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 to 5 days.

More Classic Salad Recipes

With the weather warming up, more healthy 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.
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444 comments on “Ultimate Chicken Salad”

  1. Super delicious! We used rotisserie chicken from Costco. We were missing a couple things but it still turned out great. We substituted with apples since we didn’t have any grapes and we didn’t have any tarragon. We love your recipes! 5 stars

  2. We really enjoyed this. Delicious! This was the first time I’d poached chicken breasts. So easy and they are juicy. Will be using this timesaver quite a bit.
    You are my go to for easy, delicious meals. Thank you!


  3. So good, of course! Does this freeze well?5 stars

  4. This is the BEST chicken salad I’ve ever had!! WOWZA!!5 stars

  5. Love this recipe! I have made several times and it’s a hit each time. I did get lazy once and bought a rotisserie chicken. The recipe 100% was not the same. Boiled chicken is the way to go. 5 stars

  6. My in-laws were visiting for the weekend. I decided to make this recipe for lunch on Saturday. My in-laws plus my husband said this was one of the best chicken salads they’ve ever had. Although, please note that I used the canned white chicken breast from Costco rather than making my own.5 stars

  7. Second time making this in as many weeks. My go to, now. The Dijon kick is amazing. Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Can this be batch frozen?

  9. I make this over and over – THEE best recipe!5 stars

  10. Trying it now; it seems like it will be fantastic! 
    Thank you for the  Recipe ♥️ 

  11. I’ve made this before and loved it!!
    I added apple instead of grapes and I had honey roasted almond slices instead of the roasted almonds!!! 
    I regret I did not purchase fresh tarragon and parsley! 
    Fresh herbs would be so much better!!!
    I did not have to add salt but I did de a smudge of pepper.
    Served it in a cracked wheat/ sour dough with havarti cheese!  Wow!!!!!
    Definitely a hit with leftover rotisserie chicken.
    Will keep this in my recipe box♥️

  12. I love downshiftology recipes and this one has become a regular lunch in my household. Delicious flavours and a really satisfying texture. It’s also great on its own, in a sandwich or a wrap. Thank you, Lisa!5 stars

  13. Love this recipe! I halved-ish the mayo just because I’m not a huge mayo fan, and measured the Dijon with my heart, but it was probably about right 😉. I’d probably use a little less onion next time, only because the flavor stands out more without the extra mayo, but honestly, this is better than restaurant quality just the way it is! Literally everything I’ve tried from this site has been SO GOOD. Lisa never steers me wrong!

  14. So good! I keep making this over and over! Thank you!5 stars

  15. My new go-to favorite chicken salad recipe. Absolutely wonderful!! I substituted pecans for the almonds and sweet onions for the green onions. Glad I doubled this so we have plenty to share! Thanks so much. 5 stars

  16. Oh my goodness! This is so delicious. I followed recipe exactly. Perfection A++++5 stars

  17. I’ve made this twice now and it is delicious. I didn’t have any fresh or dried tarragon, but I did have fresh thyme. It was excellent! I’m looking forward to trying it with the tarragon since everyone is raving about the flavor. My husband loved it and that’s a testimonial in itself!!!5 stars

  18. How much chicken do I need to serve about 18 people at a babu shower?

    • Hi Kathleen – I have a scale you can choose in the recipe card actually. So since you’re serving 18 people and this makes about 6 servings, choose the 3X option and it will adjust the ingredients to what you need :)

  19. It looks and sounds delicious.I just have to leave out the scallions or anything in the onion family. Thinking of using grated carrots. 

  20. My Market didn’t have red grapes so i used green ones instead and it was Delicious!  5 stars

  21. Can I use dried tarragon because I don’t have fresh

  22. Excellent recipe.  I added walnuts instead of almonds and avocado mayo.  Thanks for my new favorite lunch!5 stars

  23. At what point do I add the sliced almonds?

  24. I, too, love fresh herbs in my chicken salad. Since I love parsley, terragon and chives in my green goddess dressing, I had to try this recipe.

  25. Delicious! I used toasted pecans, red onion and cut the mayo in half by using plain nonfat Greek yogurt. My family couldn’t get enough!4 stars

  26. This has become our go-to chicken salad recipe in our home. It’s the best!5 stars

  27. I loved the poaching instructions. I usually roast a couple of fryer/smaller chickens. Then, use the leftovers from roast chicken dinner for chicken salad and the bones/skin for broth making. But, poaching resulted in the perfect breast meat for the salad and created a lovely broth.

    I, too, love fresh herbs in my chicken salad. Since I love parsley, terragon and chives in my green goddess dressing, I had to try this recipe. I made it exactly as written. And, it was good. But, I have to say, I prefer mine with 2 T of dill and 1 T of parsley, like in the “how to feed a loon” recipe. It’s basically the same recipe; but, it uses dill rather than terragon and a bit less parsley. I also don’t always add toasted almonds because they are not needed.

