by Olena

Healthy Chicken Salad

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Olena Osipov
5 from 55 votes

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Easy and low fat Healthy Chicken Salad that is a must for hot summer days, lunches and quick dinner. Low in calories and sodium with Greek yogurt and a touch of mayo – this lightened up version retains all the flavor of a classic chicken salad. Enjoy in a lettuce or tortilla wrap, on whole grain sandwich bread or in a green salad!

Other favorite healthy versions of classics we love are healthy tuna salad, healthy egg salad and Thai chicken salad.

Healthy Chicken Salad

Healthy Chicken Salad Recipe

My goal with this healthy chicken salad was to keep it super simple, so we can pull it off any time. Cold and creamy, with celery and red onion, this healthy salad is flavorful, protein packed and tasty.

During our Southern California road trip I had chicken salad for lunch at Legoland. While an 8 oz serving cost US $10 and made my teeth cringe from sodium, it was extremely satisfying in 115 degrees F heat. Of course, I kept thinking we can do better, of course. 🙂 Same goes for chicken chili, mac and cheese and chicken curry. Homemade versus restaurant’s always tastes and nourishes better.

Traditional chicken salad with mayo contains 310 calories, 25 grams of fat and 700 milligrams of sodium per 1/2 cup serving. Yikes! iFOODreal chicken salad is only 145 calories, 11 grams of fat and 186 grams of sodium. That’s a huge nutrition difference. Swapping Greek yogurt with just a touch of mayo for all mayo makes this a healthified Greek yogurt chicken salad that has authentic taste while at the same time easy on your waistline!

Also, using homemade baked chicken vs. store bought rotisserie chicken reduces sodium a lot. We often skip store-bought and make our own Instant Pot whole chicken.

Why This Chicken Salad Healthy Works?

  • Authentic taste: By still using a touch of mayo, you retain classic chicken salad taste.
  • Fresh ingredients: Herbs such as parsley or dill add loads of flavor you would be missing if you used dried.
  • Easy: By using leftover chicken, this salad recipe can be on the table in 15 minutes.
  • Healthy: No guilt here as this salad only contains 145c and 11g of fat compared vs. 310c and 25g of fat in the original!
  • Budget friendly: I omitted grapes as they tend to be a costly fruit and you can use whatever nuts you have on hand in your pantry!

Ingredients and Substitutions

Buy organic or avocado oil mayo. A little goes a long way and you avoid consuming GMO canola oil that comes with “regular” mayo.

  • Celery and red onion: These veggies add crunch and flavor. White or green onion are OK too.
  • Nuts: I used pecans and toasted them lightly on a skillet to add more crunch and flavor. You can use any nuts like cashews, almonds, pine nuts and walnuts.
  • Fresh herbs: Parsley, dill, basil or even cilantro add a lot of flavor while making missing mayo unnoticeable.

Add grapes if they are on sale or you have them! (As much as I love grapes I know they are expensive so I did not include them as part of the recipe – and I would like to keep this recipe simple.)

healthy chicken salad

How to Make Healthy Chicken Salad

  • Cook chicken breasts if you don’t have leftovers already from meal prepping air fryer chicken or Instant Pot chicken. If you love dark meat, you can make baked chicken thighs or Instant Pot chicken thighs.
  • Toast nuts in a small skillet on low-medium heat just until fragrant and brown-ish. You will smell them. 🙂 Cool and chop.
  • Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl: Toasted pecans, chicken, celery, onion, parsley, yogurt, mayo, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir gently to mix and adjust salt to taste, if necessary.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours as this salad tastes best cold. Just like avocado egg salad, potato salad or pasta salad.
Healthy Chicken Salad stirred in a bowl with spoon

Serving Recommendations for Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad

Low Fat and Low Calorie Chicken Salad FAQs

How is this chicken salad healthier?

To make low fat and low calorie chicken salad, I cut back mayo in half and add 1/2 cup plain (Greek) yogurt to make salad creamy, reduce saturated fat and calories. I recommend to use 2% and higher fat content yogurt because non-fat yogurt lacks flavour and is flat. Healthy fats are good for you, in moderation.

Is it healthy to eat chicken salad everyday?

Really, this is somewhat of a loaded question! I would not recommend eating original chicken salad everyday as the fat, calories and sodium content are quite high. Eating healthy chicken salad everyday, might be acceptable, but I still believe in everything in moderation. It’s good to mix it up with other easy lunch or dinner ideas.

