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Ultimate Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is undoubtedly a classic recipe. Diced chicken is tossed with creamy textures and dotted with crisp celery, green onion, and fresh grapes.

But my version has a little something extra to make it the ultimate chicken salad recipe. It’s easy, healthy, bright, flavorful, and will make any summer meal a breeze.

Chicken salad in a white bowl with spoon.

When I think of chicken salad, I think of summer’s own version of comfort food. It’s creamy, filling, and filled with fresh and bright flavors. You get hints of Dijon mustard, juicy grapes, and crispy celery with every bite. And the best part? It keeps cooking to a minimum, making it the perfect throw-together meal.

But if you want to make the ultimate chicken salad, it’s really all about the herbs. And my secret ingredient – tarragon.

Tarragon pairs beautifully with the chicken and gives it that wow factor. Trust me, everybody will be coming back for seconds on this one. So hit the market, grab your salad ingredients, and follow along with me in the video below.

Chicken Salad Ingredients

While the ingredients are simple, it’s how their unique flavors meld together that’s key. Here’s what I use:

  • Chicken Breasts – I poach boneless skinless chicken breasts, but you could also use leftover rotisserie chicken.
  • Mayonnaise – The best creamy binder to mix all the ingredients together. And it’s easy to make mayonnaise at home!
  • Dijon Mustard – Just a little Dijon mustard adds great depth of flavor and a little spice.
  • Red Grapes – You could use red or green seedless grapes, I just love the contrasting color of red grapes.
  • Celery – I love my chicken salads to have that crisp celery crunch.
  • Green Onion – Green onions add that savory flavor without being too pungent, which is perfect.
  • Toasted Almonds – Toast your sliced almonds to bring out that nutty flavor.
  • Parsley – One of the best herbs for adding to salads, just chop up a few tablespoons.
  • Tarragon – The best secret ingredient! You’ll be amazed at how much flavor just a little bit of tarragon adds to the salad.
  • Lemon Juice – For that bright freshness.
  • Salt and Pepper – Always season to your personal preference.

Chicken salad ingredients in a mixing bowl.

How To Poach Chicken

I love to use poached chicken in this recipe as it’s easy, healthy, and flavorful. It also means you don’t have to turn your oven on if it’s a hot sunny day outside. A definite bonus.

If done correctly, poaching can yield one of the most tender pieces of chicken you’ve ever had. To nail this every time, follow the simple steps below.

  1. Place your chicken breasts into a wide pot or pan, so that they’re not overlapped or crowded.
  2. Cover the chicken with cold water. Season the water with a bit of salt to give it some flavor.
  3. Slowly bring the water to a gentle simmer. Then, reduce the heat back to low and cover the pan.
  4. Let the chicken simmer for about 10 minutes. Remember, patience is key for this low and slow process!
  5. Check to see the doneness of your chicken. If its internal temperature reads 160-165 degrees Fahrenheit, turn the heat off.
  6. Let the chicken rest for a minute or two after you’ve removed it from the pot. This will allow the chicken juices to redistribute.
  7. Chill the chicken in the fridge. This is key as you need cold chicken in this recipe.

Can you use baked chicken or store-bought rotisserie chicken? Of course. While I prefer poached chicken, almost any chicken works in this recipe. Just make sure you have about four cups of diced or shredded chicken.

Chicken salad in a white bowl with spoon and small bowl of diced celery in the background.

How To Make Chicken Salad

Now that you have beautifully tender chicken breasts, it’s time to assemble the salad. And there’s really only three steps:

  • Toast: Lightly toast 1/2 cup of almonds in a pan on the stove. Let them cool completely to room temperature.
  • Slice and Dice: First, dice up your chicken breasts into small 1/2-inch pieces. Then quarter the grapes, dice the celery, parsley and tarragon, and slice the green onion.
  • Mix: Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and mix everything together until it’s well combined. Season with a bit of salt and pepper – and you’re done!

Chicken salad is best served when it’s cold. So let the mixture chill in the fridge before serving. This also helps all the flavors meld together for the tastiest salad.

Chicken Salad Recipe Video

Want to see how I make this recipe, step-by-step? Watch the video below!

