Your Chicken Salad Is Begging For Brown Sugar

Alongside sliced watermelon and pimento cheese, a chicken salad recipe is a beloved staple at potlucks, picnics, and backyard get-togethers. Whether you eat it loaded up on a sandwich, scooped onto lettuce, or all by itself, it's an easy recipe to whip up at home. You can go the classic route with shredded chicken, mayonnaise, and a dash of salt. You can add in veggies or fruit for crunch, like chopped celery, onions, or grapes. Or you can opt for a lighter version, swapping Greek yogurt for mayonnaise.

True chicken salad connoisseurs often have a secret ingredient they swear by when it comes to the best flavor or consistency. Some add in a splash of pickle juice for a little tanginess, while others fold in Cool Whip for fluffiness and moisture. Still others reach for something else you likely have on hand but often use for baking projects rather than your weekday lunch: brown sugar!

It's all about balance of flavors

Brown sugar doesn't seem like something that goes with chicken salad — after all, one is sweet and one is savory. However, that's exactly why the combination works. Just a touch of brown sugar can balance out any tanginess in your recipe, whether it's from Greek yogurt or lemon juice. You can stir the sugar into the creamy ingredients before tossing it with the chicken to give the salad a subtly sweet — but not visibly so — taste, or you could even sprinkle it on top of the salad before serving for a slight crunch.

Not convinced? Even The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, puts brown sugar in her chicken salad. "It combats the acidity of the lemon juice, but don't overdo this ingredient," she cautions. Drummond recommends just using about 1 to 2 tablespoons to taste. You can always add more if you find it lacking.