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.

Easy Chicken Salad Recipe

5 from 237 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's Kitchen Cookbook

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the creator behind Natasha's Kitchen (established in 2009), and I share family-friendly, authentic recipes. I am a New York Times Best-Selling cookbook author and a trusted video personality in the culinary world. My husband, Vadim, and I run this blog together, ensuring every recipe we share is thoroughly tested and approved. Our mission is to provide you with delicious, reliable recipes you can count on. Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy you are here.

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Comments

  • Julie P.
    June 18, 2024

    Also, just want to add that I will be decreasing the amount of dill since it can be overpowering and might taste weird to my family. I’m going to add just an 1/8 teaspoon instead of 2 tablespoons. That would be too much for us.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      June 18, 2024

      Hi Julie, fresh dill isn’t as overpowering as dried dill, but you can adjust to taste.

      Reply

  • Julie P.
    June 18, 2024

    Making this today but I don’t have sour cream for the dressing. What can I use instead? I also don’t have Greek yogurt either. I also won’t be adding in red onions or any onions because I don’t like the taste. I hope it comes out well!

    Reply

  • Lavinia Alexander
    June 17, 2024

    Delicious! Refreshing meal in the heat of the (not yet) summer.

    Reply

  • Gerda Spencer
    June 13, 2024

    This has instantly become our favorite chicken salad. I totally agree, the celery adds such a nice crunch. Very Yummy!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      June 13, 2024

      I’m so glad you love it.

      Reply

  • Michelle Hercules
    June 13, 2024

    Very good! Love the sauce, all of the ingredients pair VERY well!!

    Reply

  • Linda Hixson
    June 10, 2024

    Absolutely Delicious! I ate way more at one sitting than I needed to.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      June 10, 2024

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply

  • Calicon
    June 4, 2024

    Really liked this recipe but found 2 TBSP of dill overpowering and I love dill. Next time I will decrease the amount of dill adding a little at a time as it cannot be removed once its in this salad. Maybe the dill I bought was more potent. I also only use organic grapes when in season as they are highly sprayed with toxic chemicals. This recipe can also put put into a tortilla wrap and cut in half for an easy lunch. Super delicious!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      June 4, 2024

      Hi there, yes you may add it little at a time until you get your preferred taste. I can sometimes depend on the dill that you have. I think it’s a great idea to put it in a tortilla wrap!

      Reply

  • Melissa Cortes
    June 2, 2024

    Most delicious chicken salad I ever had. I’m saving this recipe for life. Thank you!!

    Reply

  • Julie
    May 31, 2024

    I’m making this today and am really excited to see how it turns out! Question…I’m using boneless skinless chicken breast, what’s the best way to prepare it? Thank you

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      June 1, 2024

      Hi Julie, Boneless skinless sautéed chicken breasts would work here. I hope you love it.

      Reply

  • Sally
    May 24, 2024

    Made it just as the recipe stated except I didn’t have grapes so I used Craisins. So delicious!! It was a hit with my friends!!

    Reply

  • Domestically Challenged
    May 21, 2024

    Awesome salad! So very tasty. I’ve made so many recipes from your site. All I have to say to my husband is “This is from Natasha” and he’s a happy camper. He’s a picky eater, but always eats everything I make from Natasha’s Kitchen! Thanks for sharing your tasty treats.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      May 21, 2024

      Awww that makes me smile! Thank you for sharing that with us, it helps inspire me to do more content and recipes!

      Reply

  • Darcel
    May 19, 2024

    This recipe is easy and delicious. I did not add grapes, and I substituted walnuts for the pecans. If you want extra crunch, add the nuts just before serving.

    Reply

  • Earlyne
    May 17, 2024

    Haven’t even made the salad yet but can hardly wait to do so. You asked if anyone knew how to slice grapes quickly and efficiently, plus you can use this method for cherry tomatoes too. Just place the grapes in between two plastic tub lids, similar to the cottage cheese or sour cream containers, and slice the grapes with a sharp knife between the lids. Works like a charm. Let me know if you tried it and please be careful not to nick your fingers.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      May 17, 2024

      That’s a great tip! Thank you so much for sharing that with me, Earlyne!

      Reply

  • Terri
    May 9, 2024

    I made this last night with rotisserie chicken, Honeycrisp apples, pecans, celery and Vidalia onions. I also added two hard-boiled eggs. The dressing was great. Nice and light. The salad was a huge hit! Will definitely be a regular addition to our menu. Thank you, Natasha!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 9, 2024

      I’m so glad you loved it! Thank you for sharing.

      Reply

  • Connie Buchanan
    May 5, 2024

    This is the best chicken salad! I made it for a baby shower. It was delicious. Can’t wait to make it again!!!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      May 6, 2024

      Thank you, Connie! So glad to hear that you love this recipe!

      Reply

  • Kay
    May 1, 2024

    This is absolutely delicious! However, I never saw a link for lemon squeezer… Please post a link to it!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 1, 2024

      Hi Kay! I’m so glad you loved it. You can select “Shop” from the menu above and you can find all of my favorite tools/items that I use linked in my Amazon affiliate shop.

      Reply

  • Jack
    April 29, 2024

    I have tried many chicken salad recipies over the years. This is hands down the best one!!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 29, 2024

      I’m so glad you’re loving it, Jack!

      Reply

  • Carole
    April 29, 2024

    It’s everything you said it is and more. I used apple as I didn’t have grapes and I served it in a lettuce cup. Absolutely delicious. The dressing is a winner too. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      April 29, 2024

      You’re welcome, Carole! Super happy to know that you enjoyed it!

      Reply

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