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.

Ultimate Chicken Salad Recipe

4.95 from 189 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan
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
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437 comments on “Ultimate Chicken Salad”

  1. This is  so yummy. I eat it on slices of green apple. 5 stars

  2. Loved it! It makes a lot so I had this for lunch several days and it never got old. Also, didn’t get watery and lasted about 4 days. My husband and sister-in-law loved it as well.5 stars

    • This is definitely a great recipe to meal prep ahead of time for multiple meals! Glad everyone loved it :)

  3. I was never a fan of combining sweet fruits with meat. Until I try this recipe. It is now my favourite chicken salad. I just skip celery (bleee) and mix mayo with yoghurt.
    Thank you LIsa!5 stars

    • Hi Natalia- Happy to hear I could change your mind about fruits with meat :) It really depends on the recipe, but it works wonders in this chicken salad!

  4. Made it 3 times already, it is so delicious and my husband says it is his new favourite. I love your recipes, I am much more bold in trying new food things thanks to you! Lots of love from Austria!!5 stars

    • Hi Celine- Happy to hear your husband loves this recipe so much and that I’ve opened you up to trying new recipes :) Can’t wait to share tons more delicious and healthy ideas later this year.

  5. This is the best chicken salad recipe ever! I eat it in lettuce wraps and it’s so perfect for a filling summertime lunch. I asked my husband to defrost more chicken breast so I can make another batch. We both love it!5 stars

  6. Sooo good! I have been eating this everyday for the last four days! We saved the broth and will be using it to make rice later this week. The house smelled so good while the chicken was cooking! I do have a question aboutthe Nutrition Facts, are the numbers cumulative for all 6 servings, or is it per serving? Thank you!5 stars

    • Hi Charlene- You’re on a roll with this chicken salad! So glad you love this recipe so much. As for the nutrition facts, it will always be per serving :)

  7. I didn’t know chicken salad could be this tasty! When you said the Ultimate chicken salad, I thought okay let’s see and it truly was! My husband said it was the BEST chicken salad he has ever had and I agree! I didn’t have almonds but it was still so good. We laid it over mixed greens. Afterwards, I saw how you recommend other substitutes for nuts, onions and mayo (genius). You are so right about the tarragon it makes it! I have never used this herb, smells just like licorice, yum! I look forward to making this at least every couple weeks. Thanks Lisa5 stars

    • Amazing! Looks like you found a winning chicken salad recipe you two can always come back to now. And yes, the tarragon definitely adds such a nice flavor to this :)

  8. This recipe was so much better than I expected. And as I was eating my second helping, I wasn’t sure If I should feel guilty or not. A lot of chewing from broccoli that made me feel “healthy” but the savory flavor of bacon and the mayo/yogurt gave a good balance. I LOVE IT. 5 stars

  9. This was such an easy recipe to make and tasted so delicious too! I’m not a fan of celery, however, I still loved this salad, which definitely shows how good it is! I ate mine as a sandwich and in little avocado boats, and they’re both such tasty dishes. This recipe was such a big hit with my mum and sister too. The salad was gone before I knew it!5 stars

    • Hi Katherine- Happy to hear you loved this chicken salad, and that it might have changed your mind about celery :) Looks like you’ll have to whip up another batch next time!

  10. I have had this for both lunch and dinner for the past two days served over a bed of spinach – I love it!! We just had a few days of hot summer weather in southern Ontario and it was the perfect thing to eat! The tarragon is delicious as are the almonds for the extra crunch. I will be making this all summer!5 stars

    • Hi Laura- Great idea to serve this over spinach! Can never go wrong with adding more greens, and glad you loved the tarragon :)

  11. This is literally the BEST chicken salad I’ve ever had!!!! I am normally not a grape lover, but putting them in this makes is amazing. All of the flavors blend together beautifully. Well done, Lisa!!! I just love all the recipes you create!5 stars

    • Hi Sarah- Happy to hear this recipe can change your mind about grapes! They really do add the perfect touch of sweetness in this recipe.

  12. Super yummy chicken salad!! I love the addition of the grapes and tarragon!! 5 stars

  13. I think I said WOW like 15 times after tasting this for the first time. Again. Wow! Incredibly delicious!5 stars

  14. Today I made your Ultimate Chicken Salad recipe.  While I opted for plain organic yogurt instead of mayonnaise, I followed your recipe to the letter.  My daughter absolutely love it and said it was the best Chicken Salad I’ve ever made! The chicken was juicy, and the lemon and yogurt made it so refreshing.  Thank you for a truly nutritious and delicious recipe.5 stars

    • Hi Rosemary – Wonderful! Happy to hear both you and your daughter enjoyed this chicken salad recipe with yogurt!

  15. 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.5 stars

  16. 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:)5 stars

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

  18. 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!5 stars

    • 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!

  19. Really simple and tasty.5 stars

  20. I made this the other day and it’s so good! My family loved it as well!5 stars

  21. 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.5 stars

    • 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. :)

  22. Loved it. The poached chicken is so tender and flavorful. I used a low fat mayonaise which worked really well. Thank you!5 stars

  23. Ultimate indeed. This recipe is super rich in flavour. So glad I have left overs for tomorrow and will definitely be making this again. 👍5 stars

  24. 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!5 stars

  25. 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! 5 stars

  26. 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 / Monica5 stars

  27. 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!5 stars

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

  28. 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!5 stars

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

  29. 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!5 stars

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

  31. 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!!! ❤️5 stars

    • 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!5 stars

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

  32. This recipe was fabulous! So easy and tasty! I’ll definitely be making again!5 stars

  33. I am trying this chicken salad today! It looks so easy and tasty:) Thank you for sharing this recipe!5 stars

  34. I love the idea of grapes in with the salad. This is on the list to make this week!5 stars

  35. This chicken salad makes me think of sunshine and picnicking. Definitely going to make this for my family.5 stars

  36. 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😂5 stars

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

  37. 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.

  38. Can’t wait to try this!!

  39. 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!5 stars

  40. 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!!!5 stars

  41. 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!5 stars

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

  42. 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.  5 stars

  43. This salad recipe  is delicious! Like the lemon juice in it! Thank you! Will make it over and over5 stars

  44. 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?  5 stars

  45. 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.5 stars

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

  46. Your chicken salad is so delicious. I love that you put the grapes in it. Thank you!5 stars

  47. 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!5 stars

    • 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 😊

  48. 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.

  49. Looks yummy! Can’t wait to try it!5 stars

  50. 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. 😋

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