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Classic Chicken Salad

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Ready to whip up some classic chicken salad? My go-to recipe will give your favorite deli a run for its money – plus, it’s super easy to prepare.

Classic chicken salad on bread with lettuce.

Everyone should have a trusty chicken salad recipe in their back pocket—whether it’s for a sunny picnic, hosting friends for a mid-day meal, or simply transforming last night’s leftovers into today’s delicious lunch. Over the years, I’ve shared several of my favorite versions with you, from curried chicken salad to chicken salad with grapes and almonds. Yet, this is the classic recipe that I turn to time and again. It’s simple, creamy, and packed with flavor—similar to the chicken salad you’d find at many delis, but even better in my opinion, and without any “weird stuff” in it, as my kids would say.

The key is using tender, juicy chicken. I typically use tender poached chicken, but a store-bought rotisserie chicken works great too. Whether served on a bed of greens, tucked into a wrap, or piled into a hearty sandwich, this chicken salad is a hit every time.

What You’ll Need Yo Make Classic Chicken Salad

chicken salad ingredients

  • Mayonnaise: Serves as the creamy base that binds all the ingredients together. Use a good brand such as Hellmann’s or Duke’s.
  • Sour cream: Adds a tangy flavor and creaminess, enhancing the texture and depth of the salad.
  • Fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon): Provides a bright, acidic note that balances the richness of the mayonnaise and sour cream.
  • Cooked shredded chicken: You’ll need 4-1/2 cups. Poached chicken, leftover grilled chicken, or roasted/rotisserie chicken all work well.
  • Scallions: Add a mild, slightly sharp flavor and a bit of crunch.
  • Celery: Contributes a crisp texture and a fresh, slightly bitter taste that complements the creamy elements.
  • Fresh dill and parsley: These herbs provide a burst of freshness and color.
  • Jump to the printable recipe for precise measurements

Step-by-Step Instructions

Make the dressing: In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, mustard, salt, sugar, and pepper.


dressing ingredients in bowl

Whisk well to combine.

whisked dressing ingredients

To the dressing, add the chicken, scallions, celery, dill, and parsley.

chicken salad components in bowl

Toss until evenly combined. (If using a rotisserie chicken, be careful when mixing so that it doesn’t fall apart too much.) Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

mixed chicken salad

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Classic chicken salad on bread with lettuce.

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Classic Chicken Salad

Ready to whip up some classic chicken salad? My go-to recipe will give your favorite deli a run for its money – plus, it’s super easy to prepare.

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • ⅔ cup mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann's or Duke's
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4½ cups cooked shredded chicken (see note)
  • 3 scallions, light and dark green parts, thinly sliced
  • 2 ribs celery, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped dill
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped Italian parsley

Instructions

  1. Make the dressing: In a large bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, mustard, salt, sugar, and pepper.
  2. To the dressing, add the chicken, scallions, celery, dill, and parsley. Toss until evenly combined. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Note: I use poached chicken for this recipe. If you'd like to use roasted chicken, you'll need 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange the chicken breasts skin-side up on the prepared baking sheet. Coat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle both sides with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, or until done. Let cool. (You may also use a rotisserie chicken.)
  4. Make-Ahead Instructions: This salad can be made and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Calories: 431
  • Fat: 38 g
  • Saturated fat: 9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 2 g
  • Sugar: 1 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 20 g
  • Sodium: 393 mg
  • Cholesterol: 94 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • This was delicious! I had to use curly parsley in a pinch as it was all my grocery store had left, but I otherwise made it exactly as written. I’ll probably slightly reduce the herbs next time just due to personal preference, but it was excellent as is. Brought it to a Mother’s Day luncheon and everyone loved it!

    • — Maggie on May 13, 2024
    • Reply
  • If you’re buying already pulled rotisserie chicken about how many lbs. of pulled chicken do you think you’d need for 1 batch? Excited to try this!!

    • — Colleen on January 31, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Colleen, I’d recommend about 1.5 pounds. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 1, 2024
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Can you use this salad in a roasted Panini ?

    I really enjoy your recipes. Thank you!

