I have been making this chicken salad recipe for years with tweaks along the way, and it’s time to share it with the world! It is literally the best, chicken salad recipe EVER. And your guests won’t even know it’s been healthified. Serve this at your next bridal shower or prep it for lunches! You can’t go wrong with this healthy chicken salad!
Why I Love This Recipe
I love this classic chicken salad recipe because it’s sweet (honey and dried cranberries), has enough mayonnaise to stick together but isn’t runny, and has the perfect crunchiness with crushed pecans diced celery.Make this #yummy chicken #salad recipe for your #mealprep or a #party! Click To Tweet
How I Healthified This Recipe
I took the recipe my mom used growing up and skinnied it down in a few ways:
- Reduced added sugars by using less honey.
- Limited overall calories and saturated fat by using a light mayonnaise (I have made this for dozens and dozens of guests and no one has ever noticed or asked about it being light mayo – I’d recommend Hellmann’s light mayonnaise).
- Used less salt.
I also added a little bit of nutmeg to add some extra richness.
How & When to Serve Chicken Salad
You can serve chicken salad as a chicken salad sandwich on whole grain bread (I like Pepperidge Farm 100% Stone Ground Whole Wheat or Dave’s Killer Bread Thin Slice) when you make it for home. I like to prep this on Sunday nights to have throughout the week for lunches. Then when I put it together as a sandwich I like to add mixed greens or spinach and sometimes tomato slices. As the recipe is written, it’s for about 4 servings. If I’m splitting it between my husband and I it will last for two meals for each of us. If you want to make additional servings, I would double the recipe.
You can also serve it on top of a bed of salad greens if you prefer, or you could use it as a snack paired with some whole grain crackers (my favorite are the Kashi Original 7 Grain Crackers).
If you’re saving this as a meal-prepped item for the week, I would not store it with salad greens. Keep any salad greens separate for storage because the light mayonnaise will turn the leaves wilty. Store it separately in tupperware. Refrigerated chicken salad can be stored and eaten for 3 to 5 days.
This recipe is a huge hit for parties! I have made it over and over again for bridal or baby showers. Of course you will need to increase the batch accordingly, however keep in mind that usually for party sandwiches the servings are much smaller. For a party of 30 guests, I’ve usually used about 6 full chicken breasts.
Usually when I’m serving this at parties I will add it into little finger sandwiches. I’ll serve half the sandwiches on white parker house rolls and half on whole wheat rolls, both topped with some mixed greens or spinach. Then I keep a little extra served up in a bowl surrounded by salad greens (be sure to add in a spoon to dip up with). The second option can be paired with whole grain crackers or grain-free crackers (like Nut Thins, I like this flavor) or just eaten with a fork.Check out this #delicious #healthy chicken salad #recipe! Click To Tweet
The Best Chicken Salad Recipe Ever
A few tips about making this recipe:
- Pull apart/shred the chicken into small pieces. If you leave the pieces too large, it will be harder to eat and stuff in sandwiches. It also won’t “go” quite as far! I find it’s easiest to do this using two forks or a fork and a sharp knife: dig a fork in to hold the chicken breast in place and then pull the chicken strands apart with the second fork or a small serrated knife (I think a knife is easier – this is the one I use*).
- For crushing the pecans, I take whole pecans or pecan halves and place them in a plastic baggy. Remove the air in the bag before sealing, and then tap with a meat tenderizer (I use this one*) on the pecan pieces to crush them.
- I think it’s easiest to get all the ingredients chopped and pulled together in a bowl while the chicken is cooking, and then right away you can add the chicken after it’s boiled and shredded. If you prefer to combine all the ingredients together after the chicken is done (or even if you boil, shred and chill the chicken before combining all the ingredients) that’s no problem. It just saves time to do it in between, and I haven’t noticed a significant change in quality of the finished product.
- Depending on the size of your chicken breasts, you could use more or less of the add-ins. As the recipe is written, it has lots of “goodies.”☺
- Definitely chill before serving! I’d suggest at least an hour and a half.
As always, I hope you love this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you want to see next!
Disclosures: *We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. | All opinions are genuine. This post was not created in partnership with any product or brand.
The BEST Chicken Salad Recipe Ever! | Gluten-Free
- 1 full chicken breast
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1/2 c light mayonnaise (I use Hellmann's)
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 17 grapes, halved or quartered
- 1/4 c dried cranberries
- 1/4 c crushed pecans
- pepper, to taste
- 2 stalks green onion, diced (optional)
- In a saucepan, bring ~1 quart of water to a boil. Boil chicken until internal temperature reaches 165º F, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- While chicken is boiling, chop and combine remainder of ingredients in a bowl (no need to mix yet).
- When chicken is completely cooked through, remove from water and place on a cutting board. With two forks (or one fork and one sharp knife), begin pulling apart chicken pieces along the grain. Shred into very small pieces. (Note: smaller pieces will help the chicken salad "go farther" - more sandwiches, salad for guests, etc., congeals better with the mayonnaise and has a better mouth feel).
- Add shredded/pulled apart chicken to bowl of remaining ingredients. Mix well. Chill before serving.