Best chicken salad — This best chicken salad recipe has endless possibilities for add-ons and toppings. There are so many ways serve this classic dish, and it comes together in just 20 minutes!
Which came first, the chicken salad or the egg salad? All kidding aside, chicken salad really is the perfect menu item, isn’t it?
It’s easy to make, universally popular, perfect for feeding a crowd, and can serve as brunch, lunch, or dinner. And this recipe will give you the best chicken salad that is flavorful and fruity, light and delicious.
I, Rebecca always have this classic chicken salad recipe on hand. You can make it ahead of time for easy, quick serving at a party, picnic, or gathering. The toppings and ways to serve the salad are also endless!
The seasonings here are simple, maybe surprising, and so delicious. Garlic, salt, and pepper are pretty standard.
But the added dash of curry gives an added bit of flavor that’s unexpected but so pleasant!
Ingredients Needed To Make The Best Chicken Salad
- Cooked shredded chicken — I prefer rotisserie chicken. Poached chicken and baked chicken breasts are other great types of chicken to use. If you’re in a pinch, use canned chicken that has been drained.
- Chopped grapes
- Diced apples
- Optional: chopped or sliced almonds — I highly recommend almonds for that subtle crunch. And don’t skip out on them if you can, because nuts are good saturated fat!
- Mayonnaise — You can sub the mayo for greek yogurt instead if you want to make this recipe healthier and egg-free.
- Sour cream
- Curry — My secret ingredient!
- Garlic powder
- Lemon juice
- Salt and black pepper — to taste
- Optional: chopped green onions — to garnish
What Is The Best Chicken To Use When Making A Chicken Salad?
I like to use rotisserie chicken. It’s easy and delicious! To roast your own chicken breasts, preheat the oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Place 4 large chicken breasts on the foil and brush both sides generously with olive oil. (They’ll cook best if they’re already at room temperature.) Then, sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
Place the pan in the oven and bake the chicken for 20-25 minutes. Remove them when they measure 160° on an internal thermometer, or the juices run clear when you pierce them with a fork.
Allow the chicken to rest for 10-15 minutes. Then, shred it or cut into cubes. Let it cool completely before tossing with the fruit and dressing.
You can also use store-brought rotisserie chicken. It will save you a lot of prep time! Plus, I always seem to have some leftover so this is the best recipe to make sure the chicken doesn’t go to waste.
How To Shred Chicken
Simply use your hands or a fork to shred your chicken. Chicken tears so easily!
If you are using leftover chicken that’s been in the fridge, roughly chop it up into thin slices.
You can also shred chicken in a blender on the low setting. A 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup should be one serving.
Chicken Salad Variations
This recipe calls for chopped grapes, but can definitely substrate the grapes for different fruit (or even vegetables!)
Just make sure that it’s sturdy enough to not get smashed in the stirring process and won’t go bad quickly when your chicken salad is in the refrigerator. Berries, for example, would not hold up well for chilling.
Some great alternatives or add-ons include:
- Canned mandarin oranges
- Diced celery
- Pineapple tidbits
- Raisins or cranberries
- Fresh dill
- A dash of dijon mustard
- Or pretty much anything else that strikes your fancy!
How To Make The Best Chicken Salad
1 — Start by shredding 4 cups of cooked chicken. Make sure the chicken has cooled completely.
2 — Chop the apple, almonds (if using) and quarter the grapes.
3 — Toss the fruit and nuts with the chicken in a large mixing bowl. Stir them all together until evenly distributed.
4 — In a small bowl, make the dressing by stirring together the mayonnaise, sour cream, sugar, garlic powder, curry, pepper and lemon juice. Stir for a couple of minutes to be sure that all of the dressing ingredients are smooth and that the sugar has dissolved. Salt and pepper to taste.
5 — Pour the dressing over the chicken and fruit mixture. Use a large spoon to toss it all until the chicken is thoroughly covered and completely coated. Taste it to make sure it is well seasoned. If not, season with salt.
