Southern Chicken Salad

Southern-Style Chicken Salad
The Spruce
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
413 Calories
32g Fat
2g Carbs
27g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 413
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 32g 42%
Saturated Fat 7g 36%
Cholesterol 295mg 98%
Sodium 457mg 20%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Protein 27g
Calcium 51mg 4%
*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.)

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

Use leftover chicken, a purchased rotisserie chicken, poached breasts, or a roasted chicken for this recipe.


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


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

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Southern-style chicken salad ingredients
    The Spruce
  2. Place the egg in a saucepan and add enough water to cover by about an inch. Place the pan over medium heat and 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.

    Cut eggs for chicken salad
    The Spruce
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, onion, celery, and egg; 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. Add more mayonnaise to moisten, if necessary.

    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
    The Spruce
  7. Serve and enjoy. Leftover chicken salad will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.


  • Roasted 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 Mark 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.

Recipe 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 chopped toasted pecans to the salad for a satisfying crunch.