Southern Chicken Salad

Southern-Style Chicken Salad
The Spruce
  • 30 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 4 Servings
Ratings (62)

The secret to a home-style Southern chicken salad is the chopped hard-boiled egg and dill pickle relish. Chopped red onion and chopped celery add crunch to the salad. 

This chicken salad is wonderful in lettuce-lined buns. It's also delicious in plain loaf bread, croissants, or freshly baked biscuits. Or skip the bread and serve the salad on lettuce or mixed greens for a lighter lunch. Add slices of avocado or tomato wedges for a delicious luncheon.

Use leftover chicken, a purchased rotisserie chicken, or a roasted chicken for this recipe. See the instructions below the recipe for basic roasted chicken and poached chicken breasts.

What You'll Need

  • 1 large egg
  • 8 to 12 ounces chopped cooked chicken, about 2 cups (cooking instructions below)
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon dill pickle relish or finely chopped dill pickles
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise, or as needed to moisten
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

How to Make It

  1. Place the egg in a saucepan and cover with water to a depth of about an inch over the egg. Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a full rolling boil. Cover the pan and remove the pan from the heat. Let stand for 15 minutes. Pour off the hot water and run cold water over the egg until it's cool enough to handle. Peel and chop the egg.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, onion, celery, and egg; toss to blend.
  1. In a small bowl, combine the relish with 1/3 cup of mayonnaise and the salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Add the mayonnaise mixture to the chicken mixture and stir with a fork until well blended. Add more mayonnaise to moisten, if necessary.
  3. Taste and adjust seasonings with additional salt and pepper, as needed.

Serves 4.

Basic Roasted Whole Chicken

Rub a whole 3 to 4-pound chicken with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the chicken in a baking pan and roast in a preheated  425 F (220 C/Gas 7) oven for about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until a food thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers at least 165 F (74 C).

Poached Chicken Breasts

Place 3 to 4 chicken breast halves in a saucepan and cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the water. Onions, garlic, and other aromatics may be added to the water. Bring the water to a boil; reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken and whether it is boneless or not. The minimum safe temperature for chicken is 165 F. If the chicken is boneless, begin checking for doneness after about 8 or 9 minutes.

Tips and Variations

  • Add about 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard to the mayonnaise mixture.
  • Replace the dill pickle relish or finely chopped dill pickles with finely chopped sweet pickles, such as bread and butter pickles. Or use a sweet pickle relish.
  • For a little extra flavor and color, add some dill weed or finely chopped chives to the salad.
  • Add some chopped toasted pecans to the salad for that extra, satisfying crunch.

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Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 413
Total Fat 32 g
Saturated Fat 7 g
Unsaturated Fat 10 g
Cholesterol 295 mg
Sodium 457 mg
Carbohydrates 2 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Protein 27 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)