How to Make The Perfect Chicken Salad: A Step-by-Step Guide

Chicken salad is a classic dish that is perfect for any occasion. It can be served as a light lunch, a side dish, or even as a main course. Making the perfect chicken salad is all about understanding the basics and choosing the right ingredients. In this article, we will guide you through the process of making the perfect chicken salad, from preparing the chicken to serving suggestions.

Understanding the basics of chicken salad is the first step in making a delicious dish. Chicken salad is typically made with cooked chicken, mayonnaise, and a variety of other ingredients such as celery, onions, and grapes. The key to making a great chicken salad is to balance the flavors and textures of the ingredients. You want to create a dish that is both creamy and crunchy, with a balance of sweet and savory flavors.

Choosing the right ingredients is also crucial in making the perfect chicken salad. You want to use high-quality ingredients that are fresh and flavorful. When it comes to the chicken, you can use any type of cooked chicken, such as roasted, grilled, or poached. You can also add other ingredients such as nuts, fruit, or herbs to add more flavor and texture to your chicken salad.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the basics and choosing the right ingredients are crucial in making the perfect chicken salad.
  • Preparing the chicken properly is important for the texture and flavor of your chicken salad.
  • Serving suggestions and storing leftovers can help you get the most out of your chicken salad.

Piero’s Recipe from the video:

  • Chicken Breast
  • Lettuce
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Feta Cheese
  • Dried Tomatoes
  • Olives
  • Mango
  • Corn
  • Avocado
  • Cucumber
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Understanding the Basics

When it comes to making the perfect chicken salad, understanding the basics is essential. We’ll cover the key components of a classic chicken salad recipe and provide tips for creating your own unique version.


As the name suggests, chicken is the star ingredient in chicken salad. We recommend using boneless, skinless chicken breasts for the best texture and flavor. You can cook the chicken by boiling, baking, grilling, or even using a rotisserie chicken from the store. Be sure to let the chicken cool before chopping it into bite-sized pieces.


While a classic chicken salad recipe typically includes celery and green onions, you can add a variety of ingredients to customize the flavor and texture. Fruit, nuts, and veggies are all great options. Grapes, avocado, and dried cranberries are popular choices, while pecans or almonds can add a nice crunch. Experiment with different combinations to find your favorite.


The dressing is what brings all the flavors together in a chicken salad recipe. A classic dressing typically includes mayonnaise, dijon mustard, and lemon juice. However, you can also use Greek yogurt, sour cream, or a combination of both for a healthier option. Be sure to season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste.


Once you’ve prepared all the ingredients, it’s time to assemble the chicken salad. Mix the chicken, add-ins, and dressing together in a large bowl until everything is evenly coated. You can serve the chicken salad on a bed of lettuce, in a sandwich, or even as a dip with crackers.

By understanding the basics of a classic chicken salad recipe, you can create your own unique version that’s sure to impress. Whether you prefer a traditional recipe or want to experiment with different flavors, chicken salad is a versatile dish that’s perfect for any occasion.

Choosing the Right Ingredients

When it comes to making the perfect chicken salad, choosing the right ingredients is key. Here are some tips for selecting the best chicken, dressing, and add-ins for your salad.

Choosing Your Chicken

The type of chicken you use can make a big difference in the flavor and texture of your salad. Here are some options to consider:

  • Cooked chicken: You can use any cooked chicken for your salad, such as chicken breast, rotisserie chicken, or shredded chicken. Just make sure it’s cooked thoroughly and seasoned well.
  • Grilled chicken: Grilling chicken adds a smoky flavor that can be a great addition to your salad. Just be sure not to overcook the chicken, as it can become tough and dry.
  • Canned chicken: Canned chicken is a convenient option if you don’t have time to cook your own chicken. However, it may not have as much flavor as freshly cooked chicken.

Choosing Your Dressing

The dressing is what brings all the flavors together in your chicken salad. Here are some dressing options to consider:

  • Mayonnaise: This is a classic ingredient for chicken salad dressing. It adds creaminess and richness to the salad.
  • Dijon mustard: Adding Dijon mustard to your dressing can give it a tangy, slightly spicy flavor.
  • Sour cream: Sour cream can be used to add a tangy flavor to your dressing. It also adds a bit of creaminess.
  • Lemon juice: Adding a squeeze of lemon juice to your dressing can brighten up the flavors and give it a fresh taste.
  • Sugar: A small amount of sugar can balance out the acidity in the dressing and give it a slightly sweet flavor.

