Curried Chicken Salad

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This curried chicken salad is savory, sweet, and a little spicy, with lots of crunch from grapes, cashews, and celery.

Chicken salad over lettuce in a bowl.

I originally shared this curried chicken salad on my salad column on Serious Eats in 2011. All these years later, it is still one of my favorites. Savory, sweet, and a little spicy – with lots of fresh crunch from grapes, cashews, celery, and scallions – it is wonderful over greens or piled into a sandwich. The creamy dressing is flavored with curry powder, a blend of spices like coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom, to name just a few. I recommend using poached chicken to make the salad, but roasted chicken breasts or rotisserie chicken work well too.

What You’ll Need To Make Curried Chicken Salad

curried chicken salad ingredients

As mentioned above, I use poached chicken for this recipe — it’s easy and the method yields super tender chicken. If you’d prefer 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, and coat them with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, or until done, and then let cool.


Make the dressing: In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, curry powder, honey, lime juice, and salt.
dressing ingredients in mixing bowl

Whisk to combine.

Bowl of whisked dressing.

Add the chicken, celery, grapes, scallions, cashews, and a pinch of cayenne pepper, if desired, to the dressing (if not serving immediately, hold off on adding the cashews so they stay crunchy).

adding chicken, grapes, cashews, celery, and scallions

Toss well, and then taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. (If using a rotisserie chicken, be careful when mixing so that it doesn’t fall apart too much.)

mixed curried chicken salad

Chill the curried chicken salad until ready to serve.

Bowl of curried chicken salad.

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Curried Chicken Salad

This curried chicken salad is savory, sweet, and a little spicy, with lots of crunch from grapes, cashews, and celery.

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


  • ½ cup mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann's or Duke's
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1½ tablespoons honey
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lime juice, from 1 lime
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 4½ cups cooked shredded chicken (see note)
  • 3 large stalks celery, diced
  • 1 cup seedless grapes, halved
  • 3 scallions, light and dark green parts, finely sliced
  • Pinch cayenne pepper (optional, for heat)
  • ⅔ cup salted cashews


  1. Make the dressing: In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, curry powder, honey, lime juice, and salt.
  2. To the dressing, add the chicken, celery, grapes and scallions. Toss well to combine, then taste and adjust seasoning, adding the cayenne pepper, if desired. Cover the chicken salad with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve. Right before serving, stir in the cashews (adding them at the last minute ensures they stay crunchy).
  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. 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. Wait to add the cashews until right before serving, otherwise they will get soft.

Nutrition Information

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  • Calories: 527
  • Fat: 42 g
  • Saturated fat: 10 g
  • Carbohydrates: 17 g
  • Sugar: 10 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 23 g
  • Sodium: 514 mg
  • Cholesterol: 96 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, 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.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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  • This looks delicious! Question, do you chop the cashews or add them whole?

    • Hi Katie, I generally add them whole, but feel free to chop them if you’d like.

  • I have this recipe bookmarked and is amazing! Everyone that’s tried it loves it!

  • Loved this recipe! Flavor is amazing. I did add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper which added a little kick to it. I think I will try plain yogurt instead of sour cream the next time I make it just to save on calories.

  • Made this recipe with rotisserie chicken. Since cherries are great right now, I substituted cherries cut in half for the grapes. Otherwise followed the recipe. It was great!

  • Made as written. We both loved it. I did add the cayenne pepper for some zip.

  • This is a fantastic recipe! I added much more curry seasoning as a personal preference and the optional cayenne is a wonderful kick to an amazing recipe. Love, love, love it!!!

  • Hi, Love all your recipes! Your site is the first place I go to !
    Question… I would like to serve your curry chicken salad for a lunch date. My question is what can I serve for a first course? I plan to serve the salad on butter lettuce in a bowl with bread, but would like a first course.
    Any suggestions? Since I’m asking, what about desserts well?
    Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Deborah, You could do a fruit and cheese platter or a veggie platter with dip. Or if you want more of a classic first course, I think a cold soup would be nice. This golden gazpacho would be a great option, and I have a cucumber yogurt soup in my first cookbook that’s wonderful (happy to email you the recipe if you don’t have the book — just email me at

  • Having tested recipes for your first book (if you do a third, I’d love to be a tester again!), your recipes are a “go to” for me when I’m looking for inspiration. This chicken salad is outstanding! Like some others, I made one slight substitution and used dried cranberries instead of the grapes since I didn’t feel like running to the store. Last night’s dinner leftovers became today’s lunch and it is simply delicious! Thank you for being a inspiration and for creating simple yet elegant meals.

  • I didn’t think anything could be better than your chicken salad; then I tried the curried one. I wish there were more than five stars. What a delicious meal – with or without bread. So easy to poach the chicken ahead of time and then just toss it all together. Now I will have to try the almond one.

    These are just amazing.

  • This was an instant success. The only change I made was to substitute plain yogurt for the sour cream. This is the fourth recipe of yours that I have tried and they were all perfect. I love to cook, and my answer to being stuck at home is to try new recipes. Thank you so much.