Can you substitute Greek yogurt for mayo in chicken salad?

You can and we did! We added a touch of mayo to the Greek yogurt to keep the authentic chicken salad taste – you can use all Greek yogurt, but you might miss that authentic taste. Sorry, not sorry, that taste is key for me!

Can I used grilled chicken for this salad?

You could use grilled chicken breast for this salad or you could just make our perfect formula grilled chicken salad with poppy seed dressing – actually just put both on your lunch list for this summer!

Making Chicken Salad Recipe in Advance

Refrigerate salad for up to 5 days. I like to place it in a glass container or bowl with tight plastic lid.

I have not tried freezing chicken salad but I don’t think chicken salad freezes well. It has a lot of fresh veggies to go limp once thawed. But maybe because they are coated in mayo and yogurt… Let me know if you try. 🙂 We never have any leftovers to freeze.

More Healthy Chicken Recipes

Healthy Chicken Salad in a glass bowl
Healthy Chicken Salad

Healthy Chicken Salad {The BEST!}

Easy and low fat Healthy Chicken Salad that is a must for hot summer days, lunches and quick dinner. Low in calories and sodium with Greek yogurt and a touch of mayo – this lightened up version retains all the flavor of a classic chicken salad. Enjoy in a lettuce or tortilla wrap, on whole grain sandwich bread or in a green salad!
4.95 from 55 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Salad
Cuisine: North American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 180kcal
Author: Olena Osipov


  • 1 lb cooked chicken 3 cups cubed
  • 3/4 cup 3 large celery stalks diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley or dill finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup pecans, almonds or cashews
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt 2+% fat
  • 1/4 cup mayo I used avocado oil mayo
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp any vinegar except balsamic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste


  • In a small skillet, add pecans and toast on low-medium heat until fragrant and brown-ish, stirring often. Transfer to a cutting board, let cool a bit and chop coarsely.
    Healthy Chicken Salad
  • In a medium bowl, add toasted pecans, chicken, celery, onion, parsley, yogurt, mayo, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir gently to mix and adjust salt to taste if necessary.
    Healthy Chicken Salad
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours as salad tastes best cold.
  • Serve with greens, quinoa, brown rice or make a chicken salad sandwich with whole wheat bread.
    Healthy Chicken Salad

Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days. I have not tried freezing the salad and am not sure fresh veggies and herbs will hold up well to it.



    • How to cook chicken for salad: You can use my baked chicken breast recipe. If you have Instant Pot, you can make Instant Pot frozen chicken or Instant Pot whole chicken and use breasts from it. Or just make Instant Pot chicken breasts.
    • Onions: White or green onion would work well in place of red.
    • Sweet addition: Add sliced grapes or chopped apple if you wish. Grapes are pricey often, so I keep them out.
    • Use any mayo: I use avocado oil mayo because it is healthier and we always have it on hand. Olive oil mayo or vegenaise work as well.
    • Please do not use 0% yogurt: It tastes chalky and salad will taste flat. Plain regular or Greek yogurt with fat content 2% and higher work.


    Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 180kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 173mg | Potassium: 149mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 201IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg
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    108 comments on “Healthy Chicken Salad

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    1. 5 stars
      I live abroad and was missing a nice chicken salad but have been trying to eat healthier. Celery is impossible to find here so I used diced radishes, used parsley and dill, and added the grapes. It is amazing! I was honestly a little worried about the yogurt, but it’s so creamy and you really can’t tell with everything else going on! Great textures and flavor. I made it just for me, i’m going to be eating it for days and I’m excited for it. Thanks so much!

      1. Radishes is such a great substitution! So glad you were able to adapt to what you could find and it turned out delicious!

    2. Why doesn’t the nutrition information at the bottom of the recipe match what you have in the narrative. It looks like 1/2 cup serving in both places

    3. 5 stars
      I left out the onions as I’m allergic, I substituted the nuts for carrots and I also added some finely chopped sweet pickles and this was amazing. I can’t even taste the yogurt! This is amazing on bread with some lettuce and tomato or by itself.

    4. 5 stars
      I just made this and it is DELICIOUS! So good I could only wait 30min to chill in fridge 😅.

