This is the ultimate chicken salad recipe! We call this ‘fancy’ Chicken Salad because of the dressing, grapes, and pecans, but it’s truly easy. This is a fresher and lightened-up version of classic chicken salad and it’s perfect for meal prep.

This is the perfect side dish or main course. It’s especially easy if you use leftover rotisserie chicken. Watch the video tutorial and see how simple it is.

Chicken salad in mixing bowl garnished with dill

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We love protein-packed salads like our Chicken Avocado Salad, Autumn Chopped Chicken Salad, and Cobb Salad. This creamy chicken salad is really the best combination of chicken salad and Waldorf salad that will become a go-to for lunch. As a busy working mom, I always appreciate quick and easy lunch ideas.

Chicken Salad Video Tutorial

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Croissant Chicken Salad Sandwich

Ingredients for Chicken Salad

The 5 ingredients in this chicken salad are so simple, but each one is important for the best taste, texture, and color.

  • Chicken – we use 2 large chicken breasts from a whole roasted chicken, but you can use rotisserie chicken, Baked Chicken Breast, or sauteed chicken breasts instead. Dark-meat chicken like our quick-cooking Air Fryer Chicken Thighs will also work.
  • Celery – adds a great crunch to the salad and lightens up the flavor. Even if you aren’t a fan of celery, don’t skimp on it and I hope you give it a try.
  • Grapes – add sweet juiciness to the salad. Just like in our Broccoli Grape Salad, the grapes are a refreshing addition and make the salad feel ‘fancy.’
  • Pecans – we toasted nuts on a dry skillet to give them even more flavor.
  • Red onion – finely chop half of a medium red onion, or you can add red onion to taste. You can also substitute for chopped green onion, but red onion keeps better refrigerated.
Ingredients for making chicken salad with roasted chicken, celery, grapes, pecans and onion

The Best Chicken Salad Dressing

This is similar to the dressing we love for our popular Broccoli Salad, except we didn’t add any sugar or honey since the grapes add plenty of sweetness. This dressing is creamy, tangy and adding sour cream makes it lighter than just using mayo.

  • Mayonnaise – use real mayo for the best flavor.
  • Sour cream – we use full-fat sour cream, but you can substitute it with low-fat sour cream or fat-free Greek yogurt.
  • Lemon juice – be sure to use freshly squeezed and not from concentrate.
  • Dill – finely chopped fresh dill is our favorite, but you can substitute with 2 Tbsp of finely chopped fresh parsley.
  • Salt and Pepper – added to taste
Ingredients for the best chicken salad dressing

Chicken Salad Substitutions

  • Nuts – You can swap out the pecans for walnuts, almonds, or cashews, or leave them out altogether.
  • Fruit – try diced apples or pears or dried fruit like cranberries or raisins.
  • Onion – if you prefer a milder onion flavor, try sweet Vidalia onion, or chives instead of yellow onion.
  • Celery – if you don’t like celery, you can omit it or substitute it with diced bell pepper or even diced cucumber, but leftovers don’t keep as well with cucumber.
  • Canned Chicken – you can use canned chicken, however, we recommend fresh, cooked chicken for the best texture.

How to Make Chicken Salad

This salad comes together so fast in one bowl, which is why it’s the ideal lunch option.

  • Toast pecans – place on a dry skillet over medium/low heat and toss frequently until pecans are golden and fragrant. Transfer to a cutting board to coarsely chop and set aside to cool then add to a large bowl.
  • Chop Chicken – dice cold chicken breast and add it to the mixing bowl. Note: We prefer the texture of chicken when it’s diced instead of shredded.
  • Halve Grapes – cut grapes in half with a serrated knife and add to the bowl.
  • Chop celery and onion – trim off ends and finely chop, cut celery sticks in half lengthwise then thinly slice and add to the bowl.
  • Make Dressing – Combine the dressing ingredients in a dish and add dressing to the salad.
  • Toss to combine – stir until salad is evenly coated in dressing, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Making chicken salad in a bowl

How to Serve Chicken Salad

Just like with a classic Tuna Salad, this chicken salad can be served as a side salad or as a main course. We love to serve it for lunch because it’s easy to turn it into a meal.

  • Over Mixed Greens – place your favorite greens such as arugula or mixed salad greens into a large bowl, top with the chicken salad, and serve.
  • Lettuce Cups – serving in lettuce cups is a great low-carb option for lunch.
  • Croissant Sandwiches – Cut the croissant in half without cutting all the way through then fill it with the salad. It tastes like a bakery-quality sandwich.
  • Pita Bread – we love to stuff a pita with chicken salad, it’s so simple and good.