    • — Thilini Fernando on December 3, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, I don’t see why not (and glad you like the recipes)!

      • — Jenn on December 4, 2023
      • Reply
  • This was absolutely delicious. The tang from the lemon and the dill is what makes this dish so special. Thank you for your recipes.

    • — mkmd on December 2, 2023
    • Reply
  • Excellent! Very flavorful. I poached chicken thighs because I had 5of them in my freezer.

    • — Susanna Funk on July 25, 2023
    • Reply
  • I’m thinking of making this recipe for an event where I need to bring sliders. If I wanted to bring about 24 sliders, maybe using Kings Hawaiian rolls, would I need to double the recipe? Triple?
    Thanks!!

    • — Alex S on July 24, 2023
    • Reply
    • I’m guessing that should be enough as they sliders won’t fit that much chicken salad in them. Hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on July 24, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn
    I will be making the Classic Chicken salad for a bridal shower. Do you know how many pounds or cups I would need for 30 people?

    • — Sandy on July 22, 2023
    • Reply
    • You’ll need about 22 cups of shredded poached chicken. If you’re using bone-in, skin-on breasts, you’ll need about 15 pounds. Hope that helps and that everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on July 22, 2023
      • Reply
      • Thank you for your quick response!!

        • — Sandy on July 22, 2023
        • Reply
  • I made this because I had a left over roasted chicken. I only had 4 cups instead of 4 1/2 cups of leftover meat on the carcass but I figured close enough. Put it all together like the recipe said and was it delicious! I used the demi baguettes from TJ’s crisped in the oven to get a nice crusty consistency, removed the crumb to allow a place for the chicken salad and made a green salad to accompany the chicken salad. It was so good.

    • — Daniel Beck on April 6, 2023
    • Reply
  • Tried this week..delish!!!!

    • — JR on February 10, 2023
    • Reply
  • My husband doesn’t like chicken salad but he likes this chicken salad. My husband doesn’t eat leftovers but he ate this chicken salad as a leftover. What!?!

    • — Donna Beaty on January 9, 2023
    • Reply
  • Would the recipe still be good if I omitted the sour cream or yogurt substitute? My guest cannot have milk products.

    • — Beverly on October 30, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Beverly, I’m not sure I fully understand your question, but if you’re asking if you can substitute a non-dairy yogurt for the sour cream, I think it should work. If it doesn’t have the same thickness as sour cream, I’d put it in a sieve and let the extra liquid drain off. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on October 31, 2022
      • Reply
  • This recipe is a winner. I have tried to find a chicken salad recipe for a while, and just never found one I liked. I now make this almost weekly as a double batch, and it flies out of the refrigerator. You will not to be disappointed.

    as a side note….I like to make salads fast,
    I do all the vegetables in a Cuisinart, trying to not over chop, then put the Cuisinart stem in with larger vegetable slicing attachment and feed the cooked chicken through it. Its a little finer and not as elegant as the hand chopped, but excluding chicken cooking time, I can do a double batch in 10mins (15?)

    • — Terry C on October 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this for the first time this Summer and it was fantastic. I used a flavored rotisserie chicken and served it on tomato slices with romaine and garlic bread and everyone loved it. So simple, delicious and easy to make!

    • — Celia M. on August 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • Tastes amazing! I loved how easy it was to come together. Perfect for the beach.

    • — Lulu on August 6, 2022
    • Reply
  • I love chicken salad and this is the best ever! When we grill chicken breasts for dinner I make chicken salad from the extra breasts for the next night. I can’t stop eating this. If you are a chicken salad lover this is THE ONE!!!!
    Thank you, Jenn!!! 🙂

    • — Sandy on July 29, 2022
    • Reply
  • I am embarrassed that I have not reviewed any of the incredible recipes from Jenn. When a friend introduced me to this site, it opened up a whole new world of easy, delicious, no-fail recipes that I rely on for entertaining. I have made this chicken salad several times for friends (perfect for boating), and everyone thinks I bought it from a high-end deli. It is simple but full of flavor. I especially appreciate the generous amount of fresh dill.

