The BEST Chicken Salad Recipe is made with juicy poached chicken breast, crunchy celery, and a simple mix of creamy mayonnaise and spicy brown mustard. Perfect for summer BBQs, wedding showers, or birthday parties, enjoy this creamy chicken salad recipe sandwiched between a buttery croissant or scooped onto your favorite crackers and pita bread.
Classic Chicken Salad Recipe
My mom was always the sandwich maker in the house. It was an art for her putting together the perfect lunchtime sandwich. From the bread to the cheese, the veggies, and the meat, always sprinkled with a light dusting of salt and black pepper.
I often think that this craft was passed down to me as sandwiches of all shapes and sizes have always been my very favorite.
And speaking of favorites- this classic chicken salad is my all-time favorite! It’s simple, classic, and totally versatile.
Ingredients Needed for Chicken Salad
Scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the page for the full list and amounts of ingredients needed to make this super easy chicken salad recipe.
Chicken – You can cook your own chicken or use rotisserie chicken. For this particular recipe, I poached 2 large chicken breasts as it’s fast, easy, and, when done right, results in tasty, juicy chicken breast meat. Rotisserie chicken is just as delicious in chicken salad. You’ll need at least one large or two medium rotisserie chickens to get enough breast meat.
Celery – I have grown to love celery in my chicken salad, but as a kid, it wasn’t always that way. If you like a light crunch mixed with your creamy chicken then definitely don’t skip it. Chop it into a small dice or keep it larger, completely up to you!
Mayonnaise – There are about a million mayonnaise options available these days. Keep it easy and use your favorite. I used to use low-fat mayo but have since started using full-fat and it really makes a huge difference.
Brown mustard – My husband and I both really love mustard so we usually add a little extra to our chicken salad. Start with approximately 1 teaspoon and add more as needed. Spicy brown mustard or dijon mustard are my top picks.
Green onion – You can substitute with finely diced red onion, but they come with a much stronger flavor when compared to green
Salt + Pepper – Super simple seasoning is all you need. Unless, of course, you want to change things up a bit and add some curry powder or chipotle powder.
Optional additions – pickles or relish, fresh parsley, fresh dill, tarragon, lemon zest or lemon juice.
How to Cook Chicken for Chicken Salad
Almost any mildly seasoned boneless skinless chicken will make a fantastic chicken salad. Typically you’ll find most chicken salad recipes made with chicken breast meat.
Use store-bought rotisserie chicken or leftover chicken from dinner the night before, or try one of the methods below to get juicy, delicious chicken perfect for all your chicken salad needs:
- Poached chicken – Sometimes poached in just water or other times in a more complex and flavorful broth filled with herbs and aromatics, in this method chicken is submerged and cooked in a liquid at a relatively low and consistent temperature until fully cooked.
- Perfectly baked chicken breasts – Baked in the oven, this is actually my very favorite way to cook chicken breasts. All you need is a little salt and pepper, olive oil, and an oven!
- Slow-cooked chicken – Toss a few chicken breasts in your slow cooker and cook on low for 2-5 hours, or until fully cooked. The downside to this method
How to Make the Best Chicken Salad Recipe
To make this super easy chicken salad simply,
- Add the fully cooked and cooled chicken to a large mixing bowl. You may shred, chop, or finely dice your chicken.
- Next, add the celery, mayonnaise, brown mustard, green onions, salt, and pepper. Gently mix until thoroughly combined. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
- Time allowing, cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to cool for 1-2 hours or overnight. Need this chicken salad right away? That’s ok, too. Simply serve between two slices of carbs or topped on your favorite salad.
Tips and Tricks
- Always allow your chicken to come to room temperature or chill in the refrigerator before adding the other ingredients.
- Some people love adding a tablespoon or two of fresh lemon juice to their chicken salad. Personally, I prefer this recipe without lemon. I find that it makes the mayo taste…off.
- Add fruit. As with this Waldorf salad, chicken salad is phenomenal with freshly sliced grapes, sliced apples, or dried cranberries.
- Love crunch? Add some nuts! Pecans or sliced almonds.
- Full-fat mayonnaise makes for the best chicken salad.
- Think outside the box. Add some curry powder and cumin for an epic Curried Chicken Salad or sundried-tomatoes as in this Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwich.
- Lighten up your salad by swapping half of the mayo for plain Green yogurt.
What to Pair with Chicken Salad
Just because you usually find chicken salad served between two pieces of bread doesn’t mean that’s the only way to enjoy it. Serve it with crackers, pita bread, or by the spoonful. Serve it on a bed of lettuce or wrapped in lettuce wraps for an easy low-carb, high-protein lunch, dinner, or snack.
And, in any case, enjoy with,
- Fresh sliced fruit or easy seasonal fruit salad recipe.
- No sugar added Peach Strawberry Lemonade for a yummy summer lunch or snack.
- Pretzels, potato chips, or veggie sticks.
- Soup! Like this roasted red pepper and tomato soup, chicken tortilla soup, or chicken noodle soup.
More Chicken Recipes,
- Easy Baked Buffalo Chicken Recipe
- Spicy Cajun Sausage and Chicken Skillet Recipe
- Chicken Stock Recipe (How to Make Chicken Stock)
- Roast Chicken Recipe (How to Roast Chicken)
- Homemade Chicken Soup Recipe
If you try making this Easy Chicken Salad Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
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Chicken Salad Recipe
- 2 large chicken breasts - poached
- 2 stalks celery - chopped
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1-2 tsp brown mustard
- 1/4 cup green onions - chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt - plus more to taste
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
Poach your chicken
- Fill a pot with water. Make sure your pot is large enough to hold your chicken breasts and enough water to completely cover by at least 2-inches. Bring just to a boil over high heat.
- Add the chicken breasts and any optional herbs or seasonings such as thyme, parsley, bay leaves, black peppercorns, etc. Return to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately cover with a lid. Allow chicken to rest (or poach) for 15-20 minutes, or until internal temperature registers 160°F as read with a digital meat thermometer.
- Remove chicken from the pot and set aside. Allow it to rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing, shredding, or chopping. Allow chicken to cool completely before mixing with mayonnaise and mustard.
For the chicken salad
- Add the cooked and cooled chopped or shredded chicken to a large mixing bowl. Add the celery, mayonnaise, brown mustard, green onions, salt, and pepper. Gently mix until thoroughly combined.
- Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to cool for 1-2 hours or overnight.
- Serve with crackers, sliced pita, sandwiched between a sliced butter croissant or sandwich roll.
- Save time and pre-cook your chicken or use rotessirie chicken instead.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)