Chicken Salad

My mother and father make the best chicken salad. It’s a joint effort; my dad assembles the ingredients, while my mom makes the dressing. It’s not exactly your standard chicken salad. They like to include chopped apple, for a sweet note, and also chopped green olives, for their tangy saltiness.

They’ll use leftover chicken from a roast chicken, or their favorite baked chicken dish, and even include some of the crispy skin. You could also just poach some boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs in salted water for this salad.

The “secret sauce” so to speak, of this chicken salad, is the tablespoon of plum preserves my mom adds to the mayo-based dressing. You could use any berry jelly or jam, but as we always have a lot of plum jam on hand (due to several plum trees), that’s what mom reaches for first. Mom balances out the sweetness from the dab of jam with a bit of lemon juice. The result is just wonderful.

Do you have a favorite chicken salad recipe? Please let us know about it in the comments.

Updated, from the recipe archive, my dad’s favorite chicken salad. It’s great! First posted 2006. ~Elise

Chicken Salad Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

You can use any leftover cooked chicken meat for this salad, with or without the skin. Or you can poach some boneless skinless chicken breasts in salted water for this salad.



  • 3/4 lb (2-3 cups) of cooked chicken meat*, coarsely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4-6 green olives, pitted and minced
  • 1/4 cup of chopped red onion
  • 1/2 to a whole apple, cored and chopped
  • 1/3 head of iceberg head lettuce, sliced and chopped


  • 5 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp plum preserves, or any sweet berry preserve (or a lesser amount of honey)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*To poach chicken for this recipe, start with a pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into large (2 to 3-inch) pieces. Bring a 2 quart pot of well-salted water to a rolling boil. Add the chicken to the boiling water, turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let the chicken pieces sit in the hot water for 15 minutes, then drain the water and chop the chicken pieces into smaller pieces for the salad.


1 Prep all of the salad ingredients and toss them together in a large bowl.

2 Prepare the chicken salad dressing in a separate smaller bowl. Mix together the mayonnaise, preserves, and lemon juice. Taste for the proper balance of sweetness and acidity. The salad dressing should not be too sweet nor too sour. Add more preserves or lemon juice until you have reached the balance you want. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3 Gently stir the dressing in with the chicken salad ingredients. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

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Chicken Salad

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Showing 4 of 56 Comments

  • Ruth

    Wow, this one is so very different to the one my mother made. I will definitely have to give it a try. You can check mine out for something different. Ruth’s chicken salad

  • Mina Yaroslavsky

    This looks great — I make a similar salad but I use plain greek yogurt in place of mayo — it’s very yummy.

  • Nick

    I usually make the standard celery-mayo chicken salad, but once in a while I whip up one with diced cooked chicken, freshly shaved parmesan cheese, pomegranate seeds (or craisins) and pine nuts (or other nuts). Drizzle the whole thing with EVOO, sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. You can put grapes in it too, or raisins, if that’s your thing. The unusual part of this one is the EVOO and parm, and they really make it delish. Enjoy!

  • Alanna

    Love the idea of the preserves, will try soon with peach preserves that turned out “too sweet” for using plain. I do a main dish, no mayo Asian chicken salad that’s wonderful.

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