Assorted Chicken Salads Ideal For Summer Lunch, Supper

On the hottest days, serve chicken salad for a refreshing lunch or supper with a green salad and fresh fruit. Pictured is Southern Hospitality Chicken Salad, which can be made from a wide selection of additions for creating your own signature version. Photo by Ann Cipperly

By Ann Cipperly

When the temperature soars in July, chicken salad is refreshing for lunch or a light supper. Try an assortment of chicken salads to keep in the refrigerator for serving in sandwiches piled high with lettuce and slices of tomato, as an entrée with fresh summer vegetables or a green salad and fresh fruit.

Chicken salad is popular anytime but especially on hot days. It is easy to prepare by simply boiling or roasting a whole chicken, chicken breasts or tenders or picking up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store.

Classic recipes start with finely chopped celery. From there, add your personal favorites of chopped pecans or walnuts, dried cranberries, pickle relish, chopped apple, chopped boiled eggs, etc. Duke’s or Hellman’s mayonnaise are popular choices for chicken salads. To reduce fat, substitute Greek yogurt or low fat sour cream for a portion of the mayonnaise.

At a recent lunch with family and friends at Smith Lake, Sherry Davis took her favorite chicken salad prepared with Zucchini Relish. I tried a scoop to savor on the patio overlooking the lake. The salad was so good I went back for more to find the bowl was empty on the buffet table. Apparently, everyone else liked it too.

Sherry and her sister Pat both make chicken salad with Zucchini Relish. Sherry said she had used her last jar from a batch she made in 2020 and was going to prepare more this summer. The recipe is really fairly easy to make, and it makes a good gift.

Sherry and Pat add the relish to chicken salad with finely chopped celery and onion, and sometimes add chopped boiled eggs.

Another favorite chicken salad has been Ursula Higgins’ recipe with tarragon vinegar that she served years ago at the Greenhouse Restaurant in Opelika. When Ursula was serving chicken salad at the Jule Collins Smith Museum Café, she adapted the recipe. I found three recipes in my files, but the one I am sharing has been preferred.

Sherry Freeman is sharing the Neiman Marcus Chicken Salad recipe that her aunt in Dallas always served when they visited. The recipe was created by Helen Corbitt for the cafés at Neiman Marcus in the 1950s and was served for decades. I am not sure if it is still on the menu at their Zodiac Restaurant.

The chicken salad was one of my favorites to order at the Neiman’s Zodiac restaurants, and I was able to collect the recipe as well. When Don traveled on business trips, I would have the opportunity to go sometimes. He would often drop me off at a shopping center to spend the day while he worked.

I could always count on a good lunch at Neiman’s Zodiac Restaurant. The restaurant was generally filled with ladies who had been busy shopping, and many of them were ordering this special chicken salad. I enjoyed dining on the salad at the restaurants in Atlanta, San Francisco and Houston.

The chicken salad was served with an orange souffle mold with mandarin oranges. When I made the orange souffle at home, I adapted the recipe and omitted the egg yolks in the original recipe. I put the “souffle” gelatin mixture in a Bundt pan to chill.

Once it was set, the souffle was unmolded onto a lettuce lined platter and the center filled with chicken salad. The salad was garnished with toasted almonds, and the mold surrounded with grapes, strawberries and fresh mint. The mixture can be chilled in individual molds and would be lovely for a summer luncheon.

A wide selection of chicken salads are featured in the recipes from good local cooks. I created Southern Hospitality Chicken Salad a few years ago to give to a family member who requested my favorite. I couldn’t decide on one, so included all the choices.

Look over the following recipes for chicken salads and prepare a couple this week for a light entrée. When served chilled from the refrigerator, it will be a welcomed treat on the hottest dog days of summer.

Chicken Salad with Zucchini Relish

Sherry Davis

Chopped cooked chicken

Duke mayonnaise

Finely chopped celery

Finely chopped onion

Zucchini Relish, recipe follows

Combine all ingredients to taste in a large bowl. Chill until ready to serve.

Zucchini Relish

Can half recipe for a small patch.

