Learn how to make Curry Chicken Salad! Our healthy curry chicken salad recipe is easy, fresh, and delicious. A perfect easy lunch or dinner any day of the week. (Gluten-Free, Paleo-Friendly, Whole30-Friendly)
I’m one of those people who never wants to eat the same thing every single week for dinner but ALSO don’t want to re-invent the wheel every week. I’m all about simple, flexible recipes you can change up with a few simple tweaks and twists here and there. This kind of cooking helps mealtime feel fresh, easy, and approachable for me.
Chicken salad is one of those easy go-to meals you can prepare in no time. It makes an awesome packed lunch or an easy dinner at home, and there are SO MANY delicious flavors to try. I thought today would be a great time to revisit one of my all-time favorites: Curry Chicken Salad.
This Curry Chicken Salad recipe is a delicious spin on our Classic Chicken Salad recipe that uses a few delicious flavor tricks and mix-in swaps to make it feel totally fresh and fun.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy recipe (+10 delicious ways to serve it!)…
Our Easy Curry Chicken Salad Recipe, At A Glance:
Simple Ingredients For This Easy Chicken Salad Recipe:
One of the best parts of this recipe is all the different flavors and textures that work together. From tender chicken, to crisp celery, juicy grapes, crunchy cashews, and the curry flavors in the creamy dressing, it’s a total dream! Let’s look at each component:
- Cooked + Cubed or Shredded Chicken. Curry chicken salad is a great way to use up leftover chicken from the night before or leftover rotisserie chicken when you have it. (Don’t have leftovers on hand? See the FAQ below for some easy ways to prep chicken for this recipe!)
- Sliced Grapes. Fresh grapes are one of my favorite additions to any chicken salad recipe. I love the sweetness and freshness of the grapes. It’s especially nice here with a more savory curry dressing.
- Celery. For a little fresh crunch, I like adding sliced celery to the mix.
- A Little Green Onion. Green onions are a nice way to add some subtle onion flavor to your curry chicken salad. If you prefer something more punchy, feel free to use finely minced red onion instead.
- Fresh Herbs. A little fresh cilantro (or basil or parlsey) adds a pretty green and a final fresh not to the salad. It feels lighter when you add the herbs, so try not to skip them!
- Salty Cashews. I can’t resist the salty crunch of some cashews in my curry chicken salad. I love the crunch with the creamy curry chicken salad. (See our Mix it Up! section below for other nuts that work well)
- A Creamy Curry Dressing. And, the star of the show = our creamy curry dressing! This simple creamy dressing is made from mayonnaise, curry powder, fresh lemon or lime juice, salt, and black pepper. It’s creamy without being too heavy, and the balance of flavors is lovely with the ingredients in the salad.
10 Delicious Ways To Serve Curry Chicken Salad:
- WITH BREAD OR TOAST. Bread and toast are two easy options that work well. I like toast best, since it’s a bit more structured, and I love the crunch of the toast with the creaminess of the curry chicken salad.
- IN A TORTILLA OR GRAIN-FREE WRAP. Take your curry chicken salad sandwich in a different direction by wrapping it up in a tortilla or grain-free wrap with some greens. It’s delicious!
- SCOOPED UP WITH CRACKERS OR GRAIN-FREE CRACKERS. Crisp, crunchy crackers + creamy curry chicken salad are a delightful combination! We like these gluten-free Ritz-style crackers, Simple Mills almond flour crackers (paleo + gluten-free), or Hu Kitchen grain-free crackers (paleo + gluten-free). This is perfect for meal prep!
- ON TOP OF APPLE SLICES. Turn a clean apple on its side (so the stem is pointed left-to-right instead of up-and-down), and use a sharp knife to make thin slices all the way through the apple, to create a round, almost cracker-like shape. Spoon curry chicken salad on top and enjoy!
- SCOOPED OVER SALAD GREENS. Or, keep it low carb and simply spoon curry chicken salad over a bed of greens and enjoy like a big green salad! The dressing of the chicken salad will dress the greens, too. (Such an easy option for a quick lunch!)
