Chicken salad is a deli and sandwich favorite for many. Chunks of cooked skinless, boneless chicken breast tossed in mayonnaise dressing often with diced celery is delicious. We love it on bread or just served on the side with crackers and fruit, but this comforting classic leaves lots of room for variations and improvements.
Although chicken salad is not salad in the way we normally think of, it—like egg salad and tuna salad—does taste great mixed with greens since dressing also flavors the vegetables. Other common additions may include red onion, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, pickles, cucumbers, and mustard.
Adding a bit of plain thick yogurt, such as Greek-style yogurt, cuts the sometimes cloying saltiness of mayonnaise, while still maintaining creaminess. But the best way to add notes of extra flavor is with fresh herbs. There is no wrong herb to mix with chicken salad, but fresh tarragon is one of the tastiest pairings.
Tarragon might be a little harder to track down than more common herbs such as parsley and rosemary, but it is well worth the search. And your nose will let you know when you've found it because this aromatic herb smells like licorice. The taste itself, although distinctly anise flavored, is herbaceous and fresh.
Although chicken salad is often made as a way to use up leftover chicken, this variation is worthy of roasting chicken just to make the salad.
- For the Chicken:
- 4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Pinch of salt and ground black pepper
- For the Dressing:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh-squeezed)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon (chopped)
- 3 stalks celery (small diced)
- 1/4 red onion (peeled and small diced)
- For the Salad:
- 2 cups assorted salad greens
- Crackers or toasted bread
Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Rub the chicken breasts with the olive oil and place them on a sheet pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast them in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside to cool.
Once the chicken has cooled, dice or shred it with two forks.
Make the dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, fresh lemon juice, Dijon mustard and fresh chopped tarragon. Stir in the diced celery, diced onion and chicken. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
Serve the chicken salad on a bed of the mixed salad greens alongside crackers or toasted bread and fresh seedless grapes.
- You can make this salad with store bought rotisserie chicken as well. Just discard the skin, shred or dice the meat and add to the dressing.