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Classic Chicken Salad Recipe

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Craving something light and delicious? I highly recommend this classic chicken salad recipe! This simple yet flavorful dish is made with cooked chicken, celery, pickles, and a mixture of mayo and Durkee famous sauce. Perfect for all year round, this classic chicken salad can be served as a quick and easy lunch or a meal prepped for the week ahead. Give this recipe a try!

classic chicken salad

Y’all, I am SO ready for summer to get here. I want those bright, warm, sunny days when I can make some homemade sweet tea and frozen lemonade pie. I am so excited!

One of my go-to lunches on a hot summer day is this fresh, classic chicken salad recipe. It’s simple to make and is great for meal prepping or a quick lunch. Plus, you can customize it however you’d like with your choice of add-ins.

My grandma used to make it for me when I would visit her house in the summer with a cool glass of sweet tea. I’m telling you, it brings back all the feels!

Ingredients needed

You will need the following ingredients to make this traditional chicken salad…

  • Chicken: You can use any type of cooked chicken for this recipe. I prefer to use rotisserie chicken or a simple steamed chicken. You can even use canned chicken if you’re in a pinch. three cups should be enough!
  • Celery: Adding in some freshly chopped celery will give the salad some crunch and a boost of nutrition. Not to mention, a pop of color! You’ll need about a cup or so.
  • Pickles: Make sure to dice your pickles into small pieces so that they mix evenly with the other ingredients. I like to use sweet pickles, but you can also use a sweet pickle relish for quicker prep.
  • Mayo: To make the classic chicken salad creamy, you’ll need to mix in mayo. You can use a light or low-fat version if desired. You don’t need much, just enough to make it moist.
  • Durkee Famous Sauce: Okay, this is my go-to secret ingredient; if you never had Durkee’s, you are seriously missing out! This classic condiment adds a unique flavor and helps to bring the salad together. All you need is a tablespoon.
  • Seasonings: A little salt and pepper never hurt anybody (at least that’s what my granny says.)

Kitchen equipment needed

Here are a few things you’ll need to make this simple chicken salad:

  • Large Bowl
  • Food Processor (this is optional but super convenient!)

Tips on how to make the best chicken salad recipe

Follow these tips to make this easy lunch salad…

  • Make this spicy. If you like a bit of heat, add some diced jalapeños or chili peppers to the chicken salad.
  • Fry it up. For a crispy twist, mix in some fried onions or bacon bits for added texture and flavor.
  • Add some zing. If you want an extra kick of flavor, mix in some freshly chopped herbs like chives or parsley.
  • Make it healthier. Use Greek yogurt instead of mayo to reduce calories. Add some diced apples and walnuts for added crunch and nutrition.

What to serve with Southern Chicken Salad

Luckily, there are so many ways to enjoy this classic chicken salad recipe!

My personal favorite is a simple sandwich. Toast two slices of fresh bread spread with a little extra Durkees, and top with the classic chicken salad. Add a layer of lettuce and sliced tomatoes – chef’s kiss! This makes for a delicious lunch that won’t take much time or effort.

For a low-carb option, serve a scoop of chicken salad onto a lettuce cup or wrap.

Looking for a quick snack? Serve a side of this creamy salad with whole-grain crackers, carrots, and mini peppers!

How to store

Once you have made your chicken salad, it’s always best to keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This classic dish can last up to a week, so you can make it ahead of time and have a delicious meal ready whenever you need it.

classic chicken salad recipe


Whenever I share this classic chicken salad recipe, I get some of the same questions. Here are the most popular ones that people ask!

If you have a question that isn’t listed here, please leave them in the comments, and I’ll answer them as soon as possible.

Can I freeze classic chicken salad?

Yes, you can freeze classic chicken salad. To do this, store the salad in an airtight container and place it in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Can I use rotisserie chicken?

Yes, rotisserie chicken is a great option for making this classic chicken salad. Just make sure to shred or chop the chicken before adding it to the salad.

Can I use Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise?

Yes, you can use Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise in this recipe! This will give your classic chicken salad a slightly different flavor, but it will still be delicious.

What is Durkee Famous Sauce?

Durkee Famous Sauce is a condiment that is made from vinegar, tomatoes, sugar, and spices. It adds a unique flavor to classic chicken salad that you won’t get with just mayonnaise alone.

Do I have to use sweet pickles?

No, you don’t have to use sweet pickles. You can also use dill pickles or even some hot and spicy ones to give your chicken salad a kick.

What other ingredients can I add?

This classic chicken salad is perfect as-is, but there are a few things that you can add for extra flavor and texture. Try adding grapes, walnuts, and diced apples for a sweet twist. Or, add in some bacon bits or crispy onions for extra crunch!

More Grandma-approved recipes

If you loved this recipe for traditional chicken salad, here are a few other recipes you should try! They are all delicious and grandma-approved.

If you decide to try this recipe, let me know. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!

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classic chicken salad

Classic Chicken Salad

This simple yet flavorful dish is made with cooked chicken, celery, pickles, and a mixture of mayo and Durkee famous sauce. Perfect for all year round, this classic chicken salad can be served as a quick and easy lunch or a meal prepped for the week ahead.
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Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken salad
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Laura



  • 3 cups cooked chicken chopped
  • 1 cup celery chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweet pickles chopped (or sweet pickle relish)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise or less, enough to make moist
  • 1 Tablespoon Durkee Famous Sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper to taste

Optional Serving Additions

  • Bread sliced
  • Tomato sliced
  • Lettuce
  • Whole Grain Crackers


  • Cook and chop chicken. Chop celery and pickles.
  • Combine all ingredients into a large bowl, or chop together in a food processor.
  • Serve on bread as a sandwich with lettuce and tomato. Or serve with whole grain crackers.

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