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The Best Chicken Salad. Ever.

Yeah, yeah. You’ve heard it before. “Best Ever”. “The Greatest”. And yeah, I know that your mom or grandma probably makes a kick ass chicken salad. I’m not going to fight you over it. Actually, I’d be more than happy to sample it. 🙂 Our recipe is a twist on my late Aunt Dean’s recipe. I know I shouldn’t mess with perfection, but you know me, I’ve gotta put my own spin on it. So here goes…

close up shot of a sandwich

I Could Eat this Chicken Salad Every Day.

I think I forgot about chicken salad. Seriously, it is one of those foods that I really enjoy that doesn’t make it into my meal rotation often enough. This EASY recipe is bringing it back to me in a big way.

My step-mom made chicken salad sandwiches for a small gathering a while back and I was like, “Dang! These are good! How’d you make ’em?” She told me that it was one of my Aunt’s recipes. Naturally, I had to know the recipe.

By the time I got around to making it, I decided to add a little of this and a little of that. Here’s what we came up with.

overhead shot of ingredients to make chicken salad

Ingredients Needed to Make Chicken Salad:

  • 3 cups of cooked chopped or shredded chicken
  • Mayonnaise – I HIGHLY recommend Duke’s or Heinz. My faves.
  • Grapes – seedless, red and or green
  • Celery
  • Pecans
  • Dijon mustard
  • Garlic – Yep.
  • Dill – I used dried dill weed that I had on hand.
  • Fresh lemon juice – Just a squeeze.
  • Salt + pepper
  • Sugar – Don’t flip out. Just a wee bit. My grandmother would have added it, I’m sure of it.
  • Bread, fresh greens – Whatever you would like to build a sandwich with.

Let’s talk chicken. This recipe was made using PREMIUM canned chunk chicken, drained and shredded. It is easy, convenient, and when you are tossing this recipe together in a hurry, it is perfect.

You can also use chopped and shredded rotisserie chicken. Be sure to remove the skin first. I’ve also made chicken salad using leftover chicken breasts.

green and red grapes

My favorite part of this recipe (other than the finished product) is definitely the fresh grapes. There is something about that combination of savory + sweet that I love. Use SEEDLESS grapes, any color you would like. Grapes were on special at my grocery store so I grabbed red AND green. Plus, it makes the chicken salad so colorful. Cut them into halves or quarters for the larger grapes.

chopped grapes in a measuring cup

For texture and crunch, celery and pecans were my picks. You can certainly use walnuts or almonds.

chopped pecans

How to Make Chicken Salad:

  1. First, prepare ingredients as noted in the recipe at the bottom of this post.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, dijon mustard, dill, pressed garlic, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper until combined.
  3. Next, add the chicken and remaining ingredients to a large bowl. Toss with the prepared dressing until well combined.
  4. Taste and reseason to preference. Serve.

TIP: Combining the mayonnaise and the seasonings BEFORE you add it to the chicken salad ensures the flavor is consistent throughout. If you don’t want to dirty up an extra bowl, you can mix it up in the bottom of the large bowl before adding the chicken, grapes, celery and pecans.

a white bowl with a mayonnaise mixture

We used Dijon mustard in this recipe. You can also use hot mustard for a kick spicy brown mustard for a deeper flavor, or plain ol’ yellow mustard for tang.

Be sure to taste the chicken salad and add more salt as needed. Since the mayonnaise we used (Duke’s) is already well-seasoned, we didn’t need a lot of additional salt.

IMPORTANT: Use PRESSED garlic instead of minced. This really lets the garlic infuse into the mayonnaise dressing and you get a perfect hint of flavor in every bite.

a bowl of shredded chicken with grapes, celery, pecans, and mayo

More Recipes You Might Like:

Zesty Italian Pasta Salad

Pecan Chicken Wraps with Honey Mustard

Fried Green Tomato BLT Sandwiches

I really love this Chicken Salad Recipe. It is the perfect blend of creamy, savory, sweet + crunchy. Perfect on toasted wheat bread with fresh greens…or as my Aunt Dean would have served it, open-faced. (She was always watching my carbs for me.) 🙂

overhead picture of chicken salad on toasted bread

Tips + Tricks for the Best Results:

  • Use good quality chicken. To make it easier to eat, chop and / or shred it into small pieces.
  • Instead of pecans, you can also use walnuts or almonds.
  • Not a fan of celery? Try it with finely diced red bell peppers for crunch.
  • Cut the grapes into halves or even quarters to make it easy to eat.
  • Combine the mayonnaise with all of the seasonings BEFORE you add the chicken, grapes, celery and pecans. This ensures that the flavor will be consistent all the way through.
  • Just a squeeze of fresh lemon highlights the flavor in this recipe. don’t skip it.
  • PRESSED garlic is key in this recipe. If you use minced you’ll get little pieces of it instead of infused-flavor. I use a garlic press (inexpensive life-changing little gadget). If you don’t have a press, mash it to death with a fork or muddler.
  • You can totally leave out the sugar, but it gives this recipe the balance that it needs.
  • This can be made ahead of time. (It tastes even better the next day once the flavors have melded.)
The Best Chicken Salad Ever

Serving Suggestions:

  • This chicken salad recipe makes about 5 cups. Number of sandwiches you can make varies by how loaded you make them.
  • Double this recipe for a crowd.
  • Try it with fresh chopped apples! (Tip from my friend Tracey’s recipe.)
  • Serve with your favorite toasted bread and fresh greens for a delicious sandwich.
  • This recipe is also delicious served in a fresh tomato.
  • Try it with fresh avocado slices on the side for a delish lunch.
  • I love this recipe for meal prep. Lunch for the week? Solved.

Hope you enjoy this recipe. If you love it, be sure to leave us a comment and rating at the end of this post.

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close up shot of a sandwich
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5 from 1 vote

The Best Chicken Salad Ever

This chicken salad is the best ever! Creamy, savory with pops of sweetness from fresh grapes…crunch and texture from celery and chopped pecans. So good!
Course Salad, Sandwich
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken salad
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 10 Half-Cup Servings
Calories 209kcal
Author Buy This Cook That

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard more or less to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed more to taste
  • 1 lemon wedge squeezed juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar scant, less to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt more to less to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups cooked chicken chopped and / or shredded
  • 1 cup seedless grapes halved / quartered
  • 1/2 cup celery finely diced
  • 1/2 cup pecans chopped

Instructions

  • First, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, dijon mustard, dill, pressed garlic, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper until combined.
  • Next, add the chicken and remaining ingredients to a large bowl. Toss with the prepared dressing until well combined.
  • Taste and reseason to preference. Serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 209kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 355mg | Potassium: 86mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 47IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg

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