Plate of classic chicken salad on a white countertop

Classic Chicken Salad (Paleo & Low Carb)

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An easy lunch or no-cook dinner, classic chicken salad comes together quickly and has SO much flavor.

Once you’ve got a good base recipe for chicken salad on hand, you can adjust and tinker to fit your tastes — the post below has PLENTY of ideas for how to play around with the recipe!

Classic low carb chicken salad on a plate with text overlay reading 'Classic Chicken Salad'

Ingredients for my take on chicken salad

For the most part, I stuck pretty close to a classic chicken salad recipe. But I afforded myself a few changes based on my own tastes.

For example, traditional chicken salad uses celery for crunch and a bit of flavor. If I’m being honest with myself, though, I am not a big fan of celery! Plus, whenever I buy it, I inevitably forget about all but the half stalk I used and end up throwing the rest away.

So instead of using an ingredient I’m not a big fan of, I left it out, and leaned on diced red onion and diced green apples for some extra crunch.

If you can’t imagine chicken salad without some finely sliced celery, feel free to swap out the red onion or reduce the green apple down to 1/4 cup, filling the void with equal celery.

The best add-ins for chicken salad

Want to add something new in? That’s one of the best things about chicken salad! Here are a few ideas for you:

  • Toasted pecans
  • Chopped pickles
  • Fresh dill
  • Fresh chives
  • Strawberries
  • Poppyseeds
  • Greek yogurt (swap for up to half of the mayo)
  • Diced avocado
  • Chopped hard-boiled eggs

What chicken to use for this recipe

The best chicken to use is what you have on hand! If you roasted a chicken or have leftover rotisserie chicken, just use leftovers. Whenever we roast a whole chicken, my husband and I split the thighs, leaving the breasts to use for leftover recipes like curry, soups, or chicken salad.

Likewise, if all you have on hand is canned chicken, use it!

However, if you’re just looking to make classic chicken salad and don’t have leftovers on hand, here are some ways to cook the chicken:

How to serve chicken salad

This is one of the best parts! Now that you have chicken salad, how are you going to eat it?!

Again, my usual approach here is “use what you’ve got on hand!” But some of my favorites:

  • Bagel — props if you use a locally-made bagel or make one yourself with this recipe from RachlMansfield!
  • Toasted breadCanyon Bakehouse GF bread or a rustic sourdough would be GREAT!
  • Butter lettuce — make some quick little wraps!
  • On a salad — literally right after photographing this recipe, I put some spinach in a bowl and topped it with a hearty scoop of chicken salad. DELISH!
  • On its own — why not?! There’s not much better than a spoonful of chicken salad!

More lunch ideas and recipes:

Did you try this recipe? I’d love to hear what you think! Comment below or tag me on Instagram.

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Plate with classic gluten free and paleo chicken salad on a white countertop with grapes, parsley, and an apple

Classic Chicken Salad (Paleo & Low Carb)

  • Author: Chelsea Joy
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Classic chicken salad makes a perfect quick lunch or no-cook dinner! Start with 3/4 cup mayo and add more to suit your tastes. I forgo the celery in favor of chopped green apple, but if you can’t have chicken salad without the celery, finely dice 1 small stalk and add it in!


  • 2 cups leftover roasted chicken, cubed
  • 1 cup green apples, chopped
  • 1 cup grapes, halved
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons diced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 to 1 cup mayonaisse 


  1. Combine the chicken, apples, grapes, green onions, cilantro, parsley, slivered almonds, red onion, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add 3/4 cup mayo and stir until completely combined. Add more mayo to suit your tastes. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Keywords: chicken salad


I'm Chelsea, the author behind Chelsea Joy Eats! I believe life should be full of flavor. I enjoy creating recipes that are nourishing, flavorful, and satisfying. When not experimenting in the kitchen, I usually have a camera, barbell, or mug of coffee in hand. My posts may include affiliate links, which means if you click through a purchase something, I make a small commission at no cost to you. It helps me fuel my coffee habit and pay rent!

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