We don’t eat a whole lot of meat, but one of the best things about roasting up a chicken are the leftovers. 🙂
Some of my favorite recipes are homemade chicken noodle soup, chicken pita sandwiches, AND my amazing Anytime Chicken Salad recipe! In fact, I love this chicken salad recipe so much, I sometimes make chicken just so I can whip up a batch of chicken salad. It’s that good!
The origins of this recipe go back some 20 years. I was married at the time, and a good friend of my wife’s decided to stop by on her way through town. I was assigned the task to make something “amazing” for lunch, but I didn’t have time to go shopping.
Haven’t we all been there before? Staring into the fridge, pulling out ingredients, and hoping (or praying) for some inspiration. Sometimes the idea we come up with works, and other times it’s a complete flop! Well, on this particular occasion I hit a home run, and as soon as I finished tasting it, I wrote down my chicken salad recipe so I wouldn’t forget it! To this day I still have this quickly scratched out note tucked into my recipe files.
Made with celery, caramelized shallots or onions, and seasoned with some thyme and tarragon, you’re going to love this chicken salad SO MUCH! And if you’re not a fan of mayo, I’ve included a quick and easy substitution in the notes so you can whip up a mayo-free version with some greek yogurt.
Finally, when your chicken salad is ready, serve it on a bed of lettuce, with some sliced tomatoes, or on your favorite whole wheat bread. I promise, you’re about to take a bite of homemade heaven. Enjoy!
- 4 cups chicken or turkey (about ½ roasted chicken or 3 cooked chicken breasts
- 4 stalks celery, diced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 shallots or 1 small onion, chopped
- ½ - ⅔ cups mayonnaise (enough to moisten or to taste)*
- ¼ teaspoon fresh thyme
- ½ - 1 teaspoon fresh tarragon
- ½ - 1 tablespoon fresh chives (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Chop shallots or onion and brown/caramelize over medium low in butter.
- Chop chicken and dice celery.
- Add chicken, celery, shallots, mayo and herbs to a bowl. Mix and season with salt and pepper to taste.
If you're using dried spices divide the amount in half and add to taste.
If you enjoy the taste of basil, occasionally I'll add a tablespoon of fresh, chopped sweet basil for a delicious touch.
Turkey leftovers are wonderful in this salad too!
*If you're looking for a quick and easy substitute for mayonnaise, mix 1 cup greek yogurt with ¼ teaspoon ground mustard, ½ teaspoon lemon juice or red wine vinegar, and a little bit of olive or avocado oil to taste. Voilà!
Kitchen Tips and Resources:
- A high quality set of cutting knives can make a huge difference, especially when you’re cooking REAL food. My local knife shop advised me to invest in the higher quality Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature brand (much higher quality than the J.A. Henckels International brand) and time has proven them right. (To make sure you know which Henckels knives are better, here’s a tip — look for the “twins” on the knives vs. the single guy sporting the trident.) While you can buy these knives online, if you’ve got a local knife/cutlery store, support them instead. I love my local cutlery store and bring my knives in every six months or so to get them maintained with a nice, sharp edge!
- A great, non-slip cutting board is an invaluable kitchen asset when cutting up the vegetables. I upgraded to these Epicurean non-slip boards last summer, and I’ve been really pleased with them.
- A set of stacking serving bowls is a must for any kitchen and perfect for serving all different kinds of salads. I purchased a great set from Crate & Barrel several years ago. Although they don’t sell them any longer, they’ve got some great options here!