      I used less dill than recipe called for, just do to personal taste. I was only able to find nonfat yogurt, so I went with the nonfat Greek yogurt. I can’t even tell there is yogurt in the finished dish, so I’ll continue to use nonfat. Had my father taste test it and he LOVED it!
      Excellent recipe that will be my go to from now on.

    5. 5 stars
      I added diced red apple leaving the skin on, walnuts and a small amount of green onion. Did not add the mustard which I don’t care for. Otherwise made as directed. Served on lettuce. Yummy.

    6. 5 stars
      I LOVE this recipe. I’m not a huge mayo fan and love the yogurt option. For the mayo, I actually use Trader Joe’s Wasabi Mayo – which works great. I also add purple grapes if I have them. And occasionally I put in some curry powder to give it a little kick! Thanks so much!

    7. 5 stars
      This is my go to chicken salad recipe! I shared with my daughter who’s husband is starting to “eat healthy” and it’s a huge hit!

    8. 5 stars
      Omg this was sooo good. I have been craving chicken salad but I can’t stand Mayo. I did however following the recipes and downed the sizing for the Mayo. I added grapes and pineapple and it was Devine! Tasted just like chicken salad chick, but healthier and I don’t feel gross after having it. I highly recommend this recipe

    9. Looks delicious! I too cannot have any dairy whatsoever. They sell a Silk almond milk plain dairy free yogurt, but since it’s almond milk I doubt the fat content is very high. Will this still likely work? Thank you!

    10. 5 stars
      I’ve never cooked a day in my life and decided I need to eat healthier. This is the first recipe I’ve made by myself in the kitchen and it was DELICIOUS! Bringing leftovers to work this week. Thank you!!!

    11. 5 stars
      This chicken salad is the best! And like someone else here said, this is one of my go-to recipes for lunch!

    12. 5 stars
      I cheated and used canned chicken.. It tastes amazing so I bet it’s even better with cooked chicken!! I also added craisins for some sweetness and it was a great addition. I hadn’t ever used a dash of vinegar in my chicken salad and it’s a great secret weapon, Thanks for this!

    13. 5 stars
      This salad was the best! So creamy and yet healthy. We thouroughly enjoyed it and has been added to the other salads we have enjoyed. Will be making again!

    14. 5 stars
      We love chicken salad and I make a delicious unhealthy (with mayo) chicken salad often. Needing a healthier version I gave this recipe a try. WOW! Best chicken salad I ever had. We love it! Thank you!

    15. 5 stars
      Really tasty – the toasted nuts (I used almonds) and fresh herbs (I used cilantro) really make a difference! Thanks for the healthy, tasty recipe!

    16. 5 stars
      Thank you for this great recipe. I am using the SCD diet and I just have to use my homemade mayo and this works perfectly. It is so nice to find a recipe I that doesn’t require 3 or 4 replacements.

    17. 5 stars
      Needed a healthier recipe and this is by far better than the 100% mayo based recipes. Thanks for sharing

    18. 5 stars
      Loved it! I used dill, cashews, and red grapes. I also shredded my chicken instead of cubing it. Loved it, and I’ll make it again!

    19. 5 stars
      I’ve made this several times now and my whole family loves it. My 24 yo son asked for the recipe as well so he can have it in the fridge for a week at a time as an easy healthy go to for lunches. Thanks!

    20. Healthy Chicken Salad: The recipe says for 6 servings and the nutrition facts says for 12 servings which means the fat content for 6 servings would be 22.2 grams and that would not be healthy. Which is correct?

      1. Thanks for catching that Sue. It is for 12 servings and I have updated the recipe card to reflect that!

    21. 5 stars
      Wonderful recipe! Our favorite chicken salad so far, and leftovers were even better than day 1. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

    22. 5 stars
      I loved this! I added some onion and garlic powder and it was amazing. My husband raved about this! I hate too cook but Olena’s recipes are helping me enjoy cooking!

    23. 5 stars
      Great recipe. I made it with rotisserie chicken & it was very tasty! I loved the flavor & it was so easy to make. This one is a keeper!

    24. 5 stars
      So glad I came across this recipe! Made it for myself and a granddaughter for dinner and we both loved it! I used some sliced almonds instead of pecans and she said she loved the almonds. Just made a second batch for my dinner the next few nights to use up the leftover veggies. Thanks for posting!

