🐔 Healthy Chicken Salad Recipe – Fresh & Light

by | Jun 3, 2024 | Chicken Recipes, Recipes

One busy Saturday morning in downtown Raleigh, the farmers market was full of life. The place was bursting with color, smells of fresh food, and happy chatter. As I walked around, I came across a stall that sold organic, free-range chicken.

I wanted to eat better, so this seemed like a great chance to start. I began my quest to make a quick, nutritious chicken salad. It ended with a recipe that not only tasted wonderful but was also good for you.

These days, a homemade chicken salad that’s perfect is hard to find. But, this recipe meets all needs. It’s high in protein, low in carbs, and free from gluten and dairy. Perfect for meal prepping or sharing, it’s a light and delicious choice.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • 131 kcal per serving
  • 18g of protein per serving
  • Low in carbohydrates and fat

Introduction to the Healthy Chicken Salad Recipe

This recipe takes your favorite chicken salad and makes it better for you. We swap the usual mayo for Greek yogurt and avocado oil mayo. The result is a delicious low calorie chicken salad.

The changes cut down the calories and fat by a lot. A standard 1/2 cup often has 310 calories, 25 grams of fat, and 700 milligrams of sodium. Our new version has only 145 calories, 11 grams of fat, and 186 milligrams of sodium. This makes it a great pick for a lighter meal.

This recipe is super easy to change up. You can add things like celery, red onion, and herbs to make it your own. It’s perfect for a quick lunch or to bring to a party. And it’s easy to make ahead for the week.

Start with a pound of cooked chicken. Then, mix in special things like Dijon mustard and nuts for extra taste and crunch. This keeps the fun parts of chicken salad while making it healthier. It’s a delicious low calorie chicken salad for today’s health-minded people.

You can keep the salad fresh in the fridge for up to five days. This lets you enjoy it over multiple meals. And it’s a smart money move, costing less than pre-made salads from the store.

This recipe is perfect whether you need something simple or something light. It brings together classic tastes with a new, healthy approach. Perfect for sharing or enjoying by yourself.

Benefits of a Healthy Chicken Salad

A nutritious homemade chicken salad is not just tasty. It’s great for your health too. It fits well into different diets and meal plans. Here’s why it’s so good for you.

nutritious homemade chicken salad

High in Protein

This salad is packed with protein. Depending on what you add, you can get 15 to 25 grams of protein in just half a cup. This is good for your muscles, keeps you full, and helps your body work right. You can make it even tastier and higher in protein by adding pecans or cranberries.

Low in Calories

Chicken salad doesn’t have to be high in calories. It can have between 164 and 600 calories for half a cup. You can lower this by picking low-cal ingredients. For example, using light mayonnaise instead of regular can bring the total to 168 calories. It fits perfectly into a balanced diet.

Nutritional Information per Serving Amount Daily Value (%)
Calories 168
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 6g 8%
Cholesterol 25mg 10%
Sodium 250mg 11%
Total Carbohydrates 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2g 5%
Total Sugars 6g 10%
Protein 15g 29%
Vitamin C 2mg
Calcium 34mg
Iron 1mg
Potassium 159mg

When you eat a homemade chicken salad, you get more than fullness. It meets your dietary needs too, making it a perfect lunch choice.

Key Ingredients for a Fresh and Light Chicken Salad

Making a great chicken salad means picking the best ingredients for chicken salad. Start with high-grade chicken breast. It’s the key for a dish that’s packed with protein without added fat.

Chicken Breast

For a typical recipe, you’ll use about 12 ounces of cooked chicken breasts. This comes from roasting a whole chicken. The meat will be juicy and full of flavor, and it’s a great protein source for your salad.

Fresh Vegetables

Adding crunchy vegetables like celery and red onion brings vivid color to your salad. Fresh herbs such as parsley or dill give it a boost of flavor. Don’t forget the pecans. They add crunch and are good for you, too.

Now, the secret to a delicious chicken salad is the homemade dressing with chicken salad. Mix plain yogurt, light mayo, Dijon mustard, and seasonings. This dressing is light and tangy. It makes the whole salad taste better.

Remember to toast the nuts and chill the salad for the best taste. This way, the flavors mix well and you get the best from your chicken salad.

How to Choose the Best Chicken for Your Salad

Choosing the right chicken is key when making a tasty chicken salad. How it’s cooked affects its taste, texture, and juiciness. We’ll look at the best ways to cook chicken for a great salad.

