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Classic Chicken Salad (Paleo, Whole30, Gluten-Free)

Classic Chicken Salad – This chicken salad with grapes is my favorite chicken salad recipe EVER! It comes together in no time and tastes amazing. (Paleo, Gluten-Free, Whole30-Friendly!)

Overhead view of a bowl of classic chicken salad with grapes in a white bowl with a white dish towel next to it.

I’m really, REALLY trying not to start every single post this summer with some reference to the summer heat. It isn’t easy.

So, this is me NOT telling you that it feels like I’m walking into a blow-dryer on my way to the mailbox, or that the only acceptable way to be outside once it’s past 10am is with a popsicle or a cold, refreshing drink in hand, or that my motivation to cook has a direct correlation to the blazing heat outside.

Instead, I’ll tell you all about how much I love this classic chicken salad with grapes. When I don’t feel much like cooking (hello all of summer!), I live for a good no-cook or low-cook dinner. And this classic chicken salad recipe totally delivers.

Made with the classic ingredients I grew up with and a few special tricks for the best texture and flavor, this chicken salad recipe will be one of your favorites, too.

Here’s all you need to get started.

Chicken Salad Ingredients in a glass bowl with a white kitchen towel in the background A hand holding a bowl of classic chicken salad on a white background.

HERE’S WHAT I PUT IN MY CLASSIC CHICKEN SALAD RECIPE:

COOKED CHICKEN. This is a GREAT way to use leftover cooked chicken, whether that’s a rotisserie chicken you picked up at the store, or leftover poached or baked chicken from another use. I’ve even made it with simply grilled chicken before!

GRAPES. Red or purple grapes are the prettiest and most classic for chicken salad, but you can totally use any grape you like. My family generally prefers eating green grapes to eating red/purple ones, so we switch between green and red. I usually halve or quarter them so they’re easier to eat.

CELERY. For some good crunch and some freshness, a little celery is one of my favorite additions to chicken salad.

TOASTED ALMONDS (OR OTHER NUTS!). Most the chicken salad I grew up eating had toasted almonds in it, so that’s my go-to nut. In my grown-up life, I’ve also had roasted, salted cashews, and macadamia nuts. You can also go with pecans or walnuts. If you can, I recommend using toasted nuts or roasted/salted nuts for more flavor.

GREEN ONION. For a mild onion flavor, I usually use green onion in my classic chicken salad recipe. You can swap out for chives or finely minced red onion if you prefer!

MAYO + LEMON JUICE. One of my favorite tricks for chicken salad is using a mix of mayo and fresh lemon juice. The lemon brightens up all the other flavors and keeps this feeling fresh and light. (Not a mayo fan? See the FAQ!)

SALT + PEPPER + FRESH HERBS (IF YOU WANT). Then, for a final hit of flavor, I use a simple mix of salt and pepper. If I want it to look extra pretty, I like to add some fresh herbs (if I have them on hand). You can use chives, parsley, dill, or tarragon. Whatever you have or like!

Three chicken salad lettuce wraps on a plate.

6 YUMMY WAYS TO EAT THIS CLASSIC CHICKEN SALAD:

Now that you have all that delicious chicken salad, try one of these delicious ways to serve it!

  • ON CROISSANTS OR ROLLS. Classic chicken salad in croissants was ubiquitous at baby and bridal showers that I attended growing up, so I totally associate it with croissants or rolls.
  • IN SANDWICHES OR TOASTED SANDWICHES. We often eat our chicken salad in regular sandwiches or with toasted bread. (I love the contrast of crispy toasted bread with the creamy chicken salad.) Feel free to add lettuce or tomato slices to go with it!
  • ROLLED INTO A WRAP. Or, wrap up that chicken salad with some lettuce in a tortilla, sandwich wrap, or grain-free wrap (like Siete brand) for a more manageable sandwich.
  • SCOOPED OVER GREENS. Keep things light and fresh by scooping your chicken salad over a big pile of greens. Spring mix, arugula, and spinach are some of my favorites.  You don’t even need dressing thanks to the chicken salad!
  • SPOONED INTO LETTUCE CUPS. For a lower carb, or grain-free option, you can spoon chicken salad into lettuce cups. Butter lettuce is my favorite for this, but you can use any large lettuce leaves you like.
  • WITH CRACKERS FOR DIPPING. Or, give this classic chicken salad a snack-y feel by serving it with crackers for dipping. (See the FAQ for some of our favorites!)