Choosing Your Add-Ins

Add-ins are what give your chicken salad extra flavor and texture. Here are some options to consider:

  • Onion: Chopped onion can add a bit of crunch and flavor to your salad.
  • Celery: Chopped celery can add a refreshing crunch to your salad.
  • Grapes: Adding grapes to your salad can give it a sweet, juicy flavor.
  • Nuts: Pecans, almonds, and walnuts are all great options for adding crunch and nuttiness to your salad.
  • Fruit: Chopped apples or dried cranberries can add a sweet, fruity flavor to your salad.
  • Tarragon: Adding fresh tarragon can give your salad a slightly licorice-like flavor.
  • Bacon bits: Adding bacon bits can give your salad a smoky, salty flavor.
  • Cheese: Adding shredded cheese can give your salad a creamy, savory flavor.
  • Lettuce: Adding lettuce to your salad can give it a refreshing crunch and help balance out the richness of the dressing.

Preparing the Chicken

When it comes to making the perfect chicken salad, the preparation of the chicken is crucial. There are several ways to cook chicken for a chicken salad, but we will focus on baking and poaching methods.

Baking the Chicken

Baking is a great option if you want to have tender and flavorful chicken for your salad. Here’s how we do it:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  2. Season your chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and any other desired seasonings.
  3. Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F.
  5. Let the chicken cool before shredding or chopping it for your salad.

Baking chicken is a great option if you want to use leftover rotisserie chicken or canned chicken. Just be sure to remove the skin before using it in your salad.

Poaching the Chicken

Poaching is another great way to cook chicken for a salad. It keeps the chicken moist and tender, and it’s a healthier option since you don’t need to use oil. Here’s how we do it:

  1. Place the chicken breasts in a pot and cover them with chicken broth or water.
  2. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover the pot.
  3. Simmer the chicken for 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F.
  4. Remove the chicken from the pot and let it cool before shredding or chopping it for your salad.

Poached chicken is perfect for a light and refreshing salad. You can also add herbs, spices, or citrus to the poaching liquid to infuse more flavor into the chicken.

In summary, whether you choose to bake or poach your chicken, make sure to season it well and cook it until it’s tender and fully cooked. This will ensure that your chicken salad is flavorful and delicious.

Assembling the Salad

Mixing the Ingredients

Now that we have prepared all the ingredients, it is time to mix them together to create the perfect chicken salad. We recommend using a large bowl to ensure that all the ingredients are evenly mixed.

First, add the cooked chicken to the bowl. Next, add the chopped celery, grapes, nuts, and any other fruits or vegetables you have chosen to include in your chicken salad recipe.

In a separate bowl, mix the dressing ingredients together. This may include mayonnaise, sour cream, dijon mustard, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper. Once the dressing is mixed, pour it over the chicken and other ingredients in the large bowl.

Using a large spoon or spatula, gently mix all the ingredients together until the dressing is evenly distributed throughout the chicken salad. Be careful not to overmix, as this can cause the ingredients to become mushy.

Seasoning the Salad

Now that the chicken salad is mixed, it is time to season it. We recommend adding a pinch of seasoned salt, ground black pepper, and freshly chopped parsley to the salad for added flavor.

If you prefer a sweeter chicken salad, you can add chopped apples, dried cranberries, or a sprinkle of sugar to the mix. For a savory twist, try adding bacon bits, chopped avocado, or crumbled cheese.

Once you have added your desired seasonings and mix-ins, give the chicken salad a final stir to ensure that all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Serve the chicken salad over a bed of lettuce or on your favorite bread or roll.

With these simple steps, you can easily assemble the perfect chicken salad every time.

Serving Suggestions

When it comes to serving chicken salad, there are a variety of options to choose from. Here are a few of our favorite ways to enjoy this classic dish:

Making a Sandwich

The most traditional way to serve chicken salad is on a sandwich. We recommend using a croissant, whole wheat bread, or a baguette. Spread a generous amount of chicken salad on your bread of choice and add some lettuce or greens for extra crunch. You can also add some sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, or avocado for added flavor and nutrition.

Creating a Wrap

If you’re looking for a more portable option, try creating a chicken salad wrap. Use a large tortilla and spread a layer of chicken salad on top. Add some shredded lettuce, carrots, and cucumbers, and wrap it up tightly. You can also add some hummus or avocado for extra creaminess.

Creating a Pasta Salad

Another great way to enjoy chicken salad is by turning it into a pasta salad. Cook your favorite pasta according to the package instructions and let it cool. Add some chicken salad to the pasta and mix well. You can also add some chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers for added flavor and texture. Chill the pasta salad in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.

No matter how you choose to serve chicken salad, it’s important to keep it fresh and flavorful. Store your chicken salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. You can also wrap it in foil or store it in a quesadilla to keep it fresh and portable.

Storing and Using Leftovers

When it comes to chicken salad, it’s always a good idea to make extra. This way, you can enjoy it for several meals. However, you need to store the leftovers properly to keep them safe and tasty. Here’s what you need to know about storing and using leftover chicken salad.

Refrigerating the Salad

If you plan to eat the leftover chicken salad within a few days, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Make sure to refrigerate the salad as soon as possible after making it. Leaving it at room temperature for too long can promote bacterial growth and spoilage.

