Southern Chicken Salad

This is the best southern chicken salad recipe with grapes and pecans. Simple to make yet loaded with taste, its way better than traditional chicken salad.

chicken salad on a bed of lettuce

While you can’t beat a classic recipe, yet you can improve a fan favorite. With this easy recipe, chicken salad sandwiches are about to get a much needed makeover.

This Southern chicken salad recipe is loaded with tender chunks of chicken, sweet dried cranberries, juicy grapes, celery, and pecans.

Held together with a creamy mayonnaise dressing, every bite of this perfect meal has both sweet and savory flavors.

There is just so much flavor with this chicken salad, that you won’t ever make the traditional kind again.

Enjoy this southern salad on it’s own with a spoon, served on a bed of lettuce, or in a sandwich with a side of fruit and potato chips. Then fall in love again with leftovers the next day.


  • FLAVOR – More than just chicken and mayo – this recipe has notes of sweet and salty, with crunch and texture. Being versatile, make it as robust or subtle as you want.
  • AESTHETIC – This salad is as pretty as it is tasty. Served alone or stuffed into a fresh croissant, it’s guaranteed to impress.
  • PORTABLE – It’s not just for lunches at home. This salad is easy to transport to potlucks, picnics or for day trips!
  • QUICK AND EASY – Whipped up in mere minutes, this recipe can be made at any time, and in no time.
  • MAKE AHEAD – Better when it’s chilled for at least 1 hour, this salad is great for making ahead. Perfect for busy weekdays or when everyone has a different schedule and you need something ready and waiting.

Summertime is here and we are in need of quick meals that fill the belly, yet don’t take a lot of time to make. Plus, no one wants to turn on the oven and heat up the house even more.

I love this homemade chicken salad for being so versatile whether at home, at a potluck, or on a day trip with the kids. Served alone or in a sandwich, the options for sides are endless.

So if you think chicken salad has to be boring or average, think again. This southern chicken salad has the best flavor and textures, in a ruch creamy dressing.

This creamy chicken salad recipe truly delivers on all levels!

fork picking up chicken salad off a plate

Ingredient Notes

Here is a quick overview of the simple ingredients that you’ll need to prepare this delicious chicken salad. The full measurements and instructions are on the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  • Cooked Chicken: I like to use leftover chicken breasts or a rotisserie chicken (whole chicken) from the grocery store. You can use shredded chicken, yet I prefer cubed for hearty chunks. I personally only use white meat for this recipe, and not dark meat.
  • Celery: for color and the perfect amount of crunch.
  • Dried Cranberries and Red Grapes: sweet fruit to give a delicious contrast to the savory chicken and dressing.
  • Pecans: Chopped small for that bit of crunch and slight nutty flavor.
  • Mayonnaise: creamy, and pulls it all together.
  • Green Onions: for color and taste.
  • Sweet Pickle Relish and Dijon Mustard: for that slight acidic addition and boldness.
  • Onion Powder, Salt, and Black Pepper: simple seasonings to taste.
ingredients to make southerns chicken salad

How to Make Chicken Salad

This best chicken salad recipe calls for cooked diced chicken, so tuck this recipe away for when you have leftovers or want to use up a rotisserie chicken.

When you have cooked chicken on hand, this recipe can be entirely made in under 15 minutes with no baking or cooking required.

This may just be the easiest 3-step salad ever.

STEP 1 – Add Ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, add in all the ingredients.

chicken salad ingredients in a bowl before mixed together

STEP 2 – Mix. Using a wooden spoon or ladle, mix well to combine.

STEP 3 – Chill. Cover the combined salad and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. It brings out the flavours and has best results when everything combined is cool.


How To Serve

This salad is great option as a snack, for an easy lunch, light dinner, potluck option, picnic addition, or for an easy meal on the go.

There are so many great ways to enjoy this southern chicken salad with grapes recipe. Here are some ways to serve:

  • Quick snack on crackers
  • Set out the salad in a bowl and served with crackers for scooping.
  • Make the best chicken salad sandwich ever using bread, sourdough bread, French bread or croissants. My personal favourite is on buttery croissants. Mmmm.
  • Scoop onto a bed of lettuce for a chicken salad … salad.
  • Make a chicken salad wrap using a tortilla with lettuce and tomato.
  • Make lettuce wraps for a low carb meal.
stacked chicken salad sandwich

What to Serve with a Chicken Salad Sandwich

I love making chicken salad sandwiches on bread, croissants, rolls, or biscuits. Here are the simple sides that pair well with this classic tasty sandwich.

chicken salad croissant sandwich with fresh fruit on the plate

Storage:

You can prepare this salad 1- 24 hours in advance. It keeps well in an airtight container in the refrigerator, or covered well with plastic wrap.

If stored properly, homemade chicken salad will last 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

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NOTE: If serving at a potluck, rest the chicken salad bowl into a larger bowl of ice, to keep it cold. Don’t let it sit at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If this happens, I’d throw it out due to food safety.

Substitutions and Variations:

  • Cutting Calories? Use plain Greek yogurt or sour cream instead of mayonnaise.
  • Hardboiled Eggs: Add some chopped hard boiled eggs for more protein, they are a delicious addition.
  • Fresh Herbs: options include fresh parsley, fresh dill, fresh rosemary, or basil. Fresh ingredients are always best, yet you can use dried in a pinch.
  • Mustard Swap: Omit entirely; or try yellow mustard, or honey mustard. If you omit the mustard, I suggest adding a squeeze of lemon juice instead.
  • Pecan Swap: Omit entirely; or try walnuts, almonds or cashews.
  • No Green Onion? Try red onion, or omit entirely if you want.

Recipe Tips:

  • If serving a crowd, serve the pecans in a small bowl on the side for those with allergies or just preference. They can be easily sprinkled on top when serving.
  • After chilling for an hour, taste and adjust if necessary. It’s simple to add more of something and re-mix if needed.
  • This easy chicken salad recipe has room for your favorite ingredients and cutting out those that aren’t preferred.
  • For meal planning: Make a large chicken dinner so that you have leftover roast chicken, to make perfect chicken salad the next day.
chicken salad on a bed of lettuce

Southern Chicken Salad Recipe

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 15 minutes

The Best Southern Chicken Salad Recipe with grapes and pecans. Simple to make, loaded with taste, and way better than traditional chicken salad. Makes the best chicken salad sandwiches ever!

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cooked chicken, cubed
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup red seedless grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon pickle relish
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add in all the ingredients.
  2. Mix well to combine
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

    Notes

    • To cut calories: Use plain Greek yogurt or sour cream instead of mayonnaise.
    • Pecans are optional; or you can use chopped walnuts, almonds or cashews.
    • Optional additions: chopped hard boiled eggs; fresh chopped herbs such as parsley, dill or basil.
      Nutrition Information:
      Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
      Amount Per Serving: Calories: 418Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 439mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 2gSugar: 12gProtein: 17g

      Did you make this recipe?

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      Disclosure: I am participating in the Chicken Farmers of Canada campaign managed by SJ Consulting. I received compensation in exchange for my participation in this campaign. The opinions on this blog are my own.

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      This purchase also supports family-owned farms across Canada. There’s confidence in knowing that purchasing power is as beneficial to you as a consumer, as it is to the over 78,000 Canadian jobs you are supporting as well.

      If your store doesn’t carry chicken with that logo above, ask the manager to bring it in.

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      chicken salad and a sandwich

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