This easy chicken salad recipe uses simple everyday ingredients, comes together fast, and makes the most delicious sandwiches! It can be on your table in about 15 minutes.
This homemade chicken salad recipe is great for easy lunches (bring it to work for a healthier and less expensive lunch than getting takeout) or fun occasions like picnics.
I kept this recipe pretty simple so that it will appeal to a wide variety of tastes and also so that you can change it up (see my suggestions later in the blog post) if you feel like it. Apple is the not-so-secret ingredient in my version of this popular recipe. It adds a nice sweet and tart flavor as well as a bit of crunch.
I don't like chicken salad to be super heavy/cloying. I did use mayo, but I always try not to go overboard with it, and there's plenty of fresh ingredients that make this taste less one-dimensional than your average grocery store chicken salad. It's definitely worth making at home!
How to make chicken salad:
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 mix/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 (like add in some extra onion or apple if needed). Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
What kind of chicken to use?
I loved the flavor and ease of using a store bought rotisserie chicken. I used a mix of dark and light chicken meat. You could also try buying pre-cooked roasted chicken breast from your deli, or cook up your own chicken (try my Instant Pot Shredded Chicken).
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 crunch
- A splash of pickle juice and/or chopped pickles or relish
- Hot sauce for a kick
- Cooked and crumbled 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
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... etc. And try buns, wraps/tortillas, or even bagels instead of bread to change it up a bit. Or go low-carb and make lettuce wraps or fill half an avocado with it.
Recipe notes & tips:
- 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.
- If you have some leftover cooked turkey, you can definitely use that in this recipe.
- I used half a Gala apple, but any variety that's not too sweet will work (try Granny Smith or Honeycrisp).
- Add some lemon zest if you want it to be more lemony.
- Substitutions: This recipe is very forgiving. Feel free to experiment and add more/less of an ingredient based on your personal tastes. 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).
- Refrigerated 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.
- Can you freeze chicken salad? I don't recommend it. It'll get soggy when thawed, the mayo could separate, and it's quick and simple to prep. Halve the recipe if you don't think you can finish it all within a few days.
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I hope you'll enjoy this chicken salad sandwich recipe! Made it? Have questions? Talk to me in the comments below.
Easy Chicken Salad
- 2 cups cooked chicken (I used rotisserie) shredded or chopped
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 stick celery chopped small
- 1/2 medium apple chopped small
- 1-2 tablespoons red onion chopped
- For sandwiches: 8 slices bread, lettuce, etc.
- Prep all ingredients.
- 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 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.