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

4.94 from 193 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!


  • 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


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.


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.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Leave a comment below and share a photo on Instagram. Tag @downshiftology and hashtag it #downshiftology.

Leave a Comment

All comments are moderated before appearing on the site. Thank you for sharing your feedback!

Recipe Rating

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

444 comments on “Ultimate Chicken Salad”

  1. Very good! I added a apple 🍎 for added taste. That’s what is so great about this recipe, you can add more of what you like and less of what you don’t, but this is a great recipe to leave alone or add extras too. Enjoy!5 stars

  2. I am looking forward to making this recipe. If you substitute Greek yogurt for mayo, what kind do you recommend?

  3. OMG! Just finished making this. I have to say this is no doubt the best chicken salad I have ever tasted or made!5 stars

  4. I would have to agree the ultimate chicken salad is the bomb5 stars

  5. This is such a delicious chicken salad. Do yourselves a favor…looking for a great chicken salad recipe,?Then stop your search here – it won’t get any better than this. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and so, so much more.5 stars

  6. Delicious!!
    I added jicama and increased the vege content.5 stars

  7. How many servings are in this recipe?

  8. Made this several times now, it so so incredible and such a hit with thr family. Only thing is I could not figure out how much was a proper serving size according to the recipes nutritional facts. I’m eating according to my Marcos. If you can comment how much a portion is, that would be wonderful! Thank you for this delicious recipe 5 stars

    • Glad you enjoyed this chicken salad Celeste! The serving size I say is about 3/4 cup, depending on how big your chicken breasts are.

  9. The best!!!! And the tarragon takes it to another level!!!5 stars

  10. This recipe has a lot of potential. I followed exactly and made no substitutions. This called for way too much lemon juice, it was much too tarte and the liquid made it soupy. I think it would be great with only a splash of lemon (a tsp at most). 4 stars

    • Hi Miranda – it sounds like your lemon may have been on the extra large side. You can certainly reduce the amount of lemon juice to your liking though.

  11. I made the chicken salad and love it.5 stars

  12. Hello there the ingredients r very similar to those included in a chkn salad sold at Whole Foods where I live …… ur recipe gave me notion I can save money and make it cheaper than Wht I pay for a quart here 

    I’m making ur recipe for holiday… l love chkn salad and yours sounds divine ……thank you

  13. Just made this today- as with all of your recipes- this one did not disappoint! Thank youuuuu!5 stars

  14. Excellent summer salad 🥗 5 stars

  15. Made it with apples and red onion–yum! The gluten free bread you use in video looks great. Do you have that recipe? Or, if bought, what brand & type is it?5 stars

  16. I bought Costco chicken salad and added much of your recipe ingredients:  celery, onions, Dijon mustard, a mix of Italian parsley and a little fresh rosemary from my garden, sliced grapes, lemon pepper and a bit of Kosher salt.  So good and ready in 20 minutes.  5 stars

  17. Changed something and added salad to with blue berries, cranberries pecans! The flavors were bursting!5 stars

  18. I had Chicken Salad yesterday at a well- known restaurant & it didn’t come close to the flavor & goodness of this recipe.  The only modifications I make are to marinate the chicken & grill it slightly before baking it and to use Pomegranate seeds instead of grapes. Delicious!5 stars

  19. This was really good. I used chopped dried cherries, extra toasted almonds, and tripled the mustard. I also replaced half the mayo with Greek yogurt. Even my husband, who hates chicken salad, has asked me to make it again. Awesome!5 stars

  20. Delicious light summer meal! I modified just the mayo since I am AIP paleo and it turned out great. Is the nutrition information you shared per serving and what is the serving size?5 stars

  21. Absolutely the best chicken salad my husband and I have ever had. We’re from the south and in our 60’s and have had a lot of chicken salads to date so that’s saying something. Those particular spices and all the ingredients are perfect!5 stars

  22. I didn’t have the spices she called for. I used parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Pecans instead of almonds. It still turned out terrific!5 stars

  23. I used onion instead of green onion, apple instead of grapes. Top it off with a liberal sprinkle of old bay seasoning. Yummy5 stars

  24. This is one of my favorite chicken salad. I lperfect for a summer meal.My one observation though, the prep time is way, way off. you have to poach the chickencool it off chop the chicken, celery, green onion nuts. and finally make the dressing. much longer than the stated 15 minutes5 stars

  25. You’re recipe is so good and delicious.
    Thank you very much.

  26. How much of this is a serving?

  27. This Chicken salad was exceptional! Thank you for sharing this recipe. It was so easy and very tasty!5 stars

  28. We made this chicken salad with your homemade mayonnaise. Served this for brunch, and it was a fabulous hit! The tarragon is a must. Love your channel.5 stars

  29. Can I use dill instead if I don’t have tarragon?

    How long does this last in the fridge?

    Cant wait to try it!!!

