Ultimate Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is undoubtedly a classic recipe. Diced chicken is tossed with a creamy dressing and dotted with crisp celery, green onion, and fresh grapes.

But my version has a little something extra to make it the ultimate chicken salad recipe. It’s easy, healthy, bright, flavorful, and will make any summer meal a breeze.

Chicken salad in a white bowl with spoon.

When I think of chicken salad, I think of summer’s own version of comfort food. It’s creamy, filling, and filled with fresh and bright flavors. You get hints of Dijon mustard, juicy grapes, and crispy celery with every bite. And the best part? It keeps cooking to a minimum, making it the perfect throw-together meal.

But if you want to make the ultimate chicken salad, it’s really all about the herbs. And my secret ingredient – tarragon.

Tarragon pairs beautifully with the chicken and gives it that wow factor. Trust me, everybody will be coming back for seconds on this one. So hit the market, grab your salad ingredients, and follow along with me in the video below.

Chicken salad ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Chicken Salad Ingredients

While the ingredients are simple, it’s how their unique flavors meld together that’s key. Here’s what I use:

  • Chicken Breasts – I poach boneless skinless chicken breasts, but you could also use leftover rotisserie chicken.
  • Mayonnaise – The best creamy binder to mix all the ingredients together. And it’s easy to make mayonnaise at home!
  • Dijon Mustard – Just a little Dijon mustard adds great depth of flavor and a little spice.
  • Red Grapes – You could use red or green seedless grapes, I just love the contrasting color of red grapes.
  • Celery – I love my chicken salads to have that crisp celery crunch.
  • Green Onion – Green onions add that savory flavor without being too pungent, which is perfect.
  • Toasted Almonds – Toast your sliced almonds to bring out that nutty flavor.
  • Parsley – One of the best herbs for adding to salads, just chop up a few tablespoons.
  • Tarragon – The best secret ingredient! You’ll be amazed at how much flavor just a little bit of tarragon adds to the salad.
  • Lemon Juice – For that bright freshness.
  • Salt and Pepper – Always season to your personal preference.
Slicing poached chicken for chicken salad recipe.

How To Poach Chicken

I love to use poached chicken in this recipe as it’s easy, healthy, and flavorful. It also means you don’t have to turn your oven on if it’s a hot sunny day outside. A definite bonus.

If done correctly, poaching can yield one of the most tender pieces of chicken you’ve ever had. To nail this every time, follow the simple steps below.

  1. Place your chicken breasts into a wide pot or pan, so that they’re not overlapped or crowded.
  2. Cover the chicken with cold water. Season the water with a bit of salt to give it some flavor.
  3. Slowly bring the water to a gentle simmer. Then, reduce the heat back to low and cover the pan.
  4. Let the chicken simmer for about 10 minutes. Remember, patience is key for this low and slow process!
  5. Check to see the doneness of your chicken. If its internal temperature reads 160-165 degrees Fahrenheit, turn the heat off.
  6. Let the chicken rest for a minute or two after you’ve removed it from the pot. This will allow the chicken juices to redistribute.
  7. Chill the chicken in the fridge. This is key as you need cold chicken in this recipe.

Can you use baked chicken or store-bought rotisserie chicken? Of course. While I prefer poached chicken, almost any chicken works in this recipe. Just make sure you have about four cups of diced or shredded chicken.

Mixing chicken salad in a bowl.

How To Make Chicken Salad

Now that you have beautifully tender chicken breasts, it’s time to assemble the salad. And there’s really only three steps:

  • Toast: Lightly toast the almonds in a pan on the stove. Let them cool completely to room temperature.
  • Slice and Dice: Dice up your chicken breasts into small pieces. Then, quarter the grapes, dice the celery, parsley and tarragon, and slice the green onion.
  • Mix: Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and mix everything together until it’s well combined. Season with a bit of salt and pepper – and you’re done!

Chicken salad is best served when it’s cold. So let the mixture chill in the fridge before serving. This also helps all the flavors meld together for the tastiest salad.

Chicken salad in a white bowl with spoon and small bowl of diced celery in the background.

Chicken Salad Variations

Aside from the ingredients listed below, you have a few options to play with when it comes to texture and flavor.

  • Vary the nuts. Swap the almonds for pecans or walnuts.
  • Mix up the fruit. You can omit the grapes and add diced apples, dried cranberries or dried cherries.
  • Change the onions. If green onions aren’t your thing, you can swap them for finely diced red onions.
  • Make it creamier. Swap the mayo for greek yogurt or do half and half.
Chicken salad sandwiches sliced in half on a serving tray.