A gluten-free chicken salad sandwich on a marble serving board with kettle chips next to it.

FAQ + TIPS & TRICKS FOR THE BEST CLASSIC CHICKEN SALAD:

CAN I LIGHTEN THIS UP A BIT? Sure! My chicken salad recipe uses less mayo than many do, but if you want to lighten it up further, you can either use less mayo, or swap out half the mayo for plain unsweetened yogurt. (You could even do all yogurt–just know it’ll be tangy!)

OUR FAVORITE GLUTEN-FREE BREAD + CRACKERS. If you’re gluten-free, we recommend Canyon Bakehouse, Three Bakers (toasted!), or Trader Joe’s gluten-free bread for chicken salad sandwiches. If you’re looking for crackers, we’ve liked Schar brand, Simple Mills, and Hu Kitchen crackers. (Simple Mills + Hu Kitchen are both paleo-approved!)

HOW LONG DOES CHICKEN SALAD STAY FRESH. Cooked chicken typically stays good for 3-4 days in the fridge, according to the USDA, so you’re probably safest if you eat this chicken salad within that time frame.

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO COOK CHICKEN FOR CHICKEN SALAD? I usually use rotisserie chicken for chicken salad, but poached chicken or simply baked chicken are my other two favorite ways to cook chicken for chicken salad.

PALEO? WHOLE30? READ THIS. This chicken salad recipe is 100% paleo & whole30 friendly, so long as you use paleo-approved mayo and serve it in a compliant way. I suggest serving it in lettuce cups, scooped over greens, rolled into Siete grain-free wraps, or with grain-free crackers (like Simple Mills or Hu Kitchen) for dipping.

Close up overhead view of a bowl of classic chicken salad with grapes

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Overhead view of a bowl of classic chicken salad with grapes in a white bowl with a white dish towel next to it.

Classic Chicken Salad


  • Author: One Lovely Life
  • Total Time: About 20 minutes
  • Yield: About 5 cups chicken salad 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Classic Chicken Salad – This chicken salad with grapes is my favorite chicken salad recipe EVER! It comes together in no time and tastes amazing. (Paleo, Gluten-Free, Whole30-Friendly!) 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 lb. cooked chicken breast, cubed or shredded (about 33 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup grapes, halved or quartered
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds*
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 1/31/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 23 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1/41/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/41/2 tsp. salt
  • 12 Tbsp. fresh herbs (optional), such as chives, parsley, dill, or tarragon

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine chicken, grapes, celery, almonds, green onion, 1/3 cup mayo, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and 1/4 tsp. salt.
  2. Use a spatula or fork to stir the mixture until it’s well combined. Taste and add additional mayo, lemon juice, salt, or pepper, as desired.
  3. Garnish with fresh herbs, if using.

Notes

*OTHER NUTS TO TRY: cashews, macadamia nuts, walnuts, or pecans. I suggest toasted or roasted/salted nuts for the best flavor.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: No-Cook
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: classic chicken salad, chicken salad recipe, chicken salad with grapes, chicken salad with grapes and celery

Close up overhead view of a bowl of classic chicken salad with grapes with text overlay that reads "Gluten-Free + Paleo-Friendly Classic Chicken Salad. Our all-time favorite!!!" Collage of images of classic chicken salad with grapes with text overlay that reads "Gluten-Free + Paleo-Friendly Classic Chicken Salad with Grapes" Overhead view of a bowl of classic chicken salad with grapes in a white bowl with a white dish towel next to it with text overlay that reads "Classic Chicken Salad. Gluten-Free + Paleo-Friendly. One Lovely Life" Three chicken salad lettuce wraps on a plate with text overlay that reads "Gluten-Free + Paleo-Friendly Classic Chicken Salad. Our all-time favorite!!!" Chicken Salad Ingredients in a glass bowl with a white kitchen towel in the background with text overlay that reads "Gluten-Free + Paleo-Friendly Classic Chicken Salad. Our all-time favorite!!!" Collage of images of classic chicken salad with grapes with text overlay that reads "Gluten-Free + Paleo-Friendly Classic Chicken Salad with Grapes" A gluten-free chicken salad sandwich on a marble serving board with kettle chips next to it with text overlay that reads "Classic Chicken Salad. Gluten-Free + Paleo-Friendly. One Lovely Life"

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