Homemade Chicken Salad! Diced cooked chicken breasts are tossed with a creamy, bright dressing and served in bread, croissants or lettuce leaves. It’s flavorful, refreshing and perfectly hearty. A true summertime classic recipe!
Chicken Salad Recipe
Who doesn’t love a good chicken salad? It’s the perfect make ahead lunch for a picnic and it’s so easy to customize.
This version is made with tender pieces of chicken and a rich, herby, lemony dressing to compliment it. Nothing complicated here just basic ingredients that together make a classic and comforting lunchtime favorite.
Want to take it over the top? Make a layered Chicken Salad Sandwich – served between hearty bread, layered with a bed of lettuce, creamy avocado slices, crisp flavorful bacon, and fresh lightly sweet tomato slices. Who could resist?
Chicken Salad Video
Ingredients Needed for Chicken Salad
- Cooked chicken breasts – I like to use rotisserie chicken. You’ll need a large rotisserie chicken to get 3 cups cubed chicken breasts (or 2 smaller).
- Lemon – be sure to zest first before slicing and juicing as this recipe calls for both.
- Celery – this gives the chicken salad a nice light crunch. Dice it up small.
- Green onions – red onions can be substituted for a stronger flavor.
- Parsley – skip the dried it doesn’t have near as much flavor as fresh.
- Mayonnaise – use good quality mayonnaise for best flavor, such as Hellman’s/Best Foods. I really does make a difference since there’s a fair amount used.
- Dijon mustard – feel free to add more to taste if you like a stronger mustard flavor.
- Bread or lettuce for serving.
How to Make the Best Chicken Salad
This is a super simple recipe and only 1 bowl is required. To make it:
- Add chicken to a large mixing bowl.
- Pour lemon juice over chicken.
- Add celery, green onions, parsley, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon zest.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Toss to combine.
How to Cook Chicken for Chicken Salad
I love the convenience and flavor of a rotisserie chicken here (chicken cooked with bones on has more flavor), but you can definitely cook the chicken yourself (or use some left from a dinner the night before).
- To slow cook chicken breasts simply place 3 medium boneless skinless chicken breasts or 2 large bone-in skin on chicken breasts in a slow cooker, season with salt and pepper, cook on low 3 – 5 hours until cooked through (bone-in will take near greater time, boneless near lesser time).
- Poach chicken in simmering chicken broth until cooked to 165 in center.
- To bake chicken see this method. You won’t need to use all the seasoning just salt and pepper.
- You could even pan sear the chicken. Pound boneless skinless chicken breasts even then season with salt and pepper. Sear in 1 Tbsp oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until 165 in the center, about 5 – 6 minutes per side.
What to Serve Chicken Salad On?
- whole grain or multi-grain bread
- fresh baked crusty bread
- tortilla or wrap
- pita pocket bread
- lettuce leaves
Can I Use Canned Chicken?
I used to make chicken salad with canned chicken and yes it works just fine. But keep in mind it just won’t taste quite as good, the next time around try it with freshly cooked. If using canned be sure to drain well so the dressing doesn’t get overly wet.
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. It’s good with diced grapes or apples (omit the celery if adding 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.
How Can I Make it Healthy?
- For a lighter, healthier option substitute with light mayonnaise or 1/4 cup mayo and 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt.
What to Sides to Serve with It?
- Rainbow Fruit Salad or fresh fruit
- A simple soup like this 5 ingredient Tomato Soup
- Potato chips or veggie chips
- Strawberry Lemonade
More Chicken Salad Recipes You’ll Love:
- Curry Chicken Salad
- Almond Poppy Seed Chicken Salad
- Greek Chicken Salad
- Apple Pecan and Rosemary Chicken Salad
- BLTA Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps
Follow Cooking Classy
Chicken Salad Recipe
- 3 cups cooked diced chicken breasts, cold
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup diced celery (about 2 small)
- 1/3 cup chopped green onions* (about 2)
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise**
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 3/4 tsp lemon zest
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Bread slices or lettuce leaves for serving
- Add chicken to a large mixing bowl, pour lemon juice over chicken. Add celery, green onions, parsley, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately in bread or lettuce leaves or chill in refrigerator up to 1 day.
- *Red onion can be substituted in place of green for a stronger flavor if desired.
- *Light mayonnaise can be substituted for a lighter option or substitute 1/4 cup of the mayo with plain Greek yogurt.
- Try it with fresh fruit such as 1 diced apple or 1 cup halved grapes. It's delicious!
- Delicious toppings on the sandwich include lettuce, bacon, tomatoes, and sliced avocados.
- Nutrition includes chicken salad only, no bread no extra toppings.