There are about as many Chicken Salad variations as there are episodes of Law and Order…approximately 1.5 million. You’ve got traditional Chicken Salad, Chicken Pasta Salad, Mexican Chicken Salad, Oriental Chicken Salad, Kitchen Sink Chicken Salad, Sweet Chicken Salad, Savory Chicken Salad, Hot Chicken Salad, and on and on and on.
But really, with the right ratios you can make your own chicken salad based on what you like or what you currently have about to die in the refrigerator. So today I’m going to give you a basic formula that you can use to make any chicken salad that floats your boat.
This Cooking Through Stacy’s Stash episode is brought you to by another lovely church cookbook. I got this one on a trip with my beautiful friend, Kim Anderson, when we went to a ladies retreat for the day. Like every other awesome church cookbook, it’s full of belly warming casseroles, cakes galore, and Velveeta. Y’all, pick you up some church cookbooks – for real.
I got the idea for this when grazing through the salad section. Most church cookbook salad sections should be renamed “Mayonnaise Zone.” But really, every church cookbook will have a few different chicken salad recipes – because Beulah and Mable want their own space. “They are NOT the same, as mine calls for only ½ teaspoon pepper while you use 1 teaspoon.” Bam. Get outta my pew.
The basis for chicken salad is…wait for it————————chicken. Now honestly, I don’t care what kind of chicken you use. Most of the time I use leftover chicken from my Crock Pot Whole Baked Chicken. You could boil some chicken and shred it – which is what I did this particular time. But hey, I ain’t gonna lie. Sometimes Mama breaks open a can of chicken from Sam’s Club. Boom.
I like about 3 cups…and because I love you, I measured to find that’s about 1 ½ pounds raw chicken breast. I’m awesome and I love my kitchen scale. It doesn’t work for measuring babies though – I tried it.
Then we need our veggies. Don’t be leaving the veggies out of your chicken salad. Then it’s not really a salad…it’s just MEAT AND MAYONNAISE. Leaving out the veggies takes away its salad status. Almost all chicken salad recipes call for chopped celery and onion. I like to use red onion because I have a love affair with it. And if Barry and I both eat it, it totally cancels out the breath.
And finally, we need dressing. Those are our basic components. All the other stuff is just extra and I’ll talk about that in a minute. I don’t like mayonnaise very much. Even the smell kinda makes me want to yak. I do use it in my salads…but here is my trick – I mix it with Greek yogurt. It really gives a creamy taste and reduces the mayonnaisey flavor that sometimes can happen. Too much mayo can sit like a heavy weight in the bottom of your stomach – kinda like how you feel after watching the news.
So, what else do you need? Well, whatever in the world you want. Nothing is out of limits with chicken salad. I almost always add nuts to mine – and either raisins, cranberries, or dried cherries. I do not like grapes in my salad, but Barry does.
Here are some optional add-ins:
-chopped cilantro or celery leaves
– ¼ to ½ cup dried fruit
– ½ to 1 cup chopped fruit (apples, grapes, pineapple, etc)
– ½ cup chopped carrots
– 2 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
– ¼ cup chopped nuts
– 1 avocado, chopped
– chopped cooked bacon (YEAH BABY!)
So really, anything goes. Be creative now that you have a basic framework!
Build Your Own Chicken Salad
- 3 cups chopped cooked chicken (about 1 ½ pounds raw chicken breast)
- ½ cup chopped celery
- 2 tablespoons minced onion (red, white, or yellow)
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
- 1 tablespoon dill relish (or sweet relish)
- Salt and pepper to taste
***You may find you want more dressing. I don’t like my salad swimmy – so I use the bare minimum.***
- In a bowl, combine all. Refrigerate a few hours for best flavor.
- Serve on bread, as the meat for your salad, or eat directly from the bowl while standing at the counter.
- Chopped cilantro or celery leaves
- ¼- ½ cup chopped dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, cherries, etc.)
- ½ – 1 cup chopped fruit (apples, grapes, pineapple, etc.)
- ½ cup chopped carrots
- 2 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
- ¼ cup chopped nuts
- 1 avocado, chopped
- Chopped, cooked bacon (YEAH BABY)
Mexican Chicken Salad: add salsa, black beans, cheese, and taco seasoning
Oriental Chicken Salad: add soy sauce, ginger, and garlic
Yield: about 8, ½ cup servings