Use up your leftover chicken with this easy chicken salad recipe! A perfect balance of savory, meaty, sweet, & nutty, in a creamy dressing.

Chicken salad recipe, prepared and served on a split croissant.

Today I’m sharing my best chicken salad recipe! I think you’re going to love it.

It’s simple and quick to make, but so good! I really think it stands up to anything you’d get in a restaurant!

This chicken salad has plenty of yummy add-ins, to make it really interesting to eat. In one bite you might get a sweet grape, while in another some crisp, juicy celery. Yet another will give you the tender crunch of a toasty nut. There’s so much going on! And it’s all unified by the loveliest creamy, slightly lemon-y dressing.

It’s great heaped onto a sandwich, or on buttery crackers, or even just on a bed of lettuce.

I love it for lunch or a snack, but you could even make a light dinner out of it.

Chicken recipes are always on heavy rotation at my house! If you’re looking for something else to make with chicken, be sure to check out my Buffalo Chicken Dip, my Chicken Marsala recipe, and my Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup too.

Chicken salad with celery, grapes, and nuts, served on a croissant with a pale background.

Table of Contents

Jump to Recipe

What is chicken salad?

Chicken salad can mean a few things, but in this case it’s a mixture of cooked chicken and other flavorful add-ins, tossed together in a creamy dressing with a hint of lemon.

Why this is the best chicken salad recipe

  1. Tastes amazing: There’s so much interest here! From all the different add-ins to the creamy dressing, it all balances out to an incredibly delicious experience.
  2. Few ingredients: You’ll only need a handful of basics to make it.
  3. Easy to make: It comes together in a matter of minutes!
  4. Versatile: Swap out or add in other ingredients to suit your own personal taste.

What does it taste like?

This chicken salad recipe is mostly savory.

There’s a hint of sweet onion and a whisper of lemon, as well as meaty chunks of chicken, crisp celery, and sweet grapes. And I like to toss in a few crunchy nuts as well!

Ingredients

Ingredients for making chicken salad, with text labels.

Chicken: Cooked chicken forms the basis of this dish. I typically use leftover chicken that’s been roughly chopped or shredded. If you don’t have any on hand, season a couple of boneless, skinless breasts or thighs with salt and pepper and bake them in a 425-degree F oven until they reach an internal temperature of 170 degrees F (approx. 25 minutes).

Grapes: I like red grapes best for the color contrast, but any kind will do! Golden raisins are a good choice too.

Celery: A couple of ribs of crisp celery add a signature flavor and a juicy crunch.

Nuts: I like either walnuts, slivered almonds, or pecans, but if you have a nut allergy I think sunflower seeds would be really good too!

Mayonnaise: I love anything that’s rich and creamy, and mayo is no exception! Full-fat mayonnaise will have the best flavor, but you can use light mayo, Greek yogurt (make sure it’s unsweetened!) or a combination of the two for a lower-fat option.

Lemon: I like to add a little bit of lemon zest to “lift” the flavors of this chicken salad recipe.

Seasonings: Onion powder adds a bit of sweetness without the sharp heat of raw onion, and ground black pepper adds a subtle warmth. Depending on how your chicken was cooked, you may want to also add a little kosher salt to enhance all the other flavors. And if you like fresh herbs, I think a little dill or chopped tarragon would be lovely as well.

Special equipment

How to make this chicken salad recipe

There’s really only one step to this recipe!

Step 1: Mix it up

Place the chicken, grapes, celery, walnuts, mayonnaise, onion powder, lemon zest, and black pepper in a large bowl.

Chicken salad ingredients in a large glass mixing bowl.

Then just gently toss everything together until the dressing coats every last morsel!

Mixing up chicken salad in a large bowl with a silicone spatula.

Give it a taste, and add a pinch of salt if you think it needs it.

How to serve chicken salad

My favorite way to serve chicken salad is on a croissant. Croissants are so light and buttery! They make the perfect vehicle. If you really want to be a superstar, try making your own with my easy homemade croissant recipe.

