Chicken salad is something I love but rarely think to make. In all truthfulness, it is one of the easiest meals to throw together when you have cooked chicken leftovers on hand. It is enjoyable on toasted bread, in wraps, or even added on top of a salad—which I would call chicken salad salad! Besides tasting great, chicken salad is nice because it can be prepared with common pantry staples and adapted any way you wish.
Here are some recommendations to build your perfect chicken salad:
Chicken salad can be made with white or dark meat, depending on personal preference. Personally, I am a fan of both, so I am not too particular. Rotisserie chicken is also a great option since it’s cooked and can be made with the cold leftovers. Turkey would also work (but you would have to call it “turkey salad” I suppose)! Keep this leftovers idea in mind the next time you cook a turkey.
The dressing is equally important. Personally, I do not care much for mayonnaise or Miracle Whip type dressings. For this reason, I am not a fan chicken salad oozing with mayo. However, I do think mayo is acceptable in chicken salad as long as it’s a light amount. Recently, I tried chicken salad made with a blend of mayo and plain Greek yogurt (YUM). I’ll be completely honest, if you do not like the taste of plain Greek yogurt even the slightest, this is not for you. My husband Rob is one of those people and will be sticking to just mayo. Personally, I love the tanginess of Greek yogurt and found the recipe to be delicious. The Greek yogurt functions similarly to the mayo and is a great way to increase protein and add flavor!
Last but not least, chicken salad cannot be bland and needs texture! Personally, my favorite additions are diced celery, nuts, dried fruit, and lots of black pepper. For nuts, I recommend including pecans, sliced almonds, or pistachios. For the fruit, dried cranberries or cherries are tasty and colorful. To boost the flavor, you can add finely diced onion, spices, fresh herbs, mustard, the list goes on and on. Last but not least, don’t be afraid to add some salt.
Pistachio Cranberry Chicken Salad
The recipe below should be used as a guide; adjust ingredients and quantities based on preference.
1 ½ - 2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
½ cup celery, diced
1 Tbsp onion, diced (optional)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
~ 1/3 cup mayonnaise (if omitting plain Greek yogurt, use ~2/3 cup mayonnaise)
~ 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
Salt & pepper, to taste
Romaine lettuce leaves
Whole wheat oat bread
Mix all ingredients in a bowl until combined. When ready to serve, place on toasted bread with romaine lettuce.