Opt for Roasted or Poached Chicken

Roasting and poaching chicken are top choices. Poaching keeps the chicken fresh and moist because it cooks in water. For poaching, simmer chicken in seasoned water for about 10 minutes. This keeps it juicy.

Poached chicken is a good protein source with around 24 grams per serving. It makes any salad more filling.

poaching chicken for freshness

Using Rotisserie Chicken

Rotisserie chicken is great when you’re short on time. You can find it ready to eat at many stores. It provides 3 to 5 cups of meat, saving you cooking time.

To make a simple and healthy salad, mix 2 ½ cups of shredded chicken with celery, red onion, grapes, parsley, and almonds. Cover it with Greek yogurt and Dijon mustard mix. Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

A recent survey found that this salad recipe is known for being healthy. It has a lot of protein and few calories.

Step-by-Step Instructions for the Healthy Chicken Salad Recipe

Making a healthy chicken salad is simple and rewarding. Follow these easy cooking instructions to create a tasty dish for everyone:

  1. Prepare Ingredients: Get 1 lb of cooked chicken, 3 large celery stalks, 3/4 cup of red onion, 1 cup of pecans, and other things you need. Use high-fat yogurt for better taste.
  2. Chop Vegetables: Finely dice the celery and red onion. This makes the salad tasty all over.
  3. Toast Pecans: Toast and chop the pecans. They should be fragrant and lightly browned.
  4. Mix Ingredients: Put the chicken, celery, onion, and pecans in a big bowl.
  5. Add Dressing: Mix in your favorite dressing. Make sure it covers everything well.
  6. Refrigerate: Let the salad sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours. It makes the flavors amazing.

This salad is a much healthier pick than the standard chicken salad:

Nutrient Traditional Chicken Salad Healthy Chicken Salad
Calories 310 per serving 145 per serving
Fat 25g per serving 11g per serving
Sodium 700mg per serving 186mg per serving

By following these step-by-step healthy chicken salad instructions, you can whip up a wholesome meal quickly. This recipe comes with only 145 calories, 11 grams of fat, and 186 milligrams of sodium per serving. It’s a great option for a nutritious and low-calorie meal.

Alternative Ingredients for a Unique Chicken Salad Twist

Try adding different ingredients to your chicken salad. It makes it tastier and healthier. You might also meet different dietary needs this way.

Mayonnaise Substitutes

Greek yogurt can be a healthy choice instead of mayonnaise. It’s lower in calories and adds more protein. Or, use mashed avocado for its creaminess and good fats.

Fruit Additions

Include fruits like grapes and apples for something sweet and healthy. They bring extra fiber and vitamins to your salad. This boosts its nutritional value.

Nuts and Seeds

Add nuts and seeds like almonds or sunflower seeds for a crunchy texture. They’re full of good fats and protein. This makes your salad not just tasty but also well-balanced.

Ingredient Calories Fat (g) Protein (g) Fiber (g) Sugar (g) Cholesterol (mg) Sodium (mg) Potassium (mg) Vitamin A (IU) Vitamin C (mg) Calcium (mg) Iron (mg)
With Greek Yogurt 274.6 20.6 16.5 2.4 3.3 42.5 87.4 397.3 188.8 22.1 33.3 1.7
With Fruits 308 10 36 2 14 32% 586 22% 3% 8% 5% 6%

creative chicken salad variations

Serving Suggestions for Your Chicken Salad

There are many fun ways to enjoy your healthy chicken salad. You can use traditional or new methods to make a tasty and easy meal. We’ll look at some unique ways to serve it, to suit different tastes.

In a Sandwich

One favorite way is to put your chicken salad between two whole grain bread slices. It’s a great meal full of protein and taste. You can make it even better by toasting the bread, or adding greens and tomatoes.

On a Bagel

Bagels offer a sturdy and satisfying base for chicken salad. Choose a whole wheat or multigrain bagel to keep it healthy. It’s ideal for a quick breakfast or lunch that will keep you full.

As a Lettuce Wrap

Using lettuce leaves as wraps is a good choice for low carb and gluten-free meals. Pick crisp lettuce like Romaine or Butterhead. It makes your meal look attractive while keeping it light. You can also use collard greens for a stronger wrap.

Tips to Keep Your Chicken Salad Fresh

To keep chicken salad tasting great, proper storage is key. These tips will help your salad stay fresh and safe to eat for days.

Storage in Airtight Containers

Airtight container storage is vital for your chicken salad. It stops air from getting in and spoiling the food. This method also keeps the salad’s flavor intact and prevents it from picking up other smells.