10 cups ground or grated zucchini

4 cups ground or grated onions

5 Tbsp. salt

2 ½ cups vinegar

5 cups sugar

1 Tbsp. dry mustard

2 Tbsp. celery seed

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

¼ tsp. pepper

1 Tbsp. nutmeg

1 Tbsp. turmeric

Place zucchini and onions in a large bowl and add salt. Let stand overnight. Drain; rinse thoroughly. Drain through cloth.

Place zucchini mixture in a large kettle. Add remaining ingredients. Mix together and bring to a boil. Cook for 20 minutes. Place into hot, sterilized jars and seal.

Southern Hospitality Chicken Salad

Start with the chicken, celery and mayonnaise, then select from favorite additions to create your own special salad.

3 cups chopped cooked chicken

Salt to taste

½ to ¾ finely chopped celery

¾ cup Duke or other quality mayonnaise (adjust less or more according to taste)

Select from these additions: chopped pecans, walnuts or toasted almonds, diced apples, halved red or green grapes, dried cranberries, chopped boiled egg, drained crushed pineapple, sweet or dill pickle relish, finely chopped onion, mandarin oranges

Season chopped cooked chicken with salt to taste. Mix in celery and then mayonnaise. Select from the additions and stir into chicken mixture. Chill until ready to serve.

Serve on lettuce garnished with fresh fruit or spread on bread, croissant or crescent rolls. Stuff in a hollowed tomato or present in a pineapple halve for a festive luncheon.

Tallahassee Chicken Salad

Jennifer Jones

3 cups cooked chicken, chopped in small pieces

20 oz. can pineapple chunks, drained

1 bunch white seedless grapes

1 pkg. toasted almonds

½ cup diced celery

¼ cup sesame seeds

¾ cup mayonnaise

½ Tbsp. lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

½ to 1 cup whipping cream, whipped

Grated coconut, optional

Combine all ingredients, folding in whipped cream last. Sprinkle with coconut if desired. Makes a lovely luncheon dish when served in a pineapple boat or melon ring. Serve with assorted crackers or hot rolls. Serves 6 to 8.

Waldorf Style Chicken Salad with Honey Mustard Sauce

Carol Southern

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

3 cups chopped cooked chicken

1 cup seedless red grapes, halved

1 large Gala apple, diced

1 cup diced celery

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup honey mustard (store bought or Carol’s recipe)

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Bake walnuts in a single layer in a shallow pan 6 to 8 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.

Stir together chicken, next 5 ingredients and walnuts. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 6 servings.

Carol’s Honey Mustard

1/8 cup yellow mustard

1/8 cup Dijon mustard

1/8 cup mayonnaise

1/8 cup honey

Combine ingredients.

Neiman Marcus Chicken Salad

Famed Texas cook Helen Corbitt created this rich chicken salad recipe for the cafe menu at Neiman Marcus department stores in the 1950’s. It is delicious on toasted multigrain bread with lettuce and tomato or simply served on a lettuce leaf. My aunt in Dallas always served this when we visited her. She did not add the grapes.

Sherry Freeman

1 lb. roasted chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup thinly sliced celery

1 cup halved purple seedless grapes (optional)

1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted lightly

1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp. sea salt or to taste

1/2 cup whipped cream

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine everything but the whipped cream in a bowl. Fold in the cream, which has been whipped.

Toasting the sliced almonds is important. Walnuts or pecans may be substituted, but the original recipe uses almonds.

(I prefer Duke’s mayonnaise in all recipes.)

Neiman Marcus Orange Soufflé Ring for Chicken Salad

For a while Neiman Marcus restaurant served their chicken salad with an individual mold of this Orange Souffle. The original recipe called for two egg yolks, which have been dropped.

2 (1/4 oz.) envelopes unflavored gelatin

2 cups sugar

2 cups orange juice, divided

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 can mandarin oranges, drained

2 cups heavy cream, whipped

Fresh strawberries, mint leaves for garnish

Thoroughly mix gelatin and sugar in saucepan; add 1 cup orange juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in remaining orange juice and lemon juice. Chill until mixture mounds when dropped from a spoon; stir in oranges. Fold in whipped cream. Pour into a 2-quart mold or individual molds; chill until set.

Unmold on lettuce and serve with chicken salad. Garnish edges of ring with grapes, strawberries and mint leaves.

