Simple Chicken Salad Recipe

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This simple chicken salad recipe has been used in my family for decades now! There’s nothing quite like a homemade chicken salad sandwich that’s made from just a few ingredients and gets rave reviews from everyone who tastes it!

a plate of chicken salad with two chicken salad sandwiches in the background

I know it doesn’t exactly look like much, but I have literally never taken it anywhere without people asking for the recipe!

It’s the same recipe my Gram made while I was growing up. In fact, it’s in a beat up old copy of a church cookbook I have from about 30 years ago. This is probably the one recipe I use in that cookbook more than any other!

It’s a simple recipe with just a few ingredients that you most likely already have on-hand anyways. This cold chicken salad is perfect for a brunch, a keto lunch or even to serve as an appetizer on crackers (or celery sticks if you’re looking for a low carb snack).

Tips to Making Chicken Salad

  • I cook my chicken in the Instant Pot and then shred it immediately. I think hot chicken shreds much easier than cold chicken.

pile of shredded chicken on a cutting board in front of an instant pot

  • I leave my shredded chicken VERY chunky! I know a lot of people swear by shredding chicken in their Kitchenaid or other stand mixer. I’m going to be honest, I cringe every time I see that. I tried it once and after only letting it run for a few seconds, my chicken was in such tiny pieces that it was almost mushy. I just use two forks to shred my chicken and it only takes a few minutes and leaves me with nice, big pieces that I can control the size of.
  • There are a lot of ingredients I use in my recipes that I think it’s perfectly fine to swap out for other brands. Hellmann’s mayonnaise is not one of them. This recipe has to be made with Hellmann’s. If you use Miracle Whip and then come back and tell me this recipe stinks, I won’t even care. Because you basically just took out the most important ingredient and made a completely different recipe. Hellmann’s is a crucial part of this recipe and what makes it so amazing!
  • This is just a base chicken salad recipe and the way my family usually enjoys it. You can easily add other items, though, if you like a little crunch in your homemade chicken salad. My Gram usually added about 1 cup of thinly sliced celery in hers. Not my favorite, but I know others love it! You could also add chopped pecans and dried cranberries for a little Chesapeake Chicken Salad. Diced green apples or sliced grapes are another great option.
  • You can make a rotisserie chicken salad by using a store-bought chicken that’s already cooked from the deli. It’s the easy way to do it and tastes amazing!
  • You could also make a crispy chicken salad by purchasing fried chicken from the deli and dicing that up! I’ve done that before as a special treat and while it’s no longer low carb, it does taste pretty dang good.

a plate of homemade chicken salad

Chicken Salad Ingredients

If you don’t count salt and pepper, this recipe is only 4 ingredients! It’s that easy!

Ingredients for homemade chicken salad: shredded chicken, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, milk, lemon juice, salt and pepper

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of Hellman’s mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of milk and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt and a dash of pepper. Stir everything together to blend well.

glass bowl with mayonnaise, lemon juice, milk and salt and pepper to make simple chicken salad

After it’s mixed well, I add only about 1 pound of shredded chicken initially and then stir well. Then I’ll add about a handful at a time until I get it coated the way I like it. You don’t want it to be too dry by adding too much chicken, so I stir it as I go rather than adding it all at once.

I usually make about 2 pounds of shredded chicken (or about 3 chicken breasts), but since they all weigh different amounts, it’s not always exactly 2 pounds. That’s why I prefer to add the chicken to the dressing a little at a time to make sure it’s the right ratio of dressing to chicken in the end.

How to Serve Chicken Salad

  • I love eating it as a low carb lunch as a lettuce wrap. It works perfectly if you’re following the keto way of eating. You can even substitute heavy whipping cream in place of the milk for fewer carbs.
  • My family usually enjoys it as sandwiches on potato rolls with tomato slices. We’ve also served chicken salad croissants when we make this for a brunch or Christmas lunch.
  • My very, very favorite way to eat it, though, is on pineapple nut bread. It’s a recipe my Dad developed years ago and the pineapple pairs perfectly with the cold chicken salad!
  • It’s great served with a side of Broccoli Cauliflower Salad or Caprese Orzo Salad.

a chicken salad sandwich with tomatoes

a chicken salad sandwich with tomatoes
Print Recipe
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Simple Chicken Salad

An easy recipe for homemade chicken salad that will have everyone asking you for the recipe! You can add chopped pecans, dried cranberries, diced apples or even sliced grapes for extra flavor!
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: simple chicken salad recipe
Servings: 8
Calories: 120kcal
Author: Natalie Dixon

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Chicken shredded
  • 1 cup Hellmann's Mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. Milk
  • 2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • dash Pepper

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, add mayo, milk, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine. 
  • Add about 1 pound of shredded chicken and stir well. Continue adding small amounts of chicken at a time, stirring after each addition, until you reach the desired consistency.
  • Store in refrigerator or eat immediately.

Nutrition

Calories: 120kcal | Protein: 10g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 278mg | Potassium: 107mg | Vitamin A: 1.5% | Vitamin C: 2.8% | Calcium: 1% | Iron: 2.7%

a plate of simple chicken salad with two chicken salad sandwiches in the background

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