The perfect chicken salad has a few critical components: tender chicken, crunch, a little sweetness, and it needs to be easy to make. This recipe checks all the boxes. We have shared our basic recipe as well as a few suggestions for making it extra special. We highly recommend the toasted sesame oil — it adds a lovely umami flavor to the dressing. A little goes a long way, so only add a few dashes (not more than a 1/4 teaspoon).
When we have the time, we poach chicken breasts for this salad. Here’s our detailed recipe for how we poach chicken.
3 cups (480 grams) chopped or shredded cooked chicken, see our recipe for perfect poached chicken
1 cup (120 grams) chopped celery
4 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs like chives, parsley, and basil
1/4 cup (40 grams) lightly toasted nuts like sliced almonds, walnuts, pecans or pine nuts
1/4 cup (40 grams) dried fruit like golden raisins, cranberries, dates, or blueberries
1/2 cup (110 grams) mayonnaise, see our homemade mayo recipe
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 to 4 small dashes toasted sesame oil (scant 1/4 teaspoon), optional
1 to 2 teaspoons jam, optional
Combine the chicken, celery, herbs, nuts, dried fruit, and fresh fruit (if using) in a medium mixing bowl.
In another small bowl, stir the mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and the black pepper together. Taste then add the optional ingredients. Toasted sesame oil adds umami (a little goes a long way), and the jam sweetens the dressing up a bit.
Toss the dressing with the salad. Taste then adjust with more salt and pepper. Store, covered tightly, in the refrigerator 3 to 4 days.