Classic Chicken Salad

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Classic Chicken Salad is the PERFECT combo of seasoned chicken breast, creamy mayonnaise, lemon juice and crunchy celery, ready in just minutes!

We love great lunch and picnic options, and this recipe is perfect for a potluck or picnic along with other favorites like Macaroni Salad, Easy Cole Slaw (Coleslaw), and Best EVER Baked Beans!

Classic Chicken Salad

Classic Chicken Salad is the perfect thing to serve for lunch, as a salad or over a bed of lettuce. Made with lean chicken in mayo and lemon juice, with  and celery (plus if you want you can add crunchy nutty almonds), it’s the PERFECT dish to bring to a picnic or get-together.

You can add other fresh ingredients to this recipe like green onion, red onion, fresh dill, or avocado. This is a great recipe to make-ahead at the beginning of the week for grab-and-go lunches, and my go-to when we have a busy schedule ahead. You’ll never want to go back to store-bought again!


You can really add a lot of flavor to the dish depending on what you like. Here are a few suggestions that I’ve tried and liked.

  • Eggs
  • Olives
  • Pickles
  • Dried fruit
  • Bell Peppers


Chicken salad will last refrigerated for 3-4 days, wrapped tightly with plastic wrap. Don’t leave it out at room temperature for more than two hours for food safety.


I don’t recommend that you freeze chicken salad because the mayonnaise will separate when defrosting. You can freeze the cooked chicken, then just defrost it in the refrigerator the day before you want to make the salad, and add the other fresh ingredients the day of.

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Serve chicken salad as a sandwich, on top of tomato slices, or over greens. You can also have it as an afternoon snack with crackers, or serve with cut up celery and bell peppers, or on a lettuce wrap for a low carb option.


  • Add grapes, raisins, apples, or craisins to add a sweet and savory flavor.
  • This recipe calls for almonds but you can use other types of nuts like pecans, walnuts, or cashews.
  • Replace the mayo with pureed avocado and sour cream for an avocado chicken salad.
  • Cut the calories in this recipe by using Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise.
  • This recipe takes a total time of 5 minutes to throw together, but I like to refrigerate it for at least an hour to give the flavors a chance to come together.
  • If you don’t have time to cook the chicken yourself you can use a rotisserie chicken. Just remove the skin and chop into pieces.
  • You can use fresh chicken or canned chicken for this recipe.
  • Make BBQ chicken salad by adding 2-3 tablespoons of your favorite BBQ sauce in place of some of the mayonnaise.
  • Add spices to this recipe to add different flavors like garlic, paprika, curry powder, or even mustard. Try chipotle seasoning and lime juice instead of lemon juice. Or a dash of cayenne pepper with pickled jalapenos for a spicy version.
  • Cook the chicken breasts in the crockpot, then use an electric hand mixer to shred the chicken for a shredded chicken salad recipe!

Easy Chicken Salad

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Classic Chicken Salad

5 from 17 votes
  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Course: Lunch
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder

Classic Chicken Salad is the PERFECT combo of seasoned chicken breast, creamy mayonnaise, lemon juice, crunchy celery, and almonds, ready in just minutes!


  • 4 cups cooked chicken breast , chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup celery , chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)


Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Mix chicken, salt, pepper, mayonnaise, lemon juice, celery, and almonds together in a large serving bowl.

  2. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Recipe Notes

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 6 servings, Amount per serving: 435 calories, Calories: 435g, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 30g, Fat: 33g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 95mg, Sodium: 405mg, Potassium: 286mg, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 60g, Vitamin C: 1.9g, Calcium: 29g, Iron: 1.2g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: chicken salad recipe

Easy Chicken Salad for Sandwiches

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  1. Had to finally leave a comment, I’m obsessed with this recipe. This is probably the sixth or seventh time I’ve made it. It’s perfect for lunches, so tasty and honestly so quick to make! I’ve liked it both with and without the slivered almonds. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. This was my first attempt at chicken salad. I used what was left of a “smokehouse” rotisserie chicken after a few meals (not really smokey tasting, just basic seasoning) so had only 2 1/2 cups of chicken. I stuck to the recipe but scaled it back and am glad I did. It made a lot for one person. It’s real delicious and I love it! It’s very easy to make so I’m sure to add this to my repertoire. I might experiment with a few additions.

