Recipe: Lighter (And More Delicious!) Chicken Salad

This lighter take on the deli favorite is perfect for serving a crowd.

Chicken Salad | Photo by Becca Boyd

Chicken Salad | Photo by Becca Boyd

Chicken salad is a make-ahead, crowd-pleasing healthy option for a back to school party or potluck. Do I sense some raised eyebrows? I’m not referring to chicken salad of ye olden days: one drenched in mayonnaise. This vinaigrette-dressed salad is full of veggies, protein, and healthy fats — and way less mayo than you’d find in your nearest deli’s variation.

Not feeding a crowd? Either half the recipe or plan on freezing leftovers in plastic sandwich bags so you have perfectly portioned lunches to toss over mixed greens or fill a whole-wheat pita!

This recipe is incredibly straightforward (read: pretty hard to mess up), so I will let the instructions speak for themselves. One thing to note, though: I chose to poach the chicken because I find it yields the most tender results. To poach a food you cook it at a near simmer. This means that as it cooks, you should see a bit of movement in the water, but no bubbles. If you bubble away your chicken it will not be tender, it will be tough and chewy. Just glance at the pot a few times and make sure it’s not simmering. Easy.

Recipe: Vinaigrette-Dressed Chicken Salad for a Crowd
Serves roughly 18

8 to 10 chicken breast, cooked and chopped
2 1/2 c. jarred roasted red peppers, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 c. thinly sliced red onion
1 c. finely chopped fresh parsley
1 c. slivered almonds, toasted

For Vinaigrette
1 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. champagne vinegar
1/4 c. dijon mustard
1/4 c. honey
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add chicken breasts and when water comes back to a boil, reduce to medium. Keep the water at a near boil for about 10 minutes.
2. Remove chicken from pot and let cool. Chop into bite sized pieces.
3. Place chicken in large mixing bowl and add peppers, onion, parsley, and almonds.
4. To make vinaigrette, whisk olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, mayonnaise and salt and pepper.
5. Pour over salad mixture and toss to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve, up to several hours.
6. Serve over greens or as a sandwich.

Per serving, accounting for 18 servings: 288 calories, 17.3 fat grams, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 269 milligrams sodium, 320 milligrams potassium, 8.3 grams carbs, 1.4 grams dietary fiber, 5.8 grams sugar, 26.3 grams protein.


Becca Boyd is a wife and mom who creates healthy and delicious recipes in her West Chester kitchen. She blogs about them on her website, Home Beccanomics.

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