Best Chicken Salad

This chicken salad recipe is super simple, but it is the best chicken salad you will ever make. The toasted almonds really make this special. It's great for sandwiches, salads or just serving with crackers.

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Best AND Easiest Chicken Salad

Sometimes the best things in life are the simple things, the easy things, the things you don’t over-complicate. This chicken salad recipe happens to be the perfect example. I’ve had so many variations of chicken salad in my life – with grapes, with pecans, with lots of mayonnaise, with just a touch of mayonnaise, with yogurt instead of mayonnaise, with herbs, with honey, with pickle juice. None of these variations measure up to this one. This chicken salad has only a few ingredients, and by using a food processor to chop the chicken, this recipe goes right to the top of the “easy-to-make” list.

Looking straight down into a food processor with chicken chopped up inside.

Best Way to Use up Leftover Chicken

If you happen to have leftover chicken, this is hands down one of the best ways to use it up. This chicken salad is so tasty, in fact, that you might want to roast a chicken just so you can have leftovers to make it. That would be one way to ensure you have the most important ingredient – cooked chicken. If you don’t have leftover cooked chicken, however, you could also quickly air fry some chicken breasts. You’ll find instructions on how to do that here.  

A glass bowl with chopped chicken, red onion, toasted almonds and parsley, next to a bottle of mayonnaise and a wooden spoon.

Ingredients for Chicken Salad

Once you have the chicken, the rest of the ingredients are plain and simple. You will need some mayonnaise – not as much as a lot of other recipes, but it’s important to hold the salad together. You’ll also add some red onion. I like to soak my chopped red onion in cold water for 20 minutes before adding it to the salad. It takes away some of the harsh flavor of the onion and makes it more digestible. Drain it and dry it well with a paper towel before adding it to the bowl. Parsley is a nice addition to the salad – it gives it a fresh flavor and some color – but not essential. The toasted sliced almonds, on the other hand, are critical. They add such a delicious flavor and really make this recipe a standout in the world of chicken salads. 

Looking straight down on a cutting board with croissants, chicken salad, tomatoes and lettuce - building chicken salad croissant sandwiches.

Chicken Salad Croissant Sandwich

The most common way to use chicken salad is in a sandwich, of course. Now that you’ve made the world’s best chicken salad, why not go all out and put it on a delicious croissant? A tender croissant, along with a nice slice of ripe tomato and a few sprouts can really elevate your plain ol’ sandwich, but of course, you could go with your favorite rustic bread too. 

A chicken salad croissant sandwich on a wooden cutting board with a bowl of chicken salad in the background.

Curried Chicken Salad

If you like the flavor of curry, you can add 1 tablespoon of curry powder to the mayonnaise and stir until it is well mixed. Then, add the mayonnaise to the other ingredients. Give the salad 15 minutes or so for the flavors to really blend. If you feel like going one step further, try adding some golden raisins or a couple spoonfuls of Major Grey’s chutney to the mix.

A bowl of chicken salad with crackers around it and a pink napkin.

Chicken Salad as a Appetizer or Snack

If a sandwich is not what you’re going for, you can also serve this recipe as a snack. Just surround it with a few crackers and let folks spread it on as thick or thin as they like. If gluten free is what you’re looking for, you can serve it with endive spears, slices of cucumber, some celery or even just a fork!

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Best Chicken Salad

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Total Time: 15 m
  • Servings:


  • ¾ cup sliced almonds
  • 4 cooked chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the almonds and toss or stir until the almonds are lightly browned. Remove the almonds from the pan and allow them to cool completely.

  2. Cut the chicken breasts into a few pieces. Place half the chicken pieces into a food processor bowl and pulse until the chicken is coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with the remaining half of the chicken pieces.

  3. Add the red onion and fresh parsley to the bowl with the chicken and stir until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Stir in the salt and mayonnaise and season with freshly ground black pepper.

  4. Use your hands to crush the toasted almonds into the bowl with the chicken salad and stir to combine. Refrigerate the chicken salad until you are ready to make the sandwiches or serve in a salad or as a snack.

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Comments (39)Post a Reply

  1. I always make the curry version. I add plenty of celery and sometimes mango. It’s just delicious.

  2. The same things that you do, mayonnaise, onion, pecans but I add some Montreal steak seasoning and raisins soaked in brandy. Yummy

  3. Thank you for all your recipes and advice! What brand (or recipe) are those nice little crackers / breads you are using? The look to be loading with all kinds of goodness 😉

    1. You could serve it room temperature or slightly warm, but I wouldn’t mix hot chicken with the mayonnaise.

  4. I love this recipe. However, if you add one more thing, it sends it over the moon! I add 3/4 c. of chopped dried apricots! It is the very thing that makes it memorable. I hope you try it!😊

  5. I can’t do almonds, what other nut would you recommend with this recipe? Thanks so much! I have most of your cookbooks and a very big fan!

    1. Hi Sheila. If you press “Print Recipe”, a new window should open up in your browser with a nicely formatted recipe along with thumbnail image and nutritional info. Then, you just print using your browser print function.

  6. I always add grapes sliced in half to my chicken salad as well as the almonds. It is important to taste the grapes first to make sure they have a sweet flavor. It takes the chicken salad to a new level.

  7. I use thighs instead of breast; any idea of how much in terms of cups or ounces? (Looks like your trainer has the best seat in the house.)

    1. Hi Gayle. I see them in most grocery stores in my area – Giant, Acme, Whole Foods. They are usually in the deli area with the specialty cheeses, instead of with the crackers in another aisle.

  8. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! My husband and I loved your chicken salad recipe. I made the curry version of your recipe and it is the best I have ever tasted. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Rebecca. You could use celery, diced apples or water chestnuts instead of the almonds. They will give you a little different flavor but you will still get that nice crunch in the chicken salad. You could also substitute with seeds too, like pepitas or sunflower seeds.

  9. 5 stars
    So good & easy. I make this at least every 1-2 weeks. To avoid the calories of bread, I make lettuce wraps w/butter lettuce. Also very good with the rosemary raisin crackers from Trader Joe’s. I discovered if I want to thin it a bit, rather than add more mayo, I add a small amount of half & half (not necessarily low calorie, but it works!). I haven’t tried it yet, but plan to make a version with toasted pecans & grapes.
    I definitely recommend this to anyone who is a fan of chicken salad.

  10. As always, your recipes are amazing. So look forward to seeing you when you are on QVC. You mentioned Raincoast Crisps. Which flavor?

    1. I like to chop it first and then soak it – more of the surface area of the onion is exposed and you can get more of the pungency out of the onion that way.

  11. If I wanted to make a different flavored chicken salad, would I just substitute the 1 TBSP of curry for say, Jamaican Jerk seasoning or others? Would you suggest adding a little bit of mango or pineapple to balance the heat with sweetness?
    What other ways do you suggest for incorporating the chutney into other recipes?

    1. Sure you could add different seasonings to the recipe and you could certainly add in some fruit as well. You may have to add a little more mayonnaise to the recipe.

    1. You could use a white onion, scallions, shallots, or even celery. Or you can just omit it all together.

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