Chicken Salad Variations

Aside from the ingredients listed, you have a few options to play with when it comes to texture and flavor.

  • Vary the nuts. Swap the almonds for pecans or walnuts.
  • Mix up the fruit. You can omit the grapes and add diced apples, dried cranberries or dried cherries.
  • Change the onions. If green onions aren’t your thing, you can swap them for finely diced red onions.
  • Make it creamier. Swap the mayo for greek yogurt or do half and half.

Chicken salad sandwiches sliced in half on a serving tray.

How to Serve It

Sometimes I find myself eating this chicken salad by the spoonful straight out of the bowl – because it’s that good. But to turn it into a meal, here’s a few ideas.

  • Sandwich: Stuff it between sandwich bread with layers of lettuce, spinach, or tomato slices.
  • Wrap: Turn it into a wrap with homemade cassava flour tortillas.
  • Lettuce Wrap: For a lighter, low-carb option, use large romaine or butter leaf lettuce to wrap it.
  • Extra Green Salad: Pour a spoonful on top of a bed of greens such as spinach.
  • Dip: Serve it with flax seed crackers or chips.

How Long Does Chicken Salad Last?

Since this recipe is meant to be chilled, don’t leave it out at room temperature for more than two hours. Otherwise, store it in the fridge for up to 3-5 days.

More Classic Salad Recipes

With the weather warming up, more salads are being added to the weekly rotation. Here’s a few light, fresh and healthy ideas to keep things interesting.

Chicken salad in a white bowl next to small bowls of diced celery, chopped parsley and fresh tarragon.
4.99 from 62 votes

Ultimate Chicken Salad Recipe

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Chicken salad is a classic salad recipe with diced chicken, creamy mayonnaise, crisp celery, green onion, sweet grapes, and fresh herbs. Watch the video above to see how I make it!

Ingredients

  • 2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 cup red grapes, quartered
  • 2 stalk celery, diced
  • 3 green onions (green and white parts), sliced
  • 2 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
  • 1 lemon , juiced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

To Make the Poached Chicken

  • Place the chicken breasts in a wide pot or pan and cover by about an inch with cold water. Season the water with salt. Optionally, you can add aromatics of your choice. Read my poached chicken recipe for more details.
    Two chicken breasts in a pot.
  • Turn the heat to medium until it reaches a gentle simmer. Then reduce the heat back to low and cover the pan. Let the chicken simmer for 8-12 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160-165 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the chicken and let it rest for a couple of minutes. Then chill in the fridge.

Chicken Salad Recipe

  • Transfer the cooled chicken to a cutting board and dice it into 1/2-inch pieces.
    Poached chicken on a cutting board.
  • Slice and dice the celery, green onion, grapes, parsley and tarragon. Add those ingredients to a mixing bowl along with the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Mix everything together until it's well combined. Let it chill in the fridge until you're ready to serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 524kcal, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 36g, Fat: 38g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 112mg, Sodium: 454mg, Potassium: 782mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 318IU, Vitamin C: 15mg, Calcium: 61mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chicken Salad, Chicken Salad Recipe, How To Make Chicken Salad
©Downshiftology. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
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140 comments on “Ultimate Chicken Salad”

  1. I have just made this! It’s just amazing. used dried parsley and dried tarragon; poached chicken tenderloins with two good slices of lemon. Only added s and p. I think it’s the best ever! We have Bama Mayonnaise here in the South. That’s what I use. What brand did you use?

  2. Good recipe but there was way too much mayo. Didn’t look anything like the picture 

  3. I don’t think AMAZING is enough to describe this recipe. It’s getting warmer here in Australia and this salad is THE ONE for this time. Full of flavours! 
    Thank you Lisa for another delicious recipe 

  4. I had a rotisserie chicken to use up since the other half picked up prime tenderloin for dinner.  I chopped it up last night to make chicken salad to use it up today.  I finally got my adult step kids out of the house so said, let me start making my own mayo again.  (Did you know mayo supposedly won’t emulsify when there is lightening?). I wanted to try again with my immersion blender and found your site!  And here I am.