For a really fancy presentation, hollow out a tomato, citrus fruit, or cooked squash and spoon the chicken salad in.

This also makes a really nice snack, just heaped onto buttery crackers.

For a healthier option, try it on my nutty whole-grain Irish brown bread or my soft whole-wheat bread!

Or just eat it by the spoonful, or on a bed of tender leafy greens.

Expert tips

Use leftover chicken: I love to make a whole roast chicken for Sunday dinners, and there’s always lots left over! Once it’s cool I hand-pull it into bite-sized shreds, pop it into an airtight container, and freeze it. It’s perfect for making all kinds of dishes, including this chicken salad!

Or cook it fresh: If you don’t happen to have any left over just season a boneless skinless breast or two with salt and pepper and bake it in the oven until it hits 170 degrees F in the thickest part. Rest it, then chop it up!

Variations: Add a pinch of curry powder or garam masala, for a curried chicken salad. This would go really well with golden raisins and slivered almonds too. Or add a tender herb such as dill or tarragon. Chopped hard-boiled eggs can also be really delicious in this recipe, as can poppy seeds or scallions!

Leaf lettuce: If you’re making a chicken salad sandwich, it’s not a bad idea to place some butter lettuce or Boston bibb lettuce leaves under the chicken salad. This will keep the bottom piece of bread from getting too soggy.

Chicken salad recipes prepared and served as a sandwich.

Frequently asked questions

Should I use dark meat or white meat?

You can use either dark meat or white meat in this recipe. Or both!

Dark meat tends to be more flavorful and moist than white meat, but it’s higher in calories.

Can I make this with turkey instead?

You absolutely can and it tastes fantastic!

I’d suggest also adding a leaf or two of fresh sage (chopped) because turkey and sage get along so well together. Dried cranberries would be nice too!

Can you make it ahead?

One hundred percent!

It’s fine to leave this chicken salad out on your buffet line for an hour or so, but any leftovers should be refrigerated. Transfer them to an airtight container, and they should last for around 5 to 7 days.

I’m not sure I’d freeze it. I’m thinking it could separate, and it might do something weird to the fresh fruit and veg as well.

What is the serving size?


This recipe makes around 4 cups of chicken salad.

I’ve figured on a serving size of 1/2 cup, so you should get around 8 servings out of the batch.

The nutritional info below is for 1/2 cup of chicken salad, and it doesn’t include the croissant shown in the pics. It’s just for the chicken salad alone.

A recipe for chicken salad, served on a croissant with celery and grapes in the background.

A few more of my best salad recipes

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Chicken salad recipe, prepared and served on a split croissant.
5 stars (1 rating)

Chicken Salad

Servings: 8 1/2-cup servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Use up your leftover chicken with this easy chicken salad recipe! A perfect balance of savory, sweet, meaty, & nutty, in a creamy dressing.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (280 g) cooked chicken, roughly chopped or shredded
  • 1 cup (151 g) red grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup (58.5 g) chopped walnuts
  • 2 ribs (80 g) celery, chopped
  • 1 cup (224 g) mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) lemon zest, (from about half a lemon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1 g) onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (0.5 g) ground black pepper
  • kosher salt*, to taste

Instructions
 

  • Place the chicken, grapes, walnuts, celery, mayonnaise, lemon zest, onion powder, and black pepper in a large bowl and toss gently to coat.
  • Taste, and add salt if needed.

Notes

*You may not need salt if your cooked chicken is already seasoned.  
Serving: 0.5cup, Calories: 296kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 27g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 16g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 36mg, Sodium: 230mg, Potassium: 241mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 89IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 18mg, Iron: 1mg
Cuisine: American
Course: Main Course, Salad, Snack
Tried this recipe?Mention @bakingamoment on Instagram or tag #bakingamoment.

Author

  • Allie

    Allie is the creator and owner of Baking a Moment. She has been developing, photographing, videographing, and writing and sharing recipes here since 2012.

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