Optimal Refrigerator Temperature

Set your fridge between 35°F to 40°F (1.6°C to 4.4°C) for the best results. This cold but not freezing temperature is perfect. It keeps the salad bacteria-free while maintaining its great taste and texture.

With these simple tricks, you can savor your chicken salad for four days or more.

Healthy Chicken Salad Recipe Variations

Spicing up your chicken salad can add new flavors and health benefits. By adding things like exotic spices or creamy ingredients, you can make your meal tastier and healthier. These moves will make your usual chicken salad more exciting.

Curry Chicken Salad

Using curry powder in your chicken salad gives it a rich, exotic taste. And it’s good for you too. That’s because curry contains turmeric, which fights inflammation. Just mix a tablespoon of curry powder with your chicken salad. Add your favorite spice level and maybe some raisins or apple for sweetness.

Avocado Chicken Salad

Another tasty option is to add avocado to your salad. The avocado brings healthy fats, vitamins, and a creamy feel. Simply mash a ripe avocado and mix it in with your chicken salad. You’ll also boost the salad’s fiber, potassium, and good fats.

Variation Calories Protein Fat Carbohydrates
Curry Chicken Salad 168 15g 6g 13g
Avocado Chicken Salad 227 41.4g 5.1g 2g

Both options are quick, taking only 15 minutes to prepare. If you love adventure, try the curry chicken salad. For a creamy twist, pick the chicken salad with avocado. These tasty changes are fun and healthy. They breathe new life into the classic chicken salad.

Nutritional Benefits of Chicken Salad

A well-prepared chicken salad is both tasty and good for you. The classic mix includes chicken, celery, red onion, grapes, parsley, almonds, Greek yogurt, mustard, lemon zest, and sea salt. These ingredients make a yummy, healthy combination.

Ingredient Quantity Benefit
Chicken (cooked and shredded) 2 ½ Cups High in protein, Niacin: 51% DV, Selenium: 36% DV
Celery (chopped) 3 Stalks Low calories, rich in antioxidants, Vitamin K
Red Onion (finely chopped) ½ Contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties
Grapes (cleaned and chopped) 1 Cup Sources of vitamins C, K, and A; boosts immune system
Parsley (chopped) ¼ Cup Rich in vitamins A, C, K; supports bone health
Sliced Almonds ½ Cup Good source of Vitamin E, magnesium, protein
Greek Yogurt ¾ Cup High in protein, probiotics for digestive health
Dijon Mustard 1 Tablespoon Low calories, adds flavor without extra fat
Lemon (zested and juiced) 1 High in Vitamin C, enhances absorption of iron
Sea Salt 1 Teaspoon Provides essential minerals, balance flavors

Using Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise makes chicken salad lighter and healthier. For example, mayo-based chicken salad has more calories and fat than versions made with yogurt. Greek yogurt reduces the calories to 164 and the fat to 9 grams. This simple change boosts the salad’s health value.

Let’s talk about protein. A traditional chicken salad with mayo offers 16 grams. Go for the light mayo and you’ll get 15 grams instead. Combine this with veggies and whole grains for a decent meal.

Watching your sodium intake is key. Regular chicken salads with mayo can have about 542 mg of sodium. Opting for lighter dressings means less salt but be aware of your dietary needs.

nutrition in chicken salad

By adding these ingredients, chicken salad becomes a nutritious and delicious meal. It’s perfect for anyone wanting to eat healthy and enjoy what they’re eating.

What to Do if Your Chicken Salad is Too Dry

Finding a dry chicken salad can be a letdown. Luckily, there are great ways to make it moist. Follow these steps for a salad that’s creamy and delicious.

Use Chicken Broth

If your chicken salad is dry, chicken broth is a quick help. Just add two tablespoons of it. Your salad will keep its taste while becoming juicy and rich.

Incorporate Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt can also make your salad moist. Use it instead of some light mayonnaise. This will keep the salad creamy but adds a hint of tang. Plus, it cuts down on calories.

Ingredient Quantity Purpose
Cooked Chicken Breasts 12 ounces Main Protein Source
Light Mayonnaise 1/3 cup Base Dressing
Celery 1/2 cup (chopped) Crunch and Vegetables
Red Onion 1/3 cup (diced) Flavor
Chicken Broth 2 tablespoons Add Moisture
Greek Yogurt As needed Enhance Texture

Frequently Asked Questions About Making Chicken Salad

Wondering how to make the best chicken salad? We’ve got you covered with common questions chicken salad making fans often ask. These tips will take your recipe to the next level and wow your guests.