Pro Tip

The best way to reheat a croissant is to toast it in an air fryer at 350˚F for 3 minutes until it’s lightly crisp on the outside and warmed through. This is what we do with store-bought croissants and they taste like they just came out of a bakery oven.

Serving suggestions for chicken salad mix over salad, lettuce cups and crossants

Make-Ahead

To Refrigerate – Store the leftover chicken salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days depending on how fresh the cooked chicken is. The USDA recommends storing cooked chicken for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

More Easy Lunch Ideas

If you love this Chicken Salad, then you won’t want to miss these lunch recipes that keep well in the refrigerator and are perfect for meal planning.

I hope this creamy chicken salad gives you some great lunchtime inspiration. I’m convinced this will become your new favorite creamy dressing – it’s easy and excellent.

Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Easy Chicken Salad Recipe

5 from 202 votes
Author: Natasha Kravchuk
Chicken salad in bowl
We call this 'fancy' Chicken Salad but it's truly easy. Its a fresher and lighter version of classic creamy chicken salad and it keeps well so it’s perfect for meal prep.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients 

Servings: 6 people as a side salad

Chicken Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 lb cooked chicken breast meat, 4 cups diced*
  • 2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
  • 1 cup celery, cut in halve lengthwise then sliced, (from 2-3 sticks celery)
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped (1/2 medium red onion)
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

Chicken Salad Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp dill, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  • Place the pecans on a dry skillet over medium/low heat and toast for 3-5 minutes, tossing frequently until golden and fragrant then transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop and set aside to cool.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine diced chicken, halved grapes, sliced celery, chopped onion and cooled pecans.
  • In a small bowl, add all of the dressing ingredients and stir to combine.
  • Add all of the dressing to the salad, or add it to taste and stir until salad is evenly coated with dressing. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes

*You can make a roasted chicken, buy a rotisserie chicken or you can sautee or bake chicken breasts

Nutrition Per Serving

438kcal Calories15g Carbs22g Protein33g Fat6g Saturated Fat13g Polyunsaturated Fat12g Monounsaturated Fat1g Trans Fat71mg Cholesterol398mg Sodium453mg Potassium3g Fiber10g Sugar236IU Vitamin A6mg Vitamin C65mg Calcium2mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Easy Chicken Salad Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
438
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
33
g
51
%
Saturated Fat
 
6
g
38
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
13
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
12
g
Cholesterol
 
71
mg
24
%
Sodium
 
398
mg
17
%
Potassium
 
453
mg
13
%
Carbohydrates
 
15
g
5
%
Fiber
 
3
g
13
%
Sugar
 
10
g
11
%
Protein
 
22
g
44
%
Vitamin A
 
236
IU
5
%
Vitamin C
 
6
mg
7
%
Calcium
 
65
mg
7
%
Iron
 
2
mg
11
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chicken Salad
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $$
Calories: 438

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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Comments

  • Debra
    February 21, 2024

    Delicious! The only ingredient I changed was whole milk yogurt in place of sour cream. (Only because I didn’t have sour cream on hand.) Thanks Natasha!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      February 21, 2024

      Yay! Great to hear that you loved this salad!

      Reply

  • Irina
    February 13, 2024

    Hint-if you have a Ninja Foodie Smart Lid with a sous vide option, what I do is put boneless skinless thighs in it just as they come in the vacuum pack from Costco. The meat comes out so good!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      February 13, 2024

      Thanks for sharing, Irina!

      Reply

  • Neelam
    February 7, 2024

    I do not like mayo. Can I leave it out or substitute it with something else?

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      February 7, 2024

      Hi Neelam. Using Mayo gives this the best flavor, but feel free to experiment with it. You can use more sour cream/Greek yogurt to help balance it.

      Reply

  • Rhonda
    January 4, 2024

    This was such an easy and delicious recipe! I will definitely be making this again in the future!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      January 4, 2024

      I’m so happy you enjoyed that. Thank you for sharing that with us, Rhonda!

      Reply

  • Nicolette S
    January 1, 2024

    This was delicious! I had some rotisserie chicken to use up so I just used what I had in my fridge. I didn’t have red onions or pecans so I didn’t use any onions and used walnuts instead of pecans. Apart from that I followed the recipe to a T and it was delicious! Thanks for new my go to chicken salad recipe!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      January 1, 2024

      Hi Nicolette! I’m so glad you found a new go-to recipe! Thank you for sharing.

      Reply

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