    Loved the addition of the Tarragon!  I’m avoiding non berry sweet fruits and nuts at the moment to get my markers down so added extra celery for crunch.  I did add dill since I had added it to my shredded, diced chicken.  I also used white pepper instead of black.  But this was so good.  I can’t wait for the flavors to incorporate but had some with half an avocado.  I plan on doing that again and make a lettuce wrap with tomato, red onion and avocado over the next day and a half.  

    I’m definitely returning to poaching chicken again so will try with poached next time.  And then save the broth for the cauliflower soup you shared.

    Thank you for your site.  It’s a goldmine of yum!  

  5. Hi Lisa. This is one of many recipes I’ve tried from your website and all are fabulous! Just wanted to know if the nutrition details at the end are per portion or for the whole amount. I’m trying to count macros and the information you give is great. Saves me so much time! Thanks for the great website.

  6. I’m trying my sisters chicken salad with green grapes, celery, garden onions pecans tiny diced apple sweet pepper not bell I. Can fix this with my own measurements lol but I dont remember her dressing besides miracle whip. It was not white when she added the remaining ingreds I want to stay olive oil? Season to taste. Any idea will help. Thanks I love these recipes ie Tuna Egg salad chicken salad varieties lol I’m a salad hog maby that’s why I weigh 89 lbs lmbo. 😊♥️

  7. This looks delicious!
    Before trying out the recipe I just wanted to know if the nutritional facts are for the whole bowl or 1 serving? If it’s per serving how many grams are in 1 serving?
    Thanks!

    • The nutritional facts will always be per serving. And for this recipe, it’s about 1/2 a cup which is about 64 grams or a little over that :)

  8. Only after making & tasting it for the first time, Lisa it was delicious, I’m changing my eating from pies & pizzas and found your website last week. So easy to make (even for me) :) Looking forward to trying more of your recipes.

    • Welcome to the Downshiftology community John! Happy to hear you’re enjoying all my recipes so far!

  9. OMG!  This is by far the best chicken salad recipe!  I’ve made the chicken salad 4 times already.   It’s easy to make and so tasty.  Even my 11 and 9 year old niece and nephew love it and lets face it, kids are finicky eaters. Thanks Lisa for another fabulous recipe!

  10. Your recipe sounds perfect. Making for a girls weekend. BUT I HATE yellow mustard. Am afraid to add the Dijon. Any advice?

  11. This tastes great, I like the addition of tarragon. I’m not a bit fan of mayo, so I use greek yogurt. Since it’s Summer, I grill more often. I alway grill a few extra chicken breasts, after I’m done with whatever I was making for dinner. I might as well use the colas while they’re hot! This adds a little different flavor to the chicken salad as well.
    Thanks, for the recipes.

  12. I made this today. It is every bit as delicious as your recipe says it will be. Thank you!!! I’m so happy to have this in the repertoire.

  13. I just made this and am joyously chowing down on it over a bed of arugula. Used pecans instead of almonds. The first bite made me think of thanksgiving, but in a lighter more refreshing way. Thanks Lisa! Will definitely make this again.

  14. I was mealprepping today and made this for lunch with your delicious homemade mayonaise and seeded crackers. the combination was perfect. The chicken salad is fresh, crunchy and creamy. I love it. Looking forward to my next lunches ;-)

  15. Thanks for all the wonderful recepies!

  16. The ultimate chicken salad is delicious. This is the first salad recipe that I have added celery to and I can tolerate the flavour. Never used tarragon before and never thought before to mix mustard with mayonnaise delicious 😋 I also now prefer boiled chicken. I definitely find it more versatile when preparing different meals. Thank you

  17. Hi! I loved this recipe, thank you very much :) Since my son does not like mayo I used greek yogurt instead and mixed it with the Dijon mustard, herbs, salt, and pepper before adding it to the rest of the ingredients. It is super satisfying!

  18. Just made this tonight, it was easy and super tasty!! My kids loved it. We served it wrapped with butter lettuce. I did half greek yogurt/mayo.

  19. This is my first recipe of your’s that I tried making and it turned out amazing! My partner loved it so much that he went back for thirds. I can’t wait to try more.