If eating healthy means enjoying this California Chicken Salad recipe, then sign me up! You’re going to love all the fresh flavors and textures – from the lean chicken and juicy grapes to the crunchy celery and buttery pecans, this chicken salad’s got it all.
And the tangy poppy seed dressing is so yummy and easy to whip up.
Spring has sprung and the salad recipes are in full swing! This creamy chicken salad recipe is one of my favorites for the season. Over a bed of lettuce, it’s a delicious meal all on its own. It’s also a great side dish for barbecues and all of the outdoor parties that are coming up.
This California Chicken Salad also makes a nice light lunch. When I have girlfriends over, I’ll serve it on salad plates over a bed of mixed greens. It really is the best chicken salad!
Ingredients for California Chicken Salad
Here is what you’ll need to make this Sonoma favorite:
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Make your life easy and use rotisserie chicken. If you’re starting with raw chicken, simply poach it in water or chicken broth and then cut it into small pieces. You could also use grilled chicken.
- Red grapes
The Poppy Seed Dressing
Here’s what you’ll need for the creamy dressing:
- Sour Cream. Feel free to substitute Greek yogurt.
- Apple cider vinegar. You could also use white wine vinegar if desired.
- Poppy Seeds
- Fresh parsley
How to Make this California Chicken Salad recipe
This classic chicken salad recipe is basically just slicing and dicing. If you’re starting with pre-cooked chicken, your prep time will be super short.
If you are starting with raw chicken, the fastest way to cook it is by poaching it in water or chicken broth. See the recipe card for poaching instructions.
Once you’ve cut your chicken into bite-sized pieces, chopped your celery and halved your grapes, just toss everything with the dressing.
Making the Poppyseed Dressing
This creamy mayonnaise-based dressing couldn’t be easier to whip together. Just whisk all of the dressing ingredients together in a large salad bowl. Then add the chicken, pecans, grapes and celery.
Doing it all in one bowl means less clean up!
How to serve this California Chicken Salad
This creamy chicken salad makes a delicious lunch or even a light dinner. Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy it:
- Scoop it onto a bed of greens and serve as a entree salad
- Roll it into leaves of butter lettuce to make lettuce wraps
- Spoon it into a pita pocket or croissant for an elevated sandwich
How to store leftover chicken salad
Store any leftover California chicken salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Allow it to sit out at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Make Ahead options for California Chicken Salad
This is a great recipe for when you want to prep everything in advance. Sometimes when I’m doing meal prep on Sundays, I’ll make a big batch of this salad so that we have it all week in the fridge.
If you’re taking this California Chicken Salad to a barbecue or potluck, make the entire thing in advance and store it, covered, in the fridge until you’re ready to enjoy it.
Variations and Modifications for California Chicken Salad
Here are some fun twists on this classic creamy salad:
- Add avocado. When we think California, avocado is a natural addition. Top this California Chicken Salad with avocado slices, or dice up the avocado and mix it in.
- Vary the nuts. Walnuts can be substituted for pecans if you’re craving more of a Waldorf-style dish.
- Add green onions. This is more of a life rule for me, as I add green onions to everything! They offer a nice crunch and slight bite that’s not overpowering.
- Make it dairy free. Replace the sour cream or Greek yogurt in this recipe with more mayonnaise.
When you make this California Chicken Salad recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Drop a rating or leave a comment below. Enjoy!
For more creamy salad recipes, try these:
For more fresh and healthy salad recipes, try these:
- Southwest Chicken Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing
- Good Fats Salad with Ginger Miso Dressing
- Healthy Mediterranean Shrimp Salad
Easy & Healthy California Chicken Salad Recipe
- 8 cups cooked chicken breast cubed
- 2 cups red grapes halved
- 3 stalks celery diced
- 1 cup pecans
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley chopped
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 1/2 Tbsp. honey
- 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- To poach chicken: Place chicken breasts in a large skillet. Cover with water or chicken broth. Bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and cover. Let simmer about 8-10 minutes. Remove the chicken and discard the liquid. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.
- Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, honey, poppy seeds, salt and parsley in a large bowl.
- Gently fold in the chicken, grapes, celery and pecans.