Chicken Salad
June 23, 2011 1:16 PM   Subscribe

Looking for your best chicken salad recipes. Easy, hard, spicy or sweet, all answers welcome.
posted by puny human to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 78 users marked this as a favorite
My BFF makes the world's tastiest salad using chicken, celery, onion (I think, maybe not onion), toasted walnuts, pineapple chunks, and bottled poppyseed dressing. I want a big bowl right now.
posted by cyndigo at 1:22 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't have a recipe, but I will tell you that the best chicken salad I ever made had jicama in it.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 1:25 PM on June 23, 2011

The best chicken salad:

- Leftover roasted, hot-smoked, or grilled chicken. It should be good chicken with plenty of moisture in the breast meat, that is, brined or salted for a good long time before cooking. Pull white meat off the bone and shred or chop it (I like shredded).

- Heat it over gentle heat in a couple tablespoons of roasting drippings or stock if you haven't got any.

- Make a vinaigrette of white wine vinegar, olive oil, some chives, and one other delicate herb - tarragon is classic.

- Drizzle this over your warm chicken. Correct the seasoning. Add chopped sweet peppers or some walnut meats and some capers. Toss through Bibb or butter lettuce.

The best mayonnaise chicken salad:

- Make some aioli with an egg yolk and plenty of lemon, not too much garlic.

- Chop white chicken meat; add finely diced celery, minced capers, lots of chives, maybe some walnuts.

- Add just enough aioli to moisten and correct the seasoning. Good for sandwiches or salads.

The best picnic chicken salad:

- Stir together mayonnaise, curry powder, and a little sugar.

- Chop or shred chicken very finely, add finely diced celery and halved grapes or diced apple.

- Barely moisten with your curry mayonnaise. Best as a sandwich on seedy, grainy bread with a very crisp lettuce leaf.
posted by peachfuzz at 1:28 PM on June 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

This is the chicken salad I grew up eating. The flavors and textures work really well together. It's especially good if you use meat from roasted bone-in chicken breasts rather than poached chicken.

2/3 cup mayo
1/3 cup milk
2 T lemon juice
salt and pepper

Mix the dressing into:
2-3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 small can sliced water chestnuts, drained
2 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup halved green grapes
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:35 PM on June 23, 2011

Shredded chicken, mayo (Kewpie if you can get it), halved red grapes, mint (fresh is better, dried is acceptable). Better the next day. Nomnomnom.
posted by specialagentwebb at 1:40 PM on June 23, 2011

Well, here's my personal favorite. This is the same recipe as Whole Foods' Sonoma Chicken Salad and Lowes Foods' Chicken Grape Salad. It's incredible. The grapes and honey add the perfect touch of sweet, the poppy seeds, nuts and celery some crunch and the vinegar adds a dash of tart. Everyone I've made this for seems to LOVE it.

Often times I'll grab a $5 rotisserie chicken from the deli section instead of cooking my own. Also, I usually leave out the nuts, just because I like this just as much without it. Be careful - it's addictive! :)

1 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
5 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted
2 cups red seedless grapes
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced

1. In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, poppy seeds, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to dress the salad. This can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.
2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the chicken breasts in one layer in a baking dish with 1/2 cup water. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes until completely cooked through. Remove cooked chicken breasts from pan, cool at room temperature for 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate.
3. When the chicken is cold, dice into bite-size chunks and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in pecans, grapes, celery and dressing.
posted by Falwless at 1:43 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Spicy Adobo Chicken Salad

I take a rotisserie chicken and shred it. Then I mix up chipotle adobo sauce from a can, plain greek yogurt, maybe some lemon juice, maybe some light mayonaise, cilantro, salt, pepper - all this is to taste. Add to the shredded chicken. Cheap, easy, delicious.
posted by semacd at 1:54 PM on June 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Here's mine. It's simple, easy, and tasty.
posted by geeky at 1:55 PM on June 23, 2011

My version is super complicated, so I won't write it all down yet. It involves spinach, bacon, walnuts, celery and chicken -- if that sounds interesting, MeMail me and I'll send it on over.
posted by mrfuga0 at 1:59 PM on June 23, 2011

My 5-minute basic chicken salad:

Debone a store-bought rotisserie chicken. Pull the meat so it's in chunky shreds. Chop 3-4 green onions, cube one apple. Mix about 1/8 teaspoon of curry powder into about 1/4 cup mayo. Toss chicken in mayo, add salt and pepper to taste, fold in veggies. Eat on wheat crackers, wheat bread, a croissant.

I'm with peachfuzz that roasted chicken meat tastes far better in a salad than a canned, poached or grilled.

I'm considering soon trying a Mexican-ish version of this, that I saw online someplace: sub a cumin for the curry in the mayo, sub in some grilled corn kernels for the apples, serve in an avocado half.
posted by pineapple at 2:00 PM on June 23, 2011

mrfuga0, please please post! That sounds yummy.
posted by cyndigo at 2:05 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I invented a new one the other day that kicked quite a bit of ass...

* shredded chicken (pulled off a supermarket rotisserie chicken)
* magical sauce

Magical sauce was made in the blender with:

1. 1 avocado
2. a little olive oil
3. a little pineapple-orange juice (both #2 & #3 = only enough so the blender could process it)
4. a poblano pepper I roasted on my gas stove
5. a hot red pepper, chopped
6. cumin, salt, pepper -- all freshly ground

Magical sauce was the consistency of a mayo, almost.

Mix the chicken in the sauce and serve over (bottom to top layers):

* salad mix
* Spanish rice
* diced orange bell peppers
* roasted corn
* jalapeno chips (available in the salad-topper section)

It was a experiment which came out AMAZING and requires further my mouth!
posted by at 2:20 PM on June 23, 2011 [8 favorites]

Boil chicken breasts in crawfish/crab boil to taste.  Let cool.  Cube chicken.

Boil tri color spiral pasta.  Drain.

Cube red apples.

Cut red or purple grapes half.

Toss above ingredients together. Add Vidalia onion dressing to taste.  Enjoy!
posted by JacksonandFinch at 2:27 PM on June 23, 2011

I make mine with:
Chicken Breast
a mixture of half lowfat mayo and half yogurt (both out of flavor more than health )
Lots of Curry Powder (Hot Madras, preferably)
Whatever other spices are in reach - chili, garlic, a squirt of sriracha, cumin... whatever ticks your tocker.
Grapes or raisins or craisins or something

It's won awards, and I'm pretty sure it got me laid once.
posted by piedmont at 2:30 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Salpicão de Frango - Brazilian specialty chicken salad (youtube recipe; text recipe). I love Sal Picão because you get your chicken and your creamy textures, but the mix of other flavors is excellent: heart of palm, raisin, corn, celery, even beans (if you want them). Everyone's version is a little different.

If the cultural angle sells you - it is a Christmas dish in many families, for whatever reason.
posted by whatzit at 3:10 PM on June 23, 2011

Here's my version of caesar salad. Serves 4+

1 chicken
4-5 rashers of bacon
1 tin of anchovy fillets (about 2 per person)
1 jar of black and green olives (the ones stuffed with feta cheese work really well)
2 sticks of celery, chopped
1 caesar dressing (see below) or a store bought jar
150g/5oz parmesan, thinly sliced (a potato peeler is great for this)
A good handful of walnuts
1 egg per person, poached
1 apple, diced
Selection of good lettuce leaves (cos, iceberg, ruby, lambs, radicchio, romaine, arugula, etc.)

To assemble the salad:
1. Roast a chicken with strips of bacon across the top.
2. When the chicken is cooked, layer all the salad ingredients into a bowl.
3. Poach the eggs.
4. Shred the chicken and bacon and mix through the salad.
5. Add the dressing.
6. Add some extra parmesan shavings, a few more walnuts and croutons to make it look even prettier.
7. Place the poached eggs on top and serve immediately, preferably with a bowl of boiled jersey potatoes in butter or some good crusty bread.

* You can make a fresh salad the following night, just reheat the chicken and bacon for a minute or so in the microwave.
* You can substitute a rotisserie chicken, just grill some bacon until crispy and crumble into the salad with the shredded chicken.

Caesar salad dressing
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
250g/10oz mayonnaise
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
50ml/2fl oz olive oil
1 pack of croutons (or make your own)

Throw all ingredients into a blender/mixer and blend until smooth.
posted by humph at 3:22 PM on June 23, 2011

My recipe is very simple, but is requested on a regular basis.

5 or 6 cups of cooked chicken (shredded, chopped, whatever)
6 hard boiled eggs, mashed
Mayo, enough for a nice consistency
Squirt of mustard
Approx 10 green onions sliced
Salt, Pepper to taste

This recipe is even better the second day after the flavors have had a chance to meld.
posted by JujuB at 4:30 PM on June 23, 2011

Chicken Macaroni Salad (Filipino style)

2 chicken breasts, boiled & shredded
1 lb of elbow macaroni, cooked
2 -3 Fuji apples skinned and cut into cubes ( bite size)
1-2 medium cans crushed pineapple drained (2 if you like it sweet)
1/2 finely chopped onion
1 cup light Miracle whip
1/2 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Serve cold.

It’s just like what white people serve, except not. Because they’ll taste it, they’ll eat it, but they won’t know what exactly it is about it that is different enough that makes it Filipino. That must drive them crazy.
posted by HeyAllie at 4:35 PM on June 23, 2011

Fold together...
Half mayo, half Greek yogurt (quantities depend on how moist you want it)
Fennel instead of celery
Tarragon (fresh, chopped) instead of parsley or chives
Apples, grapes, raisins or dried cranberries, chopped, depending on what's around
Slivered almonds or walnuts, toasted
Tiny bit of chopped mint (fresh)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Teaspoon-ish of mustard
Salt/pepper to taste
Finally, add in pulled or shopped roasted or poached chicken.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:51 PM on June 23, 2011

Not the mayonnaise-y kind...