How to Serve It

Sometimes I find myself eating this chicken salad by the spoonful straight out of the bowl – because it’s that good. But to turn it into a meal, here’s a few ideas.

  • Sandwich: Stuff it between sandwich bread with layers of lettuce, spinach, or tomato slices.
  • Wrap: Turn it into a wrap with homemade cassava flour tortillas.
  • Lettuce Wrap: For a lighter, low-carb option, use large romaine or butter leaf lettuce to wrap it.
  • Extra Green Salad: Pour a spoonful on top of a bed of greens such as spinach.
  • Dip: Serve it with flax seed crackers or chips.

How Long Does Chicken Salad Last?

Since this recipe is meant to be chilled, don’t leave it out at room temperature for more than two hours. Otherwise, store it in the fridge for up to 3 to 5 days.

More Classic Salad Recipes

With the weather warming up, more healthy salads are being added to the weekly rotation. Here’s a few light, fresh and healthy ideas to keep things interesting.

Chicken salad in a white bowl next to small bowls of diced celery, chopped parsley and fresh tarragon.

Ultimate Chicken Salad Recipe

4.95 from 236 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan
Chicken salad is a classic salad recipe with diced chicken, creamy mayonnaise, crisp celery, green onion, sweet grapes, and fresh herbs. Watch the video below to see how I make it!

Recipe Video


  • 2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 cup red grapes, quartered
  • 2 stalk celery, diced
  • 3 green onions (green and white parts), sliced
  • 2 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
  • 1 lemon , juiced
  • salt and pepper, to taste


To Make the Poached Chicken

  • Place the chicken breasts in a wide pot or pan and cover by about an inch with cold water. Season the water with salt. Optionally, you can add aromatics of your choice. Read my poached chicken recipe for more details.
    Two chicken breasts in a pot.
  • Turn the heat to medium until it reaches a gentle simmer. Then reduce the heat back to low and cover the pan. Let the chicken simmer for 8-12 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160-165 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the chicken and let it rest for a couple of minutes. Then chill in the fridge.

Chicken Salad Recipe

  • Transfer the cooled chicken to a cutting board and dice it into ½-inch pieces.
    Poached chicken on a cutting board.
  • Slice and dice the celery, green onion, grapes, parsley and tarragon. Add those ingredients to a mixing bowl along with the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Mix everything together until it's well combined. Let it chill in the fridge until you're ready to serve.


Calories: 524kcal, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 36g, Fat: 38g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 112mg, Sodium: 454mg, Potassium: 782mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 318IU, Vitamin C: 15mg, Calcium: 61mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chicken Salad, Chicken Salad Recipe, How To Make Chicken Salad
©Downshiftology. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Leave a comment below and share a photo on Instagram. Tag @downshiftology and hashtag it #downshiftology.

Recipe originally published May 2020, but updated with new information and tips.

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535 comments on “Ultimate Chicken Salad”

  1. I was looking at the nutritional information. Is that per serving or for 6 servings?

  2. I made this for dinner last night and we loved it. I served it in romaine lettuce, and we also had some baby carrots.5 stars

  3. Can you help me adjust this recipe for 30 people? Would I just x it by 4? Thank You!

  4. Very delicious! However I made too much! Can I freeze it? 5 stars

  5. Gluten and Dairy Free??!!! :-)

  6. My wife’s reaction to the taste of the salad, after she tried a bit: “… wonderful! I can taste each ingredient one after the other. What a combination!”5 stars

  7. My new favorite chicken salad! Love sweet and savory blend with good crunch factor. Husband loves it! Win win!5 stars

  8. This was my first time making chicken salad but I have to say it turned out so good. My family loved it so much I’m getting ready to make it again because it’s all gone. Thank you for the recipe it was amazing. I love Greek chicken salad, I’m making that next.5 stars

  9. Unbelievably delicious!!!!

  10. I made it as published and it was delish!

  11. Super good! I didn’t have fresh herbs available but the dried ones from the spice rack worked great! And I ended up shredding my chicken with my hand made mixer to save time and it was a big hit! My toddler and husband loved it so ..winning! 5 stars

