Super Yummy Chicken Salad Recipe - Pinch of Yum
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Super Yummy Chicken Salad

9 reviews / 5 average

This Chicken Salad is so good! Protein-packed with a delicious creamy dressing, and perfect for an on-the-go lunch in a sandwich or wrap.

It’s a Chicken Salad Summer For Me.

Lindsay headshot

Chicken salad is officially the hero of my summer.

As summer activities have picked up for our family, I’ve been riding the highs of having a weekly batch of chicken salad in the fridge. I love a cold, creamy bowl of it straight out of the fridge for an high protein Summer Mom Lunch, and my girls love to eat the components (plain chicken, grapes, celery and cashews) dipped in a bit of dressing for a kid-friendly snack plate.

Reasons I love it:

  • Reason A: The creamy dressing is… weirdly so good. It doesn’t taste like straight Greek yogurt (gross) but there’s enough to be in there so that you aren’t just eating straight gobs of mayo, either. Perfect creaminess achieved! The flavors from the dijon, salt, sugar, onion and garlic powder make it into a luscious little everything sauce that I’m licking off the spoon every single time.
  • Reason B: Lots of protein! It’s a super satisfying mid-day boost!
  • Reason C: Convenience, naturally. I frequently just grab a little wrap, sandwich, or bowl of it for a solidly delicious munch between chaotic mid-afternoon errands and/or kid pick-ups!

SUMMER HERO!

You might notice there are no raw onions in this chicken salad and that is very much on purpose. I prefer a substantial lacing of onion powder in the sauce to give us the good flavor… but in a smooth, creamy way, without the watery, weepy weirdness of diced raw onion. To each their own! Throw the onions in if you want. But I am a strong proponent that onion powder > raw onions when it comes to chicken salad.

The mix-ins that you’ll see here are my favorites (grapes, celery, and cashews) but you might like apples, almonds, pistachios, wild rice (!), walnuts, etc. The beauty is that this protein-rich, ultra-creamy chicken salad dressing as a base can take us to many good places.

Lindsay signature

Welcome To My House! Let’s Have a Chicken Salad Lunch.

1

Make Your Dressing.

Greek yogurt, mayo, and dijon mustard will carry you! Add some salt, sugar, onion powder, and garlic powder, and you’ll be licking this right off the spoon. It’s luxurious and savory-sweet and so weirdly good.

Mixing dressing for chicken salad in a bowl.

2

Cut Everything Up!

I like the chicken to be CUBED, not shredded, so the whole thing doesn’t get too thick and sticky.

For classic chicken salad, you want to have these three elements:

  • Something sweet (apples, grapes, dried cherries)
  • Something crunchy (celery, diced onion)
  • Something nutty (cashews, almonds, or pistachios)

My all-time favorite combo is grapes, celery, and cashews! So classic. Hits every time. But I have more fun ideas in the notes of the recipe based on your suggestions from Instagram!

Chopped chicken, grapes, celery, and cashews for chicken salad.

3

Mix it all up + season it.

After you mix the dressing with everything, you can season it with whatever you like. Salt and pepper, for starters! I typically do freeze-dried chives and white pepper (so it doesn’t make the whole thing turn dark). You do you!

Mixing chicken salad ingredients in a large bowl.

4

You’re Done! Yum!

You can put this on a croissant for a luncheon-style sandwich, or tuck it into a lettuce wrap, or a whole weat wrap, or dip into it with crackers (can recommend Everything Seasoned crackers), or just eat it plain! which I very often do.

Chicken salad in a bowl with a spoon.
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Chicken salad in a bowl.

Super Yummy Chicken Salad


  • Author: Lindsay
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x

Description

This Chicken Salad is so good! Protein-packed with a delicious creamy dressing, and perfect for an on-the-go lunch in a sandwich or wrap.


Ingredients

Units Scale

Chicken Salad Dressing: 

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I prefer 2% milkfat or higher)
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (more or less to taste – and honey also works!)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Chicken Salad Base:

  • 2 1/2 cups cooked chicken, cubed or diced (I use rotisserie chicken breast)
  • 1 1/2 cups red grapes, sliced
  • 1 cup finely diced celery (about 2-3 stalks)
  • 1 cup roasted cashew halves and pieces
  • any extra seasonings you like (dried herbs, fresh herbs, salt and pepper, etc. – I typically add dried chives!)

Instructions

  1. Dressing: Whisk the dressing ingredients until smooth. Taste and adjust, keeping in mind that it should taste salty / concentrated as it will distribute amongst all the other ingredients.
  2. Mix: Toss your mix-ins (chicken, grapes, celery, and cashews) with as much of the dressing as you like.
  3. Season: Taste, adjust, and zhuzh to your heart’s content. I usually stir in some freeze-dried chives and white pepper. 
  4. You’re Done! Yum! Eat on a whole wheat wrap, lettuce wrap, sandwich, toast, dipped with crackers or just PLAIN! Delicious, cold, creamy, I love it. Store leftovers in an airtight container the fridge for up to 4 days.

Notes

Dressing Amounts: You may not need all of the dressing depending on how much creaminess you like – I typically have a few tablespoons left over and I save them to toss with the leftovers so they are freshly creamy again!

Herbs: Fresh herbs work, but my complaint with them is that they don’t hold up as well in the fridge / after they get mixed in, which is why I like freeze dried herbs (in my case, I use chives).

