Chicken Salad Recipe

Homemade Chicken Salad! Diced cooked chicken breasts are tossed with a creamy, bright dressing and served in bread, croissants or lettuce leaves. It’s flavorful, refreshing and perfectly hearty. A true summertime classic recipe!
Stack of two chicken salad sandwiches on a white plate set over a dark grey cloth.

Chicken Salad Recipe

Who doesn’t love a good chicken salad? It’s the perfect make ahead lunch for a picnic and it’s so easy to customize.
This version is made with tender pieces of chicken and a rich, herby, lemony dressing to compliment it. Nothing complicated here just basic ingredients that together make a classic and comforting lunchtime favorite.
Want to take it over the top? Make a layered Chicken Salad Sandwich – served between hearty bread, layered with a bed of lettuce, creamy avocado slices, crisp flavorful bacon, and fresh lightly sweet tomato slices. Who could resist?
Chicken salad in a wooden bowl with a side of bacon and lettuce. It is garnished with lemon slices and there are slices of bread to the side of the bowl.

Ingredients Needed for Chicken Salad

  • Cooked chicken breasts – I like to use rotisserie chicken. You’ll need a large rotisserie chicken to get 3 cups cubed chicken breasts (or 2 smaller).
  • Lemon – be sure to zest first before slicing and juicing as this recipe calls for both.
  • Celery – this gives the chicken salad a nice light crunch. Dice it up small.
  • Green onions – red onions can be substituted for a stronger flavor.
  • Parsley – skip the dried it doesn’t have near as much flavor as fresh.
  • Mayonnaise – use good quality mayonnaise for best flavor, such as Hellman’s/Best Foods. I really does make a difference since there’s a fair amount used.
  • Dijon mustard – feel free to add more to taste if you like a stronger mustard flavor.
  • Bread or lettuce for serving.
Chicken salad ingredients on a marble surface including cooked chicken breast pieces, celery, lemon, mayonnaise, dijon mustard, parsley, green onion, salt and pepper and bread for serving.

How to Make the Best Chicken Salad

This is a super simple recipe and only 1 bowl is required. To make it:
  • Add chicken to a large mixing bowl.
  • Pour lemon juice over chicken.
  • Add celery, green onions, parsley, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon zest.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Toss to combine.
Showing how to make chicken salad, tossing chicken breast pieces, mayonnaise, dijon, lemon, celery, green onion, parsley in a wooden mixing bowl.

How to Cook Chicken for Chicken Salad

I love the convenience and flavor of a rotisserie chicken here (chicken cooked with bones on has more flavor), but you can definitely cook the chicken yourself (or use some left from a dinner the night before).
  • To slow cook chicken breasts simply place 3 medium boneless skinless chicken breasts or 2 large bone-in skin on chicken breasts in a slow cooker, season with salt and pepper, cook on low 3 – 5 hours until cooked through (bone-in will take near greater time, boneless near lesser time).
  • Poach chicken in simmering chicken broth until cooked to 165 in center.
  • To bake chicken see this method. You won’t need to use all the seasoning just salt and pepper.
  • You could even pan sear the chicken. Pound boneless skinless chicken breasts even then season with salt and pepper. Sear in 1 Tbsp oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until 165 in the center, about 5 – 6 minutes per side.

What to Serve Chicken Salad On?

  • whole grain or multi-grain bread
  • fresh baked crusty bread
  • tortilla or wrap
  • pita pocket bread
  • croissants
  • lettuce leaves
Chicken salad in a wooden serving bowl set over a marble surface.

Can I Use Canned Chicken?

I used to make chicken salad with canned chicken and yes it works just fine. But keep in mind it just won’t taste quite as good, the next time around try it with freshly cooked. If using canned be sure to drain well so the dressing doesn’t get overly wet.

Tips for Perfect Chicken Salad:

  • Be sure to let chicken chill first before adding to the dressing otherwise it will warm the dressing and it just wont be the same.
  • Add in a fruit if desired. It’s good with diced grapes or apples (omit the celery if adding apples). Sweeten the dressing with a hint of honey to pair with it.
  • Add in a nuts for more crunch. Pecans, walnuts or sliced almonds are good choices.
  • Use fresh herbs for added flavor. I like to use parsley but this is also delicious with 2 tsp chopped fresh dill.
  • For the creamiest chicken salad use full fat mayonnaise.
  • If using a rotisserie chicken buy a large chicken or 2 small to have enough chicken breast meat.

How Can I Make it Healthy?

  • For a lighter, healthier option substitute with light mayonnaise or 1/4 cup mayo and 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt.
Person holding chicken salad sandwich

What to Sides to Serve with It?

More Chicken Salad Recipes You’ll Love:

Chicken Salad Recipe

5 from 3 votes
Made with tender pieces of chicken and a rich, herby, lemony dressing to compliment it. Nothing complicated here just basic ingredients that together make a classic and comforting lunchtime favorite.
Servings: 4
Prep Time15 minutes
Total Time15 minutes


  • 3 cups cooked diced chicken breasts, cold
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup diced celery (about 2 small)
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions*(about 2)
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise**
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3/4 tsp lemon zest
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Bread slices or lettuce leaves for serving


  1. Add chicken to a large mixing bowl, pour lemon juice over chicken. Add celery, green onions, parsley, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  2. Serve immediately in bread or lettuce leaves or chill in refrigerator up to 1 day.

Recipe Notes

  • *Red onion can be substituted in place of green for a stronger flavor if desired.
  • *Light mayonnaise can be substituted for a lighter option or substitute 1/4 cup of the mayo with plain Greek yogurt.
  • Try it with fresh fruit such as diced grapes or apples and a hint of honey.
  • Delicious toppings on the sandwich include lettuce, bacon, tomatoes, and sliced avocados.
  • Nutrition includes chicken salad only, no bread no extra toppings.
Nutrition Facts
Chicken Salad Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 371Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Fat 25g38%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Cholesterol 101mg34%
Sodium 282mg12%
Potassium 335mg10%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 33g66%
Vitamin A 340IU7%
Vitamin C 6.4mg8%
Calcium 29mg3%
Iron 1.4mg8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


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