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Easy Chicken Salad Recipe

Updated on August 22, 2013
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Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" and "Taste of Home." She belongs to Cook's Recipe Testers for "Cook's Illustrated."

Easy Chicken Salad
Easy Chicken Salad | Source

Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Simple and satisfying, easy to prepare and versatile, chicken salad makes the perfect summertime meal. This recipe calls for fresh ingredients available year round in most U.S. grocery stores.

Chicken salad is also a great way to use up leftovers, whether it's grilled, baked or rotisserie chicken. Or you can buy chicken breasts and poach them, a fast and easy method that doesn't heat up the house during hot summer months.

What's so special about this recipe? Crisp celery perfectly complements tender chicken chunks. Tart apple contrasts nicely with the sweetness of dried cranberries. Almond slivers add a pleasant crunch. Fold in creamy seasoned mayonnaise and you have a cool salad that can be served on croissants, avocado halves, flour tortillas or pita pockets. Stick around after the recipe for more serving suggestions.


  • Use leftover chicken or poached chicken breasts.
  • Reduce salt if using seasoned chicken such as rotisserie.
  • If you have access to fresh herbs, try chives and dill.
  • During wintertime when fresh herbs are few and far in between, we use seasoning mixes. Our favorite is Chef Paul Prudhomme's Poultry Seasoning (see right).
  • Try not to overwhelm the delicate flavors of this salad with too many dried herbs. Try sea salt instead of table salt, which has a metallic after-taste.
  • For lower fat chicken salad, purchase low fat real mayonnaise and plain yogurt.
  • Choose crisp apples such as Granny Smith, Royal Gala, Fuji or any variety common to your area.
  • Dried cranberries add sweetness to this salad while fresh lemon juice brightens it.
  • Chicken salad can be made ahead of time. The second day, after flavors have married, it is even tastier. Add a little more mayonnaise to freshen up the salad.

Chicken Salad Sandwich
Chicken Salad Sandwich | Source

Easy Chicken Salad

5 stars from 8 ratings of Garden Chicken Salad

Cook Time

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 15 min
Ready in: 30 min
Yields: Serves 6-8
Poaching chicken breasts
Poaching chicken breasts

How to Poach Chicken


  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tablespoon salt


  1. Pour water, bay leaf and salt into a large dutch oven.
  2. Place chicken breasts in water and poach, over medium heat, for about 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and tender.
  3. Chop chicken. Should equal about 6 cups chopped.

Dice & season the chicken
Dice & season the chicken
Combine all ingredients
Combine all ingredients


  • 6 cups cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Herbes de Provence, poultry seasoning or dill, if fresh herbs unavailable
  • 1/4 cup green onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups crisp apple such as Granny Smith, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons almond slivers
  • 1 cup real mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • chopped fresh dill and chives, if available


  1. Sprinkle onion powder, salt and dried herbs (if using) over hot, chopped chicken. Chill. Omit dried herbs if fresh herbs are available.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine chilled chicken and remaining ingredients.
  3. Serve chicken salad on croissants or multi-grain bread for delicious sandwiches, or serve atop avocado or melon halves for a lower carb meal.

Serving Suggestions

  • Chicken Salad is especially refreshing when served with The Best Limeade or Tangy Mango Lemonade
  • Stuff Chewy Whole Grain Pita Bread with chicken salad
  • Make chicken salad lettuce cups by scooping it onto lettuce leaves
  • Heap chicken salad on avocado halves
  • Roll it in flour tortillas for chicken salad wraps
  • Spread chicken salad on croissants or fresh rolls dressed with fresh baby spinach, crisp lettuce or alfalfa sprouts
  • Spoon chicken salad over a green garden salad and drizzle with honey dijon dressing


  • Substitute grapes halves or pear chunks for the apples
  • Try dried sweet or tart cherries instead of cranberries
  • Pair dried sweet cherries with tart apples/dried tart cherries with sweet apples
  • Experiment with other fresh herbs like tarragon or sage
  • Switch it up with walnuts, pine nuts, pecans or cashews instead of almonds
  • Curry powder is another seasoning that will spruce up your chicken salad

Chicken Salad on Avocado Halves
Chicken Salad on Avocado Halves | Source

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