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Classic Chicken Salad Recipe

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My quick and easy, classic chicken salad recipe made healthier and lighter to make the perfect homemade chicken salad sandwich. The perfect cold lunch for meal prep!

Classic Chicken Salad

Easy Chicken Salad Recipe

This traditional Chicken Salad recipe, made with simple ingredients is perfect for make-ahead lunches. There’s so many ways to eat it, like as a chicken salad sandwich, on a bagel, over a salad or in lettuce wraps. It’s is my go-to lunch to keep on hand in the refrigerator to eat throughout the week, or to bring to potlucks and it’s dairy-free, gluten-free, high protein, and low-carb. Some more of my favorite healthy chicken salad recipes are Cilantro Chicken Salad, Ranch Chicken Salad, and Chicken Salad with Lemon and Dill. You may also enjoy my classic Egg Salad.

Chicken Salad Sandwich on a bagel

Classic Chicken Salad Ingredients

  • Chicken: Chop 12 ounces of cooked chicken breasts from 1 whole roasted chicken. You can also use rotisserie chicken to save time.
  • Mayonnaise: I use light mayo to reduce the calories, but feel free to use your favorite mayo.
  • Celery: Chop celery for some crunch and veggies.
  • Red Onion: Swap red onion for scallions or chives.
  • Chicken Broth: If the chicken salad is a little dry, stir in two tablespoons of broth.
  • Dijon Mustard for a little tang
  • Seasoned Salt and Black Pepper for flavor

How to Make Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is really easy to make and a great way to use up leftover chicken breast from a whole roasted chicken. You can also poach the chicken in chicken broth (see below) or use my air fryer chicken breast recipe to make this salad.

To make the salad, remove the chicken breast from the roasted chicken and chop it fine with the veggies, then combine with mayonnaise, celery, onions, Dijon mustard, a little chicken broth if needed and season with salt and pepper.

How to Poach Chicken Breast:

If you want to poach your chicken breast, follow these simple steps:

  1. Cover chicken breast in broth in a small pot, add water if it doesn’t cover the chicken.
  2. Add salt and pepper, a piece of celery and it’s leaves (you could add herbs like parsley, garlic, onion, or whatever you want) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, cover tight and let it sit for 15-20 minutes or until thickest part of the breast registers 160 degrees.
  4. Chicken will be cooked through. Let it cool and chop.

How to Serve with Chicken Salad

Here are some ways to serve this chicken salad.

  • Wraps using whole wheat or grain-free tortillas
  • Bagels: I love everything bagels with chicken salad!
  • Bread, like these High-Protein Oat Rolls or your favorite sandwich bread
  • Lettuce wraps for a low-carb option.
  • Collard Green Wraps are another healthy low-carb option.
  • Salad: Eat the chicken salad over lettuce, and add other veggies, like avocado, cucumber, or cherry tomatoes.

How long does homemade chicken salad last?

Homemade chicken salad lasts about 4 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Chicken Salad Variations

  • Mayo Swap: Substitute Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise or use half yogurt, half mayo.
  • Add some diced apples or grapes for sweetness and crunch.
  • You can add nuts like almonds, walnuts or pecans.
  • Mix in dried cranberries or cherries for a pop of sweetness.
  • Add some chopped pickles for a sour bite.
  • Herbs: Sprinkle in fresh dill, green onions or parsley.
  • Curry Salad Version: Add some powdered curry seasoning and chopped cilantro, swap the mayo for yougurt.
  • Chicken Salad Pasta: Mix the chicken salad with some elbow macaroni and a little more mayo to make it a meal.
  • Add more seasoning like everything bagel seasoning, onion powder or garlic powder.

What do I do if my chicken salad is too dry?

Since I use less mayo than most traditional Chicken Salad recipes to keep it light, I like to add a little chicken broth to keep it moist without needing more mayo or yogurt. This is a great dairy-free option.

Another option is to add some fat-free Greek yogurt along with the mayo which also adds more protein.

chicken salad ingredients
classic chicken salad ingredients

More Chicken Salad Recipes You’ll Love

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Chicken Salad Recipe

4.95 from 37 votes
My quick and easy, classic chicken salad recipe made healthier and lighter to make the perfect homemade chicken salad sandwich. The perfect cold lunch for meal prep!
Course: Lunch, Salad
Cuisine: American
Classic Chicken Salad
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
Serving Size: 1 /2 cup


  • 12 ounces cooked chicken breast, finely chopped (from 2 breasts of rotisserie chicken)
  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced (or scallions or chives)
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth, optional
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • black pepper, to taste


  • Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve over salad, in a wrap, or in a sandwich

Last Step:

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How to Poach Chicken Breast:
If you want to poach your chicken breast, follow these simple steps:
  1. Cover chicken breast in broth in a small pot, add water if it doesn’t cover the chicken.
  2. Add salt and pepper, a piece of celery and it’s leaves (you could add herbs like parsley, garlic, onion, or whatever you want) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, cover tight and let it sit for 15-20 minutes or until thickest part of the breast registers 160 degrees.
  4. Chicken will be cooked through. Let it cool and chop.


