best chicken salads in “ladies tea rooms” always had heavy cream in them as well! Rich and slightly sweet .

    Hi Carrie, thanks for that tip. – RG

  24. Mike W. says:

    Nice basic stuff. I use KFC grilled chicken with mayo, sour cream and crasins. Give it a try the expense is well worth it.

    Sounds interesting. Do you remove the heavy breading on the chicken? – RG

  25. Bobbye F. says:

    This is a great site with lots of ideas! I prepare my chicken salad with chopped onion, celery, apple and enough mayo (you can use veganaise, etc.) to taste without being excessive. What makes it delicious and special is the addition of a seasoning mix called Veggie Grill by Weber and smoked paprika to taste…everyone says YUM! A little salt and pepper and you’re done. It really does taste outstanding with those two special ingredients.

    Hi Bobbye, thanks for the suggestions. – RG

  26. Hazel says:

    I will try your chicken salad recipe. I used seasoned chopped chicken breast, sweet relish.Dill, sweet and kosher pickles. Red, orange and green bell peppers which enhance the flavor and give it a beautiful color. I also used apples and eggs. Miracle whip.

    Hi Hazel, I love sweet relish. I was just suggesting my wife add some to her potato salad sometime to see how it would taste. She adds slices of sweet gherkins to top it off so why not try some relish. As a kid I loved Miracle Whip but now find it a bit too sweet. – RG

  27. Barbara says:

    I add a small amount of Dijon or spicy mustard since we like a little kick to ours.

    Sounds good Barbara – RG

  28. jltinpdx says:

    I was once out of mayo and yogurt, but had a little Tzatziki sauce (Greek dipping sauce for meats). I used that. It’s thinner than mayo, so I used only a few tablespoons, tossed in some red grapes, diced red onion, and voila! Serve the chicken salad with sliced cucumbers, and a bed of arugula or romaine in a wrap, and you have an interesting, tasty alternative to beef/lamb.

    Sound delicious Jennifer, thanks for the suggestion. – RG

  29. westtexasgal says:

    I just found your site searching for my “new” favorite chicken salad. I have my basic recipe down but it was always missing something. Someone from an earlier post mentioned cashews. That’s it! Cashews add a nuttier, sweet taste to the salad. I use leftover chicken (grilled, baked, etc) if I have it or canned, grapes (red seem to taste better), celery, yellow onion, a touch of cranberries, salad dressing, and a couple of tablespoons of cole slow dressing. The cole slaw dressing gives it a tangy/sweet taste. I spice it up with salt, pepper, and something called Bad Byron’s Butt Rub (it’s excellent on ribs, etc when smoking or grilling). The addition of cashews is what put it over the top. Thanks for the article.

    You are welcome West Texas Gal – RG

  30. Lauren says:

    Yum! I love how you listed the main ingredients and alternative ingredients that you can chose to suit your own tastes. Some great suggestions by the way. I love chicken salad recipes! They are a personal favorite and I love making them all different types of ways some days with cranberries some days with walnuts.

    Thanks Lauren – RG

  31. chris pera says:

    i believe that the best chicken salad is a simple one, seasoned well with culture, personality and of course chicken oh send me an email if you want me to hook you up with a good recipe.

    Thanks for sharing Chris. – RG

  32. Bridget says:

    Thanks for the awesome blog. We made chicken salad wraps tonight for dinner. We used can chicken, dukes mayo, sour cream, hidden valley roasted onion Parmesan dressing, salt, pepper, and garlic on garlic pesto tortillas.
    This was probably the best chicken salad I have ever made.

    Hi Bridget, glad you enjoyed them and thanks for letting me know. – RG

  33. Melissa says:

    Your blog is awesome! I’ve been dying to try making a chicken salad & your site helped me through it.
    I used the mayo/ sour cream method –
    diced green bell peppers, onions, celery, salt & pepper
    lime chili peanuts
    & a few dashes of tabasco.
    what fun for my taste buds…
    tonight will try it on my husband.

    Hi Melissa, let me know how he likes it. – RG

  34. Nancy Monroe says:

    Dried cranberries are a must. And diced tart apple. Finish it off with curry powder if you are so inclined.

  35. Danielle says:

    Try adding just enough mayo to make it stick together, then some Kraft Creamy Poppyseed Dressing for flavor! Amazing with red grapes and walnuts or almonds and green onions! Best on fresh croissants! Yum!

    Great suggestions Danielle, thanks. – RG

  36. Doris says:

    I love the Rotisserie chickens from Cosco. They make wonderful chicken salad. I am making it for a luncheon, and will use croissants. I love to combine recipes and make it my own. Things I like to add are: roasted pecans, sour cream and mayo, red grapes, celery, fresh chopped basil, parsley, craisins, green onions…. yummy! Best if made day before…..

    Thanks for the chicken salad ideas Doris. – RG

  37. hmom says:

    I like to use half mayo and half roasted red pepper humus. Extra protein, good nutrients, awesome flavor.

    Bread and butter pickles, finely chopped, are my sons’ favorite addition.

    Sounds good hmom – RG

  38. Mary Ellen Lavelle (Mrs. Frank) says:

    Thanks for your fabulous blog. My favorite addition to roast chicken salad cubes is chopped or crushed smokehouse almonds. I use mayo/sour cream, green onions, fresh tarragon, salt and pepper, then sprinkle chopped smoked almonds over the salad. One can also dip ends of filled croissants into crushed smoked almonds. Luscious stuff. But I’m intrigued with the suggestions of white wine, honey, and heavy cream!!

  39. lizzie says:

    this recipe is the greatest I have ever tasted

  40. Anne says:

    I add dried cranberries and as for the mayo… I use half mayo and half plain yogurt. A taste test determines what adjustments I need to make to this mixture.

  41. Chan says:

    Great site and I plan on using many of the ideas. I”m thinking about making two kinds, and then I will choose the one that will become Momma’s generational recipe! For my traditional recipe, I use mayo and mustard for the dressing, and other ingredients are:peppers, onions, walnuts or pecans, grapes or apples, salt and pepper, and garlic powder.

  42. Jacquelyn says:

    My daughter makes the best chicken salad I have ever tasted.
    She uses sourcream/mayo combination with fresh lemon juice, and honey for the dressing.
    Adds a small amount of green onion, chopped apples, chopped fresh cherries, walnuts or almonds, and chopped water chestnuts.

  43. PR says:

    I love chicken salad, I put in what ever I have in the cuboard. Last time I put in Pinapple and blueberrys. Once I make it just with celery, salt pepper mayo and a little blue cheese.

  44. telana s faries says:

    hello I’m telana. I love chicken salad. I use chicken mayo mustard egg green red yellow pepper dill n gherkin pickles and sweet relish lemon raisins onions little pickle juice sweet paprika garlic pepper and red n green apples and cashews to top it off n toast bread add cheese n tomato yummy

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