Easy Classic Chicken Salad Recipe (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

gluten free chicken salad recipe

Confession time. I’m absolutely obsessed with chicken salad. This seemingly simple dish holds a special place in my heart (and stomach!).

This blog is my love letter to all things chicken salad. 

Nothing beats a classic chicken salad. There’s something so comforting about it, whether it’s prepared as chicken salad sandwiches or just eaten by the spoonful. And yes, I do that!

Today, I’m chatting about the essential ingredients of chicken salad and all of the variations of this classic dish.

So, grab a fork, pull up a chair, and let’s get clucking (okay, maybe not literally) about the wonderful world of chicken salad!

What You Need To Make The Chicken Salad

​Chicken salad is a straightforward recipe. You can whip up a chicken salad with just a few simple ingredients in no time. Here’s what I got at the grocery store.

gluten free chicken salad recipe-chicken

COOKED CHICKEN

The star of the show! I typically use cooked, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but you can also use chicken thighs. I’ve also used leftover roasted chicken, poached chicken, and baked chicken. For a quick and easy option, today I used store-bought rotisserie chicken.

MAYO

Mayonnaise is the traditional binder for chicken salad. It provides both creaminess and richness. Not a fan of mayo? See my FAQs for substitutions. 

celery

CELERY 

Gotta love the crunch! Crisp celery is a classic choice for adding crunch and freshness to your chicken salad.

Grapes

GRAPES 

Seedless green grapes or red grapes add a touch of sweetness.  I picked up some red grapes for the color.

CHOPPED NUTS

Toasted pecans are my favorite option for chicken salad, but I also like using toasted almonds or walnuts. I bought walnuts for this recipe.

GREEN ONION/SCALLIONS

I prefer green onion over red onion as green onions are milder and add a subtle oniony flavor. 

FRESH HERBS

Depending on the season, I like using fresh dill, tarragon, or parsley.

SEASONING

Get some Kosher salt and black pepper. Both are essential for overall flavor.

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Chicken Salad FAQs

Is chicken salad gluten-free? 

While the main ingredients are gluten-free, the recipe will always depend on this. Be cautious of potential gluten sources like breadcrumbs, chicken broth containing flavored vinegar (like malt vinegar), or commercial mayonnaise (some thickeners contain gluten). 

Is chicken salad dairy-free? 

Most chicken salad recipes will be dairy-free. Although it is a common misconception, traditional mayo does not contain dairy.

 Always double-check the ingredient label on your store-bought mayo to ensure it contains no milk products. 

A chicken salad recipe will not be dairy-free if it contains sour cream or Greek yogurt as a binder. 

What can I use instead of mayo? 

Switch up your traditional chicken salad recipe with Greek yogurt, a little dijon mustard, and a squeeze of lemon instead of mayo. Other binder options include avocado oil, hummus, and pesto

What other seasonings can I use? J

azz up your chicken salad with garlic powder, sesame seeds, and crunchy veggies, 

Can I freeze chicken salad? 

I do not recommend freezing chicken salad. Traditional mayonnaise-based chicken salad could be better for freezing.

Is chicken salad healthy? 

It can be! Choose lean protein (chicken breast) and healthy fats (avocado or olive oil) in the dressing. Limit added sugars and processed ingredients.

What cut of chicken is best for chicken salad? 

Cooked, shredded chicken breast is a classic choice. For convenience, you can also use rotisserie chicken.

Can I use leftover chicken for chicken salad? 

Absolutely! Leftover chicken is perfect for this dish.

How long does chicken salad stay good in the fridge? 

Homemade chicken salad typically lasts 3-4 days in the refrigerator when stored in an airtight container.

What kitchen essentials do I need for chicken salad? 

All you need is a large mixing bowl, a fork, and a spoon. Pro tip: Use a food processor to shred your chicken breasts.

How can I meal prep with chicken salad? 

Great question! I pair a classic sandwich with fresh fruit and a bag of potato chips for on-the-go lunches. Such an easy meal!

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Different Ways to Enjoy Chicken Salad

As a Sandwich

I often eat chicken salad as a regular sandwich, but I also love mixing it up with croissants, everything bagels, and rolls. I love adding lettuce, sliced onion, and tomato. So good! If you’re gluten-free, Dave’s Killer Bread is my favorite gluten-free bread.

Scooped over Greens

Carb conscious? Turn your chicken salad into another salad! Spring mix is my top choice for leafy greens, but arugula and spinach work well too.

Rolled into a Wrap

Wrap it all up in a sandwich wrap or tortilla. This is a great on-the-go option.

Pop it into a Pita

I almost always ate my tuna and chicken salad in a toasted pita pocket as a kid.

Spooned into Lettuce Cups

Spoon chicken salad into lettuce cups for another low carb, gluten-free option. Bibb lettuce and butter lettuce are my favorites, but you can also use romaine lettuce too.

With Crackers

One of my favorite ways to enjoy chicken salad is with a handful of crackers. 

Classic choices include Ritz crackers and Club crackers. For extra flavor and texture, try Triscuit whole grain crackers. Gluten-free? Crunchmaster makes a delicious multi-seed cracker. 

Chicken Salad Variations

Chicken Salad is incredibly versatile! Depending on food allergies and preferences, there are so many ways to make it. Here are some popular variations:

Waldorf Salad

Add chopped apples, walnuts, and dried cranberries for a sweet and savory twist.

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Mix in hot sauce, blue cheese crumbles, and crunchy celery for a spicy twist.

Curry Chicken Salad

Use curry powder or paste in the dressing for a flavorful Indian-inspired twist.

Mediterranean Chicken Salad

Add sun-dried tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, and a vinaigrette dressing.

Fruity Chicken Salad

Swap grapes for other fruits like diced mango, pineapple, or mandarin oranges.

Chinese Chicken Salad

Mix in shredded Napa cabbage, julienned carrots, chopped green onions, and sliced red bell pepper. 

My Delicious Chicken Salad Recipe

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for! Let me introduce you to the best chicken salad. 

With juicy grapes, crunchy celery, and toasted nuts, it’s the perfect combination of flavors. 

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gluten free chicken salad recipe

Easy Classic Chicken Salad Recipe (Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free)


  • Author: Christina Orso

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (breast or thigh, rotisserie chicken works well)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (adjust to your desired creaminess)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup halved red or green seedless grapes 
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans, almonds, or walnuts
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (dill, tarragon, or parsley)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Prep the Chicken: In a large bowl, shred or chop the cooked chicken. Alternatively, use a food process to shred the chicken.
  2. Combine the Veggies: Add the chopped celery, grapes, chopped nuts, and green onions to the chicken.
  3. Dressing Time: Add the mayonnaise, fresh herbs, salt, and black pepper to the bowl.
  4. Mix and Enjoy! Gently toss all ingredients together until well combined. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

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