Easy Chicken Salad Recipe

November 29, 2018 by Heather Cabaniss

Here is an easy chicken salad recipe – it has that classic flavor everyone loves! The best chicken salad is creamy, slightly sweet, and savory. Follow my tips below for chicken salad that comes out perfectly with each and every batch.
chicken salad with grapes and pecans

Hey ya’ll, this is Heather from Totally Tailgates stopping by today with a tried & true recipe that will make you think twice before reaching for that deli chicken salad!

I love chicken salad because of its versatility. You can pack it in plastic containers for tailgates (keep it in the cooler!) OR you can dress it up with fancy rolls to make chicken salad sandwiches for a luncheon. First things first, let’s take a look at the grocery list.

Chicken salad with grapes next to pimento cheese

Easy Chicken Salad Recipe Grocery List:

  • Two cups cooked shredded chicken OR several pieces of raw bone-in chicken that you will cook. (I use thighs & drumsticks for flavor.)
  • Onion & celery (toss in a few carrots too if you will be cooking your chicken for the salad – you’ll see why in a sec!)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt & pepper
  • Pecans & grapes – these are optional but are traditionally found in chicken salad

One of my best friends, Katelyn, lives in Charlotte. Our visits together are fewer than we would like. (She’s the BFF who clued me in about wisdom teeth removal– love this girl!) Anyway, she was down in Orlando and we absolutely HAD to get together for lunch. Instead of trying to talk above others at a busy restaurant, I set up a casual luncheon at home for us!

In a large serving dish, I placed generous scoops of my Easy Chicken Salad & Southern Pimento Cheese together. Rolls were placed in a small bowl; we could graze on our very own sandwich assortment. Fresh fruit rounded out our luncheon! (Not pictured: fresh bakery rolls)

Chicken salad with pimento cheese in a white dish.

Tips for this Easy Chicken Salad Recipe:

  • The secret to excellent chicken salad is the chicken itself!
  • Your chicken MUST be cooked or roasted with seasonings. Canned chicken doesn’t work well in this recipe.
  • Leftover rotisserie chicken will be just fine because it has a good flavor.
  • My preference is to cook a few pieces of chicken in a special seasoned broth (see below).
  • Use a good quality mayonnaise. A sandwich dressing like Miracle Whip- while we love it-is not ideal for chicken salad.
  • Grapes: green or red may be used based on your personal preference.
  • Chicken salad must be kept COLD! Never let your chicken salad come to room temperature.

How to Cook Chicken for Chicken Salad:

  • Gather a pot, a few raw bone-in chicken pieces, 1/2 cup of large onion pieces, a stalk of celery cut into thirds, a few small carrots, salt and pepper.
  • Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Toss in vegetables & seasonings; let this boil for 3-5 minutes.
  • Pro tip: chopping the veggies helps them release their incredible flavor into the broth!
  • Add the chicken pieces to broth. Reduce heat to medium and let the chicken cook in the broth.
  • When chicken is no longer pink, remove from broth. Pull chicken meat from the bone; chop fine and place in a bowl for your chicken salad.
  • Your chicken broth can be saved and/or frozen for use in another recipe.

Enjoy – it is truly the BEST and easy chicken salad recipe!

easy chicken salad with grapes and pecans

Easy Chicken Salad Recipe

chicken salad with grapes and pecans
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Easy Chicken Salad Recipe

Servings 4


  • 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 cups grapes sliced in half optional
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped fine optional


  • Place chicken in a medium size bowl. Stir in mayonnaise and onions. Mix well. Incorporate chopped celery. Before serving, toss in grapes and pecans. 
  • Keep chicken salad refrigerated until ready to serve. 

How do you like to make your chicken salad?

Heather Cabaniss shares tailgating recipes, college tips for parents and sorority recruitment advice over at Totally Tailgates.

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