  12. Before making the Ultimate Chicken Salad, I’d had a sealed bottle of tarragon in my spice cabinet purchased for another recipe that I never got around to making. Later, I just didn’t know what to do with it.
    The tarragon makes this recipe for me, and now it feels like something is missing if I try to make chicken salad without it. This recipe is on regular rotation at my house. I usually sub toasted pecans for the almonds since we are surrounded by pecan trees here. My fave chicken salad EVER! Thanks, Lisa!5 stars

  13. I do make a couple changes, so I’m not truly reviewing the recipe as is. I do not use the tarragon or the mustard, and I add bacon. But other than that, it’s a GREAT recipe. So delicious. I love the lemon – adds such a great flavor to the recipe. It’s a hit in our house!5 stars

  14. AMAZING. I substituted 3/4 of mayo with plain greek yogurt and added celery seed. Switched almonds for walnuts and added dried cranberries!! YUMMMM5 stars

  15. Thank you Lisa for the recipe, a pure delight.
    Thank you for your generosity.5 stars

  16. This is one of the most delicious chicken salads! I always have chicken in the fridge to use up during the week, so this was perfect for that. What really makes it delicious is the tarragon. It adds a subtle herby flavor that pairs so nicely with the pop of sweetness from the grapes. I used toasted pecans and the whole thing came together perfectly. My new favorite for sure!5 stars

  17. Delicious!! Didn’t have tarragon, so I added dried dill. 👍5 stars

  18. Oh my goodness!! This is OUTRAGEOUSLY delicious!! My husband is swooning over it and showing it off at work to his colleagues!! I used special mayo that doesn’t have sugar, and also found that it was especially yummy when warm!! So I’ve been heating it up since we made it. We doubled the recipe – it was a lot of chopping but just got a mini food processor the day after so hopefully next time will be quick! Thanks so much, Lisa!!! I have gluten, dairy and sugar intolerances so your recipes are a complete godsend!! I hope you release your book in UK metric measurements soon! :o)5 stars

  19. This is downright PERFECT! I left out the parsley(not a fan) and had to use dried tarragon, and it was still amazing. YUM5 stars

  20. This is absolutely the best chicken salad recipe ever! Since finding it, it’s the only one I use. The flavors are amazing-It’s got the perfect hint of sweetness and great crunch!5 stars

  21. I made this for 12 ladies. Was soooo good!  Definitely worth all the work (chopping). I did everything exactly in recipe plus added a half of a large organic honey crisp (or pink lady) apple and some pieces of walnuts. Everyone raved at how good this recipe is. Can’t wait to try it again. Yum. 

  22. This is a great recipe. I made it for my bible study group. We had a tea party I made this chicken salad with the homemade mayonnaise recipe of course, and served it on mini croissants. They ate them all. Thanks for the great recipe. It has just enough sweetness from the grapes and crunch from the almonds. I also like the hint of tarragon.5 stars

  23. Amazing! This is my go to recipe.5 stars

  24. I made this for lunch this week! Awesome salad! Love the sweetness of the red grapes and I love the tarragon taste! 5 stars


  26. OMG delicious!!! I just added a bit of pepp-ricot preserves (appricot/jalapeño jam) to kick it up a notch from my local Ralph’s market. Put it all on a fresh croissant.5 stars

  27. Best chicken salad ever!!! No other recipe even compares to this one.5 stars

  28. I’m going to make this recipe to take for lunch at work and I was wondering how long this would stay fresh if kept in the fridge, so I know if this is viable as a meal prep recipe

  29. Only 5 stars?! No, this is a 10! Gollll-eeeee, the blend of exciting flavors…really good. Bright and tangy! Ohh, yum. I did it with ground pecans, and tossed in some Maldon salt. Made some fresh focaccia to serve with it, and added some arugula, in case ya need even more tang! Delish! Will put into my regular rotation. :-)5 stars

  30. Hi Lisa! I took this salad to church fellowship for serving in baked tart shells. Everyone, adults and children LOVED it. I was shocked to turn around and the bowl for self serve was empty. It’s versatile too, because I added a tiny bit of heat and doubled the grapes. Thank you so much!!5 stars

  31. OMG!! This is over the top delicious!! It will definitely be a regular go to recipe for me.5 stars

  32. Can avocado oil mayo be used instead of regular mayo?

  33. 2 nd time making this deliciousness. It is definitely in rotation weekly.5 stars

  34. Made this with some left over oven roasted chicken breasts. Replaced grapes with gala apple. Absolutely delicious!5 stars

  35. I used rotisserie turkey and added small cubes of cheddar cheese. Amazing!!5 stars