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5 from 3 votes

Classic Chicken Salad Recipe

Perfect for a picnic, backyard hangout, quick lunch or a baby shower, this classic chicken salad recipe is an old fashioned favorite. A little creaminess, a little crunch and lots of flavor. So quick and easy with leftover or rotisserie chicken.
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: brunch, lunch
Cuisine: American
Servings (change as needed): 4
Author: Cheryl


  • 2 cups chopped chicken (280 grams), Note 1 1 large skinless breast or 2 small
  • cup - ½ cup mayonnaise full fat or light
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped, green onion (or chives or red onion)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley (or other fresh herbs, Note 2)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper or more to taste

Other add-ins (optional), Note 2

  • fresh herbs, nuts, curry powder, grapes, apples, sundried tomatoes, red pepper, olives, garlic powder, lemon zest or lemon juice.


  • MAKE CHICKEN SALAD: Place all ingredients (including optional add-ins you like) in a medium bowl and mix with a fork until fully combined. Start with less mayonnaise and salt, then add more until you get the creaminess and seasoning you like.
  • SERVE: You can eat the chicken salad immediately or let it sit around in the fridge for an hour to let the flavors meld. For serving options, see Note 4.


  1. Chicken options:
    • Any kind of leftover or rotisserie chicken will work - white meat (breast) or dark meat (thighs).
    • If you prefer to prepare fresh cooked chicken, here's a recipe on how to poach chicken by Recipe Tin Eats. Or use this sous vide chicken recipe to cook the chicken sous vide (no need for the glaze). 
  2. Add-ins
    • Fresh herbs such as dill, chives, parsley, tarragon
    • Chopped olives, sundried tomatoes or chopped red pepper for color. 
    • A squeeze of lemon juice or lemon zest. 
    • A sprinkle of garlic powder
    • Red onion, finely chopped, instead of green onions
    • Chopped nuts - pecans, walnuts, almonds or cashews
    • Chopped grapes or apples. 
    • A few pinches of curry powder to make curried chicken salad
  3. Lower calorie, lower fat version
    • Instead of full fat mayo, use light mayonnaise, no or low fat sour cream, light salad dressing, Greek yogurt or half light mayo-half low fat sour cream.
    • Serve in lettuce wraps instead of bread.
  4. Serving options:
    • Make chicken salad sandwiches with white or whole-grain bread, pumpernickel, buns, slider buns, croissants, bagels. Toasted or plain. 
    • Serve on a bed of lettuce or a thick slice of tomato, in lettuce wraps or on crackers. 
  5. Make Ahead: chicken salad can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-5 days. Freezing is not recommended. 
Nutritional information is an estimate and includes a ½ cup serving of white breast meat with light mayonnaise and no additional add-ins or sandwich bread.
Calories: 164kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 55mg | Sodium: 353mg | Potassium: 186mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 231IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 1mg