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At our house, my healthy chicken salad goes hand in hand with my go-to chicken broth recipe, which I posted last week. After I cook the broth, I’m left with a whole cooked chicken, too. For me, it’s the perfect start to a delicious, healthy chicken salad.
My daughter has taken a liking to Chicken Salad Chick, the fast casual restaurant out of Alabama, now popping up around Houston. She likes the “Classic Carol” variety and says that my homemade chicken salad and Chicken Salad Chick are tied for first place. Hey, I’ll take it!
Honestly, though, I think I win, because my chicken salad recipe is really, truly healthy! You won’t find a healthier one anywhere. And it’s delicious! So what do I put in it? Not much! But the individual ingredients do matter…especially the mayonnaise.
My healthy chicken salad ingredients
I start with a whole, organic chicken, boiled 3+ hours, yielding a whole boiled chicken (plus 12-16 cups of broth). Of course, if you have chicken already cooked in any other form, you can use that also. But I suspect the cooking method is part of what makes the flavor and texture so good.
To the chicken, I add one to two apples (tart varieties like Pink Lady and Honeycrisp are my favorites), sliced and toasted almonds, sea salt, and mayonnaise…but not just any mayonnaise!
Trust me, friends, I have a hard-earned relationship with mayonnaise! A few years ago, when we first changed our diet, we got down to the nitty gritty of eating real food. We didn’t eat anything packaged for probably six months. I learned to make everything from scratch, including…mayonnaise.
The only mayonnaise I buy
One day, I’ll post my homemade mayo recipe for the ambitious among us :). For today, I’ll just rave about my favorite store-bought mayonnaise, which we found a few years ago after many, many, many a homemade batch. (And I’ll tell you what I don’t like about most mayonnaise.)
Most mayonnaise is made of soybean oil, which is often genetically modified and known to cause inflammation. That’s issue number one (and two). Many also add sugar (why must everything have sugar added???) and mystery ingredients, like hard-to-pronounce words and “natural flavors.” (The rules about what counts as “natural flavors” are pretty loose, friends. Yuck.)
If you are trying to eat clean, most mayonnaise just won’t cut the mustard. (See what I did there?)
Now for the mayonnaise I DO recommend, with accolades: Primal Kitchen Mayo. I seriously love this stuff.
Primal Kitchen Mayo is made with avocado oil. It is Paleo- and Keto-approved and free of sugar, with a clean and recognizable list of ingredients: avocado oil, organic eggs, organic egg yolks, organic vinegar, sea salt, and organic rosemary extract. That’s it. And the taste and texture are spot on.
I have always been a mayonnaise lover, and I love Primal Kitchen Mayo! It is a true staple in my kitchen.
If I could wish for one thing to be different about making my healthy chicken salad, it would be that I didn’t have to debone the chicken. Sigh. That’s my least favorite part.
When I started writing this post, I realized that I’ve developed something of a spiritual practice around deboning the chicken that I hadn’t thought about consciously until now. If you’ve read the wonderful book, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo, you likely remember her advice to hold each item before choosing whether or not to give it away, and if you do give it away, to thank it for its contribution to your life. As I do the unsavory work of deboning, I express gratitude to the chicken for feeding my family. And I really mean it.
Chicken salad is a great, versatile meal. You can eat it for lunch or dinner, by itself, with a green salad or a fruit salad, or with a half avocado (my preferred method). I hope you’ll enjoy my healthy chicken salad recipe!
Ann’s healthy chicken salad recipe
- 1 Whole cooked chicken
- 1-2 Apples, depending on size pref. Pink Lady or Honeycrisp
- 1/4 cup Sliced almonds
- 12 oz Primal Kitchen mayonnaise (1 jar)
- Himalayan sea salt, to taste
- Debone the chicken and cut or shred into bite-sized pieces. (You might want to start toasting the almonds, below, while you debone the chicken, as this is the most time-consuming step.) Place chicken into a large bowl.
- Cut 1 large or 2 small apples into 1/2- to 1/4-inch pieces and add to the bowl.
- Toast 1/4 cup of almonds until golden and crisp. Add to the bowl. (Toaster ovens vary, but I generally pop them in mine for 5-7 minutes. It's no fun to burn your almonds, so keep an eye on them!)
- Add 12 ounces of Primal Kitchen mayonnaise and stir thoroughly. You can add more (without the guilt) if you prefer a mayonnaise-heavy chicken salad.
- Finally, add Himalayan sea salt to taste, and enjoy!