by Olena

Healthy Chicken Salad

by Olena

4.9 from 35 reviews

Easy and low fat Healthy Chicken Salad that is a must for hot summer days, lunches and quick dinner.

It is also low in calories and sodium but big on flavor. 🙂

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 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. 🙂

Healthy Chicken Salad in a glass bowl

Is Chicken Salad Healthy?

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.

Also to use cooked at home chicken breasts vs. store bought rotisserie chicken reduces sodium a lot.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Cooked chicken: You can use any leftover cooked chicken. Here is simple baked chicken breast recipe and super easy Instant Pot chicken breast.
  • Mayo and yogurt: Yogurt adds creaminess with less calories – I recommend to use more than 2% fat for better taste. And IMHO, a bit of mayo makes chicken salad real. 🙂
  • Celery and red onion: These veggies add crunch and flavor. White or green onion are OK too.
  • Nuts: I used pecans and toasting them lightly on a skillet adds 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 making missing mayo unnoticeable.

Tip: Add grapes. As much as I love grapes I know they are expensive. And I would like to keep this recipe simple.

Healthy Chicken Salad ingredients in a glass bowl include chicken, mayo, yogurt, onion and herbs and nuts

How to Make Healthy Chicken Salad

  • Cook chicken if you don’t have leftovers already – bake chicken breasts or make Instant Pot whole chicken.
  • 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 salad tastes best cold.

pecans sauteed in a skilletHealthy Chicken Salad ingredients in a glass bowl include chicken, mayo, yogurt, onion and herbs and nuts

How to Serve and Store Chicken Salad

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.

  • Chicken salad sandwich with sprouted whole grain/wheat bread like Ezekiel.
  • Add greens: lettuce, spinach or kale leaves.
  • Low carb on swiss chard leaves or any lettuce.
  • Whole grains: Serve with cooked quinoa or brown rice.

Healthy Chicken Salad stirred in a bowl with spoon

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.

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

More Healthy Protein Packed Salads

Print

Healthy Chicken Salad

4.9 from 35 reviews

Easy and low fat Healthy Chicken Salad that is a must for hot summer days, lunches and quick dinner. It’s also low in calories and sodium but big on flavor.

  • Author: Olena of ifoodreal.com
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: North American
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (3 cups) cooked chicken, 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours as salad tastes best cold.
  4. Serve with greens, quinoa, brown rice or make a chicken salad sandwich with whole wheat bread.

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.

Notes

  • To cook chicken, 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.
  • White or green onion would work well in place of red.
  • Add sliced grapes or chopped apple if you wish. Grapes are pricey often, so I keep them out.
  • Use any mayo – I just use avocado oil one because it is healthier.
  • Please do not use 0% yogurt. It tastes chalky and salad will taste flat. Plain or regular yogurt work.

 Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating in the comments.

 

olena osipov in the studio

Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys and a wife to Alex. And this is our healthy family recipes blog. I grew up in Ukraine on real food. As an adult, I tried many diets without results. Now for over 10 years, I cook quick and easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

What You Will Find Here

Healthy family recipes with simple ingredients. Many are inspired by my Ukrainian heritage. I share mostly dinner recipes because it just never ends... I’m obsessed with healthy freezer meals. And more than in love with my Instant Pot.

A Little More About Me

Originally from Ukraine, I now reside on magic Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada with my family. I started this blog in 2012 when I ended up at home with 2 small kids unemployed and a wee bit chubby.

60 comments on “Healthy Chicken Salad

Our “happiness” software deletes rude comments without publishing, so we can keep on happily cooking delicious recipes for you. Please see our full comment policy:).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

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

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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?

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

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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❤️

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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!!!!!

  15. 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!!

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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. 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

The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease. You assume full responsibility and liability for your own actions.

This page may contain affiliate links. ifoodreal.com is a participant of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps keep iFOODreal recipes free. Thanks for your support!