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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 – 2 pounds boneless, skinless breasts
  • Mayonnaise – 1 cup
  • Dijon Mustard – 1 tablespoon
  • Red Grapes – 1 cup (quartered)
  • Celery – 2 stalks (diced)
  • Green Onion – 3 stalks (sliced)
  • Toasted Almonds – 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • Parsley – 2 tablespoons
  • Tarragon – 1 tablespoon (chopped)
  • Lemon Juice – 1 lemon
  • Salt and Pepper – to taste

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.
5 from 32 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.
  • 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.
  • Then, 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. Then 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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76 comments on “Ultimate Chicken Salad”

  1. Made today for our low key Sunday dinner. Fantastic recipe and love all the different options so you can change it up each time! The nuts are left on the side for us so those that aren’t allergic can sprinkle on top.

  2. Loved this salad. I tried it both ways, shredded chicken and in cubes. I prefer cutting the chicken in cubes, it’s much juicier. Thank you for this delicious recipe:)

  3. Would you consider starting a biweekly meal plan. I feel like it wiuld be hugely popular!

  4. I made this for dinner last night & it was AMAZING! The best dinner we have had in weeks. Thank you!
    My husband made chicken breasts for dinner the previous night, so I used the leftovers instead of poached chicken. I used a diced apple instead of grapes and avocado mayo in place of regular mayo.
    WOW! So easy and so good!

    • I’m happy you loved the recipe, Sherri! And all great substitutions. It’s really flexible recipe and you can play around with flavors, especially with the change of seasons. Enjoy!

  5. Really simple and tasty.

  6. I made this the other day and it’s so good! My family loved it as well!

  7. No overstatement in calling this Ultimate Chicken Salad! I just made this for dinner and it was exactly what I needed. Great flavors and textures in this salad. I don’t often use tarragon but that needs to change…especially since I like it and I have a bunch left over. Can’t wait to have it for lunch tomorrow. I’m thinking of making some gluten free pita. 
    Thanks for another winner, Lisa.
    One million YouTube subscribers happened for a reason.

    • Aw, thanks so much Alan! I’m thrilled you loved the recipe and flavors. It’s amazing how much just a little bit of tarragon adds to the flavor, isn’t it? Enjoy your leftovers. :)

  8. Loved it. The poached chicken is so tender and flavorful. I used a low fat mayonaise which worked really well. Thank you!

  9. Ultimate indeed. This recipe is super rich in flavour. So glad I have left overs for tomorrow and will definitely be making this again. 👍

  10. Oh man, this was SO GOOD and earned a coveted spot on the winner winner dinner list for the family! I didn’t have everything on hand so I did have some substitutions from the garden and spice drawer: 3/4C Avocado Mayo, 2TB (maybe a little more) Dijon Mustard, 2 Stalks Celery, 3 Stalks Green Onion, 1/4-1/2tsp Fresh Oregano, Italian herb blend, Smoked Paprika, Salt and Pepper to taste. Thanks Lisa!

  11. Absolutely loved this recipe! The flavor is amazing and the texture is everything. Even my mom, who literally is a very picky eater, lover this. She took one bite and said, yup you need to make this again! Thanks for sharing Lisa! 

  12. Hi! I just made this. Poached chicken for the first time and all. I tasted it before it went into the fridge for a while and it was delicious. I took what I had at home so it was pumpkin seeds instead of almonds and sour cream instead of mayonnaise. But oh, so good! Can’t wait till lunch. Your directions are so exact and to the point. Thank you for your work.

    Regards from Sweden / Monica

  13. I made this recipe today. DELICIOUS! I had leftover chicken breasts from the instantpot in my fridge. I threw those in my kitchenaid and shredded them in no time, then I added the rest of the ingredients and combined. I love the tarragon Lisa added. I only have dried of both parsley and tarragon, it worked great. This is a really great base chicken salad recipe for me – meaning – I can change it up to add and subtract what I have in my kitchen. I am eating it now with romaine lettuce leaves, mmm. Thank you so much Lisa!

    • Hi Jenna- Absolutely! There’s so many variations when it comes to the ingredients used in this recipe :)

  14. I cannot wait to make this for lunch this week. It looks absolutely delicious. 

    • You’re going to love this one Kathleen! :)

    • I made this today for lunch and it was delicious! I didn’t toast the almonds by choice. The chicken was moist, the almonds gave it a nice crunch and the grapes just a hint of sweetness. The tarragon a perfect compliment to the salad. Thank you for sharing your recipe. I look forward to trying more of your recipes!

      • Wonderful! Thrilled to hear you loved this recipe. Can’t wait to see what you make next

  15. 10/10. Lisa does it again, with a wonderful summer classic. I’ve always loved chicken salad and this recipe is the best I’ve had so far. Poaching the chicken the way she explained made it have the perfect flavor for this recipe. I would of never thought of adding tarragon but it was the perfect mix of flavors! You’ll absolutely love this and Lisa explains it so well that anyone can make this!

