Easy, quick and delicious, this is my favorite chicken salad recipe! It takes just minutes to throw together, but is bursting with flavor!

A really good chicken salad recipe is one of those things everyone needs in their back pocket for just the right time.

It’s perfect to serve at parties or luncheons, but even better, it makes a fast weeknight meal, and is #1 on our list when it’s hot and no one feels like cooking (but everyone still feels like eating!).

chicken salad on croissant on white plate

Perfect Chicken Salad

For someone that is super picky about her chicken salad, it’s taken me a while to get my version of chicken salad just right.

At first glance, it doesn’t look all that different than the myriad of chicken salad recipes already residing on the internet. (The add-ins are adaptable; more details below.)

We’ve got:

  • cooked, shredded chicken (rotisserie chicken for the win!)
  • halved grapes
  • diced celery
  • chopped nuts (I prefer cashews or slivered almonds)
  • chopped green onions or chives
  • fresh parsley
shredded chicken, green onions, celery, grapes and nuts in glass bowl

But it’s the dressing that really shines and sets it apart.

While I’m not opposed to mayo in most real life circumstances, I’m not necessarily a fan of chicken salad recipes that use mayo for the dressing and not much else.

It only takes a few simple, extra ingredients to take the dressing next level.

Adding a bit of sour cream, fresh lemon juice (or red wine vinegar), Dijon mustard, and a couple pinches of pantry seasonings to the mayo, and you’ve got my favorite chicken salad in the history of ever.

chicken salad ingredients with creamy dressing in glass bowl

How to Serve Chicken Salad

You can serve this amazing chicken salad a number of ways.

It’s delicious on top of lettuce leaves, like romaine, endive, butter, or bibb. And it’s fantastic on many different types of bread – with or without lettuce.

Hearty multigrain bread slices are perfect with chicken salad. So are decadent croissants. And it’s delicious rolled up in flatbread or tortillas!

And I wouldn’t be any kind of friend if I didn’t tell you this chicken salad is pretty fantastic when you forego lettuce OR bread and eat it straight out of the bowl.

chicken salad recipe on bed of lettuce leaves on white platter

My Favorite Chicken Salad for the Win

This chicken salad has become a go-to meal for us, especially in the hot summer months. It’s light and refreshing but still filling and satisfying.

I’m sure if you asked ten people to make chicken salad, you’d get ten strikingly different versions. This happens to be my favorite classic chicken salad, but the salad ingredients are wildly adaptable.

If you’re a crazy, live-on-the-edge soul who adds things like mandarin oranges or pineapple or dried fruit to your chicken salad, you can still find a happy place with this classic chicken salad recipe. The add-ins can be changed up an infinite number of ways; it’s the chicken and dressing that are the foundation (and that dressing is delicious!).

(Just maybe don’t tell me if you add raisins, I’m not sure my chicken salad tolerance extends that far. -signed, your resident raisin hater)

And stay tuned for another chicken salad recipe coming soon. I know! Who am I and how did I get here? It’s a delicious curried chicken salad that has a dressing like you’ve never seen before. YUM!

chicken salad sandwich on croissant cut in half on white plate

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My Favorite Chicken Salad

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
chicken salad on whole croissant on white plate

Ingredients

Chicken Salad:

  • 4 cups cooked, shredded (or small chopped) chicken (see note)
  • 1 cup small diced celery
  • 1 cup red grapes, halved or quartered
  • 1/2 cup chopped slivered almonds or cashews
  • 2-3 tablespoons finely diced green onions or chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Dressing:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse, kosher salt (use a bit less for table salt)
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper (I use coarsely ground)
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients until smooth.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and mix until evenly combined. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. Serve on lettuce, bread, croissants, or rolled up in tortillas or flatbread.

Notes

Chicken: A rotisserie chicken works great here. Otherwise, here's a great method for cooking chicken for recipes like this. Another option is to throw a couple chicken breasts in an electric pressure cooker with 1-2 cups chicken broth, salt and pepper, and cook for 8-10 minutes high pressure. Naturally release pressure for 10 minutes, then quick release remaining pressure. Drain liquid and shred chicken to use in recipe.

Dressing: the flavors of the dressing get better with time so while the chicken salad can be served right away, it tastes better if it is refrigerated for 1-2 hours. The dressing can be made ahead several days in advance.

Adaptable: this recipe is very adaptable. Leave out ingredients (like nuts) if you can't eat them/don't like them, or add in others that you like (dried cranberries, drained mandarin oranges, etc).

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Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe