The BEST Chicken Salad Recipe

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The absolute best-ever Chicken Salad recipe, perfect for upgrading your lunchtime, enjoying on the go, or when hosting! This is the ultimate make-ahead meal — it only gets more and more flavorful as it sits!

Savory Chicken Salad Sandwich on a plate, with a generous filling visible between the bread slices.

The Best Chicken Salad Recipe

Introducing our go-to classic Chicken Salad recipe! Perfect for a quick and satisfying cold lunch on the go, this dish is known for its unbeatable flavor, speedy preparation, and reliability.

Here’s why I love this recipe so much:

  • Chicken salad fanatic? Me too! Tried ’em all, and this one continues to be my favorite. Hands down, best ever!
  • Party favorite: Whip up a double or triple batch ahead of time. Come party time, pop it on mini croissants, and watch everyone go nuts for it. Boom, instant hero!
  • Great outdoors, great food: Picnic, camping—you name it. Toss it in a cooler, grab some bread, and you’re golden. Way better than mushy PB&J!
  • Easy-peasy: Quick to make? Check. Tastes amazing? Double-check. No-fuss, no problem.
  • Taste level: Up! Let it chill–it just gets tastier as it sits. The ultimate make-ahead meal!


The secret to great chicken salad? Tender and flavorful chicken. We achieve this by using a pre-made rotisserie chicken, taking about 2 cups of meat, and saving the rest for other recipes. (Check them out here, here, and here!)

Ingredients for this recipe including chunks of chicken, walnuts, chopped celery, and cranberries in a mixing bowl.

Chicken Salad Recipe Ingredients

There are only four ingredients in this chicken salad recipe!

Chicken Salad:

  • Rotisserie chicken: Provides a savory and protein-rich base for the salad.
  • Toasted pecans: Add a delicious crunch and a rich, nutty flavor.
  • Dried cranberries: Introduces a sweet and slightly tart flavor.
  • Celery: Adds a refreshing and crunchy texture with a mild, vegetable-like taste.

The dressing for this Chicken Salad recipe requires only a few ingredients as well.


  • Mayonnaise and sour cream: They offer creaminess, bring the ingredients together, and add a tangy note.
  • Honey: Sweetens the chicken salad recipe, complementing the savory and tart components.
  • Dijon mustard: Dijon contributes a bit of sharpness and depth of flavor. Be sure to use Dijon, not yellow mustard
  • Poppy seeds: Bring a subtle, nutty crunch. If you don’t have ’em, no need to make a special trip to the store!
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice: Provides a fresh, bright flavor to balance the richness of other ingredients.



All the ingredients for Chicken Salad being combined in a bowl.

How To Make This Chicken Salad Recipe

You can whip it all together in 10-15 minutes and serve it right away!

  1. Toast the pecans: In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the pecans until fragrant and lightly browned. Be attentive to avoid burning them! Set aside. 
  2. Combine ingredients: In a large bowl, combine the chopped rotisserie chicken, toasted and chopped pecans, dried cranberries, and thinly sliced celery.
  3. Mix dressing: Add the mayo, sour cream, honey, Dijon mustard, poppy seeds, lemon juice, and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  4. Stir and adjust: Gently stir all the ingredients until well combined. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed, adding more salt, pepper, or lemon juice to your preference.
  5. Serve: Enjoy this Chicken Salad recipe with crackers, apples, and celery sticks, or layer it on a croissant with lettuce. Serve immediately.


  • Refrigerate: Pop it in an airtight container, and it’ll be good for 3-5 days.
  • Freeze: Better not; the mayo does weird things texture-wise when you thaw it out.
  • Leftovers: They’re best cold, so give them a good stir before serving if they’ve been chilling in the fridge. 

A flaky croissant stuffed with a generous portion of creamy Chicken Salad.

How To Serve This Chicken Salad Recipe

  • On croissants: Create a perfectly satisfying lunch with full-size croissants orappetizers using miniature croissants.
  • As a dip: Place the Chicken Salad in a bowl and surround it with chips, veggies, and thinly sliced apples.
  • On top of thinly sliced apples: Create a low-carb “sandwich” with apples serving as the bread.
  • With crackers: Serve alongside a variety of crackers for a simple and tasty snack.
  • Inside pita pockets: Stuff it into pita bread for a portable and convenient meal option.
  • Over a green salad: Add a scoop of this chicken salad recipe to a bed of mixed greens or scoop in lettuce boats!

More Delicious Lunches

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Chicken Salad Recipe

5 from 6 votes
The absolute best-ever Chicken Salad recipe, perfect for upgrading your lunchtime, enjoying on the go, or when hosting! This is the ultimate make-ahead meal -- it only gets more and more flavorful as it sits!
Savory chicken salad sandwich on a plate, with a generous filling visible between the bread slices.
Print Recipe

Chicken Salad Recipe

Savory chicken salad sandwich on a plate, with a generous filling visible between the bread slices.
5 from 6 votes
The absolute best-ever Chicken Salad recipe, perfect for upgrading your lunchtime, enjoying on the go, or when hosting! This is the ultimate make-ahead meal -- it only gets more and more flavorful as it sits!
Course Appetizer, Dinner, lunch, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken salad, chicken salad recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 -8 people
Chelsea Lords
Calories 312kcal
Cost $12.10



  • 2 cups prepared rotisserie chicken, diced
  • ½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped (Note 1)
  • cup dried cranberries (or try cherry-infused cranberries!)
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced (½ cup)
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise full-fat
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream (fat-free or light is great!)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • teaspoons poppyseeds, optional
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Enjoy With:

  • Croissants or other sandwich rolls (add some lettuce for a sandwich)
  • Thinly sliced apples, celery sticks, crackers (like wheat thins!)


  • OPTIONAL, TOAST PECANS: Place pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast until fragrant, stirring occasionally (keep an eye on them - they can burn fast). Set aside to cool then finely chop.
  • SALAD: In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients listed under "salad." Season to taste. I start with ¼ tsp salt and ⅛ tsp pepper. Stir gently until everything is well coated. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  • ENJOY: Dish it up with your choice of sides — great on a croissant with lettuce or served with apples, celery sticks, and crackers. Enjoy!


Recipe Notes

Note 1: Pecans: Feel free to swap out the pecans. Sliced almonds, chopped pistachios, or diced walnuts are all tasty options.
Leftovers: Put any leftovers in an airtight container and store in the fridge. Eat within 3 to 5 days. Check for any off smells or colors first—if something seems off, better safe than sorry--toss it!
Nutritional information is for Chicken Salad without bread or tossed salad.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1servingg | Calories: 312kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 359mg | Potassium: 89mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 96IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 0.4mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.


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Recipe Rating


  1. Looks wonderful, but how do you make the cranberry-infused-with-cherry-juice??? I’m considering adding dried Montmorency cherries instead, we use them in green salads as a sweet/tart surprise amidst the blue cheese dressing.

    1. That’s just an option for store-bought (I think Craisins makes it) 🙂 Montmorency dried cherries would be delicious too; in fact, we use those often and LOVE them! Enjoy!

  2. 5 stars
    This looks like a lunch I could eat all week, and totally will. Love a good chicken salad recipe, especially on a nice croissant!

    1. No, you can just buy the pack of cranberries like that. They should say on the package cherry infused dried cranberries. Regular cranberries are great too with this recipe! 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    One of the best chicken salads to date. My family wouldn’t allow me to add the pecans, but without them it was still marvelous.

  4. 5 stars
    Really good recipe.
    Didn’t have any poppy seeds but added a little ground ginger (for an Asian flavor) and found it to be a great touch. Very easy to throw together and everyone enjoyed!

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