This classic chicken salad recipe makes delicious chicken salad sandwiches for spring and summer cookouts, barbecues, or quick lunches. Pair this creamy salad with buttery croissants, bagels, crackers, over a bed of greens or in healthy lettuce or sandwich wraps.
This quick and easy chicken salad recipe combines sweet and savory flavors of tender, shredded chicken mixed with a pop of sweetness from red grapes and a lot of crunchiness with a balanced amount of celery, red onions and pecans. It’s a chunky chicken salad – where every bite is a little surprise on which part of the chicken salad you’ll get.
One of the best things about chicken salad is there are many variations – it’s easy to customize it to your liking. While I can’t claim this is the best chicken salad recipe, it’s my interpretation of just the right combination of nuts and fruits. Stay faithful to my recipe or use it as a base to build on to find your perfect combo.
I used rotisserie chicken and deboned and shredded it into bite-sized pieces to make things easy. It saves you a bunch of time and you don’t have to use the oven in spring or summer when it’s hot out. However, feel free to use whatever cooked or leftover chicken you have on hand, or try the recipe with grilled chicken.
Ingredients in Chicken Salad
CHICKEN SALAD RECIPE TIPS
- Chicken – I used rotisserie chicken to make things easier but you can also chicken breast cooked any number of ways such as roasted, poached, or grilled. 4 cups of shredded chicken ended up being a whole rotisserie chicken for me. Shred or chop the chicken into bite-size pieces so it distributes evenly in the chicken salad.
- Grapes – I use red seedless grapes to add a pop of color but you can also use green seedless grapes. Cutting them in half was small enough for me but if you want them even smaller you can quarter them instead.
- Celery – I used 4 celery stalks and finely diced them which ended up being about 1 cup of diced celery. If you don’t have celery you can substitute it with celery seed or celery salt.
- Red onion – I included onions in this recipe for more crunch. I used half a medium red onion and finally diced it and it worked up to about half a cup. You can skip red onions if you do not like them.
- Nuts – Nuts add texture and crunch to the chicken salad. I used pecans but you can use other types of nuts like walnuts or sliced/slivered almonds. If using sliced almonds, try toasting them in a dry pan until fragrant and golden for added crunch and flavor.
- Mayonnaise – I like using Duke’s mayonnaise but you can also use Miracle Whip for something sweeter. You can also substitute mayonnaise with Greek yogurt and sour cream or a combination of any of these.
- Lemon juice – Lemon juice really works to brighten up the flavor of the dressing. Feel free to skip this if you prefer or substitute it with other flavors that bring tang such as Dijon mustard or honey mustard.
- Crunch factor – Celery, red onions and nuts add a crunch factor to this chicken salad. Adjust and add more of any of these if you prefer even more crunch and contrasting flavors.
- Leftovers – This chicken salad will keep in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
- Add some herbs – Try adding some fresh herbs like parsley, dill, chives, tarragon, or green onions.
- Try other nuts – Substitute pecans with other nuts like toasted sliced almonds or walnuts.
- Add more fruits – Add more fruits or substitute grapes with chopped apples, dried cranberries, or craisins.
- Substitute mayo – Use Greek yogurt and sour cream or a combination of any of these.
- Add more flavor – Add more flavor with sweet pickle relish, chopped cooked eggs, or poppy seeds.
- Add some bite – Try some Dijon mustard or honey mustard to add some bite.
- Add some heat – Add a few dashes of red pepper flakes for some heat.
What to Serve with Chicken Salad
I like pairing my chicken salad with croissants but you can use it in a sandwich, bagel, on crackers, sandwich wraps, lettuce wraps or over a bed of leafy greens to make it a full salad.
And that’s about it. Let me know how you liked it, what substitutions you made and how you served it in the comments below.
MORE SALAD RECIPES TO TRY
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Creamy Potato Salad
- German Potato Salad
- Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
- Tuna Pasta Salad
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- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 6-8 1x
- 4 cups cooked chicken (about 2 lbs.), shredded (I used rotisserie)
- 1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
- 4 celery hearts, finely diced
- 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup pecans/walnuts, chopped
- 1 cup mayonnaise or Greek yogurt/sour cream (see notes)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper, to taste
- In a small bowl, whisk mayonnaise and lemon juice with salt and pepper. Do a taste test and adjust seasonings if needed (see notes for adding more flavor).
- Add shredded chicken to a large mixing bowl along with grapes, celery, red onions and chopped nuts.
- Add mayo mixture and stir to mix well. Do another taste check and adjust seasonings to taste.
- Chill for at least an hour before serving.
- Serve with croissants, bread, bagel, wraps, crackers, lettuce wraps, or over a bed of greens.
Add some herbs – Try adding some fresh herbs like parsley, dill, chives, tarragon, or green onions.
Try other nuts – Substitute pecans with other nuts like toasted sliced almonds or walnuts.
Add more fruits – Add more fruits or substitute grapes with chopped apples, dried cranberries, or craisins.
Substitute mayo – Use Greek yogurt and sour cream or a combination of any of these.
Add more flavor – Add more flavor with sweet pickle relish, chopped cooked eggs, or poppy seeds.
Add some bite – Try some Dijon mustard or honey mustard to add some bite.
Add some heat – Add a few dashes of red pepper flakes for some heat.
- Scroll up to RECIPE TIPS for more useful tips, suggestions and ingredient substitutions.
- Prep Time: 15 mins
Comments & Reviews
Jenny Sellar says
I added chopped scallions and fresh tarragon to taste.
Danielle Hope Smith says
I know that this is a very good recipe.
But mine got all watery with in a day.
Why did it do this? I used seedless green grapes. Because my store didn’t have any red grapes. I just would like to know what I did wrong.
The Cooking Jar says
Oh no! The only things I can think of are using some chicken other than rotisserie chicken – canned chicken that wasn’t drained well, or cooked chicken that rendered plate juices once it had time to sit because it was added in hot.
Did you use mayonnaise or Greek yogurt? I used mayonnaise in my testing but Greek yogurt should not make it watery. Did you make any other changes?