Chicken Salad

SaladQuick and EasyLow CarbChickenChicken Salad

This family-favorite chicken salad is made with cooked chicken, celery, bell pepper, green olives, apple, lettuce and mayo—plus a secret family ingredient that makes all the difference!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Chicken Salad, A Family Affair

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.

How to Cook Chicken for Chicken Salad

The beauty of chicken salad is that you can put it together with whatever chicken you have on hand. My parents will use leftover chicken from a roast chicken, or their favorite baked chicken dish, and even include some of the crispy skin for this chicken salad.

You could also just poach some boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs in salted water for this salad: here’s how!

What Makes this Chicken Salad Special

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 (thanks 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? Wonderful!

How Long Will this Chicken Salad Keep

You can make this a day ahead of time and the salad will keep for several days in the fridge. The lettuce will get kind of wilty, so if you want to avoid that, feel free to omit the lettuce.

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

Love Chicken Salad? Try these recipes:

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. Here's how to poach chicken.


For the salad:

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

For the dressing:

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


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

2 Make dressing: 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 combine: Gently stir the dressing in with the chicken salad ingredients. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

82 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Carol C.

    Made it, used sugar free jam and light mayo since I am diabetic. Tasted great, family loved it.


  2. Delores

    Yes. I made it for dinner today. It was delicious. It was very easy and simple to make. I fortunately had all the ingredients needed. I would make again. I’m already planning to take to a Easter Potluck Brunch. ❤


  3. Elena

    Really fantastic and simple salad


  4. John.

    I substituted raspberry jam and apple cider vinegar for plum jam and lemon juice. A very nice pop of sweet and acid. Thanks for the recipe. It’s a keeper


  5. DebbieSue

    Wow! Looking at the ingredients, I was skeptical. But this came together wonderfully! Made the recipe as written and was even able to find plum (Damson) preserves at my grocery. A keeper!


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