Serving: 1 /2 cup, Calories: 131 kcal, Carbohydrates: 2 g, Protein: 18 g, Fat: 5 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Cholesterol: 50 mg, Sodium: 307 mg, Sugar: 1 g


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91 comments on “Classic Chicken Salad Recipe”

  1. This is so delicious! Super straightforward but great tasting! Way better than using canned chicken. I chose to poach some chicken breasts using Gina’s method listed and had a little more than the recipe called for so upped servings to 7. Definitely a go to recipe for me moving forward! High protein/low calories. Thank you Gina!

  2. Made this up to have easy lunches for the week, and wrapped it in lettuce to avoid adding any carbs. Delicious!!

  3. I made this with canned chicken so I didn’t have high hopes. Surprise! Best chicken salad I’ve ever had. Added cranberries and pecans. Delicious! I’m glad it made a lot.

  4. This is a great recipe! Poached the chicken and used some of the strained broth to stir back into the salad (side note: I’ve been poaching chicken per Gina’s directions for years and it comes out perfect, flavorful, and juicy every time. Always strain the broth and save for later in the week!) I made this last night knowing we’d be out in the sun all morning and would be hungry for lunch right when we got home. Wrapped 1/2 cup in lettuce for each serving and they were so refreshing for a summer Saturday lunch! Will keep leftovers for tomorrow and Monday’s lunches.

    1. I will definitely try this light chicken salad!! But for a hint about making chicken go further, simmer breasts or hind quarters (cheap!) In water with celery and onion. Remove chicken. Add egg noodles and one or two chicken bouillion cubes to broth, cook until a couple minutes before done, add salt and pepper, any other favorite herbs. Add back half of chicken in bite size pieces, cook 2 more minutes. You have great chicken and noodles. By itself or over mashed potatoes, it’s divine. I know, not diet food!)
      Then make rest of your chicken into chicken salad or a chicken casserole. Two dinners on the cheap!

  5. Avatar photo
    Emily Schubert

    This is a great chicken salad, tastes just like restaurant style! I’ve made it twice and everybody has loved it! Super easy to whip up if you have precooked chicken on hand

  6. My husband and I just love this receipe. I have made it several times and it is the best chicken salad I have every had. Very easy to make and it has become one that we will make often. Eat it as a sandwich or with other sides.

  7. This was a simple chicken salad recipe with easily available ingredients. Nothing fancy and not too many extras, just the way we like chicken salad. The broth and the Dijon were ingredients that I hadn’t tried in chicken salad, they were great additions.

    I like to follow recipes as written the first time, especially when the reviews are so positive. I would do it the same next time but I do love walnuts so I might add those.

  8. Absolutely delicious! I cooked a whole chicken in the instant pot and it was a quick fix for supper.

  9. I’ve been looking for the perfect chicken salad recipe. I’ve tried many but this one is the best so far. The only suggestion would be to reduce chicken broth to 1 TBS as mine was very runny. I had to add extra mayonnaise to thicken it up. Maybe I’ll omit it next time. I also added craisins for a touch of sweetness. Excellent!

  10. Delicious!! I prepped this for my lunches and it did not disappoint. I also ate it with the high protein oat rolls!

  11. Definitely the taste of classic chicken salad! We had a rotisserie chicken and used the breast to make this recipe. The family loved it!

  12. Delish recipe! Thank you! All you offering your own recipe— start your own blog or website lol. This recipe is absolutely perfect as is but thanks for your unsolicited and unwanted opinions… good grief lol

    1. Avatar photo

      I wholeheartedly agree! Don’t change everything and then comment or rate. If we wanted anything different, we would not have chosen THIS.

  13. Avatar photo
    Paul Grotrian

    Turned out very good , i had shedded chicken so i add a little more mayo because the chicken was sticking together also added dill relish and had to work at mixing to get everything mixed together, but it was worth the extra work

  14. Love this. It reminds me of my favorite chicken salad from Gemini Deli in Melville! Since I am across the country now I am glad to have found a chicken salad recipe I love. The only thing I did differently is add dill and leave out the mustard.

  15. Can you freeze this? (in a FoodSaver bag) then freeze.
    How long if you say yes I can freeze it.
    I love chicken salad but that’s a lot for 1 person.

  16. Absolutely delicious. I did use the 2 tablespoons of chicken broth, added more celery, used red onion bc no green onion at home, and 2 teaspoons sweet relish. This was excellent to bring to work for a high protein lunch!

