Chicken Salad for Sandwiches

Nothin' like a good chicken salad sandwich from a deli or sandwich shop. So why then don't we make chicken salad sandwiches at home more often? I've been working on this recipe for a couple of years and finally nailed it. The first trick is texture, a two-step process with a food processor. After that, it's simple to stir in some pantry ingredients to create a moist, super-flavorful chicken salad that holds together in sandwiches. It's handy to have on hand for quick lunches and sandwiches, especially over a busy week or weekend and when expecting a houseful.

Chicken Salad for Sandwiches ♥, simple, fresh, useful. WW Friendly. High Protein.

Real Food, Fresh & Fast. Year-Round Kitchen Staple. Budget Friendly. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Great for Meal Prep. Great for Gifts. Handy with Houseguests. Low Carb. High Protein. Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free.

How to Make Chicken Salad Especially for Sandwiches.

There are chicken salads. Asian. Mexican. One with mango and another with chickpeas. Even one all dressed up for Christmas. But there the emphasis is on salad, wonderful supper salads but definitely not sandwich material.

Chicken salad for sandwiches is its own special thing. It's simpler. It's meatier. It's not even really salad, is it?!

Why is it that we call chicken salad, tuna salad, egg salad, ham salad and other meat salads salad anyway? #SMH #ShakingMyHead.

Now a broccoli-salad like Broccoli Tapenade for wraps, pitas, sandwiches and crackers. That makes way more sense.

Chicken Salad for Sandwiches ♥, simple, fresh, useful. WW Friendly. High Protein.

What's In This Special Sandwich Chicken Salad? Pantry Ingredients!

In all my recipes and most well-written recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. It's not that an ingredient can't be substituted by something else but when choosing the substitute, it's important to understand why the original ingredient was present in the first place.

  • Chicken Pretty white breast meat works best but it's okay to work in some dark meat as well. True confession, rotisserie chicken is my choice for making chicken salad, every time.

  • Plants! Green pepper and fresh parsley are my choices but other colored bell peppers would work fine, as would other herbs. These add both moisture and a green, vegetal contrast to the rich-flavored chicken and sauce.

  • Mayonnaise We're big fans of the American South's classic Duke mayonnaise.

  • "Acids" So many dishes just taste better with the addition of a little acidity. Here, I use three, a spoonful of mustard plus small splashes of white wine vinegar and dill pickle juice. I actually keep a squeeze bottle of leftover dill pickle juice in the fridge door. (Remember the weeknight easy Easy Skillet Stroganoff (Beef or Chicken)? More pickle juice!)

  • Seasoning I use equal measures of celery salt, dried dill and dried parsley. No celery salt? Substitute celery seed and add salt to taste. Or other savory dried herbs. Or skip them entirely.

  • That's it. Really!
Soft Sandwich Rolls (NOLA-Style French Rolls) ♥, soft insides with crispy crust perfect for sandwiches of all shapes and sizes, even from the same batch.

The Best Homemade Bread for Sandwiches

Homemade bread is absolutely not required. In fact, even bread isn't required!

Last year, right after my surgery, a niece came over with a basket of goodies and her baby, such sweet distraction. I had chicken salad in the fridge, also ham salad and a third something I don't recall. What I do remember is the triumph of putting salad plates on the table, greens and some finger vegetables plus three small scoops of meat "salads".

But if you are inclined to bread-baking, let me recommend this recipe, my go-to recipe for sandwich rolls. I make smaller rolls for me, larger rolls for my husband, all in the same batch!

Two meat textures for Chicken Salad for Sandwiches ♥, simple, fresh, useful. WW Friendly. High Protein.

How to Make Chicken Salad for Sandwiches.

The detailed recipe is written in traditional recipe form below but here are the highlights. You can do this!

Chop the Chicken in Two Batches This trick was my first breakthrough. Use the food processor's "pulse" action (not the continuous "chop" action) to chop the chicken. But the trick is to do it in two batches. The goal is to end up with half the chicken chopped until it's very fine (but not mush) and the remaining half in small but larger pieces. Nobody's going to say, "Wow, look at the different sizes!" but chopping the meat up separately makes for a texture that just holds together better, stays inside the sandwich, eats easier. I do the "less chopped" half first, just in case I go too far and overchop it. If I do, then there's another chance to get it right.

Chop the "Plants". Move the chicken to a large bowl for mixing, then use the same food processor bowl and the same pulse action to chop the green pepper and parsley (or your similar choices) until fine but not mushy.

Get to Mixin' Stir together the chicken, "plants" and the remaining ingredients. Give it a taste, adjust the seasoning, especially the pickle juice.

Let It Chill Of course, you can eat this homemade Chicken Salad for Sandwiches straight away, it's that good. But it does improve with at least a few hours to chill, allowing the flavors to meld.

Chicken Salad for Sandwiches ♥, simple, fresh, useful. WW Friendly. High Protein.

You Might Wonder Be Wondering ...

