Today’s southern chicken salad recipe features fresh produce and herbs and could be your next lunch choice on a hot summer day and on Southern Food Day (January 22nd).
It’s refreshing and filling with big flavors and different textures. Packed with lean protein and healthy fats, this salad allows gulping without guilt.
Is Southern Chicken Salad Healthy?
Yes, southern chicken salad is healthy and packed with lean protein, healthy fats, and tons of vitamins and minerals.
One serving of this southern chicken salad provides you 250 calories. From this, there are only 15.5 grams of carbohydrates, making it another promising lunch choice for keto dieters.
Ingredients in This Recipe
In this southern chicken salad recipe, you’ll find a great balance of colors, textures, and flavors between the ingredients. They all come from the combination of chicken, celery, pecans, red onion, pickle relish, and cranberries.
We use skinless boneless chicken because it’s easier to create nice char marks as we want. If you start with leftover chicken or store-bought rotisserie chicken, you’ll save up to 15 minutes prepping and searing it.
After searing the whole-piece chicken breast, we cut it into chunks comparable in size to the veggies and pecans. However, you can make it either chunky or pull it into very thin strips. You can also add it to a food processor and pulse it slightly to create even smaller, finer strips.
2. Veggies and Nuts
For fruits, we have dried cranberries that provide an earthy sweetness. For fresh vegetables, we have celery, red onion, and pickle relish.
To lend a delicious crunch to the salad, we also add chopped pecans.
3. Dressing for Southern Chicken Salad
The dressing for this southern chicken salad is made of only four ingredients: mustard, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, and ground black pepper.
Since we have both mayo and Greek yogurt as the base of the dressing, the ingredients hold together very well. Thanks to this binding effect, you can scoop up a spoonful of it easily.
Last, but not least, mustard adds pungency to reduce the fatty mouthfeel. You can go light on the mayo or omit it completely from the dressing to reduce the fat content.
What Goes with Southern Chicken Salad?
This southern chicken salad is deliciously versatile. It’s packed with protein and perfect for a work lunch or meal prep.
There are so many amazing ways to customize this recipe that it’s hard to get bored. Below are a few suggestions.
As this southern chicken salad features dried cranberries, the possibilities open for other berries and juicy fruits.
Take grapes as an example. Adding grapes brings extra sweetness and succulence to the salad, so feel free to throw in some!
This rich and creamy southern chicken salad makes a perfect filling for toasted sandwiches. You can also try it with toasted buns. Simply prepare a bed of extra tomato slices and spread the chicken salad on top to make a hearty burger!
Don’t like burgers? Consider plain loaf bread, whole grain bread, or croissants as a substitution.
This southern chicken salad can also be wrapped in lettuce leaves, lined with an added veggie mix of your choice. You might also want to line it with a few slices of avocado.
It’s an easy and simple way to give the salad another great source of protein and healthy fat. Light and quick lunches can’t be easier!
All the ingredients of this southern chicken salad hold together tightly thanks to the presence of the mayo-based dressing. For that reason, you can easily use crackers, baked biscuits, or crostini to scoop it up, too.
Southern chicken salad on pastry vessels is undoubtedly the perfect choice for a light brunch or afternoon tea.
How Long Does Southern Chicken Salad Last?
This chicken salad will last 3-4 days in the fridge. If you want to prep it in advance, we recommend making everything ahead and storing them separately instead of tossing them together.
To store southern chicken salad properly, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate. When you’re ready to enjoy, remove them from the fridge, let thaw, then add them together into the salad bowl and toss.
Can You Freeze Southern Chicken Salad?
Yes, but do it separately by ingredient if you don’t want to lose all the original textures and flavors. The mayo-based dressing will probably curdle into lumps, making the whole salad soggy.
In short, you can cover the salad with plastic wrap and put in the freezer for 2-3 months.
Chicken Salads That Are Basically Snacks
We love adding eggs to a salad for more proteins and textures, and so we made this recipe. It also features watercress and beetroots, which apparently go together, and taste even better dressed in our mayo-tahini dressing.
You can deconstruct a taco, use more greens, serve it all in a bowl, and that’s basically a salad. Our chicken taco recipe is all about that, dressed in a lime vinaigrette that includes minced garlic and cilantro.
In this southern chicken salad recipe, you'll find a great balance of colors, textures, and flavors between the ingredients. They all come from the combination of chicken, celery, pecans, red onion, pickle relish, and cranberries.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Emily Rogers is a California-based Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in Public Health Dietetics. She has had an eclectic career working as a health educator, nutrition counselor, recipe developer, clinical dietitian and outpatient dietitian. Emily is currently a full-time Public Health Nutritionist with the County of Orange where she teaches Nutrition Education and Community Nutrition courses.