  3. I’ve tried many chicken salad recipes but this one is the best and the only one I make now!! Easy and delicious.

  4. Hello I want to make this but I was wondering if anyone made it without the celery, but with eggs and relish in it

    1. I’ve made this for the last 3 weeks for my husband and I for different lunches for the week and it’s amazing and so easy! I bet it would be wonderful this way! Also I just put the chicken in the Crock-Pot

  5. I added 1/2 of a fresh chopped jalapeño, 1 chopped green onion, 1/4 cups raisins, 1/2 cup chopped apple, and 1/4 chopped walnuts- yummy! Thanks! Also, I made my chicken in the Instapot so it was super tender.

    1. It depends on how big each breast is but I would say about 1 1/2 pounds of chicken breast will give you 4 cups chopped.

  6. Do you know how many servings this would yield if I was to make sandwiches with them? Would 1 serving equate to 1 sandwich?

    1. No, I think you’d get a lot more servings when made into sandwiches, depending on how big they are. I would say probably between 8-10.

    1. Glad you were able to spruce it up to how you like it! It’s a great base recipe and gets better as you make it your own.

  7. I have not made this recipe yet. I see that it says that the whole batch comes to 6 servings. Could you give me an idea of what the gram weight, cup measurement, or both would be, per serving? TIA for a response

  8. This is my first attempt at chicken salad and I want to say a big THANK YOU! This is delicious and I really appreciated your optional variations.

    1. Check the slider tool in the recipe card to adjust the serving size to what you need. Hope this helps! Enjoy!

  9. Delicious chicken salad with just a few ingredients but I added green pepper, red pepper and a bunch of Italian parsley. It tasted very good both ways. Since I live in Mexico I was tempted to add some green chilies to satisfy the Mexican taste but I did not. It was a hit anyway.

  10. This is the second time in two weeks that I’ve made this recipe. It’s that delicious! I absolutely love chicken salad but every time I’ve purchased it from a store/deli, it has made me ill. So happy I found this good old fashioned, easy recipe which I know is safe to eat since I made it fresh! I did add a bit more celery just cause I’m crazy about it. lol

    Thanks so much Sabrina!

      1. You can use the slider tool in the recipe card. Hover over the serving amount and adjust the slider until it reaches 2. Enjoy!

  11. Made this for my daughter’s baby shower and it was a huge hit. Many requests for the recipe, which I followed exactly without any modifications.

  12. Great basic recipe. I didn`t have lemon juice so I substituted pickle juice. I also added a green onion thinly sliced. Yum yum! Thank you!

  13. The carb,protein,fat ratio is perfect for what I was looking for & it’s great because you can add on & change ingredients

  14. Going to try this with leftover thighs. None of that mess in pickle relish I’m not even sure what half the ingredients are. My family is hesitant to try chicken salad with out the pickle relish but we’re doing it anyway I’m not eating anymore red yellow and blue dyes.

  15. I had left over spatchcock chicken and tried this recipe, using green peppers, instead of celery. Now I know what to do with my leftover chicken. This was wonderful! Thank you so much.

  16. This was a super easy recipe and you can easily add or take away elements! I got a rotisserie chicken from the store to make it easier and then just added my own elements (like relish) for my personal taste! This recipe made plenty for me to store and save for lunch throughout the week too 🙂

    1. I bake it personally, 350 for 20-25 minutes with a bit of salt and pepper does the trick. In a pinch or when I am making this for a big crowd I’ll add them to a slow cooker on low for 4 hours or I’ll buy the bagged costco rotisserie chicken white meat that they sell packaged.

      1. I’m not it the classic way but I’m very curious if anyone tried it using Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise? How was it?

  17. Thank you for a chicken salad that doesn’t have weird stuff in it and pickle relish. Just plain ole chicken salad, perfect.

    1. I love the classic recipes. There’s a place for fun mix-in ideas, and that’s up in the post where you can get ideas but down in the recipe I want you to have the classic recipe. 🙂

      1. Hi there, I’m just wondering if people are using fresh squeezed lemon juice, or bottled lemon juice? Thanks in advance!