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THE BEST CHICKEN SALAD

I’m so thrilled to share my favorite easy chicken salad recipe for the spring and summer seasons! This light and refreshing dish is one that I make on repeat when the weather warms up. Bursting with sunny citrus flavors, garden-fresh herbs, and lots of crispy crunch, it’s a bright and beautiful meal for days when you want something that feels as joyful as the warmer temperatures.
I start by roasting or grilling juicy, well-seasoned chicken until fork tender and golden brown on the outside. You can use a mix of white and dark meat or just breast, whatever you prefer! When cool enough to handle, I finely shred the chicken for the perfect tender and stringy texture to incorporate into the salad.
While the chicken cools, I coarsely chop up the veggie mix. Farmstand-fresh celery adds delightful snappy crispness and red onion brings just a kiss of sweetness. Then lots of vibrant parsley for a real burst of herby essence in every bite. Toss the chicken and vegetables together as your base.
This is when the dressing brings it all to life! Using a whisk, I blend rich mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper into a lush creamy mixture. Pour that tangy dressing over the chicken and vegetables and mix thoroughly with big spoons so each component is lovingly coated. The flavors just sing!
I prefer to let the salad chill for about 30 minutes before serving to really let those flavors mingle and bloom. Feel free to customize the add-ins to your liking too with grapes, pecans, bacon bits…anything that makes your heart happy!
When ready to eat, mound that chicken salad onto crispy lettuce cups, slather it on crusty toasted bread, or dig right in to the bowl – no judgement! Each bite is cool, creamy comfort food at its finest. It’s the taste of summer in a bowl! My chicken salad is perfect for easy backyard lunches, potlucks, office team meetings that involve finger foods, or quiet solo meals with an iced tea and your favorite podcast. No matter how you choose to enjoy this recipe, I think you’re going to love the sunny, herbaceous flavors as much as I do. It’s my go-to chicken salad for a reason –

What kind of chicken should I use?
You can use cooked, rotisserie, or grilled chicken. Make sure it’s cooled before adding to the salad.

Can I use dried herbs instead of fresh?
Yes, you can substitute dried herbs, just use about 1/3 of the fresh amount.

What type of mayonnaise works best?
I recommend using a full-fat mayonnaise for the most flavor and creamy texture.

How long will the salad last in the fridge?
It will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Can I prepare the salad ahead of time?
Yes! Prepare the full recipe up to 2 days in advance, store covered in the fridge, then add final touches like lettuce right before serving.

What can I serve the salad with?
It’s great on bread or crackers, stuffed in a pita or sandwich, or eaten alone as a side dish salad!

Any substitutions for celery?
You can use chopped cucumber or water chestnuts instead.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: None
Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 3 cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lettuce leaves

Instructions:

  1. Start with 3 cups of cooked, shredded chicken. Rotisserie, baked, or grilled chicken works great.
  2. Make sure the chicken is fully cooled before prepping. I like to refrigerate overnight or prep it the day before.
  3. Shred or finely chop the chicken into small, bite-sized pieces so they incorporate well into the salad.
  4. Thoroughly wash and dry 1 cup of celery stalks. Trim off any rough edges then dice the celery.
  5. Peel and halve 1/3 cup of a red or yellow onion. Finely chop the onion into small pieces.
  6. Pick the delicate leaves from 1/4 cup fresh parsley. Stack leaves, roll tightly, and slice into thin ribbons.
  7. In a mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup mayonnaise, the juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tbsp), 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and a pinch of salt and ground pepper.
  8. Whisk vigorously for 1-2 minutes until completely blended and thickened to a creamy consistency.
  9. Add the cooled, shredded chicken, chopped celery, onions, and parsley to the dressing bowl.
  10. Gently toss everything together using a rubber spatula or large spoons so all pieces are evenly coated.
  11. Taste a bite of the salad. Add more salt, pepper, lemon juice or herbs if desired.
  12. Cover bowl tightly and refrigerate for 30 mins to let flavors combine.
  13. Right before eating, fill plates or bowls with crisp lettuce leaves or toasted bread.
  14. Mound heaping portions of the chicken salad on top. Sprinkle extra parsley over each serving if garnishing.
  15. Enjoy immediately or store leftovers chilled in a sealed container up to 5 days.

Cooking Tips:

  • Use high quality, fresh ingredients for best flavor
  • Chill chicken fully before mixing into salad
  • Adjust lemon juice/mustard/herbs to taste preferences
  • Toast bread or rolls in oven or grill before making sandwiches
  • Mix in halved red grapes or dried cranberries for sweetness
  • Keep salad chilled until 30 minutes before serving

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