The Best Chicken Salad Recipe Ideas

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Classic chicken salad only uses a few simple ingredients but sometimes you want something more! Find all the best chicken salad recipes ideas to add flavor and fun to your chicken salad.

313 CALORIES2g CARBS25g FAT19g PROTEIN
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If you are looking for ways to make your chicken salad more exciting, we have rounded up all the best chicken salad ideas for you!

When it comes to a quick and easy lunch, it's hard to beat chicken salad. It's nutritious, packed with protein, and can be served in so many different ways. Make a chicken salad sandwich, serve it on a bed of greens, turn it into a wrap, or serve it with sliced vegetables and crackers as a dip. 

The other amazing thing about chicken salad is that it is a great way to utilize leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken. Although you can poach chicken just for salad, more often we find we use leftover chicken.

With that said, there are so many different ways to make chicken salad. It can be the creamy picnic salad we have all tried or something totally different. 

Looking for more easy lunch ideas? Don't miss the best salad recipes and make-ahead lunch ideas.

The Best Recipe Ideas for Chicken Salad

From classic takes on this deli favorite to creative concoctions using spices, vegetables, fruit, and more. we have also included the perfect base recipe so you can build your own chicken salad combinations. 

Healthy Chicken Salad

118 CAL 10 MIN
Healthy chicken salad with shredded chicken, celery, greek yogurt, mayonnaise, and spices in a bowl.
This is your classic chicken salad with a creamy dressing, lots of chicken, and crunch from celery. This is the chicken salad recipe to build from adding in all your favorite mix-ins. This version uses a combination of Greek yogurt and mayonnaise to lighten things up, but you could use all mayo for a more traditional approach.
If you aren't serving chicken salad in lettuce wraps, it's time to start! Not only is it light and healthy, but it's also a great way to turn the chicken salad into a tasty appetizer. This recipe has dried cranberries and celery, adding lots of crunch and sweetness.

Buffalo Chicken Salad

121 CAL 10 MIN
Buffalo chicken salad with fresh spinach, a whole wheat wrap, and a spoon in a bowl.
Buffalo wing fans will love this Buffalo Chicken Salad made with buffalo sauce, celery, and carrots. There is an option to also add ranch or blue cheese for even more wing flavor. This salad makes the best sandwiches and is also as a big green salad.

Avocado Chicken Salad

179 CAL 10 MIN
Avocado chicken salad with shredded chicken breast, avocados, lime juice, and cilantro in a bowl.
If mayonnaise isn't your thing, then Avocado Chicken Salad is the answer. This chicken salad is also naturally dairy-free, Paleo, and Whole30 friendly. Add lots of lime juice to the avocado to prevent it from browning and add cilantro, jalapeno, and onion for a Mexican spin.
If you want a creative chicken salad recipe, this is it! Packed with feta cheese, black olives, cucumbers, roasted red peppers, and fresh herbs for Greek and Mediterranean vibes. This is delicious served in warm pita bread.
For those who like a sweet chicken salad, this recipe with red grapes, crunchy celery, lemon juice, and a touch of Dijon mustard is so good! If you are making it for meal prep, swap in raisins or dried cranberries.

Waldorf Chicken Salad

229 CAL 10 MIN
Waldorf chicken salad wrapped in lettuce with grapes, walnuts, and whole wheat bread.
This spin on a Waldorf salad has red grapes, apples., celery, and walnuts. Its creamy, sweet, and has plenty of crunch. We love serving this fancy chicken salad in lettuce cups or open-faced on toast points for parties.

Curried Chicken Salad

173 CAL 10 MIN
Curried chicken salad with grapes on apple slices.
If you love some spice and lots of flavor in your chicken salad, then this Curry Chicken Salad is for you! Made with a combination of curry powder and mango chutney, this chicken salad is anything but bland.
There is a really delicious deli that serves this fruit-packed chicken salad. It's the perfect combination of savory and sweet and makes a really tasty sandwich on hearty wheat bread.

Blackened Chicken Salad

174 CAL 10 MIN
Blackened chicken salad served in lettuce wraps.
If you love things spicy and smoky, this Blackened Chicken Salad is a great alternative to the traditional version. All you need is some blackening spice to kick up the dressing and make this really tasty chicken salad.
For a long time, Costco sold a really popular chicken salad packed with cranberries and almonds. This is an easy-to-make, at-home version of that chicken salad with dried cranberries, almonds, and poppy seeds.

Ways to Serve Chicken Salad

Another way to get creative with chicken salad is to think about new ways to serve it. Here are some of the best ways to serve chicken salad. 