  30. Made this for dinner this evening. Soooo good! I didn’t have any tarragon on hand  and used red onions. Best chicken salad recipe I have had so far and I have tried quite a few. Thanks for sharing!5 stars

  31. I made this for a brunch event I was doing. I put it on croissants and got rave reviews. It was a little saucy for my taste so I would probably reduce the mayonnaise. Also to make it healthier I would put half Greek yogurt and half mayonnaise next time but I was trying to keep it dairy free. All in all an excellent recipe and I will keep it!5 stars

  32. This is soooo delicious! And on toasted pitta 😋 5 stars

  33. Are the measurements accurate or was there a misprint? 2lbs of chicken breast? Not 2 chicken breasts? 2lbs of chicken breast seems like an awful lot

    • You will need about 2 pounds of raw chicken for this recipe :) You can watch the video to see how I make my chicken.

  34. Just finished eating some for lunch over mixed greens with Crunchmaster crackers (have you tried those? they’re amazing!). This is a great recipe, and I agree about the tarragon. I have used it in chicken salads before, but not recently, and I happen to have some Mexican tarragon growing in an herb pot. Don’t use too much though! It’s strong. I was a little surprised at the use of mustard and lemon with the sweet grapes, but they compliment perfectly. Thanks for the recipe! by the way, I think you’re a little generous with the servings – I made half the recipe and it will give us 6 servings easily.5 stars

  35. Made it tonight for dinner and loved it so much! Thank you! :)
    I didn’t have tarragon though.5 stars

  36. I made this today and it was fantastic.  I used dried tarragon and no spring onion – still tasted great.5 stars

  37. I made this recipe on the weekend and I ate for lunch and dinner two days in a row! 😂 It is the best chicken salad recipe ever!  The tarragon definitely gives it that something extra.  I poached the chicken in my slow cooker and it was so tender.  I will definitely make this again and hopefully share it with friends when we can dine together – hopefully soon 🙏 .  Thanks Lisa! 5 stars

    • The tarragon really is the secret ingredient in this Libby :) Can’t wait for all your friends to try this one.

  38. What a terrible recipe, first most people will burn the almond slivers, they’re fine just putting them in. Ditch the green onion, red onion is a little less potent, and 3rd!! The secret is dog crap, please for the love of god don’t add tarragon!!! Thanks for listening 

    • Hi Benjamin – Sorry you didn’t love this recipe. No, sliced almonds won’t burn if you toast them lightly and I have full confidence that my readers can manage that. Green onion is actually less astringent than red onion (especially the green portions). And it’s a shame you don’t love tarragon. As you can see from the hundreds of positive reviews on this recipe most do love it (it pairs beautifully with chicken). Hope you have a more positive day than it seems you’re having!

  39. Delicious!! I didn’t even have the tarragon and I modified the dressing using half mayo and half greek yogurt with the dijon. I made a roaster chichen for the week with thoughts of making different recipes, I loved this so much I never got around to trying out new recipes and eating this instead! I also am not a fan of grapes but I love the taste of these in salad.5 stars

    • Happy to hear you love this chicken salad recipe so much! The grapes add just the right amount of sweetness :)

  40. One of my fav chicken salad recipes!! & trust me I’ve tried a lot of them. I use Primal Kitchen paleo mayo, and sub out red grapes for dried cranberries since I’m not a red grape kind of gal. It’s great mixture of tart and savory. Love making these for lunches & serving over salad mix or sandwhich thins. 5 stars

    • Happy to hear this chicken salad recipe ranks high for you Ashlynn! It’s definitely a versatile dish!

  41. Wow! Found this chicken salad recipe on a whim as I had a Rotisserie chicken that I needed to do some thing with. I don’t think that I will make chicken salad any different from now on! This recipe is absolutely fabulous!5 stars

  42. Hate fruit with meat..so left it out. HOWEVER for sweetness and a kick, added 2tbsp horseradish sauce. Divoon! Everything else according to recipe. Thank you.5 stars

  43. What’s the serving size?

  44. This is the best chicken salad I’ve ever made! The mustard and lemon especially give it a real zip, and the toasted almonds gave it some crunch. I had some older grapes in need of using up, so this was a perfect way to use them,5 stars

  45. I would like to know if the Ultimate Chicken Salad Nutrition info is for 6 or for 1 serving
    thank you very much , Anna

    PS. love your cooking …………:)
    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

  46. I tried this recipe for the first time the other day and I loved it!! Will definitely be making it again!! Thank you for sharing the recipe! :) 5 stars

  47. I used 2/3 light mayo and 1/3 non-fat plain greek yogurt. This came out great, my picky husband LOVED it in between two slices of wheat bread. I had mine just as is. Delicious! Thanks for the recipe!5 stars

  48. Fantastic recipe! I have made it several times now and poaching the chicken is the way to get the best juicy chicken for chicken salad. Highly recommend swapping the dijon for 2 tablespoons of sour cream. It amps up the velvety texture. I also add in 1 teaspoon of honey and use pecans instead of almonds. Divine, divine.5 stars

  49. Absolutely delicious and you are right about the tarragon!  Definitely the secret ingredient.   How long does the chicken broth keep in the fridge?  Thank you!  5 stars

  50. I have tried it out, and it turns out delicious. Thank you Lisa.5 stars