  16. Literally had this recipe in mind at grocery site today. Also p.s. love the visual of the before and after ingredients. :)

  17. Made this salad yesterday and can already tell it’ll be a summer staple for me. The tarragon makes this salad so special and delicious! Thanks Lisa!!! ❤️

    • Wonderful! Thrilled to hear you enjoyed this, plus the secret ingredient Ed :)

    • I made this today for lunch and it was delicious! I didn’t toast the almonds by choice. The chicken was moist, the almonds gave it a nice crunch and the grapes just a hint of sweetness. The tarragon a perfect compliment to the salad. Thank you for sharing your recipe. I look forward to trying more of your recipes!

      • Hi Linda- Thrilled to hear you enjoyed this chicken salad! Can’t wait to see what you make next :)

  18. This recipe was fabulous! So easy and tasty! I’ll definitely be making again!

  19. I am trying this chicken salad today! It looks so easy and tasty:) Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  20. I love the idea of grapes in with the salad. This is on the list to make this week!

  21. This chicken salad makes me think of sunshine and picnicking. Definitely going to make this for my family.

  22. Just made the chicken salad recipe. Changed it a bit only because I didn’t have enough mayo so added some Greek yogurt and minus the grapes as there were none at home. This recipe is so good and I can have it all year round as I live in Gold Coast , Australia! Next time Lisa I will do it exactly to your recipe, which will probably be next werk😂

    • Hi Sharon – Amazing! I’m so glad you loved this recipe. It’s definitely one you can have all year round, especially in Australia!

  23. This looks amazing! But something seems off? Is it really 2 lbs of chicken for 4 servings? A serving of chicken is 4 oz. And if it is 2 lbs for 4 servings, the macros are WAY off:

    If the recipe is divided into 4:

    8oz of the chicken would be ~ 45g of protein, 243 calories,
    1/4 cup of mayo is 358 calories

    So just for those two ingredients alone, one serving would be 601 calories. When you add in the other stuff, it seems like your macros are closer to those of this recipe serving 8+, not 4.

  24. Can’t wait to try this!!

  25. This is the best chicken salad I’ve ever had. I omitted the almonds because of a food allergy, but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. So fresh and honestly PERFECT. Another recipe homerun!

  26. This salad looks SOOOO good! I am already a huge fan of your tuna salad recipe. I want my ingredients to look as beautiful as yours do! Think it’s time for me to start shopping elsewhere, your produce is so much more colorful than mine, even though I’m buying organic. I’m giving 5 stars because I’ve learned to trust every recipe you make, they are ALL delicious! Can’t wait to make this!!!

  27. You’re so thorough !!! Details, layout, ingredients!!! You make it so easy to follow even for those of us who don’t know their way around in the kitchen! Thank you!

    • Thanks Marta! I always want to make sure the steps are easy to follow so anyone can be a master chef :)

  28. This chicken salad is delicious and easy to make! Creamy and savory you will not be able to stop eating it… And Lisa is right don’t skip on the Tarragon it really elevates the flavor in this recipe.  

  29. This salad recipe  is delicious! Like the lemon juice in it! Thank you! Will make it over and over

  30. What makes this chicken salad special is that it tickles every one of the taste bud centers. It has sweetness from the grapes, acidity from the dijon and lemon, crunch from the celery and almond, creaminess from the mayo (make Lisa’s super easy homemade mayo recipe!), and spice/herb from the onion and fresh herbs. It’s super delish. Can I give this recipe six stars?  

  31. This chicken salad is so delicious.  The addition of lemon juice, tarragon and Dijon mustard elevates it above your average chicken salad.  I substituted cashews for almonds and used a little dried tarragon because that was what I had.  This will be on regular rotation.

    • Hi Lani – So glad you enjoyed this chicken salad recipe! Definitely will be on rotation during the summertime :)

  32. Your chicken salad is so delicious. I love that you put the grapes in it. Thank you!

  33. So funny, before lunch, I was really wondering  what would eat for lunch. And suddenly i open my mail box and here the yummy Lisa’s chicken salad. It happens I had what it needs to make it but I would never though making it. Thanks, i had good lunch because of you!

    I didn’t have the tarragon but I can imagine the nice flavour for your recipe. I myself usually use walnuts with chicken salads instead roasted almonds. Taste nice too!
    Congratulations for your million you tubers.

    Your French reading subscriber. Sorry for  poor reviews English!

    • Hi Sylvie- Don’t worry! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review and I’m so glad you enjoyed this chicken salad recipe 😊

  34. I use both white and dark meat. I add some Old Bay Seasoning to the poaching liquid. While assembling the salad I use a food processor, pulsing, so that the RED ONIONS and CELERY are chopped finely enough to still give crunch, but not chunks. In my family tarragon is not very popular; in it’s place I use dill, dried or fresh. Again, while dressing the salad, I add a bit of Old Bay Seasoning, as much for color as for flavor. Also, I use a bit of sour cream to cut the mayo, but plain Greek yogurt would be just as good (but sometimes it’s not as easy to find in a small enough container so as not to waste the rest of it.

  35. Looks yummy! Can’t wait to try it!

  36. I have never cooked with Tarragon before. I wonder how easy would be to find fresh ones in the store these days. But I am super excited to go shop for and try this recipe. 😋