Classic Chicken Salad

Classic Chicken Salad
Classic Chicken Salad. Katie Workman /
  • 7 mins
  • Prep: 7 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4

Classic chicken salad is immensely satisfying.  If you want to make your own poached chicken breasts for this recipe, see the Note below the recipe.  Otherwise the shredded breasts and thighs of a purchased rotisserie chicken should yield the right amount for this recipe.  If I use rotisserie chicken for a chicken salad, I usually let my husband and kids fight over the drumsticks, and simmer the bones, skin, and wings in some chicken broth to make an enriched stock to use later in soups and other recipes.

Make sure to taste the chicken salad and see if it needs more salt and pepper. You could also add halved grapes to this for a bit of sweetness and texture.  You can serve this in a sandwich, or piled on top of a salad.  The chicken salad will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.  If you don’t have Vidalia or other sweet onions, you can use regular red or yellow onions, though you might want to reduce the amount to ⅓ cup.


What You'll Need

  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped celery
  • ½ cup chopped onions, such as Vidalia
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken, white or dark meat, or a combination

How to Make It

  1. In a large bowl combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, sage, salt and pepper.  Stir in the celery, onions and chicken until the chicken salad is well combined.  Serve chilled.

How to Poach Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, adapted from The Kitchn:

Makes 1 to 4 chicken breasts

If you want to use low-sodium chicken broth instead of water you will end up with a rich stock that can be used in soups and other recipes, and the chicken will have even more flavor.

 Pick seasonings to cook that chicken that will complement the finished dish.  for instance, use ginger and scallions if you are going to use the chicken in an Asian dish, and lemons, herbs and garlic onions if you are going to be using the chicken in a Mediterranean recipe. 


  • 1 to 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
  • Add-ins for additional flavor: smashed garlic, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, sliced ginger, fresh herbs, halved lemons, thinly sliced onions, or any other seasonings you like
  • 1 cup white wine (optional)


  • 2- to 4-quart sauce pot with lid, large enough to hold the chicken breasts in a single layer
  • Instant-read thermometer
  • Cutting board
  • Knife


  1. Place the chicken and aromatics in a pot: Arrange the chicken in a single layer on the bottom of the pot. It's fine if they overlap a little, but they cook more evenly if they are in a single layer. Scatter the salt and seasonings over top.

  2. Cover the chicken with water: If using wine, pour this over the chicken first. Pour in enough cool water to cover the chicken by an inch or so.

  3. Bring the water to a boil: Place the pot of chicken on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Bring the water to a boil. You'll see some white scummy foam collecting on the surface as the water comes to a boil — if you'll be using the poaching liquid for a soup or other recipe, you can skim this off; otherwise, it's fine to leave it. 

  4. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook: As soon as the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the chicken simmer. Begin checking the chicken after 8 minutes: it is done when opaque through the middle and an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the meat registers 165 degrees F. Chicken will typically finish cooking in 10 to 14 minutes depending on the thickness of the meat.

  1. Remove from the poaching liquid: Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid and place it on a cutting board.

  2. Serve or store the chicken: Poached chicken can be served hot, room temperature, or cool. It can also be served whole, or it can be sliced or shredded as per your recipe. 

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 380
Total Fat 25 g
Saturated Fat 6 g
Unsaturated Fat 9 g
Cholesterol 109 mg
Sodium 251 mg
Carbohydrates 3 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Protein 33 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)