Sesame Chicken Salad

2 TBS sesame seeds
1/4 cup canola oil
3 TBS lemon juice
1.5 TBS soy sauce
1.5 TBS rice vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tsp finely minced fresh ginger
1/2 pound snow peas
1/2 pound bean sprouts
3 to 3.5 c. shredded cooked chicken

Toast sesame seeds in a small frying pan over medium heat, shaking pan often, until seeds are golden (about 5 minutes). In a large bowl, mix seeds, oil, lemon juice, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and ginger until blended. (I usually double the amount of lemon juice, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and ginger--basically, everything in the sauce except the oil.)

Fill a large pan halfway with water; bring to a boil. Add pea pods and bean sprouts; cook just until water boils. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Combine vegetables, chicken, and oil mixture and stir.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:49 PM on June 23, 2011

Mrs. Ghidorah and I, on our honeymoon in Bali, came across the best damn chicken salad in existence.

Shredded chicken (I usually brown a couple chicken breasts on each side, then add liquid about halfway up the breasts and cover for 20 minutes, the shred when cool)
Minced lemongrass (two to three stalks, fibrous outer bit and root end removed)
Lime juice
Seeded red chilies
Chopped shallots
and a neutral oil (not olive, too strongly flavored) to bind it all together.

You could easily add cucumber if you wanted to extend it a little further, but this chicken salad? In a pita? I scoff at any challengers to its throne.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:03 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Another Caesar salad -

For the dressing:

olive oil,
Worcester sauce,
lemon juice,
crushed garlic (don't overdo it)
grated parmesan
salt & pepper
1 egg yolk

Mix it all up in a blender till it emulsifies.

Roast a jointed chicken, or better still a load of chicken thighs with lots of rosemary & thyme, garlic & lemon. Put strips of pancetta or streaky bacon on top.

Add chunky croutons (ciabatta is best) to the roasting pan half way through to soak up the juices. Don't let the croutons get too rock solid.

When the chicken has cooled enough not to wilt the lettuce, dress romaine lettuce with the dressing. Add the chicken, shredded as you like, the croutons & bacon.

Bon apetit
posted by col at 1:00 AM on June 24, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the replies everyone. Can't wait to try some of these. Especially the ones with tarragon. There was a deli in my town (long since closed) that made the best tarragon chicken salad sandwich, adapted from a famous one from New Orleans that I used to LOVE.

here is the recipe from mrfuga0, sent by memail -- adapted from the Southern Living Annual Recipes Cookbook, 20th Anniversary Edition.

Spinach Chicken Salad

1/2 C finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 10-oz package of frozen spinach, thawed and rained (I usually don't thaw it, which adds a little liquid -- no big deal either way)
4 slices bacon, cooked well and crumbled
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 bag frozen chicken breasts (approx 3 pounds -- you could use fresh if you like)
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp rosemary (use the finely ground kind, not just sprigs)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C dry white wine (can use cooking wine or chicken broth -- you may want to reduce the salt if you use cooking wine or broth with added salt)
1/2 c toasted walnuts
1 package celery
Mayonnaise and mustard to taste

1. Cook onion and garlic in a large skillet coated with cooking spray or olive oil. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly under veggies are tender. Stir in spinach and next four ingredients. Set aside.
2. Place chicken breasts (thawed or not -- again it doesn't matter) in a 9x13 glass baking dish. Combine 2 tbsp mustard and next five ingredients. Spread on top of chicken breasts. Spoon spinach mixture over the chicken. Pour white wine over all.
3. Cook chicken in oven at 325 for 45 minutes. Let stand until cool.
4. Once chicken is cool, spread chicken with knife and fork until in small pieces (I try to make it really really tiny). Place chicken in bowl, add as much of the cooked spinach as you like (I usually use about 1/2 cup). Save the rest of the spinach.
5. Chop toasted walnuts (toast them!) into equally tiny pieces. Do the same to the celery. Make this all a similar size (chicken, nits, celery) so that each bite has some of each in it.
6. Add mayonnaise and Dijon mustard to chicken mixture. I don't measure this, but I use less than normal -- it is very moist anyway, so less is more. Maybe use about 1/2 C. I prefer Kraft Real Mayonnaise or Duke's. Add about 1 tbsp of mustard. Mix to your taste.

Very good over greens with a Dijon vinaigrette.
posted by puny human at 9:22 PM on June 25, 2011

Ghidorah: Thumbs up for the Bali recipe. The cucumbers are a great addition, and I ended up adding some だしポン酢 too.
posted by whatzit at 3:00 AM on July 4, 2011

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