This will be the best chicken salad recipe you'll ever try! It has wholesome, simple ingredients, is ready in just 15 minutes, and makes the most satisfying sandwiches.
Try this Buffalo Chicken Salad next for a creative kick on a classic.
Why you'll love it
This homemade chicken salad recipe is great for easy lunches or picnics. Bring it as a work lunch for a healthier and less expensive meal than getting fast food. These sandwiches taste way less one-dimensional than your average grocery store chicken salad! It's definitely worth making at home.
I kept this chicken salad from scratch really simple so that it will appeal to a wide variety of tastes. Apple is the not-so-secret ingredient in my version of this popular recipe. It adds a sweet and tart flavor as well as a delicious fresh crunch! These chicken salad sandwiches are perfectly balanced.
Ingredients for it
- Chicken - I used rotisserie
- Mayo - my go-to is Hellmann's, but use your favorite brand. I always try not to go overboard with it since I don't like these sandwiches to be super heavy or cloying.
- Dijon mustard - it's not overpowering or anything and just adds a zesty quality. I use it as a flavor enhancer in many recipes.
- Lemon juice - for brightness. Always use freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- Parsley - to add freshness and contrast
- Celery - for a flavorful crunch
- Apple - it adds a touch of sweetness and crispness. Totally recommend not skipping it. Try Gala or Cosmic Crisp.
- Onion - red onion is less sharp than others, so it's great in salads and sandwiches
What kind of chicken to use for chicken salad
- I love the flavor and ease of using a store bought rotisserie chicken. I used a mix of dark and light meat.
- You could also try buying pre-cooked roasted chicken breast from your deli, or cook up your own chicken. Try my Easy Baked Chicken Breast recipe.
- If you have some leftover cooked turkey, you can definitely use that in this recipe!
How to make chicken salad
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Start by prepping everything. Add the dressing ingredients (mayo, Dijon mustard, fresh lemon juice, parsley, and some salt & pepper) to a medium-sized prep bowl. Mix it all together so you've got a smooth dressing.
Add the remaining ingredients (celery, apple, red onion, and chicken) and toss until everything is well coated. Give it a taste, and add extra salt & pepper if needed. You can also take this opportunity to tweak it to your tastes. See my suggestions below!
- I didn't want to make a massive quantity, so the recipe makes enough for about 4 sandwiches. Double every ingredient if you want to make more. Halve every ingredient if you just want to make enough for two sandwiches.
Other additions to chicken salad
I like the recipe as-is, but feel free to jazz it up with any/all of these ingredients!
- Chopped grapes (you can swap them for the apple)
- Slivered or sliced almonds for some extra crunch
- A splash of pickle juice and/or chopped pickles or relish
- Hot sauce for a kick
- Crumbled Oven Cooked Bacon
- Avocado (but only mix it in if you're going to eat it all right away since it'll brown quickly)
- Fresh herbs: try replacing the red onion with chives, and finely chopped tarragon would be delicious in here
Substitutions and variations
- This recipe is very forgiving. Feel free to experiment and add more/less of an ingredient based on your personal tastes. For example, add some lemon zest if you want it to be more lemony.
- I used half a Gala apple, but any variety that's not too sweet will work. Try Granny Smith or Honeycrisp.
- Don't like Dijon mustard? Swap it with a different variety, but keep in mind the slight sharpness plays nicely with the other flavors.
- Want to lighten it up? Swap the mayo for Greek yogurt or do a 50/50 mix.
What to include in a chicken salad sandwich
- You can't go wrong with the classic combo of lettuce and/or tomato, but whatever else you like in a sandwich will work too!
- Cucumber, sliced avocado, a slice of cheese, sprouts are all great options.
- Try buns, wraps and tortillas, or even bagels or a croissant instead of bread to change it up a bit. Or go low-carb and make lettuce wraps or fill half an avocado with it.
Leftovers and storage
- Leftovers will keep for 3-5 days in the fridge in an airtight container. I personally like to err on the side of 3 days. It just tastes better fresher.
- I wouldn't make sandwiches more than a day ahead so the bread doesn't get soggy.
- I don't recommend freezing chicken salad. It'll get soggy when thawed, the mayo could separate, and it's quick and simple to prep anyway. Simply halve the recipe if you don't think you can finish it all within a few days.
I hope you'll enjoy this chicken salad sandwich recipe! Made it? Have questions? Talk to me in the comments below. You can also tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram.
Easy Chicken Salad
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2 cups cooked chicken (I used rotisserie) shredded or chopped
- 1 stick celery chopped small
- 1/2 medium apple chopped small
- 1-2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- Add the mayo, mustard, lemon juice, parsley, and some salt & pepper to a medium bowl. Stir until smooth.
- Add in the chicken, celery, apple, and red onion. Stir together until combined. Give it a taste and adjust ingredients as needed (e.g. add more salt & pepper).
- Serve in sandwiches/wraps, lettuce wraps, inside an avocado... etc.
- I used half a Gala apple, but any variety that's not too sweet will work (try Granny Smith or Honeycrisp). Any apple will work, though, if you're ok with more sweetness.
- See blog post for suggestions on substitutions or additions to this recipe. It's a very forgiving recipe, so you can definitely tweak it to your liking.
- This recipe makes enough for 4 sandwiches.
- This recipe will keep for 3-5 days in the fridge.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.