    • — Kelly on June 27, 2022
    • Reply
  • Jenn, do you have a few suggestions for what to serve the salad on? Breads, rolls, etc. Love your recipes and detailed instructions! Thank you, Kathleen

    • — Kathleen on June 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathleen, the options that come to mind are a hearty toasted whole grain sandwich bread, as a wrap, on a croissant, or for a low carb option, over greens. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on June 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • Delish!!

  • Delicious chicken salad recipe! I used the recipe for the poached chicken and loved it. Very simple and easy and leaves you with tender and moist chicken. I used dried herbs because that’s what I had on hand. Next time, I will try the fresh herbs – I’m sure they are better.

  • Delicious recipe!! And tastes even better on the second day after the flavors meld together. Made the recipe exactly as written but used poached chicken breasts (cut into smaller pieces when poaching then shredded) since that was what we had, and cut the dill by 1/3 since my husband doesn’t like too much dill flavor. Just had one sandwich for lunch and I’m ready for a second…

  • I make this salad once a week and it is a hit in my house. My husband and kids enjoy having this for lunch at work and school. They absolutely love it. For variation, sometimes I shred the chicken, other times I cut the breast in chunks.

  • Hey Jen still loving your recipes after all these years! Quick question how much dried dill and parsley would you use if do not have fresh on hand? Wasn’t sure if made a significant difference or not!

    • So glad you like the recipes! I’d use 1 tablespoon each of the dried dill and parsley. Enjoy!

  • Made your creamy zucchini soup with walnuts and dill, then this great chicken salad. Used half the amount of chicken and one apple, everything else as written. Subbed dried cherries for the raisins and a granny smith apple with peel on for added color, a glass of pinot grigio made this a perfect dinner for a hot night. Thanks Jenn

    • — Carol Winkelman
    • Reply
  • This was one Damn GOOD Chicken salad recipe Jenn!! I’ve made MANY over the years but THIS One HERE, was THEE BEST!!!
    Ok so now for my one question?
    What’s your estimate of tenderloin WEIGHT, that will produce what was it…4.5 cups of cooked chicken?
    AND….
    Thanks so much for ALL YOUR FABULOUS Recipes!!

    • So glad you liked it!! 4.5 cups would be the equivalent of about 2 pounds of chicken tenderloins or 3 pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. Hope that helps!

  • I have made this three times already and its my go to chicken salad. Make it on a monday and use it all week for lunch. Thank you Jenn for being my go to site

    • — Arlene K Cohen
    • Reply
  • Jenn,

    I recently found your website and have tried 3 recipes so far and they have not let me down! They are all hits with family and friends! This Chicken Salad recipe is so yummy and the tastes aren’t overpowering! It tastes even better the next day. Thank you for wonderful, delightful recipes that aren’t “over the top” and too time consuming to make!

  • Hey Jen: Another WINNER big-time. I had never used chicken tenders before nor had I poached chicken. SO EASY and even though I halved the recipe (just us two seniors) there is LOTS for a few meals. I can’t wait to try your other recipes using the tenders and will likely make a full recipe next time.

    Your recipes ALWAYS turn out perfectly and I am constantly returning to your cookbook for ideas. Keep doing exactly what you are doing. You are helping save our sanity and everybody enjoys a wonderful meal! Take care. Stay safe.

  • I see no need to search for a chicken salad recipe ever again. I can’t imagine finding anything better than this. My whole family loved it!

  • How does this taste in relation to ur cookbook chicken salad recipe?

    • There are a lot of similarities, but the one in the cookbook has a slightly different flavor due to the cooking method (grilling versus poaching the chicken). Hope you enjoy if you try either one!

  • “This may be the best chicken salad you ever made!!” That quote is from my sweet husband who loves all my chicken salads, true, and I also make many different recipes. What a fabulous chicken salad!!

    I happened to use leftover chicken from my freshly made batch of chicken soup. (I omitted the sugar, and loved it as is. I’m sure it’s even better with the sugar I’m just trying to be conscientious where I add it.)

    Thanks Jenn!!! I love your recipe so much and add my voice to the chorus that I would love to watch you on Food Network TV. Thanks again for adding a new recipe to my rotation.

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