- SERVED IN LETTUCE LEAVES FOR LETTUCE WRAPS. Curry chicken salad lettuce wraps are one of my favorite lunches. They’re quick and easy (especially if you’ve washed your lettuce in advance!), taste great, and work beautifully. Butter lettuce and green leaf lettuce are two of my go-to options since they have a natural cup shape, but iceberg or romaine leaves can work, too!
- TUCKED INTO JICAMA TORTILLAS. Jicama is a delicious veggie that’s easier and easier to find in grocery stores these days. Sliced into thin rounds, it can be used to make little jicama “tortillas” that are made of 100% veggies and perfect for serving with our curry chicken salad. This is a great lower carb option that works well for paleo, grain-free, and Whole30 dietary needs. Find them pre-made in stores (I’ve seen them at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Sprouts, etc.) or make your own!
Mix it Up! Try One OF These Variations On Our Curried Chicken Salad Recipe:
- MIX IN SOME MANGO CHUTNEY! You can substitute 2 Tbsp. of mango chutney for 2 Tbsp. of the mayonnaise in the dressing. The subtle sweetness is GREAT with the curry flavor + chicken salad mix-ins.
- SWAP APPLES FOR THE GRAPES. Prefer a bit more crunch? Swap out a finely diced red or green apple for the sliced grapes. It’s delicious!
- SWITCH ALMONDS, PEANUTS, OR PECANS FOR THE CASHEWS. Craving change? Try switching out the salted cashews for another nut, like toasted almonds, salty peanuts, or toasted pecans. They’re all delicious here.
- USE DIFFERENT FRESH HERBS! Not a cilantro fan? No worries. Try adding basil or parsley instead of cilantro. They both work beautifully in curry chicken salad.
- ADD SOME SHREDDED CARROTS. Trader Joe’s curry chicken salad has grated carrots in it, and they can be a tasty addition if you’ve got some on hand!
- MIX IN DRIED CRANBERRIES OR RAISINS. Another tasty mix-in is craisins or raisins. (Golden raisins are lovely here!) The subtle sweetness and texture are a great addition to this salad.
FAQ + Tips and Tricks For The Best Curry Chicken Salad:
AN EASY SHORTCUT. Did you know that places like Sprouts and Whole Foods sell unseasoned rotisserie chickens? That means they’re Whole30 friendly and allergy friendly. If you’re not doing Whole30/worrying about allergies, my other favorite store-bought rotisserie chicken is the one from Costco. #costcoforever
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO COOK CHICKEN FOR CURRY CHICKEN SALAD? There are lots of great methods for cooking chicken for chicken salad, but my favorites are poached chicken or baked chicken, since those are really easy. If you’re into prepping a lot of chicken at once, you can try this Instant Pot chicken breast recipe and freeze leftovers for another day!
PALEO + WHOLE30 NOTES. This curry chicken salad recipe is 100% paleo + Whole30-friendly, so long as you use compliant mayo (like this) and serve it in a compliant way. Skip the bread or tortillas in favor of grain-free crackers or a grain-free tortilla wrap (like Siete brand), or serve on top of cucumber slices, jicama tortillas, apple slices, lettuce leaves, and more. (For Whole30, stick to the fruit + veggie options instead of the grain-free crackers or tortillas).
LIGHTEN UP THE RECIPE. If you’re not a big mayo fan or you’d prefer something lighter, you have a few options:
- Use 1/2 mayo and 1/2 plain Greek yogurt or plain yogurt in the dressing. If you’re dairy-free or paleo, Culina makes a thick plain dairy-free yogurt that’s unsweetened + even Whole30-friendly. You can also use all yogurt instead of mayo, but that tends to get a bit tangy for my personal taste.
- Use 3 Tbsp. mayo + 2 Tbsp. mango chutney. Or, you can cut the mayo flavor a bit by adding mango chutney or apricot jam to the dressing. The flavors are very complementary to the curry and cilantro you have going on in the curry chicken salad recipe, and it’s a little lower in calories and fat if that’s something you need to watch. Trader Joe’s sells a good mango chutney!