Healthy Chicken Salad is made with shredded chicken, crisp celery, dried sweet cranberries, juicy grapes, and crunchy sliced almonds. It’s coated in a mayo-less three-ingredient dressing.
Healthy Chicken Salad
I can’t quite take credit for this recipe as it’s one of my mom’s creations that we ate on repeat growing up. In fact, when we went out to North Dakota and visited the family for Christmas, she made this chicken salad for Christmas Eve lunch and not a bite was left!
She always piles the chicken salad high on mini buttery croissants which makes them a little bit less healthy, but after all, YOLO.
This healthy chicken salad is delicious straight from the bowl, loaded in a whole-wheat/multi-grain toasted bread, or even wrapped in lettuce to make a lettuce wrap!
Healthy Chicken Salad ingredients
- Rotisserie chicken: I like using rotisserie chicken because it makes the prep so fast and the chicken is already well seasoned. And speaking of quick prep time, in many grocery stores, you can buy rotisserie chicken meat that has already been pulled from the bones and shredded. You can also make your own rotisserie chicken and use leftovers in these sandwiches. A nice assortment of storage container like these will make that job easier.
- Dried cranberries: Cranberries add a delicious sweetness and different texture. Dried cherries or cherry-juice-infused dried cranberries are also amazing in this recipe.
- Celery: Chop into small pieces for a more-even dispersion; the celery adds a nice crunchy texture.
- Sliced almonds: Again, a great textural ingredient. You can toast the almonds, but since this is a quick and easy recipe, I don’t usually bother.
- Seedless grapes: Red or green work equally well, but I prefer red for color. Make sure to get ripe, flavorful grapes (they should be plump, thick, and feel full of juice) for this healthy salad.
- Poppyseeds: This is an optional ingredient; they add a nice flavor and crunch.
- Lemon juice: A little bit of lemon in the dressing adds a nice freshness and a very subtle tang to the salad.
- Ranch dressing: It’s the secret ingredient of this healthy chicken salad! More on this below.
Yes, it sounds strange, but the ranch is the secret ingredient replacing mayonnaise or other creamy ingredients typically used to dress a chicken salad. While it may sound weird, it’s addictively good and absolutely the best replacement for mayo! Low on calories and fat and high on flavor!
While you can definitely make your own ranch, this recipe is billed as quick and easy, so I recommend a store-bought dressing. Also, to keep this salad on the healthy side I recommend a low-fat ranch.
From taste test testers: Hidden Valley Ranch® (low fat) was a favorite. My personal favorite dressing of choice for this healthy chicken salad is Bolthouse Farm’s Yogurt Classic Ranch® (see here; not sponsored). Use whatever ranch you like best, and to keep it healthier, get a low-fat or fat-free ranch.
More healthy, delicious recipes:
- Roasted Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad with a lemon vinaigrette
- Pesto Chicken Salad with a pesto based dressing
- Taco Lettuce Wraps best seasoning mix!
- Margherita Pizza on Naan bread
- Chickpea Salad Mediterranean flavor inspired
Healthy Chicken Salad is made with shredded chicken, crisp celery, dried sweet cranberries, juicy grapes, and crunchy sliced almonds. It's coated in a mayo-less three-ingredient dressing.
- 3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken
- 3/4 cup sliced celery (~4 stalks)
- 1 cup sliced seedless red grapes
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries (or dried sweet cherries)
- 1 teaspoon poppyseeds, optional
- 3/4 cup reduced-fat ranch dressing Note 1
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper
- For serving: 6-8 pieces green leaf lettuce, miniature or full sized croissants or other toasted bread
CHICKEN: Chop or shred the rotisserie chicken to get 3 cups and add to a large bowl.
SALAD: Slice the celery in half and then chop to get small pieces. Halve the grapes. Add the 3/4 cup celery, 1 cup grapes, 1/2 cup sliced almonds, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, and 1 teaspoon poppyseeds to the bowl with the shredded chicken.
DRESSING: In a small bowl, add the 3/4 cup ranch dressing, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and a pinch of salt and pepper (add to preference). Whisk and then pour over the salad. Gently toss to combine and again taste for seasonings.
SERVE: Toast bread and serve the chicken salad on top of the bread with lettuce, or in croissants with lettuce, or add this chicken salad to lettuce to make lettuce wraps!
Note 1: use your favorite low fat-ranch dressing. Hidden Valley Ranch (low fat) was a favorite from taste testers. My personal favorite dressing of choice is Bolthouse Farm's Yogurt Classic Ranch or Marie's creamy ranch (both found in the refrigerated produce section of the store, not with shelf-stable bottled dressings).