When refrigerating the chicken salad, make sure to keep it away from other foods that can contaminate it. Also, avoid storing it in the door of the fridge, as the temperature fluctuates too much. Instead, keep it on a shelf towards the back of the fridge.

Freezing the Salad

If you want to keep the chicken salad for longer, you can freeze it. However, keep in mind that freezing may change the texture of the salad. The mayonnaise can separate, and the vegetables can become mushy.

To freeze the chicken salad, transfer it to an airtight container or a freezer bag. Make sure to label it with the date and contents. You can freeze the chicken salad for up to three months.

When you’re ready to eat the frozen chicken salad, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. Don’t try to thaw it at room temperature, as this can promote bacterial growth. Once thawed, give the salad a good stir to redistribute the ingredients.

Overall, storing and using leftover chicken salad is easy as long as you follow some basic guidelines. Whether you’re refrigerating or freezing the salad, make sure to use an airtight container to keep it fresh and safe.

Chicken Salad

Nutritional Information

When it comes to making the perfect chicken salad, it’s important to consider the nutritional information of the dish. We want to make sure that we are creating a healthy and balanced meal that will provide us with the necessary nutrients.

Here are some key nutritional facts about chicken salad:

  • Calories: The number of calories in chicken salad can vary depending on the ingredients used. On average, a serving of chicken salad contains between 300-500 calories.
  • Carbohydrates: Chicken salad typically contains very little carbohydrates, with most of the calories coming from protein and fat.
  • Protein: Chicken is a great source of protein, and a serving of chicken salad can provide between 20-30 grams of protein.
  • Fat: The amount of fat in chicken salad can also vary depending on the ingredients used. Using a lighter dressing or replacing mayonnaise with Greek yogurt can help reduce the fat content.
  • Saturated Fat: It’s important to keep an eye on the saturated fat content of chicken salad, as high levels of saturated fat can increase the risk of heart disease. Aim for a saturated fat content of less than 10% of the total calories.
  • Cholesterol: Chicken salad can be high in cholesterol, especially if made with egg yolks or other high-cholesterol ingredients. Limiting these ingredients can help reduce the cholesterol content.
  • Fiber: Chicken salad is not typically high in fiber, but adding vegetables like celery or carrots can help increase the fiber content.
  • Sodium: Many chicken salad recipes are high in sodium, due to the use of salt and salty ingredients like pickles or olives. Aim for a sodium content of less than 500mg per serving.
  • Potassium: Chicken is a good source of potassium, which is important for heart health and blood pressure regulation.
  • Calcium and Iron: Chicken salad is not typically high in calcium or iron, but adding leafy greens like spinach or kale can help increase the levels of these nutrients.
  • Vitamin A and Vitamin C: Adding vegetables like carrots or bell peppers can help increase the levels of these important vitamins in chicken salad.

Overall, chicken salad can be a healthy and nutritious meal option when made with the right ingredients and portion sizes. By paying attention to the nutritional information and making smart ingredient choices, we can create a delicious and satisfying chicken salad that is good for our bodies.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some traditional ingredients in chicken salad recipes?

Chicken salad recipes typically include cooked and shredded chicken, mayonnaise, and celery. Some variations may also include chopped onions, grapes, nuts, or dried cranberries.

How can I make a healthy chicken salad?

To make a healthier chicken salad, use Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise, and add in plenty of fresh vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers. You can also use a mix of white and dark meat chicken to add more flavor and protein.

What is the secret ingredient in some chicken salad recipes?

Some chicken salad recipes include a secret ingredient like curry powder, hot sauce, or even ranch dressing. These ingredients can add a unique flavor and spice to your chicken salad.

What is the best way to cook chicken for chicken salad?

The best way to cook chicken for chicken salad is to bake it in the oven or poach it on the stove. This will ensure that the chicken stays moist and tender, making it easier to shred and mix into the salad.

Why does chicken salad sometimes turn out dry?

Chicken salad can turn out dry if you use too much mayonnaise or if you overcook the chicken. To prevent this, be sure to add in the mayonnaise gradually and cook the chicken until it is just cooked through.

How can I prevent chicken salad from becoming watery?

To prevent chicken salad from becoming watery, be sure to drain any excess liquid from the chicken before mixing it with the other ingredients. You can also add in a little bit of cornstarch or flour to help thicken the mixture.

Do you have other Salad Videos?

Yes! we do here is a list:
Delicious Pasta Salad
How to make Bresaola Salad with Rocket and Parmesan
Tagliata Rucola e Grana | Beef, Rocket & Parmesan

Do you have any other videos? Yes here are our latest ones:

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Cooking With An Italian

Ciao I am Piero coming all the way from Puglia Italy. I created this site to bring my love of food to all, hope you enjoy.