Southern Chicken Salad

Southern-Style Chicken Salad
The Spruce
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
398 Calories
33g Fat
2g Carbs
22g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 398
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 33g 42%
Saturated Fat 7g 34%
Cholesterol 138mg 46%
Sodium 366mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 22g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 27mg 2%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 234mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

There are so many ways to jazz up leftover chicken, and chicken salad is definitely a go-to. If you're looking for something a little different, though, try this Southern chicken salad recipe. The secret to a homestyle Southern chicken salad is the chopped hard-boiled egg and dill pickle relish, which adds lots of flavor and, thanks to the pickle, an unexpected tangy twist to a classic. Chopped red onion and celery add a delicious crunch, too. 

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.

There are lots of options here. You can use leftover chicken, poach some chicken breasts (which is very easy), or buy one of those rotisserie chickens from the grocery store. They save time and are an economical choice as you can typically coax several meals from one of them and use the carcass for stock if you're so inclined. Or do your very own roasted chicken and use that.


Click Play to See This Southern-Style Chicken Salad Recipe Come Together


  • 1 large egg

  • 8 to 12 ounces chopped cooked chicken, about 2 cups

  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped celery

  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise, more as needed

  • 1 tablespoon dill pickle relish, or finely chopped dill pickles

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Southern-style chicken salad ingredients
    The Spruce
  2. Place the egg in a saucepan over medium heat with enough water to cover by about an inch. Bring to a full rolling boil. Cover the pan and remove 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.

    Chopped hard boiled egg for chicken salad
    The Spruce
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the egg, chicken, onion, and celery; toss to blend.

    Combine ingredients for chicken salad
    The Spruce
  4. In a small bowl, combine the 1/3 cup of mayonnaise with the relish and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    Combine mayonnaise and relish
    The Spruce 
  5. Add the mayonnaise mixture to the chicken mixture and stir with a fork until well blended. If it looks too try, add more mayonnaise.

    Add mayonnaise to chicken mixture for salad
    The Spruce
  6. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, as needed.

    Finished Southern-style chicken salad with hard-boiled egg and relish.
    The Spruce
  7. Serve and enjoy.

What Can I Use Instead of Mayo in Chicken Salad?

  • If you want something lighter, try using a combination of plain Greek yogurt and mayo or, if you're looking for something really tangy, Greek yogurt and a bit of sour cream.
  • If you need something that's nondairy, try a plant-based mayo, as many of them are made from avocado oil.
  • Try mashing up an avocado or two instead of the mayo to boost your potassium, fiber, and magnesium,, along with the good fats (poly and monounsaturated fats).

How to Store Southern-Style Chicken Salad

Leftover chicken salad will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.

You can technically freeze chicken salad, but between the hard-boiled egg and the mayo, the texture will suffer considerably. This is a dish best made and consumed fresh within a couple of days.

Recipe Variations

  • Add about 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon or whole grain 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.
  • If you don't have red onion, shallots will work instead.
  • For a little extra flavor and color, add some fresh finely chopped dill or chives to the salad.
  • Add chopped toasted pecans to the salad for a satisfying crunch.