    I love the fact that you emphasized the need to chill the chicken and thoroughly cool the almonds before mixing to ensure that you don’t melt the mayo.4 stars

  28. The ultimate chicken salad recipie was EXCELLENT. I used Miracle whip instead of mayonaise. I wikl b making this again.5 stars

  29. Great recipe! I would recommend only using half a lemon, I thought that was plenty! (can always add more)

    I also modified by: used rotisserie chicken, used dried fruit (cherry’s) instead of grapes, used roasted salted mixed nuts (chopped) instead of almond slices and therefor did not need to add any extra salt.

  30. This is the absolute best chicken salad recipe!! I love that you cook and bake healthy! I’m obsessed with overnight oats! Thank you for your channel. It’s my go-to place for new recipes. I tried your Orange Glazed salmon, it was a hit! My guests said it was “restaurant quality”! Thanks again!5 stars

  31. 👍❤️🤓🎯5 stars

  32. I’ve made this recipe a couple of times now and I can definitely verify that the tarragon makes all the difference with this recipe. I forgot to add it the last time I made it and it was good but not fabulous. We also added some home grown bell peppers for a little extra crunch and it was very yummy. Thank you for sharing the recipe it’s now my go to chicken salad recipe. 5 stars

  33. Very good although I added the lemon in quarters and stopped at 3/4. I think any more lemon and it would lose the balance of flavors. Otherwise followed the recipe as directed. 4 stars

  34. Very good!  This chicken salad recipe was a huge success!!  Very flavorful and satisfying. I will make it a regular in my meal plan. 5 stars

  35. Made it tonight and my husband went back for seconds!  I used rotisserie chicken instead of poaching. Will have to try poaching next time!5 stars

  36. Hi Lisa
    I’m in the UK and I’ve just come across you by chance on YouTube having searched for overnight oats recipes. So impressed I have just signed up on your website and started following you on FB. No I’m not a stalker just really love what I’m reading!
    Thank you
    Rhian x

    • Welcome to the Downshiftology community Rhian! Can’t wait to see what recipes you whip up and share with us :)

  37. I absolutely love this recipe! It is so flavorful and tasted just as fresh the last day as it was on the first day. I put it together with a whole wheat tortilla and some spinach and it makes a great lunch that holds me the afternoon without feeling sluggish. I will now be making extra so I can give some to my mom. Thank you!5 stars

  38. I made the Ultimate Chicken Salad substituting apple and dried cranberries as l did not have grapes.  I also used 1/2 mayonnaise and sour cream as l did not have enough of either one.  My guests loved it and kept eating it even though they said they were not hungry. There was just enough left for lunch the next day when it tasted even better. I did have to thin it out with a  bit of water due to the dried cranberries absorbing some of the moisture from the dressing.  The guests, who are gourmet cooks picked out the tarragon right away, the tarragon was home grown!  I am glad that l added tarragon to my herb garden and will use it more in any chicken recipes.   Thanks for the recipe.5 stars

    • I bet this tasted amazing with freshly grown tarragon! Happy to hear everyone enjoyed this chicken salad :)

  39. My recipe exactly so it reinforces my family favorite.  Watching you prepare it inspires me to be a more precise in prepping the ingredients!  Great job!  

  40. Hi, Ms. Lisa, just a question- can I use dried tarragon instead of fresh? If so, how much should I use? Thank you!

  41. I like chicken salad but utterly hate celery and it seems to be in every recipe. What would you suggest as a substitute. I’m thinking carrots?

  42. WOW,!!!! That has to be the best chicken salad I have ever had, The tarragon flavour is amazing, Thanks so much for sharing ur recipes, will def be making more of them😃5 stars

    • The tarragon really makes all the difference in this recipe :) Can’t wait to hear about what you make next Michelle!

  43. Great recipe! The print version, however, omits the “Toast the almonds” step, so be sure to read the whole page before following the printed recipe — there are lots of great suggestions for substitutions, too.5 stars

  44. Can you use chunk chicken in the can or sheeted chicken in the pouch .

  45. What is serving size? I made this and it is yummy!!

  46. Delish!5 stars

  47. I had to comment on this recipe – I made some for myself, because my boyfriend doesn’t like chicken salad. But guess what? He tried some of mine and he loved it so much he asked me to make it for meal prep next Sunday! I personally think this is the best chicken salad I’ve ever had. Bravo!5 stars

  48. Yum. It was fresh and light. Great summer meal on a bed of lettuce. I tried my Kitchen Aid mixer to shred the chicken as you suggested in another post. Fast and easy! I have tried a bunch of your recipes and they are really good. Thank you for sharing your gift with the world.5 stars

  49. I loved it and will make again. I am the kind of cook who uses what I have not necessarily all ingredients listed. I used lime and less mayonnaise which I would repeat. I didn’t have grapes and will add them next time. There were so many layers of flavor each bite was a wow! Thank you!5 stars

  50. A new weekly staple! Made this without going to the store to get a few things I was missing. Also used Greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise. AMAZING. Can’t wait to make it again with the onions and tarragon.5 stars