    25. 5 stars
      This was another hit!
      Hubby want a traditional club sandwich with French fries but said, everything you do lately is so good, let’s try your recipe.
      Wow!!! Who’s this man?
      Instead had a sandwich with this delicious salad, with Mediterranean quinoa salad leftover. Now this is healthy❤️

    26. 5 stars
      Best chicken salad I’ve ever had – and I’ve had A LOT! The pecans are really what MAKE this salad! But ultimately it’s the combination of all the ingredients that work so well together. To tell you the truth, I can’t stop eating it! Another one going into the permanent rotation from you – thanks so much!

    27. 4 stars
      The recipe is great (I removed nuts and added apple), but when you scale the recipe up, the number of cups of chicken remains the same.

    28. 4 stars
      I found this recipe yesterday and made it today. It is really delicious and great alternative to traditional chicken salad. Even my picky eating pre-teen liked it. The pecans were different for us and we will probably omit the next time, but other than that, it was great!

      1. Glad this recipe was enjoyed by your family! And of course, adjust to your taste (pecans or not!)

    29. 5 stars
      I want to thank you for your delicious recipe for the healthy chicken salad!!!
      I just made it with one of my homegrown. I’ll tell you what Ukrainian people really know how to cook! I had a neighbor that was from Ukraine. After several years of writing her to be husband that she met on a train. They finally married. He saved enough money to go and pick her up from Ukraine! That is how she became my neighbor. She was very talented cook and could bake cakes that looked like artwork. She worked hard in the yard. And built all kinds of sculptured things with plants and walkways out of stone. She made a room full of curtains. That again was amazing because they weren’t just any kind of curtains. So God bless Ukraine! God bless you for putting your recipe on there for the chicken salad. I just had it on some healthy bread!

      1. Awe, thanks Debbie and what a great story! It is very true. Many Ukrainian women are women of all trades – they can cook, paint, saw, mend chickens and silicone windows lol. Life wasn’t easy so we had to learn it all. I am grateful to have gained many life skills during not so comfortable years of my young life. I cherish them, enjoy every day and hope to pass on many to my children. Now back to painting baseboards and caulking windows in our major reno haha. But I do enjoy my Canadian life now A LOT too hahahahahaha. It’s just so much easier!!! Glad you liked the salad!

    30. 5 stars
      I’m completely head over heels in love with this recipe. Well down on the talent. My word. The best I literally have ever had!!!!!

    31. 5 stars
      I am so happy I found this recipe! I can’t cook and I am tired of the same stuff when I try to cook. I am 24 years old, and these easy healthy recipes have been amazing! Not too many ingredients and everything comes out right. I just made this dish yesterday and it’s amazing! Thank you for this. Can’t wait to see what’s next!!

    32. What do you mean by pale colour vinegar? I goggled it and no help :/
      I’m not too savvy in the kitchen … still learning the lingo! But excited to try the recipe!

      1. Any light colour vinegar will work. I mean any vinegar as long as it’s not balsamic. White, white wine, apple cider, rice or red wine vinegar. You are cute.:) I will change that so it’s not confusing.

    33. 5 stars
      Discovered the recipe yesterday afternoon and ran to the store to grab chicken, yogurt and celery to make this. Let me say that this is the best recipe I have seen around the web.
      Did not add pecans but loved the result anyway.

    34. 5 stars
      I made this using my Ninja, no nuts or salt and pepper added, so consistency is more like tuna salad. Add chunks of chicken, onion, and celery – mix and chop at the same time! mixed mayo, yogurt and other ingredients in a bowl till combined then mixed in the chicken, onion, celery from Ninja. Can also add the “sauce” to the Ninja and let it combine it all. I do not like yogurt but know I need to eat it – this recipe is great! Thank you for making me a little healthier! Husband suggested dried cranberries or cherries….I’ll be grabbing them on my next trip to the store.

      1. 5 stars
        YUM! Great recipe, and love the pecans in it. I used your frozen chicken breasts in Instant Pot recipe to cook the chicken and then followed the salad recipe substituting yellow onion for red – my wonderful husband doesn’t like the red ones. It tastes.great and is now chilling for dinner when it will taste even better! Question – will this freeze well? Probably I should have halved the recipe since it is such a big batch…Thanks!

        1. Hi Amy. So happy to hear! I haven’t tried but I think it will because there is mayo. Worth a shot. It keeps well in the fridge for days though, so lots of lunches?! LOL

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