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 3-5 days.

More Classic Salad Recipes

With the weather warming up, more 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

4.95 from 187 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!

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions 

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.

Nutrition

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.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Leave a comment below and share a photo on Instagram. Tag @downshiftology and hashtag it #downshiftology.

Leave a Comment

All comments are moderated before appearing on the site. Thank you for sharing your feedback!

Recipe Rating




Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

433 comments on “Ultimate Chicken Salad”

  1. Really good, I always liked the chicken salad from the grocery store that had grapes, but they just aren’t making it anymore. And I’m preferring homemade stuff more now anyway. Great recipe, thanks so much!5 stars

  2. I was in a waiting room yesterday, picking up my phone I did my fav thing Lisa and that’s to scroll through your website. 
    Looking for some inspiration for supper I found your chicken salad recipe. I made it for supper and I’ve just had another bowl of it for lunch the next  day. So delicious and just right on a hot sticky day over here in Ontario.  
    Thank you !
    Great easy to follow recipes and website. 5 stars

    • This is definitely one to make when the weather is warm! Glad you loved it Louise and thanks for the review :)

  3. I USED DRIED CRANBERRIES INSTEAD OF GRAPES, AWESOME!!
    DEFINITELY CHILL OVERNITE BEFORE SERVING.
    YOU CANNOT BUY CHICKED SALAD THIS GOOD, AND SUPER EASY TO MAKE.5 stars

  4. I made this for dinner for a Wednesday night class, (20-ish people) and everyone loved it! I served it with croissants and lettuce so folks could put it in a lettuce wrap if they wanted. My sister who said she didn’t like chicken salad tried it and loved it so much that now it’s in her family’s dinner rotation. So many wins!!5 stars

  5. Love this recipe used it for a big crowd of people at the wedding reception5 stars

  6. Very flavorful and perfect summer dish! Easy to whip up and refreshing.5 stars

  7. I see there are 10 carbs, is that per serving, and, if so, how many servings in this recipe.

    • The nutritional information will always be per serving, and you can see the number of servings listed at the top of the recipe card :) There are 6 servings in this recipe.

  8. So, I always find chicken salad plain and one of those things I stay away from, until I just made this and I can’t see me going back!
    I made this exactly as written, including how to poach the chicken and what a difference it makes!
    Thank you for sharing this.5 stars

  9. Fabulous unfortunately I had to sun dried tarragon for fresh. It still was unbelievable. Can’t wait to try with fresh!

    Definitely a keeper!5 stars

  10. We also replaced the mayo with greek yogurt and it didn’t disappoint. Delicious chicken salad.5 stars

  11. This has become my go-to Salad recipe since I discovered it in YouTube. I only swap mayo with hung curd as you have suggested too and it’s just so satisfying to eat. And yeah I love dried cranberries in my chicken salad!5 stars

  12. OMG..my grocery store has a tarragon chicken salad that I worship but it cost so much money. This recipe taste just like it!! It actually taste better. I will be making this all summer.5 stars

  13. Just came across this recipe on Pinterest, and we must say, it is very good! You can alter the Mayo or Dijon to be less or more and it doesn’t disappoint. Just one correction, you want 2 ‘Ribs’ of celery not 2 ‘Stalks’. Stalks are the part that is cut out of the ground and the Ribs are the individual pieces you remove from them! Great recipe!5 stars

  14. Best chicken salad ever! So much better than store bought. This has become a staple in my house!5 stars

  15. My husband made this and it’s the best chicken salad I’ve ever had. The tarragon total elevates the flavor. We only had whole almonds so he chopped them up a bit and I really loved the crunch factor they provided. I’ve started replacing sliced almonds with coarsely chopped whole in any recipe that calls for them.

    One question, is a serving size about 1/2 cup?5 stars

  16. I made it but also added Greek yogurt and halved the mayonnaise, then I added apples and dried cranberries and used toasted pecan because I had them, have been eating on Costco croissants that were air fried to make them crispy on top and is so addicting. One whole rotisserie chicken from Costco is perfect for this recipe for those that want to put this together quickly. 5 stars

    • love how you use 1/2 greek yogurt and 1/2 mayo…I also do this in salads…yes the Costco chicken is great…and the croissants take it over the top…serve with a simple salad or fruit salad and it is such a great summer meal…plus you can make it ahead…

  17. Tried this recipe the other evening! I followed the recipe as written except I didn’t have tarragon so I just left it out. It was a hit! My family ate it on top of buns and I had mine in a lettuce wrap. So good! Thank you for the recipe!5 stars

  18. Hi! I am very much looking forward to making this recipe for the holiday weekend! I plan on using a rotisserie chicken then dicing it. About how much rotisserie chicken do you suggest? I see the chicken weight is raw chicken before cooking so just curious! Thanks in advance.

  19. I halved the recipe & it was plenty for me & my husband for dinner & lunch today. I didn’t put in the onion or tarragon. I added dill. It was very good. I will make again. Thank you for the recipe.

  20. I love the recipe…I was just wondering how long do you think it’s good for in the frig? Also, do you think it can be frozen?5 stars

    • 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 3-5 days. And no – this is best not to freeze since it has mayo in it.

  21. We ate this salad two ways at the same meal. I made a leaf salad with long slices of tomato and roasted beets. I stuffed a flour tortilla adding thin logs of cheddar and Monterey jack. I positioned my plate so the chicken salad falling from the tortilla sandwich landed onto the vegetable salad! When I finished the tortilla sandwich, I then wrapped and ate the lettuce salad with the fall-out from my chicken sandwich to complete the meal! Did I mention that this meal was completely vegan?! YUMMM!5 stars

  22. Very good, although I think a the lemon I juiced was too much lemon for me. I will reach for a smaller lemon next time.4 stars

  23. This was fabulous! It will now be our “go to” recipe for chicken salad. It is wonderful!5 stars

  24. The ultimate chicken salad, I had high hopes but was a complete waste of great ingredients. I guess there is a reason I so rarely use receipts. The  tarragon completely overshadows the other herbs, so no harmony of distinct flavors, just tarragon. I fully realize that  each of us experience taste quite differently and I appreciate that my opinion appears to be in the minority but before you dive in you might want to make a smaller batch and see if the flavors work together for your pallet. Serve with a big oaky Chardonnay to tone down the tarragon a bit. 1 star

    • Hi Hal – Oh no, that’s a bummer you didn’t enjoy the recipe. Yes, everyone has different taste buds. Perhaps you’d enjoy my tuna salad recipe more? Thanks for giving this recipe a try!

  25. This was the best chicken salad I have ever had. I think the herbs really makes this work! Thank you for sharing it.

  26. Made a 6x batch of this for a baby shower I was hosting. Received rave reviews. Followed the recipe to the letter other than the quantities of herbs as I measure those with my heart! The balance was wonderful it wasn’t sweet unlike previous chicken salads I have had that really turned me off to them. Great recipe will be making this again many times I am sure.5 stars

  27. Super fresh and delicious. The lemon was the perfect touch!5 stars

  28. Definitely going to try this recipe, is the nutritional value mentioned here per serving? 

Downshiftology