  • Simply the BEST!!!!!

  • Hi Jenn, Love this salad. Made it twice in the last week. Very refreshing! I poached my chicken breasts as they are extremely tender and moist that way.

    I have already shared this recipe with 3 friends. Your website is now my go-to site for recipes.

    Thanks so much! Lynn B

  • This is a wonderful recipe similar to one that I have been making almost 40 years. This is so delicious, with a twist by adding the curry. Amazing taste. I haven’t used the honey and cashews before, but they added a nice touch. Love, love, love your recipes.

    • — Anne Flaherty Brock
    • Reply
  • Sooooo delicious!!! I’d send a pic, but it didn’t last long enough! I will be making again soon. I followed the recipe exactly, minus the cayenne pepper- only because I was out. Thank you so much for sharing! TEN stars!!!!

  • Delicious! Used a grocery store rotisserie chicken, both white and dark meat.

  • So delicious! Not one complaint from my finicky crew! I did substitute plain yogurt for the sour cream, nobody noticed. I am making it again today, it has become a favorite. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!

    • — Patricia Yingling
    • Reply
  • This is an absolutely fantastic recipe! It is well-seasoned and has the perfect balance of flavors and textures. I followed the recipe closely but used rotisserie chicken breast and decided to omit the olive oil and salt because the chicken was already moist and salty. My husband just raved about it – after every bite! I will definitely be making this again.

  • There’s only one problem with this perfect recipe…it’s too good! I can’t stop eating it. Every recipe on your website is wonderful. Thank you!

  • This was amazing! I made it exactly as written and it was perfect! I can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

  • A huge fan of your recipes, Jenn! (I’ve tried 10+ to date..) Loved this! Made a few tweaks:
    Didn’t add grapes (personally not a huge fan of fruit in salads), added unsalted cashews since the chicken already had salt, & used more sour cream than mayo (more eye balled). Also added slivered almonds for extra texture. Next time would explore using Greek yogurt instead 🙂

  • This is delicious. I did make one change which I think would help with the calories. I used plain Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream and it still tastes yummy. Thanks for posting this!

    • This chicken salad is very good right when you make it but put it in the refrigerator overnight & it is blow your socks off fantastic! I followed the recipe exactly as written. Another winner from Jen.

  • This is delicious! Wow!! I will be make no it often for parties I host. And also for pot lucks. Thank you so much!

  • This is really delicious. I’ve made it a bunch of times and it always turns out. I use walnuts which work fine too. Cooking the chicken this way makes it nice and soft.

    p.s. I beg you to get rid of the pop up bar on the bottom of the site. The fact that it keeps coming back after clicking close makes it even more awful. I feel like printing out everything I want and never coming back here. It’s also slowing down the site sometimes. PLEASE cancel it.

    • Hi Yasmine, Glad you like the chicken salad! Thanks for your note. And I’m so sorry the pop up ads are bothering you! I do use an outside company to run the ads, and I have to constantly monitor to make sure that the site doesn’t get too ad-heavy. I will mention to them that the ad(s) keep coming back after you close them. I wish I didn’t have to have any ads at all…it’s a balance between user experience and the high cost of running a site. Thank you for the feedback.

    • Hi Yasmine. Choose “Show Reader” for text only.

      • — Mindy on July 7, 2023
      • Reply
  • 669 seems like a lot for calories for one serving? What are you considering as a serving? 1 cup or more?

    • — Gloria Vasquez
    • Reply
    • Hi Gloria, I’d guesstimate that each serving is about 1-1/2 cups. (The mayo, sour cream, and cashews boost the calories in this a bit.) Hope that helps!

  • If I make this a day ahead should I add the grapes later? How about the sour cream?

    • Hi Linda, You can make the whole thing a day ahead; it will keep well.

  • I make this all the time, it’s my family’s picnic favorite. Jennifer you do have some very flavorful recipes!

  • Really liked this recipe, for the most part! But, I am also not a fan of curry, I saw there were several reviews of others mentioning they weren’t either, but they still really liked it, so that encouraged me to try this one, I’m glad I did, but I did add a bit of lemon juice and some garlic also, thought they were a tasty addition. Thanks!

  • Hi Jenn, I love your recipes and especially this one! I will be making this, with the help of 2 other ladies, for approximately 30 ladies for a luncheon. Serving it on lettuce, with carrot sticks and a croissant. Do you think the original recipe would serve more than 4 people?

    • Hi Linda, the serving size here is fairly generous so I think you could probably get away with feeding about five with this recipe. Hope everyone enjoys!

      • Thanks, Jenn. Now, one more question- Would you just double everything to serve 10, or should other adjustments be made? THANKS!!

        • Doubling everything will work! 🙂

  • Why do you bake chicken instead of poaching it? does it have a different flavor, texture?

    • Hi Stacy, Poached chicken will work, but roasted chicken is more flavorful and harder to overcook.