Chicken Curry Salad

Cathy Dozier

½ tsp. salt

½ cup mayonnaise (low fat if you want to substitute)

2 tsp. curry powder

1 Tbsp. grated onion

20 oz. drained, chopped chunks pineapple

3 cups cubed chicken

1 ½ cups apple, chopped

1 ½ cup green grapes, sliced in halves

¼ cup chopped green pepper

½ cup whipping cream, whipped

Mix the chunky ingredients. Fold into the sauce ingredients. Chill two hours before serving.

Greenhouse Chicken Salad

Ursula Higgins

12 whole chicken breasts

2 Tbsp. salt

1 onion, quartered

Bring chicken breasts, salt and onion to a boil. Cover and simmer until tender, about 30-40 minutes. Cool in broth. Remove skin and bones. Chop or shred.

1 cup oil

1/3 cup tarragon vinegar

3 green onions, diced

2 tsp. salt

Combine above ingredients and marinate chicken overnight in refrigerator.

6 cups chopped chicken

1 ½ cups Hellman’s mayonnaise

1 cup sour cream

1 Tbsp. salt (or to taste)

1 tsp. white pepper

The next day combine ingredients. Serve in sandwiches or on a lettuce-lined luncheon plate with four slices of cantaloupe with chicken salad in the center. Surround with wedges of watermelon, fresh pineapple, grapes and strawberries.

Nadine Knowles’ Chicken Salad

2 cups ground cooked chicken

3 boiled eggs, shredded

½ cup celery, cut very fine

¼ cup pickle relish

Mayonnaise to mix

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients. This type of chicken salad is good for sandwiches.

Lollie’s Chicken Salad

Laurie Gilbert

2 ½ lbs. frozen chicken tenders, thawed (prefers Sam’s)

3-4 ribs celery

Water to cover

Add: kosher salt, ground pepper, Nature’s Seasonings. Bring to slow boil on medium; cook until no longer pink; turn off heat, cover. Let sit for 30 minutes until cooled.

When cool, finely chop chicken in food processor. Add about ½ cup finely diced celery chopped with knife, not in processor. Set chicken and celery aside.

In food processor, add about half a jar of Hellman’s mayonnaise (or to taste), juice of 1 lemon, generous amount of white pepper and kosher salt. Blend and add to chicken and celery.

Good as is or add ¼ cup drained Wickles pickle relish for more zest.

Chicken Salad with Fresh Fruit

½ cup mayonnaise

2 Tbsp. milk

1 Tbsp. cider vinegar

2 tsp. grated onion

1 tsp. salt

2 cups cooked, diced chicken

1 green pear, diced

1 red apple, diced

1 cup finely chopped celery

Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and gently toss until well blended. Chill.

Curried Chicken Salad

Duffy Stewart

4 cups chicken, cooked and cubed (I use a rotisserie chicken)

8 oz. can water chestnuts, sliced, optional

1 lb. seedless grapes

1 cup celery, sliced

1/4 cup almonds, sliced

1 cup mayonnaise

1-2 Tbsp. curry powder

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

Juice of 1 lemon

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate. Serve on lettuce leaves.

Chicken Salad Surprise

Judy Dickinson

3 cups chopped white chicken

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup Craisins

10-12 oz. pkg. fresh baby spinach

Toss the above ingredients. Before serving, mix together:

1 cup mayonnaise

½ cup honey

Pour over salad mixture. Toss and serve.

Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad with Grapes and Pecans

Monica Mitchell

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or a rotisserie chicken

1 cup halved red seedless grapes

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt

1/4 cup chopped cucumber

2 Tbsp. mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

To cook chicken, season with salt and pepper and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes on each side for a total of 30 minutes, or pan-fry chicken in a skillet until cooked.

Shred or chop chicken and combine with grapes and pecans in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, celery, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Add to chicken mixture. Stir to combine.

Chill until ready to serve. Makes about 4 cups.

Curry Chicken and Rice Salad

Sherri Rowton

3 cups cooked rice

3 cups cooked, diced chicken

3/4 cup roasted pecans, chopped

1/3 cup minced green onions

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


3/4 cup mayonnaise

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. curry powder

1 Tbsp. garlic vinegar

Combine salad ingredients. Mix dressing ingredients, blending well. Toss dressing with chicken and rice. Chill thoroughly.


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