The Secret Ingredient In The Pioneer Woman's Chicken Salad

Oklahoma-based cookbook author, blogger, and cooking show hostess Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman) is loved by many — and not just for her Southern charm, relatable candor, and witty humor, but for her delicious recipes that people of all culinary skill levels can accomplish in their home kitchens.

Drummond is also known for adding some pretty surprising ingredients to her famous dishes, such as beets in brownies, cayenne pepper in iced coffee (according to PureWow), and Sprite in pound cake. These offbeat features make her recipes even more special by adding a slightly new texture, taste, or color than what eaters are typically used to.

Her unique additions don't stop there, though — there's a classic American dish often found at potlucks and in everyday lunches that Drummond has experimented with, too. That dish would be chicken salad, and to continue with her tradition of adding something unexpected, Drummond uses a very common household ingredient in her go-to recipe...brown sugar.

How Ree Drummond uses brown sugar in her chicken salad

Drummond's chicken salad recipe is quite simple and takes less time to prepare than it takes to watch a full-length movie. You'll need the standard ingredients, including chicken, chopped celery, chopped green onions, and sliced grapes, but you'll also need some brown sugar. But where does that fit into the chicken salad picture?

Brown sugar is added to the dressing, along with mayonnaise, yogurt or sour cream, lemon juice, salt, pepper, dill, and if you so desire, some cayenne pepper for a hint of heat. Top with slivered almonds, bacon bits, and more salt and pepper to taste. According to Kitchn, brown sugar adds a modest touch of sweetness to balance out the tanginess of a traditional chicken salad.

This sweet, zesty, crunchy, and creamy chicken salad can be enjoyed chilled in a warm wrap, between sandwich bread, over a bed of lettuce, or by its good ol' self. Yum!

Psst...For an extra tart zip, you can also add pickle juice to your chicken salad.