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
- 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)
- 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.
- In a bowl, combine lemon juice, mayonnaise, salt, pepper and Big&Zesty (optional) and blend well.
- Toss chicken into the bowl, combine a few times with a spatula and throw in finely chopped celery.
- Serve with crackers or on top of a bed of lettuce.