I’ve been playing around with chicken salad and have discovered some new-to-me tricks. I’ve broken the pattern down so you can see how to customize this with different ingredients and make the best chicken salad according to suit your tastes.
For the star of the salad I usually use leftover chicken so everything else depends on how the chicken was cooked. If the chicken is already sweet, like it was with this roast chicken with peaches, honey and lavender, I might add less sweet. If it was really spicy, like the rotisserie chicken I grilled and forgot to write up, I might add more fruit.
I used to always just use mayonnaise as the dressing but I like the tartness of yogurt so now I do about half and half. A bit of fresh lemon juice also works well. Sometimes I add curry powder and chutney. I might try stirring in some buttermilk next time. Pick and choose:
- half mayo
- half yogurt
- splash of lemon juice
- a bit of mustard
- a dash of curry powder
- salt and pepper if the chicken needs it
I like to have some chopped fruit in there as well, either fresh or dried or a combination. So far I’ve tried and liked:
- grapes (cut in half)
- dried sweetened cranberries
- mango chutney
My simple chicken salad has dill pickles in it. Sweet pickles make an interesting switch. For extra crunch, I now add diced celery–and sometimes nuts, usually pecans. Of course some of the sweet above has crunch as well.
- diced dill or sweet pickles
- diced celery
- chopped toasted pecans or slivered almonds
Mixing it Up
If I’m making this to eat as a salad, I leave the pieces of chicken fairly large. If I’m making it to make sandwiches, I dice the chicken and any add-ins. The amount of dressing to use totally depends on the chicken and add-ins so you just have to mix it and stir it and taste it as you go.
What’s your favorite thing to add to chicken salad?