Monday, May 16, 2011

Chicken Salad - that petite, dainty flavorful addition to any spring or summer menu!

Let me just begin that I am TOTALLY in LOVE with chicken salad.  I don't want to say it doesn't matter what kind, because for does matter.  I love that chunky, stuffed chicken salad that you get filled with goodies of all kinds, and I even love the big chunky plain-jane kind too.  Just not the smooshed pasty - flavorless variety.   Chicken salad isn't just for bridal or baby showers, it's for any day you want that refreshing taste of something light.  I am thinking about it right now as the thermometer is climbing in my beachy area.  Most chicken salad varieties are very similar with the same type of ingredients.  I don't buy Miracle Whip, but I know that sweetens chicken salad up, many varieties add fruit, and nuts too.  I suppose if you just like it plain that's okay too.

I have several go-to recipes I enjoy, so it is so hard to choose which one to share - so I will share a few that have adorned my table or I have brought somewhere to share.

The first is my adapted version from the Palm Beach Junior League Cookbook - "Worth Tasting".  I love being southern, and having some of those elements in the salad.

Chicken Salad
serves 6

4 cooked chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
3/4 cup celery, sliced
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
sea salt to taste
pepper to taste
light mayonnaise, enough just to fold together ingredients. 

Combine ingredients as listed.  Place in refrigerator for a few hours before serving.  Serve over mixed greens, on a croissant, or on table water crackers.


The next version come from a good friend, Christina.  This chicken salad has appeared at many of our "mommy" functions, it is so addicting and so delicious.  If you don't like curry, just add a little.  It gives this dish a whole new flavor, so unexpected, you'll wonder why you never amped it up before!

Curried Chicken Salad

4 Cups Finely Chopped Cooked Chicken
3 (8 Oz) packages cream cheese, softened
¾  Cup dried cranberries, chopped
½  Cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
6 green onions, minced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1 Tablespoon grated ginger
½  teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Stir together all ingredients.  It is best if made a few hours before hand to let
the flavors develop.  Serve on sandwich bread, croissants, or just plain.


A family favorite from a dear friend, Amy Johnson.  This is a great church potluck.

Baked Chicken Salad

2 cups cooked chicken, cut up
2 cups sliced celery
1 cup seasoned croutons (I like the cheese garlic variety from the produce area)
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 cup mayonnaise
2 T. lemon juice
2 tsp. instant onions
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup potato chips, crushed

Mix first 8 ingredients.  Place in 8" square pan and top with cheese and chips and bake @ 450 10-15 minutes until bubbly.  I like to serve with plain water crackers.


My last recipe is simple, from one of our favorite familiar faces  - Paula Deen

Hawaiian Chicken Salad

4 cups cubed cooked chicken breast (4 large breast or 2 cans)
2 cups diced celery
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sliced almonds
1-20oz. can pineapple tidbits, drained
1 pound seedless grapes, cut in half

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, celery, mayonnaise, and almonds, and mix well. Gently fold in the pineapple and grapes.

Serves 8-10

How do you make chicken salad? 

How do you serve it? 

When do you eat it? 

Hopefully all the time.  Don't keep these recipes locked up for special events.

Cooks Tip:  Costco makes an INCREDIBLE chicken salad.  Made with their rotisserie chicken.  I have been know to get it many times.  I stretch it for events by pulsing it in my processor to thin it out a little, but keep some of those chunks, that's what folks will be talking about after the party is over.


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