Chicken salad is the underrated and undefeated champ of the meal prep games, in my personal opinion. It’s so easy to make (I mean what could be easier than throwing all of your ingredients into a bowl and stirring??) and it’s packed with protein to keep you feeling full which makes it a great option for a healthy lunch or snack.
This healthy homemade chicken salad recipe is packed with fresh herbs, crunchy celery, nuts, and sweet cranberries. It’s so easy to make at the beginning of the week for a quick and healthy lunch.
This recipe is Paleo friendly, naturally gluten free, and Whole30 compliant. I know you’ll love it!
Different Types of Chicken Salad Recipes
One of the best things about chicken salad is the versatility. With just a few different herbs and spices, you can easily whip up different and unique chicken salad flavors.
All of these start with the same base of mayo and then add in different veggies, dried fruit, herbs, or spices. Feel free to get creative with your ingredients and come up with a new flavor combination that you love!
How to Cook Chicken for Chicken Salad
This recipe calls for around three cups of diced chicken breast. One of the most common questions I get is how to make the chicken for chicken salad. There are a couple of different ways you can prepare the chicken for this recipe and they are all great options.
Here are a few great ways to prep the chicken for chicken salad:
Roast bone-in split chicken breasts – this is my favorite way to prep the chicken. I season two bone-in split chicken breasts with salt, pepper, avocado oil, garlic powder, and onion powder and then roast them at 400 degrees for around 40-45 minutes until completely cooked through. Once they have cooled, I remove the skin, pull the meat from the bones, and dice up the meat.
Bake boneless skinless chicken breasts – if you have some boneless skinless chicken breasts on hand, this is another great option. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and season the breasts with garlic powder, salt, pepper, and onion powder. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Once cooled, dice up the meat.
Poach boneless skinless chicken breasts– if you prefer, you can poach your chicken breasts in boiling water until they are cooked through.
Use leftover roasted chicken – another great (and easy!) option is just to use leftover chicken from a whole roasted chicken. You could even use a combination of white and dark meat if you like.
What are the Main Ingredients in Chicken Salad?
A good chicken salad really only needs a few fresh ingredients to be absolutely delicious. Here are the main ingredients for a flavorful chicken salad.
Shredded or diced chicken:The star of the show, of course! I prefer to use diced chicken breast in all of my chicken salads, but feel free to use dark meat if that’s your thing.
Mayo:A good tasting and high quality mayonnaise is super important for a great chicken salad. When you’re shopping, look for a mayo that is made from a high quality oil. Avoid mayonnaise that’s made from vegetable oil and pick a variety that’s made from avocado or sunflower oil instead. If you need to make this recipe Whole30 compliant, be sure to check the label for added sugar as well!
Fresh Dill:This adds that classic chicken salad flavor.
Red Onion: Adds a little crunch and so much flavor.
Optional Flavorful Ingredients to Add to Chicken Salad
If you want to add even more flavor and texture to your chicken salad, adding nuts, seeds, and fresh fruit can really take things to the next level.
Nuts and Seeds:This recipe uses pecans but you could also use sliced almonds, walnuts, or sunflower seeds if you prefer.
Fruit:Fresh or dried fruit helps to add a touch of sweetness to your chicken salad. Try dried cranberries or sliced grapes. If you are using dried fruit and need to keep this recipe Whole30 compliant, be sure to use a variety that is made without added sugar.
Celery: Adds the ultimate crunch and texture.
Herbs: If you want even more flavor try adding in a tablespoon of fresh chives or chopped parsley.
I Don’t Like Mayonnaise – What Else Can I Use?
If you don’t like mayo you could easily substitute plain Greek yogurt instead. Just make sure that you grab an unflavored, plain Greek yogurt.
Ways Serve Chicken Salad
There are so many delicious ways to serve chicken salad. Here are a few of my favorite ways to serve it:
Make a salad! Place your chicken salad over a bed of fresh lettuce with tomatoes and cucumbers. I love using balsamic vinegar as the dressing!
Try making a lettuce wrap with bibb lettuce leaves or even a collard green wrap with fresh collard green leaves.
Use your favorite bread to make a traditional sandwich with lettuce and tomato.
How Long Does Chicken Salad Last?
You can store the chicken salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.