  • Can You Use the Meat from a Rotisserie Chicken? Yes! True confession, I haven't roasted a whole chicken in years except for company. Some times, I'll even grab two rotisserie chickens, one for dinner and chicken legs for lunches, the other for Chicken Salad for Sandwiches. Just look at this collection of dinner recipes that start with rotisserie chicken.

  • Do You Really Have to Use a Rotisserie Chicken? No! I also poach chicken breasts in lemon water for tender, moist and flavorful chicken for chicken salad. Just follow this recipe for the poaching technique, Lemon Chive Chicken Salad, cooking about 1-1/2 pounds of uncooked chicken to yield a full pound of cooked chicken.

  • Could You Use Cooked Turkey Instead of Chicken? Yes! Turkey and chicken are easily interchangeable, that makes this a great choice for after-Thanksgiving turkey salad sandwiches, yes?!

  • Can You Add Onion? Yes, of Course. But please don't. Onion has no place in chicken salad! Yes, I have strong views on this. :-) It's just too strong, too strident. But can you top a sandwich with a few strands of Spiced Pickled Red Onions? You bet!

  • Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

What Makes This Recipe Special

  • Perfectly spreadable, just the right texture for sandwiches
  • Light on mayo, big on flavor
  • Makes up in minutes, easy to keep on hand for quick sandwiches and salads
  • No nuts, no fruit, no spices to cover up the chicken flavors

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How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe for Chicken Salad hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

Chicken Salad for Sandwiches ♥, simple, fresh, useful. WW Friendly. High Protein.


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time-to-table: 15 minutes but even better after 4 hours in the fridge
Makes 3-1/2 cups

I've written the recipe for a pound of chicken meat. If you have a little more or little less, just scale the other ingredients accordingly.
  • 1 pound (454g) cooked chicken, roughly chopped, separated into two piles
  • 1 large green pepper, roughly chopped, about 1-1/4 cup (150g)
  • 2 tablespoons (3g) fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, dill, tarragon, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup (112g) mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dill pickle juice + more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) mustard (Dijon is good, other mustards would be too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt, optional but good
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill, ditto
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley, ditto
  • Additional seasoning to taste, especially dill pickle juice

FOOD PROCESSOR To avoid overprocessing the the chicken, process in two batches and use the pulse action, not the continuous chop. For the first batch, pulse about 10 times to roughly chop the meat, watching carefully to avoid chopping too small; move this to a mixing bowl. For the second batch, pulse about 20 times to chop the meat more finely but without going to mush; move this to the mixing bowl too.

At the same time, pulse the green pepper and fresh herbs until fine; move to the mixing bowl.

MIXING BOWL Stir in the remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Check the texture of the chicken mixture for consistency. Would another squirt of extra pickle juice add moisture to make it easier to spread?

THAT's IT! Start makin' some sandwiches or better yet, let the Chicken Salad refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS Definitely make a batch to keep in the fridge for impromptu sandwiches and quick protein-rich snacks.

LEFTOVERS keep for several days.

ALANNA's TIPS To our taste, breast meat works best for Chicken Salad for Sandwiches but some dark meat won't hurt anything, say, up to about 1/4 pound. Green pepper's slight bitterness seems especially suited to chicken salad. Besides, green peppers are quite a bit cheaper! But if you only have red bell peppers, go for it. Not into dill pickles? Caper juice works really well too. Use your favorite mayonnaise. Here, for years and years, that meant Hellmann's, either the full-fat or low-fat but never-ever-ever the non-fat. Now we are 100% a Duke's mayonnaise household, that's the mayo that's only been available in the American South until the last couple of years. it's richer and cleaner-tasting and I find it both at my usual big supermarket and also at Walmart. I go back 'n' forth between the full-fat Duke's and the low-fat Duke's, both work for me though I do prefer (ugh, naturally) the full-fat version. I really love the subtle nuance that small amounts of celery salt, dried dill and dried parsley bring. I also realize that not everybody keeps these on hand. Two ideas. Substitute other savory-type dried herbs that you do have. Or just leave them out, I've tested this and nobody will complain, not even me. :-)
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per 1/4 cup: 116 Calories; 8g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 33mg Cholesterol; 80mg Sodium; 1g Carb; 0g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 10g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 3 & PointsPlus 3 & SmartPoints 3 & Freestyle 2 & myWW green 3 & blue 2 & purple 2

Rotisserie Chicken = Dinner, Fast

~ rotisserie chicken recipes ~
My Chicken Noodle Soup ♥, meaty and noodle-y with a special technique to plump up just a few noodles. Low Carb. High Protein.
  • THE RECIPE My Chicken Noodle Soup The way I make it, meaty and noodle-y with just a few noodles.
  • ANOTHER TAKE Hamburger Soup A hearty soup with chunks of meat and a cornucopia of bright-colored vegetables.

Greek Chicken Dagwood Sandwiches ♥, easy summer sandwiches with rotisserie chicken, a cucumber and feta tzatziki, roasted pepper, more feta, fresh arugula, summer tomato.

Easy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas ♥, a quick-quick way to get a green chile fix without spending hours in the kitchen.

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ chicken recipes ~
~ bell pepper recipes ~
~ mayonnaise ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.