White Pepper: Regular freshly ground black pepper works just fine, but it darkens the color a bit with the black flecks and I care about these things so I go for the white pepper!

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Category: Lunch
  • Method: No-Cook
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: chicken salad, chicken salad recipe, chicken salad sandwich, easy lunch recipe, high protein lunch

Chicken Salad Variation Ideas

There are so many directions you could take this! The main recipe included here is for a classic, salty-sweet chicken salad, but here are a few other ideas!

Curry Chicken Salad

Recipe is right here! 🙂 It’s so good – packed with sweet curry flavor and golden raisins, pistachios, cilantro and parsley! It’s one of my faves!

Basil Chicken Salad

Use this basil sauce as the base, and mix in chicken, dried cherries, celery, and slivered almonds! SO good!

Buffalo Chicken Salad

My husband loves this one! (And me, too.)

  • Dressing: 1/3 cup mayo, 1/4 cup plan Greek yogurt, 3 tablespoons buffalo hot sauce like Frank’s Red Hot, 1/3 cup blue cheese.
  • Mix-Ins: 1 1/2 cups cubed chicken, 1 cup diced celery, sliced green onions for topping!

Dill Pickle Chicken Salad

Make the same chicken salad dressing base, omitting sugar and salt. Add diced pickles, fresh dill, and a bit of pickle brine. Perfect for summer!

Frequently Asked Questions For This Chicken Salad

What are some other chicken salad mix-in ideas?

I asked on Instagram and you guys had the best ideas! Thank you for sharing!
– salt and vinegar chips (or any chips, let’s be honest)
– apples
– wild rice
– sweet pickled jalapeños
– fried onions
– crushed ramen noodles
– bacon
– sweet corn

Can you omit or replace the celery?

Yes, you can omit the celery! This is your own adventure. I would suggest adding a crunchy diced or sliced vegetable in its place – water chestnuts (polarizing!), radishes, jicama, or bell pepper! Fennel is very similar to celery but it is sometimes tolerated better by celery-haters, so that’s another option! It gives you a similar crunch and flavor.

Could you use your air fryer chicken in this?

Yes! Yummy. I would just cut it into cubes after you cook it in the air fryer! Here’s that recipe. Keep in mind that there’s a lot of seasoning on the exterior of that chicken so it will likely transfer into the sauce, making it more colored than the version here in the pictures.

How can I make this chicken salad dairy-free?

Use a dairy free plain yogurt! Almost all mayo should be naturally dairy free.

What other nut could I use instead of cashews?

SO many options. Walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, and almonds come to mind!

How long does this chicken salad keep in the refrigerator?

I like it best within 3 days! The USDA recommends eating leftover rotisserie chicken (stored in the refrigerator) within 3-4 days.

How do you serve this chicken salad?

In a sandwich (croissants are the bomb), in a wrap (whole wheat wrap or a lettuce wrap! yum), on top of some greens, or as a dip for crackers! Or just plain, straight out of the fridge. 🙂

Can you make this recipe without mayonnaise?

You could use all Greek yogurt but I find that the mayo is really helpful for the overall flavor and texture. It gives a silkiness and a lusciousness that you can’t get from the thick, tangy Greek yogurt. Some people like to make their chicken salad with sour cream, so that’s another option, but I find a base of tangy Greek yogurt + the buttery-ness of a little mayo to be the ideal combo!

Three More High-Protein Salad Recipes

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27 Comments

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Thank you for a great chicken salad recipe. I made it for lunch today. The dressing was perfect. I didn’t have any grapes but I added a few diced fresh cherries to mine and it was really good.

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This Super Yummy Chicken Salad is absolutely fantastic! The flavors are perfectly balanced, and the ingredients come together to create a delicious and refreshing dish. It’s perfect for a healthy meal, and I can’t wait to make it again. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful recipe!

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I made this for lunch today and ate a big bowl of it straight! I used Kewpie mayo and nonfat Greek yogurt in the dressing. The only modification I made was sliced almonds instead of cashews since I already had them. This is amaaazing. So fresh and crunchy, but also creamy and indulgent tasting. This will be perfection for a beach day. Thank you!

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Made this today for lunch. It won’t be the last, that’s for sure. I’ll play around with the variations all summer. Thx!

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I didn’t have plain Greek yogurt on hand, so I used vanilla and omitted the sugar and it worked great.

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Chicken salad is a great source of protein and an ideal meal to have, especially after an intense morning workout.

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo

    If you’re brave, swap the grapes for chopped apple, the cashews for walnuts and add a punch of cinnamon. Waldorf chicken salad! It’s a delicious variation.

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I make a chicken salad (I think an ina garten recipe?) similar to this that I love so I gave this a try- wow! So good! This is my new go to for sure. I substituted fresh picked blueberries for grapes and pecans for cashews. Thanks for this yummy recipe that will be on repeat on summer for me!

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This is so SO GOOD! This will be on repeat all summer. The dressing is so delicious I made a little extra and have been using it as a spread on sandwiches with shaved chicken breast from my deli counter. Thanks for this great recipe!

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Hi Lindsay,
    For the buffalo chicken dressing, is that blue cheese crumbles or blue cheese salad dressing to be added? Thank you.

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This salad is a bomb. Used cucumbers as I didn’t have celery, apple, dried cranberries, cashews because I didn’t have pistachios, and rotisserie chicken, and I added just a splash of lemon juice to the sauce. It made for the best picnic salad ever! And I’m always looking for ideas for picnics. Definitely a keeper, thank you.