This Classic Chicken Salad Your Way recipe is basic but not bland, with many optional ingredients to suit your taste. Mixing and combining fruits, nuts, herbs, and cheese makes the basic chicken salad your way!
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It's chicken salad season! . . . well, not officially, but summer is the time for craving something cold and light with protein to satisfy on-the-go appetites. But this salad is fitting for any season.
What Do You Need To Make Chicken Salad?
The chicken salad starts with one thing. Chicken.
I give many thanks to Ina Garten for teaching me how to roast bone-in chicken breasts. This process makes easy preparation when needing cooked chicken. No more boiling water in a large pot on the stove. All you do is put the breasts on a baking sheet, rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and bake skin side up at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
I go a few steps further lining the pan with parchment paper and salting before and after rubbing on the olive oil. Right after it's cooked I place foil over it and let it cool. This keeps the meat nice and juicy.
Ingredients for this delicious Chicken Salad Your Way.
- chicken - cooked and cubed protein
- celery - chopped into small crunchy bites
- mayonnaise - adds needed creaminess and taste
- heavy whipping cream - sweet cream thickens the sauce
- lemon juice - to brighten the taste
- lemon zest - gives more concentrated lemon flavor
- onion - grated fresh oniony flavor permeates the whole salad
- sweet pickle relish - add sweet pickle flavor
- salt - for flavor
- white pepper - white pepper has a smoother peppery flavor
Other Optional Ingredients
- nuts - your favorite nut, chopped
- pepper jack cheese - shredded or cut into small cubes
- fruit - any single or combination of sliced grapes, mandarin orange segments, blueberries, pineapple chunks, diced apple, avocado, and/or dried cranberries
The specific amounts of ingredients are listed in the recipe card below.
How To Make Classic Chicken Salad
After the chicken breasts are cooked, cooled, and deboned it's time to chop the celery and combine the two. Next, make the dressing with mayonnaise, cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, onion, relish, and seasonings.
For an added zip, use Simple Cajun Aioli : The Spicy Garlic Mayo Sauce instead of the mayonnaise. It's a treat!
Then pour it over the meat and celery, stir together, and enjoy this yummy, creamy salad that's full of flavor just like it is.
Or, add your favorite ingredients making it
I've listed some delicious combinations in the recipe below, but the sky's the limit on this one.
What To Serve With Chicken Salad?
Chicken salad is so light and versatile you can serve it as a main dish, side dish, snack, or appetizer. Serving it with bread, crackers, pita bread, wraps, or on a bed of lettuce adds to the convenience and compliments the taste.
Not only is it easy to make, but it's portable too. This is great when taking food to a friend, for a potluck, on a picnic, or on the road with you.
You can also serve another salad alongside the chicken salad like this Easy Crab Salad for seafood lovers at a meal.
More Salad Recipes
Basic Chicken Salad Ingredients
- 4 cups cooked chicken, cubed
- ¾ cup celery, chopped
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- zest from half of a lemon
- 2 tablespoons grated onion
- ¼ cup sweet pickle relish
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon white pepper
Optional Ingredients To ADD-IN
- 1 cup nuts, chopped
- 1 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
- 1 - 1 ½ cups fruit, any single or combination of sliced grapes, mandarin orange segments, blueberries, pineapple chunks, diced apple, avocado, and/or dried cranberries
For Basic Chicken Salad
- Combine chicken and celery in a large bowl.
- Mix the next 8 ingredients in a medium bowl to make the dressing well.
- Toss the chicken and celery with the dressing.
- Add the combination of optional ingredients to suit your taste, or leave it as is, then refrigerate.
- Serve cold by itself or on bread as a sandwich.
- Pecans, pepper jack cheese, and grapes
- Mandarin oranges and blueberries
- Pepper Jack cheese, avocado, and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro
- Apples, dried cranberries, and nuts
- Process the basic recipe in the food processor for a spreadable chicken salad.
- Roast chicken breasts in the oven, rubbed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt, and baked at 350º for f45 minutes.
- Cook the chicken in a pressure cooker such as the Instant Pot for easy set-it-and-forget-it cooking.
- Use a roasted chicken for easier prep.
- The nutrition Facts below are for the basic recipe only.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Salads
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: chicken salad your way
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"Worry about tomorrow steals the joy from today."Barbara Cameron