Healthy Chicken Salad Recipe with a Kick!

I love a good smooth chicken salad and this healthy chicken salad recipe is a good twist on the classic. It has the creamy texture you love, a little zesty kick, and some crunch to top it all off. It’s also a lot healthier than the competition since it has a lot less mayonnaise than the traditional southern chicken salad.

Chicken salad is the perfect way to put leftover chicken from dinner to use when you just don’t have enough for another meal. When I only have one serving of chicken left, I will usually chop it up, add some seasoning, mayo and call it a day.

Recently, I got in a “I-must-figure-out-what’s-in-their-salad” kick and made a lot of different variations. I know, I could make things easier for myself and just make a chicken sandwich! Check out how easy this salad is to make:

Well, if you’ve never tried my chicken salad before… you’ll soon see why I don’t slap the leftover chicken between two pieces of bread or on top of a bed of field greens.

I’ve been living in the south since June of 2000, when I moved here for graduate school. I think my chicken salad obsession began shortly after I began studying at a local coffee shop with a delicious and fresh lunch menu.

One of my favorite items in the menu was their chicken salad. You could order their chicken salad sandwich in a croissant, on 7 grain bread, on top of a bed of lettuce or with veggies and crackers. While the 7grain sandwich was my favorite, the salad was so good on its own that often times I would order a “scoop” of it with crackers.

What made the chicken salad sandwich so delicious? It was the thick, creamy and smooth texture with a little bit of crunch and zest. Woah! WHAT?! Yes, the chicken wasn’t “chunky” like most of the chicken salads I had previously eaten. It was smooth.

I soon began to notice that nearly all the chicken salads sold at local supermarkets were creamy and smooth. One of my girlfriends actually told me that she never ordered the salad because the creaminess must be from using a lot of mayonnaise. Maybe… but probably not!

A few weeks ago, I bought a whole roasted chicken at my local Fresh Market when Chris, the young man behind the counter asked: What are you cooking this week? –yes, they all know I cook a lot. I told him that I wanted to make a “thick” chicken salad like the one they sold by the pound. He suggested that I skipped chopping the chicken and let the food processor do the work.

Oh.My.Goodness! Why didn’t I think of that before?! He said that they don’t use a lot of mayo on their chicken salad and that the thick and creamy texture is from letting the food processor do its job.

Note to self: always ask your deli person (when they seem knowledgeable) for food recipe ideas.

Of course, I use this chicken salad in my husband’s work lunches, my office lunch and my kid’s school lunches. I hope you love the texture and zesty flavor as well.

Southern Chicken Salad

  • Author: Laura Fuentes - SuperGlueMom
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 10 mins
  • Yield: 6
  • Category: Lunch
  • Cuisine: Southern


  • 1 whole roasted chicken, meat off and diced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • Juice from 1 lemon (about 2-3 Tablespoons)
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Zatarain’s Big&Zesty Creole Seasoning (optional)


  1. Put cooked chicken in a food processor and pulse a few times to rough chop. Continue pulsing for about 30 seconds until the chicken is finely chopped. *If you turn “on” the food processor, your chicken will become a “paste” instead of very finely chopped. Don’t do this.
  2. In a bowl, combine lemon juice, mayonnaise, salt, pepper and Big&Zesty (optional) and blend well.
  3. Toss chicken into the bowl, combine a few times with a spatula and throw in finely chopped celery.
  4. Serve with crackers or on top of a bed of lettuce.


Leave a Reply 19 comments

Courtney - February 21, 2013 Reply

You can also use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Works best when the chicken is hot. I made some last night using Greek yogurt instead of mayo and grapes & apples in it.

    Laura Fuentes - February 22, 2013 Reply

    sounds delicious courtney!!

Tiffany C - February 22, 2013 Reply

I LOVE chicken salad. I am not eating crackers right now, but I will try it with some veggies as a snack during my diet! Great recipe!

    Laura Fuentes - February 23, 2013 Reply

    i eat it with veggies too Tiffany!

Marla - February 24, 2013 Reply

Could this be frozen in individual portions after it’s made? I’m vegetarian but my son is not, and I’m always looking meat recipes in small portions.

    Laura Fuentes - February 25, 2013 Reply

    Hi Marla! Absolutely! I make chicken salad sandwiches and freeze them made all the time! You can also freeze single salad portions.

Rebeca - March 4, 2013 Reply

I cannot wait to try this recipe! One of my favorite restaurants has a chicken salad with this consistency. They add almonds, and craisins, top it with a bit of crunchy honey granola and a drizzle of raspberry vinaigrette and wrap it up in a whole wheat tortilla…yum!

    Laura Fuentes - March 4, 2013 Reply

    Let me know how you like it Rebeca! I love love love the creamy texture of the chicken salad. 🙂

Cristina - June 26, 2013 Reply

I have done chicken salad for years using the food processor because it was faster than hand chopping the chicken. Try adding grapes (it’s how I make mine), and use your food processor’s slicing blade to slice the grapes for you!

    Laura Fuentes - June 27, 2013 Reply

    I LOVE grapes in my chicken salad! 🙂

Dana - June 27, 2013 Reply

I roast chicken often with the intent of having extra for chicken salad. Could you tell me about how much chopped chicken you get from a whole roasted chicken? 5 cups? Thanks!

    Laura Fuentes - June 27, 2013 Reply

    Hi Dana! It really depends how big your chickens are… I’d say around 3-4 cups?

Abbie - July 1, 2013 Reply

When I want a KILLER chicken salad, I “reverse engineered” one from Trader Joe’s. I put a little mayo/greek yogurt in there for creaminess, toasted sesame oil (a little goes a long way), rice wine vinegar, fresh rosemary, green onions, dried apricots (rehydrated in a little hot water, first) and some freshly grated ginger in it….. it’s an AMAZING Asian take on chicken salad!

Marianne - March 3, 2014 Reply

What is the side dish (?chick pea salad) that is pictured with your recipe for Southern Chicken Salad? That looks yummy too!

    Laura Fuentes - March 3, 2014 Reply

    in this post it’s just the Southern Chicken Salad. Either by itself or over a bed of baby greens….

      Brittany Murphy - January 5, 2017 Reply

      In your husbands lunch what is the bean salad

        Brittany Murphy - January 5, 2017 Reply

        Whoops I wanted 5 stars,!!!!

Shan - October 27, 2017 Reply

Would love to have the recipe for that sprouted grain salad in the picture !

    Laura Fuentes - October 30, 2017 Reply

    There is no recipe for that. It’s a package of sprouted beans I bought at the store tossed with some dressing. That’s it!

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