What types of chicken can I use? You can use different cooking methods for the chicken in your salad. You might roast bone-in split chicken breasts, bake boneless skinless breasts, or poach them. Leftover roasted chicken is also a good choice.

What are the key ingredients? A great chicken salad typically includes 3 cups of diced chicken breast. You’ll also need celery, red onion, pecans, and seasonings like salt and pepper. Lemon juice, garlic powder, mayonnaise, dried cranberries, and dill are important too.

How can I store chicken salad? Keep your chicken salad in the fridge in an airtight container. It will stay fresh and delicious for up to 3 days.

How to make a healthier version of chicken salad? To make it healthier, choose top-quality mayonnaise. You can pick one made from avocado or sunflower oil. Another option is to use plain Greek yogurt instead of mayo. This reduces unhealthy fats. Adding nuts, seeds, fruit, and fresh herbs will make it both nutritious and tasty.

“For a unique chicken salad experience, try adding 1/4 cup of chopped onion or 1/2 cup of celery. The additional flavors and textures will truly elevate your dish.”

How can I serve chicken salad? There are many ways to enjoy chicken salad. Use it to top fresh lettuce, turn it into lettuce wraps, or use it in sandwiches. It’s a dish full of possibilities.

  1. What are the steps to avoid dry chicken salad? If your salad is too dry, simply add some chicken broth. Greek yogurt is another great choice to moisten it up.
  2. What are the cost and nutritional benefits? Making your own chicken salad is budget-friendly. It costs $6.44 in total, which is about $1.29 per serving. Each serving offers 21g of protein and just 1g of carbs, making it a healthy option.

These FAQs have covered everything about common questions chicken salad making. They aim to enhance your chicken salad skills with their detailed answers.


This journey through making healthy chicken salad shows its importance for good eating. It combines juicy chicken breast, fresh vegetables, and a tasty dressing. It’s known for being both delicious and full of good nutrients. Each meal is light but satisfying, thanks to its high protein and low carbs.

Adding things like green grapes, apples, and pecans lets you make it your own. You can choose to cook the chicken or mix in fresh fruits and nuts. This recipe’s flexibility makes it likely to become a top choice for your meals.

As you wrap up your experience with healthy chicken salad, don’t forget to share. Talking to others who love healthy food will improve your cooking and make you value nutritious meals more. Let’s celebrate tasty, healthy chicken salads and all the ways we can enjoy them!


What are some healthy mayonnaise substitutes for chicken salad?

Greek yogurt, mashed avocado, and hummus are great swaps for mayo in chicken salad. They are lower in calories. Plus, they add extra nutrients.

Can I make chicken salad ahead of time for meal prep?

Absolutely, you can. It’s perfect for meal prep. Just store it in airtight containers in the fridge. It stays fresh for 3-4 days.

How do I ensure my chicken salad is low calorie?

To make a low-cal chicken salad, use lean chicken. Swap mayo for Greek yogurt or avocado. Add lots of fresh veggies like celery and peppers.

What’s the best way to add flavor without increasing calories?

Use fresh herbs and spices. Parsley, dill, lemon juice, black pepper, paprika, or Dijon mustard work well. They elevate the taste without many calories.

How do I keep my chicken salad from becoming too dry?

If your chicken salad turns dry, add chicken broth or Greek yogurt. They’ll make it moist without a big calorie bump.

What are some creative variations I can try with my chicken salad?

Get creative! Add curry powder for a twist. Or, use diced avocado for a creamy version. You can also toss in fruits like grapes, nuts like almonds.

Can I use rotisserie chicken to save time?

Yes, rotisserie chicken is a time-saver. Just ensure you remove the skin. Then, break the meat into pieces before adding other ingredients.

What are some health-conscious ways to serve chicken salad?

Instead of traditional bread, wrap chicken salad in lettuce or collard greens. You can also use high-protein, low-carb bread. These options are healthier.

What are the key ingredients for a fresh and light chicken salad?

Lean chicken, fresh veggies, a base like Greek yogurt or avocado, and seasonings. Don’t forget lemon juice and herbs for that fresh and light taste.

How should I store chicken salad to keep it fresh?

Keep it in airtight containers in the fridge. This preserves freshness for 3-4 days. Make sure your fridge is 40°F or colder.

What are the nutritional benefits of chicken salad?

Chicken salad is high in protein and low in carbs. It’s adaptable to diets like gluten-free and dairy-free. Plus, it’s rich in vitamins and minerals, offering a balanced meal.