  17. Ooh, this sounds delish! It’s pretty similar to my usual, but definitely lighter, and I love the idea of dijon. Will definitely be trying it soon! Though I find raw red onion too strong for my tastes, so usually use sweet onion or shallots (my personal preference) instead.

      1. I have high chances and high sugar levels. Is there a way to reduce the cholesterol in this???

  18. Great recipe!
    You offer free recipes and do the calculations for dieters along with weekly plans and a grocery list. No one else offers that much convenience that I know of.
    I have used your recipes for a long time and I always have great results.
    A very grateful follower.

  19. Delicious! And super easy. Always appreciate your recipes. I didn’t have celery but I did have grapes so I swapped for those. Still great.

  20. Avatar photo
    Debra Litton

    Basically just used light  mayo, diced celery, salt, and pepper., and Italian spices. I diced it in small cubes that were probably quarter of an inch.  Simple but very flavorful. I let it chill for about 4 hours then used it in a wrap with mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumber. and red onion. It was awesome. Thank you for a recipe that was flavorful and healthy. 

  21. I’ve been using a 1/2 non-fat greek yogurt and 1/2 regular mayo for the dressing. I also use a bit of lemon juice and the zest of 1 lemon.

  22. can I do 1/2 with mayo and 1/2 with yogurt or sour cream? And then add dill ?? I am not the world’s best cook so not sure about the flavors! thanks

  23. Avatar photo
    Andrea Ditomado

    Gina I can’t thank you enough for creating this web site everything is so delicious. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with next!! Well done!!@

  24. What a great idea, cooking the chicken in chicken broth! I think I'd just sub the mayo for avocado to avoid all those pesky additives.

  25. Hi' thanks for the recipe! Super easy love it. My intentions were to have enough for lunch the following day but that didn't work. It was gone in less the. 10minutes. Next time I'll double It up. I also added apple to it. It was yummy!

  26. I'm going to have to try this one! I LOVE Chicken Salad. Long ago, when I worked for fast food chicken restaurant, they added a splash of Worcestershire Sauce and honey to their chicken salad. Wonder if that would work here.

  27. Yummy! Was delicious!! How much chicken? What is the serving size? I just did 1/2 cup serving but didn't have the actual pts. value for that? I used a pound of chicken breast.

  28. Hi gina,

    do you know if you can substitute the mayo for non fat greek yogurt? does it taste any good? i'm not a very big fan of mayo and am trying to eat healthier!

  29. hi! i suggest adding some cranberries & walnuts! (i don't follow weight watchers so i'm not sure about the points)

  30. What do you do with the onion and celery you cooked the chicken in – is this discarded and add the remaining half?

  31. I would love to know the new points too! I think I am going to make this for lunches after my Macaroni BLT runs out! 🙂

  32. Gina can you please update this recipe for us? The weight of the chicken and the WW+ points or the status. I tried plugging it in to the builder but it doesnt seem accurate to me. I got 5 ww+ points per service. Still great but would rather be certain.

  33. Just made this and it was yummy, yummy, yummy!!! I've always been leery of "lite" products but the Hellman's lite had just as much flavor as the full-fat stuff. Hubby wolfed it down (I didn't mention it was "lite"). Very tasty!

  34. I love this recipe! I had never made chicken salad before yours, and now I'll never need another recipe! 😉

  35. Hi Gina,

    This looks amazing and I can't wait to try it. Is the serving size a 1/2 cup? Also, do you happen to know the new points+ value?


  36. I used this as a replacement for my Mother's full fat recipe and added a little old bay for a nice spicy Maryland kick. Even my diet food hating fiancee loves it!

  37. Hi Gina, I just found your website and I LOVE it! I have made three recipes for my family for dinner already and we loved every one. Can you help with the portion size on this chicken salad? How many ounces of chicken or how much finished salad. Thanks!

  38. I just found this post & cannot wait to try this! I love chicken salad & have never made my own from scratch! This sounds amazing & gives me a new option for a lunch for both myself & my daughter!! Thanks!!

  39. This was delicious. Seedless grapes would be a great addition also, or pineapple chunks. The great thing is that you can't even tell it is made with light mayonnaise. For a sandwich I used Pepperidge Farms deli flats for the bread, lettuce and tomato and had a 4 point sandwich!

  40. Gina,

    I've been reading your blog all morning and sharing it with friends that are on WW. My fiancee LOVES chicken salad and makes it really good…add apples to your Chicken Salad and it fills you up!

  41. Gina,

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful WW recipes! It really gives me such choices that are good and healthy! I love it! 🙂

  42. Gina.
    I’ve been up and down your blog and I have just finished licking the computer screen.Wish I had smelly vision.