  • Sandwiches and wraps
  • With salad greens
  • Lettuce wraps
  • Served in hollowed out tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini
  • In pita bread or whole grain tortillas
  • With crackers or chips
  • With raw veggies
  • Served on roasted sweet potato slices
  • In baked wonton shells
  • Stuffed into hard-boiled eggs
  • Wrapped up and cut into pinwheels
  • Served in an avocado half

How to make bland chicken salad taste better?

The most common reason chicken salad tastes bland is from a lack of salt. Always start by adding some kosher salt and pepper to your chicken salad to see if that fixes the problem.

If it doesn't make the chicken more flavorful, then it is time to play with the spices and additions. Consider adding some lemon juice, an extra scoop of mayonnaise, some garlic or onion powder, or some crunchy celery to add more flavor. 

How to make chicken for chicken salad?

If you need to make chicken for chicken salad, the most common method is poaching the chicken in water or broth. You can also make grilled chicken, baked chicken, or slow cooked chicken. 

Here are the most common methods:

  • Poaching chicken: Poaching is an easy option. Start by adding the chicken breast in a single layer in the bottom of a large pot. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the chicken with broth or water until there is about half an inch of liquid above the chicken. Bring to a boil and then immediately turn down to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let the chicken continue to cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and chop or shred once cooled.
  • Grilled chicken: Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Then grill for 4-6 minutes per side. Let cool and chop into smaller pieces for the salad.
  • Baked chicken: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Brush the chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray so that the chicken breasts touch each other but don't overlap. Cook for 18-20 minutes until they are cooked through to 165 degrees.
  • Slow cooker chicken: Place the chicken breast in a single layer on the bottom of your crockpot. Season with salt, pepper, and anything else you like. Cook on low for 2.5-4 hours.
  • Rotisserie chicken: If you don't want to cook the chicken, simply pick up a rotisserie chicken. Remove the skin and chop or shred the cooked chicken.
  • Canned chicken: Another option if you don't want to cook is canned chicken. Make sure to fully drain the chicken before using it for salad and make sure not to oversalt, since canned chicken can be salty already.

What is the best way to store chicken salad?

Chicken salad should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.  Depending on what you have added to the chicken salad, it may only last for 1-2 days without getting wet or soggy. 

If you are making chicken salad with more watery ingredients like grapes, cucumbers, or pickles it is best to store them separately and add them before serving. The same suggestion goes for nuts and seeds that you want to stay crunchy.

Can chicken salad be frozen?

Due to the mayonnaise and yogurt, chicken salad does not freeze well. It is best to freeze the shredded chicken by itself and then make a fresh batch of chicken salad with the defrosted chicken. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Since chicken salad has chicken and mayonnaise it begins to spoil quickly when it isn't refrigerated. Always make sure to keep chicken salad cold and do not keep it longer than 3-4 days to prevent it from spoiling. 

Chicken salad shouldn't be kept out of the fridge for more than 90 minutes on a cool day and 30-60 minutes on a warm day or bacteria will begin to form. 

The most common way to make chicken salad without mayonnaise is to swap in Greek yogurt. Since Greek yogurt can be very tangy, many people like to use half Greek yogurt and half sour cream.

For a dairy-free option, use mashed avocado to make chicken salad. 

If the eggs in the mayonnaise are a concern, you can swap in vegan mayonnaise. 

The Recipe
Chicken salad sandwich with shredded chicken, mayonnaise, celery, salt, and pepper on a brioche roll.

Classic Chicken Salad

PREP TIME: 5 Min
COOK TIME: 10 Min
TOTAL TIME: 15 Min
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Ingredients

USMETRICS
  • 2 cups cooked boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1/3 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt (or any fat content)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (or light mayo)
  • 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp celery seed

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Instructions

(Hide Photos)
1

Mix together the greek yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, onion powder, salt, pepper, and celery seeds.

Mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, and spices in a bowl.
2

Stir in the chicken and celery. Taste and season if needed.

Chicken salad being mixed with a spoon in a bowl.
3

If possible, store in the fridge an hour before serving for the flavors to deepen and combine. When ready serve as sandwiches, lettuce wraps, in salads, or as a wrap.

Sandwich being built with chicken salad on a brioche bun.
Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 313
Calories from Fat 221
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 25g
38%
Saturated Fat 4g
21%
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 14g
0%
Cholesterol 72mg
20%
Sodium 870mg
38%
Total Carbohydrate 2g
0%
Dietary Fiber 0g
1%
Sugars 1g
Protein 19g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

Notes

For a more classic deli chicken salad, replace the Greek yogurt with more mayonnaise.

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About the authorMeet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
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