      • Hi Jenn, I’m very excited to try this recipe. I have chicken breasts to use up and I was wondering if your grilled chicken breast marinade would work for this or if I should just grill with salt, pepper and olive oil?

        • — Kristen Bracken
        • Reply
        • I’d probably just go with the salt, pepper and olive oil, but you really can go either way. 🙂

  • Jenn, yet another winning recipe! I don’t even like curry, or thought I didn’t, but this salad is just DELICIOUS!!!

  • I just made this for the second time and absolutely love it!! The curry and honey combination with the sour cream and mayo is perfection! My husband wanted to lick the bowl! If I could give it 6 stars I would.

  • This is absolutely delicious! Perfect exactly as written.

  • This was one of the few recipes I’ve made where I didn’t change anything. Absolutely delicious.
    perfect. I was skeptical about the celery so started with just a little but it was a great addition. The crunch contrasted with the soft grapes. Excellent. And yes the curry sounds like a lot but it is spot on perfect. Pecans would also be good here. Enjoy.

  • I would like to serve this as part of a simple buffet for a church dinner ( 30 people approx). I had thought of serving it with bread and/or new potatoes, but what else would you suggest? It is quite a rich recipe so a green salad? or tomato salad? I have many salad meals but most of those would be too rich or too many flavours I think. Thank you for your advice.

    • — Christie Fountain
    • Reply
    • Hi Christine, I like the idea of bread or new potatoes because both are fairly simple flavor-wise so would pair nicely with the rich chicken salad. A fruit salad would be good here too. Hope that helps!

  • loved this recipe!!! Thank you!!

  • My cousin makes the best curried chicken salad, but the recipe is a secret. I’ve been searching for a recipe that tastes as good as hers and I found one that’s better! I love this recipe and so does my mom, who hates anything else with curry in it. Thank you for sharing this. I’ll definitely be trying more of your recipes!

  • Perfect! I used boneless chicken thighs grilled on the George Foreman grill.

  • What other nuts can be used in exchange for cashews?

    • Any nut you like would work here (although peanuts may be a little odd :). Enjoy!

    • OK, so I made this recipe today but I did not have cashews so I used pecans. It still came out great. I can’t wait to try it with cashews.
      Thank you Jenn!!!!!!!!

  • Hi Jennifer could you please check the quantity of curry in this recipe? It lists 1 1/2 tablespoons but I’m wondering if it should be 1 1/2 teaspoons instead? Thanks

    • Hi Carla, I know it’s a lot, but the measurement is correct. Feel free to reduce the amount if you’d like.

  • This is absolutely delicious! I’ve made it several times now – even for people who “don’t like curry” – and it’s been a hit with every person who has tried it!

    It’s an excellent choice for a picnic or at the beach.

    Keep up the great work! Chef Jenn 🙂

    • — Christy Middleton
    • Reply
  • How many carbs are in this recipe? My whole family loves this recipe! We even brought it on vacation as a quick lunch and it was gone before I knew it.

    • — Lynn Middleton
    • Reply
    • Hi Lynn, so glad it’s a hit with your family! Each serving has 22 grams of carbs. I just posted all of the nutritional info. for the recipe.

  • Hi Jen, I love your receipes. I’m throwing a bridal shower and want to make the curried chicken salad but the bride to be can’t have dairy. What can I substitute the sour cream with? Thanks!

    • Hi Vicky, Glad to hear you like the recipes! You could just replace the sour cream with additional mayonnaise. Hope the shower is great!

  • My husband loved this twist on chicken salad, and my kids dubbed it “fancy chicken salad”. I took a shortcut by using store-bought rotisserie chicken. We had a little trouble keeping the salad from falling out of our sandwiches, so we spooned it in leaves of romaine lettuce hearts.

  • Great recipe! I made this for a party, and it was so popular I did it again a week later for another. The touch of honey really elevated it. Thanks!

  • I made this recipe without any changes and it disappeared within hours! It’s great on sandwiches and in salads!

  • I used chicken thighs and added in some apples. It was wonderful.

  • Loved, loved, loved this recipe. Served it on croissants for a perfect weeknight dinner.

  • I read that Oprah W was eating at a cafe near her new home in Calif.She heard this cafe was in danger of closing and they were famous for their curried chicken salad sandwich.Oprah ate there and loved the sandwich.I think her name anbd how much she loved that curried chicken salad sandwich saved the business.

  • I used roasted bone in skin on chicken thighs because I love chicken thigh meat and the flavor and moistness it has. This recipe made a very generous serving size for 4 servings. I shared this with friends and got great comments on the flavor of the sauce. The flavor is delightful and the combination of grapes and cashews really kick this up a notch. Thank you again Jennifer!

    • — Karen Tannenbaum
    • Reply
  • This is brilliant! I boiled the chicken and used raw cashews and it was fantastic. Thanks–I have been trying to perfect a curry chicken salad and this is it! Next time I will try roasting the chicken per the recipe as I can imagine it’s even better.

    • Could I substitute plain Greek yogurt for the sour cream?

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