Classic Chicken Salad

4.67 from 24 votes
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The best chicken salad recipe made with simple ingredients! Tender chicken pieces are combined with crunchy fresh vegetables and a creamy dressing. Serve with fresh greens or as a sandwich for a quick and easy meal.

If you like this recipe, check out these similar dishes: tuna salad, egg salad, and shrimp salad.

How to make a chicken salad for lunch, dinner, or meal prep.

This delicious chicken salad recipe is quick and easy to prepare. Made with simple, fresh ingredients and a few pantry staples, you’ll have lunch ready in no time! It’s also a great way to transform leftover chicken into a delicious new dish.

Try my poached or shredded chicken recipes if cooking poultry from scratch. Chop or dice into bite-sized pieces, then toss with crunchy vegetables and a mayonnaise dressing. Refrigerate for meal prep, or add to your favorite bread or salad to make it a hearty meal.

Key ingredients

Ingredients needed to make this classic chicken salad recipe.
  • Chicken: Use small pieces of shredded chicken. Leftover rotisserie chicken, cooked chicken breasts, or thighs are great options. The pieces can also be chopped or diced.
  • Vegetables: Diced celery, red onions, and green onions add flavor and crunch.
  • Dressing: For a creamy sauce, combine mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Make the chicken salad

Shreds of chicken, diced onions, celery, mustard, and mayonnaise in a large mixing bowl.

Combine the shredded meat, mayonnaise, diced celery, chopped onions, sliced green onions, dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. The more that mixture is stirred, the finer the pieces of meat will become.

I recommend serving it immediately or storing it in the refrigerator for up to five days. It’s one of my family’s favorite lunches that I meal prep at the beginning of the week.

Flavor variations

This recipe is versatile and can be customized differently. Here are some tasty ideas to personalize the flavor:

  • Add in fruit like sliced red or green grapes or diced apples.
  • Add dried cranberries, apricots, cherries, or raisins.
  • Herbs like fresh dill, rosemary, thyme, basil, chives, parsley, or tarragon.
  • Crunchy nuts like sliced almonds, pecans, or walnuts.
  • Add sour cream or Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise, or use a combination to lighten the dressing.
  • Add some heat with cajun seasoning, buffalo sauce, or diced jalapenos.
  • Add more vegetables like chopped bell peppers, carrots, or cucumbers.
A bowl of chicken salad ingredients mixed together with a wooden spoon.

Serving suggestions

  • Make an easy chicken salad sandwich with toasted sourdough, white bread, wheat, bread, or a croissant.
  • Serve on a bed of lettuce with tomatoes, cucumber, and avocado for a low-carb meal.
  • Add to a tortilla or make it a lettuce wrap.
  • Serve inside avocado halves or tomatoes.

Frequently asked questions

How can I make a bland chicken salad taste better?

Add in vegetables like celery, onions, or carrots. Fruits like grapes, apples, dried cranberries, or raisins. Chopped nuts for crunch, like pecans or almonds.

What goes well with chicken salad?

Pair with crisp greens, fruit salad, sweet potato fries or wedges, coleslaw, kale slaw, or soup like tomato or butternut squash.

Why does chicken salad get watery?

If not eaten the same day, you may notice that the salad may release some liquid. This is just the juice from fresh vegetables like celery and onion or fruit like apples or grapes. The salt in the salad draws out the moisture over time. Just mix before using.

Chicken salad sandwich with slices of lettuce and tomatoes served on white bread.

Recipe Science

How do you keep the chicken salad from getting soggy?

The more fresh vegetables or fruits added to the salad, the higher chance that the salad will become watery if not eaten the same day. Once the cell walls of the plants are cut, the exposed areas, when combined with salt, will release more moisture. Don’t add fresh veggies or fruit if you want to make the chicken salad in advance. Store in a separate container and add right before serving or within 2 hours.

Classic Chicken Salad

This easy-to-follow chicken salad recipe is loaded with flavor and is perfect for any meal of the day. With tender chicken, crunchy celery, and tangy dressing, this chicken salad is sure to be a hit with family and friends alike.
4.67 from 24 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Course Salad
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 4 cups cooked chicken, shredded or diced
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup diced celery, ¼" dice
  • cup diced red onion, or shallots, ⅛ dice
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onions, or chives
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions 

  • Make the Salad – In a large bowl, add the chicken, mayonnaise, celery, red onion, green onions, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine, mixing well until the desired consistency is reached.
  • To Serve – Season with more salt and pepper as desired. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Equipment

Notes

  • Recipe Yield: About 4 cups
  • Serving Size: About ½ cup
  • Storing: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 8 servings
Calories 313kcal (16%)Carbohydrates 1gProtein 18g (36%)Fat 26g (40%)Saturated Fat 5g (25%)Polyunsaturated Fat 14gMonounsaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0.1gCholesterol 64mg (21%)Sodium 402mg (17%)Potassium 201mg (6%)Fiber 0.4g (2%)Sugar 1g (1%)Vitamin A 92IU (2%)Vitamin C 1mg (1%)Calcium 17mg (2%)Iron 1mg (6%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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5 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Lynn says

    The recipe has instructions to make the dressing, but nowhere does it say when to add the chicken. I did put the chicken in a bowl and added the dressing, and it was delicious, but maybe you want to update the directions.

  2. Jowdy Andy says

    This chicken salad recipe is easy and quick and produces an excellent chicken salad, light and zesty. The lemon juice provides that zest. Way to go Jessica on a simple but delicious recipe.