6 — Chill until cold, at least for two hours. The flavors will be even better if you let the chicken salad refrigerate overnight.
7 — Garnish of chopped green onions. Serve with bread or on a bed of fresh salad greens.
Serving Ideas For The Best Chicken Salad
A half to three quarters of a cup of chicken salad is generally a good servings size, depending on what you’re serving it on and with.
Here are some ideas for how to plate your chicken salad:
- Serve it as a chicken salad sandwich with any sandwich bread of your choice, though something light and fluffy compliments it perfectly!
- You can serve it open faced on a slice of crusty toast with some mashed avocado on top.
- …Or have it in a croissant for a slightly fancier vibe. It’s a good idea to have some mixed greens to add to your sandwiches for an added layer of texture and flavor!
- Serve a scoop of chicken salad on a bed of lettuce for a lovely presentation that’s also gluten free! It’s a salad on a salad.
- Scoop it in a tortilla for a chicken salad wrap.
- Serve this as an appetizer dip along with crackers and celery.
- Stuff it in a pepper.
- Mix it together with some bow tie pasta.
How To Store Chicken Salad
Chicken salad should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. And it will keep for up to 5 days.
It can also be stored in the freezer for up to 1 month. However, we recommend just refrigerating the chicken salad since the almonds won’t be as crunch once frozen.
Can You Make It Ahead Of Time?
The salad should be served shortly after it has been assembled. Although the chicken and the dressing can be prepared several days ahead of time, you may use them within a week. After it has sat in the refrigerator for a few hours, we find the salad to be even better.
More Lunch And Dinner Ideas
Looking for more recipes to cook at home? Here are some of our favorite lunch and dinner ideas from the archives —
- Caico e pepe pasta
- Easy meatloaf
- Instant Pot white bean & vegetable soup
- Orange chicken
- One sheet rosemary baked chicken
- Roasted garlic white bean Alfredo
- Crockpot meatballs
- Turkey chili
- Huli Huli Hawaiian chicken kebabs
- Whole30 Avocado chicken salad wraps
- Watermelon flatbread feta pizza
Best Chicken Salad
Best Chicken Salad Recipe
- Large mixing bowl
- Small bowl
- Large spoon
- 4 cups cooked and shredded chicken
- 3/4 cup grapes chopped into quarters
- 3/4 cup diced apples
- 1/4 cup chopped or sliced almonds optional
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 dash curry
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Makes 6-8 servings.
- Store the chicken salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for 4-5 days.
- To roast your own chicken breasts:
- Preheat the oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Place 4 large chicken breasts (they’ll cook best if they’re already at room temperature) on the foil and brush both sides generously with olive oil, then sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
- Place the pan in the oven and bake the chicken for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove them when they measure 160° on an internal thermometer, or the juices run clear when you pierce them with a fork.
- Allow the chicken to rest for 10-15 minutes, then shred it or cut into cubes.
- Let it cool completely before tossing with the fruit and dressing.
- Shred the cook cooked chicken. Make sure the chicken has cooled completely before mixing.
- Chop the apple, almonds (if using) and quarter the grapes.
- Toss the fruit and nuts with the chicken in a large mixing bowl. Stir them all together until evenly distributed.
- In a small bowl, make the dressing by stirring together the mayonnaise, sour cream, sugar, garlic powder, curry, pepper and lemon juice. Stir for a couple of minutes to be sure that all of the dressing ingredients are smooth and that the sugar has dissolved. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the dressing over the chicken and fruit mixture. Use a large spoon to toss it all until the chicken is thoroughly covered and completely coated. Taste it to make sure it is well seasoned. If not, season with salt.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until the salad is thoroughly chilled. The flavors will be even better if you let the chicken salad refrigerate overnight.
- Garnish of chopped green onions. Serve with bread or on a bed of fresh salad greens.
Don’t forget to share your chicken salad with us on Instagram using the hashtag #sugarandclothloves. We always love seeing all of your creations! And if you’re looking for more quick and delicious recipes you can find them all right here with a few cocktails to go along with them!