Classic Chicken Salad Recipe

Chicken salad is one of the most classic side dishes in the American culinary repertoire. Whether you're bringing it to a picnic, serving it as the side to a meal, or even serving it as a main course itself, chicken salad pretty much always hits the spot. According to the Willow Tree Poultry Farm, the chicken salad tradition arguably dates back to Chinese tradition, though it first appears in 1863 in the United States. Town Meats, located in the city of Wakefield, Rhode Island, served a similar dish with leftover chicken, mayonnaise, tarragon, and grapes. Now, given that it's a staple for easy lunches and barbecues, we have to thank the people at Town Meats for coming up with such an innovative recipe.

Recipe developer Melissa Johnson of Best Friends for Frosting created this particular recipe, which combines a classic chicken salad with a little twist that brings a big flavor — apples. The crunch of the apples pairs perfectly with the rest of the mixture, making it all off-the-charts delicious. 

Johnson shares that she especially loves the simplicity of this meal. "It's a really easy recipe. I love the crunch and sweetness of the apples and added texture of the almonds," she says. Keep scrolling for more deets on how to whip up this quick and easy side dish with a twist.

Gather the ingredients for chicken salad

While it may seem like many ingredients go into chicken salad, it's actually a lot simpler than you might think at first glance. After all, chicken salad is a favorite of home cooks and picnic-goers for this very reason. 

For this recipe, you'll only need three chicken breasts (or enough to make up four cups of shredded or cubed chicken), two apples, and three stalks of celery for the bulk of the dish. In addition, the recipe calls for tangy, creamy mayonnaise and sliced almonds, which will add a wonderful crunch and savory edge to the proceedings. The final two ingredients are salt and pepper, both of which you almost certainly have ready to go in your own home kitchen. Now, let's get to cooking!

Cut the chicken into cubes

For starters, you should have three cooked chicken breasts out in front of you. Place them on a cutting board and chop them into small cubes that will be just right for eating via fork or spoon in the finished salad.

The three breasts should make about four cups of chicken, which will be plenty for the final six servings this recipe makes. Alternatively, you can use rotisserie chicken in its place if that proves to be an easier or more attractive option for you. "Yes shredded chicken would work great!" says Johnson. "The rotisserie chicken would probably add more flavor to the dish as well."

Chop the apples and celery

After dicing the chicken, rinse off your cutting board and move to the fruit and vegetable components of your dish. Be sure to wash them well before you cut them, of course, as this recipe utilizes raw fruit and veggies and we want to make sure everything's as fresh and as clean as possible. 

Next, grab your apple and core the middle. "To core the apple I used a traditional apple slicer," Johnson shares, though you are of course free to use a knife if you don't have a dedicated apple slicer or it just suits you better. Then, chop the apples into little pieces just as you did with the chicken. Once you cut the apples, do the same with the celery, chopping it into relatively small slices that will mix well with the salad. And consider saving those celery leaves while you're at it.

Mix everything together in a bowl

Once you have all of your ingredients chopped to your liking, it's time to grab a large mixing bowl. Add the chicken, celery, apples, and your sliced almonds into the bowl. 

Then, add your cup of mayo and mix everything really well. You can also add salt and pepper here for an extra flavor boost, based on your taste preference. And that's literally all that you need to do! Yes, it really is all that simple and now you have a fantastic side dish that will surely please everyone's palate at the next get-together. You could stop here and simply serve it up as-is, but scroll on for some serving suggestions that could really elevate the chicken salad with a twist experience.

How to serve classic chicken salad with a twist

There are quite a few ways to serve up this finished chicken salad, including matters of visual presentation. Of course, it's totally up to you if you want to serve in the same bowl that you mixed the salad in or use another dish instead. This could be a good opportunity to show off some attractive tableware like a cute bowl or some fancy serving spoons if you've got them.

Johnson recommends serving the chicken salad on a simple carbohydrate base, like bread or crackers. If anyone in your group is watching their carbs, you might consider serving them in lettuce wraps, too — nice, big leaves of butter lettuce would work well here. You can even put this chicken salad between some buns to take advantage of this snack in sandwich form, making for a pretty classic and accessible spring and summer meal.

If you have any leftovers, they will be good for 3-4 days, so long as they're stored in the fridge. Though, given the taste and popularity of classic chicken salad, we're willing to bet those leftovers will go pretty quickly anyway.

Classic Chicken Salad Recipe
4.9 from 34 ratings
This recipe combines classic chicken salad with a twist — apples. The crunch of the apples pairs perfectly with the rest, making it off-the-charts delicious.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Classic chicken salad recipe with a twist in bowl
Total time: 5 minutes
  • 3 cooked chicken breasts (about 4 cups chopped)
  • 2 apples
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • ⅓ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  1. Cut up chicken breasts into small cubes.
  2. Core and chop apples into small pieces.
  3. Chop celery into small pieces.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients until they are thoroughly combined.
  5. Serve as-is in a bowl or on bread or crackers.
  6. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Calories per Serving 433
Total Fat 38.4 g
Saturated Fat 5.3 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 37.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 12.4 g
Dietary Fiber 3.7 g
Total Sugars 7.2 g
Sodium 373.7 mg
Protein 11.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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