Chicken Salad

published Apr 22, 2024
Chicken Salad Recipe

Grapes shouldn’t work, but they really, really do.

Serves6

MakesMakes about 3 1/2 cups

Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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overhead shot of chicken salad in a white bowl.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Growing up, there was a tea room in my neighborhood called Tea for Two (in case you also grew up in northwest Houston). I attended birthday tea parties there when I was little, met friends there to catch up when I was back in town from college, and tucked in for meals and tea countless times in between. Regardless of my age, the order was always the same: house chicken salad on a flaky croissant.

My love for chicken salad has always been strong, partly because it defies my own perceptions of food. It has grapes, a combination of mayo and Greek yogurt as the base (just enough to hold everything together, but not so much that things get gloopy), and celery seed. I can’t explain it, but something about celery seed turns up the chicken salad flavor and makes everything even better. Coupled with a highly customizable ingredient list and helpful swaps, you’ll never get tired of this chicken salad.

Why You’ll Love It

  • This recipe makes a chicken salad that isn’t too saucy or too dry. It has the perfect ratio of ingredients for the ideal creamy consistency.
  • Grapes in a creamy salad shouldn’t work, but in this chicken salad, they just make sense. The pops of sweetness add a welcome flavor and textural balance that, on paper, I would never typically go for. (And if you’re still not sold, you can always leave them out.)

Key Ingredients in Chicken Salad

  • Chicken. Skip the hassle of cooking the chicken yourself and pick up a rotisserie chicken.
  • Alliums. Finely chopped red onion or scallions up the flavor.
  • Celery. Finely chopped celery adds some crunch.
  • Grapes. Red grapes are optional, but a classic addition to chicken salad, lending pops of sweetness to the dish.
  • Dill. ​​Chopped herbs add freshness.
  • Mayo. Acts as a binder for this creamy salad. To keep things a little lighter, swap some of the mayo for plain Greek yogurt.
  • Celery Seed. This is totally optional, but it gives that quintessential chicken salad-y flavor.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

How to Make Chicken Salad

  1. Prep your ingredients. Shred pre-cooked chicken (I like to use rotisserie), quarter the grapes, juice a lemon, and finely chop the onion, celery, and dill.
  2. Mix to combine. Toss all of the ingredients with mayo, Dijon, and celery seeds until evenly combined. Season to taste.
  3. Chill and serve. Serve immediately, or refrigerate the chicken salad until ready to eat.

Helpful Swaps

  • Swap red onion for scallions, shallots, or yellow onion.
  • Add chopped pickles and a splash of pickle brine for extra tang.
  • Use fresh tarragon, chives, or other fresh herbs in place of (or alongside) dill.
  • Stir in roasted slivered almonds or chopped pecans or walnuts.
  • Add yuzu kosho chili paste for a bright citrus flavor and touch of heat.
  • Skip the grapes or swap in diced apple or chopped dried apricots.
  • Make sandwiches with sliced bread or store-bought croissants and leaf lettuce.

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips 

The chicken salad can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. Leftover chicken salad can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

What to Serve with Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad Recipe

Grapes shouldn’t work, but they really, really do.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Makes Makes about 3 1/2 cups

Serves 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    large stalk celery

  • 1/2

    medium red onion or 3 medium scallions

  • 1/2 cup

    seedless red grapes (optional)

  • 1/2

    medium lemon

  • 4

    sprigs fresh dill

  • 1 pound

    shredded, cooked chicken (about 3 cups)

  • 3/4 cup

    mayonnaise, or 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt plus 1/4 cup mayonnaise

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    celery seeds (optional)

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Prepare the following, adding each to the same medium bowl as you complete it: Dice 1 large celery stalk (about 1/2 cup). Finely dice 1/2 medium red onion or thinly slice 3 medium scallions (about 1/2 cup). Quarter 1/2 cup red grapes if desired. Juice 1/2 medium lemon until you have 1 tablespoon. Pick the fronds from 4 fresh dill sprigs and coarsely chop (about 1/4 cup).

  2. Add 1 pound shredded cooked chicken, 3/4 cup mayonnaise or 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt plus 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, and 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds if desired. Stir until evenly combined. Taste and season with kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The chicken salad can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.

Storage: Leftover chicken salad can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.