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Favorite Chicken Salad

Our favorite chicken salad recipe is easy to make and perfect for your next gathering! It can be made with grapes, apples or craisins. This chicken salad is delicious served on croissants, chopped greens or even a humble slice of bread.

Course main
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken, chicken salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
cooling time for chicken 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 1 Gala or other sweet apple such as a Cameo, equal to about 1 to 1 1/2 cups see recipe notes
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 cups cooked chopped white chicken meat* see recipe notes
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped celery I use about 2 stalks
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup mayonnaise see recipe notes
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins or Craisins optional
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed (not dill seed)* see recipe notes
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste


To cook chicken, or buy chicken breast that is cooked and chopped:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place rack in center of oven.

  2. If the chicken is more than 1 1/2 inches thick, slice the chicken lengthwise, to create two pieces out of one piece.

  3. Place chicken breast halves on a baking sheet or a 9x13 pan. Brush or drizzle chicken with olive oil (about 1/2 tablespoon on each breast). Generously salt and pepper the chicken on one side, and then turn over. Repeat the process with oil, salt and pepper on the opposite side.

  4. Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until a thermomter inserted in the thickest part of the chicken registers 165 degrees.

  5. Let chicken sit for 10 minutes before cutting. I often cook the chicken a day or two before serving and let cool, then chop and place in a bowl or Ziplock bag in fridge, covered until ready to assemble.

To prepare chicken salad:

  1. Core the apple and chop into cubes, leaving the skin on. Place chopped apple in small bowl with cold water and lemon juice, set aside.

  2. Place cooled, chopped chicken and celery in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add the mayo and dill. Toss or fold lightly. Do not stir.

  3. Drain apples and add to chicken mixture. Make sure to drain well before adding to chicken mixture! Toss again.

  4. Serve chicken salad on top of greens, or on bread of choice.

  5. Chicken salad keeps for about 3 days in fridge.

Recipe Notes

  • I highly recommend making this recipe early the day of serving the chicken salad. It is best served chilled. The fruit can be added just before serving. Remember, if you make this the day before or early in the day, the chicken will absorb the mayo and more mayo may need to be added! 
  • Use good mayonnaise. Do not skimp for cost or fat. Do not use low fat or no fat.  I use Best Foods or Hellman's brands. 
  • If you make the chicken salad and it seems a little dry, add a tablespoon of mayo at a time until the consistency is right. 
  • Do not overcook chicken! Follow the instructions on the recipe for perfectly cooked chicken. 
  • A chicken breast can equal anywhere from 3-8 oz on average. Some weigh more. This recipe calls for 2 cups cooked white breast meat, which is about 1.5 chicken breast halves. I usually cook 2 breast halves and add little more mayo if needed.  
  • If you are using an apple (instead of grapes), make sure the apple is cold, or room temperature before slicing. If the apple is warm, it will brown much faster.
  • You may substitute seedless grapes (I like red for color) cut the in half if they are really big grapes, a chopped (skinned) mango, a half can of pineapple tidbits, (drained very well -for at least 30 minutes), the possibilities are endless. Try to choose fruit without a lot of water content, and fruit that is firm.
  • Fruits such as raspberries and strawberries are not great choices, since raspberries break up easily in salad. Sliced strawberries work, as long as they are not too juicy, if so they will turn the mayo pink. When using fruit in this salad, after washing,and draining place the fruit on a paper towel on the counter before adding to the salad to make sure the excess water is drained off.  You don't need to do this with apples. Simply chop, soak in lemon juice and drain for a couple of minutes.
  • In the summer when dill is plentiful, use fresh dill, and increase the amount to about 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill. If you aren't a fan of dill, you may use chopped parsley instead. 
  • If you  like a bit of curry in chicken salad, in place of the dill, use about 1/2 teaspoon of curry, add another 1/2 teaspoon after tasting, if you like more curry flavor. I always advise adding a little at a time. You can add more easily, but it's difficult to remove a spice if too much is added!
  • If you are making this for a quaint women's lunch, and don't want black pepper flakes to get stuck in your teeth, or you just aren't pleased with the look of pepper on your chicken salad, use white pepper, sold in the spice section of your grocery.