Curried chicken salad with apples, celery, raisins, and almonds, lightly dressed with a yogurt and curry dressing, is welcome at almost any meal or gathering.
Why you’ll love it: This popular recipe is always a hit and it’s easy to make.
How long it takes: 25 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: large bowl, measuring utensils
Curried chicken salad is kind of a classic, isn’t it? I like to look at vintage cookbooks from the 1950s era and I almost always see a recipe for curried chicken salad. Yet, if you look online today, you’ll still find plenty of recipes for this favorite salad so it’s not entirely a dish from the past.
Wonder why curried chicken salad recipes have such staying power? If you haven’t tried this salad yet, you’ll find that it’s flavorful and easy to make. The curry powder gives it that extra special flavor that carries the salad beyond mundane and into the realm of Wow! You’ll see why curried chicken salads have stuck around all these years.
Curry chicken salad is an easy main dish salad to make. It makes a great lunch or dinner – serve it on a bed of greens or on a croissant. I love piling it into tomato cups: hollow out a large tomato and pile in the the curried chicken salad. It stands on its own, too; you really don’t need to add anything. Serve it as an appetizer in mini-phyllo cups.
Curried chicken salad is perfect for a special luncheon, too, like a bridal or baby shower. Take a container on your next picnic. I just know you’re going to love this healthy curried chicken salad.
What Is Curry Powder?
Briefly, curry powder is a spice blend and there are lots of variations. Most include turmeric, fenugreek, chili powder, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground ginger, and pepper, but that list is far from complete. You can make your own blend, too. You’ll find curry powder in mild, medium, or hot strengths. Often the mild version is called sweet curry. Curry is popular in many different cuisines (think Thai) but it doesn’t look the same for each. Experiment with different blends and find the one you like best!
About This Recipe
Even though curried chicken salad has kind of an exotic flavor due to the curry powder, you won’t need exotic ingredients to make it. You won’t have to search the grocery store to find what you’ll need and you may already have most of the ingredients in your pantry and refrigerator.
About the chicken: I always have roasted chicken breast in the fridge or freezer so that’s what I usually use for this salad. Rotisserie chicken is delicious, too, or poach a couple of fresh or frozen chicken breasts.
Skinny up the dressing by replacing some of the mayonnaise with fat free Greek yogurt. I use this method to make most of my creamy dressings and I am so pleased with how they taste. You really won’t taste the difference. Try it in poppy seed dressing or homemade ranch dressing and see what you think.
What You’ll Need
- Cooked Chicken: Make it ahead or use rotisserie chicken. The chicken should be cold before you add the dressing and other ingredients. You’ll need about 3 cups.
- Celery: Adds a nice crunch and good flavor to the salad.
- Green Onions (Scallions): Use green onions for a milder onion flavor. If you love onions, feel free to substitute chopped red onions or sweet onions. Soak them in a bit of ice water before adding them to the salad to tone down the sharp flavor.
- Apple: Any type of crisp apple works fine.
- Raisins: Regular or golden raisins add chewy texture and sweetness. Dried cranberries or apricots are good, too.
- Greek Yogurt (Plain): Yogurt forms the base of the dressing. I usually use non-fat but other varieties are fine, too. Just be sure to buy plain unflavored yogurt.
- Mayonnaise: Use whatever mayonnaise you like best. I often buy the olive oil mayonnaise. You’ll only use 1/4 cup.
- Curry Powder: A blend of spices, curry powder gives this salad so much flavor! You’ll need a tablespoon of curry powder. Use your favorite kind , whether it’s hot or sweet.
- Lemon Juice: Just a touch of acidity keeps the salad from tasting flat. If you don’t have lemon juice, substitute white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
- Honey: Add a few drops of honey to round out the flavor of the dressing. You could substitute a bit of maple syrup or white sugar.
- Salt & Pepper: Season the dressing to taste.
How To Make This Recipe
It’s really very easy. Stir up the dressing in a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients, and stir well until everything is coated with dressing. The good part is you’ll only have one bowl to wash, along with a few measuring utensils.
If you have time, put the salad in the refrigerator for an hour or two. You can eat it right away but it’s better if the salad has a chance to let the flavors soak in. As a side benefit, the raisins get a little juicier, too.
Garnish with toasted sliced almonds or cashews. A sprinkle of fresh parsley always looks nice, too.
Enjoy! Make it a special occasion by serving it with a glass of white wine. Riesling or Gewürztraminer would be perfect. A homemade cookie is always a good idea, too. Try a snickerdoodle cookie or an iced oatmeal cookie.
Make It Your Own
Curried chicken salad is pretty versatile. Use what you have in your pantry to make it just the way you like. Here’s a few suggestions:
- Substitute sliced red or green grapes for the apple, or just add them as additional fruit in the salad. Use golden raisins or currants if that’s what you have.
- Don’t care for scallions? Just leave them out. You could also substitute finely chopped red onion, about a tablespoon or two.
- Like your salads with eggs? Add a couple of chopped hard-boiled eggs.
- Make this salad keto-friendly by using full-fat Greek yogurt and no mayonnaise. Omit the honey, if desired.
- Don’t have Greek yogurt? You can substitute all mayo if you like, or use regular yogurt. The dressing will have a thinner consistency if you use regular yogurt but it works just fine. I’ve done that plenty of times.
- We have nut allergies in our house but this salad is fantastic with toasted sliced almonds or cashews stirred in.
Curried chicken salad keeps well in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Stir well before serving.
Curried chicken salad is a good lunchbox idea. Divide it into individual serving size containers and refrigerate. Pop one in your lunch bag and you can look forward to a great lunch.
More Chicken Salads
Looking for more main dish chicken salads? Like this curried chicken salad, they can be made ahead and are ready when you are. Try:
- Dill chicken salad
- Southwestern BBQ chicken salad (best chopped salad!)
- Avocado chicken salad – you’ll love the creamy avocado dressing with no mayo!
- Chicken salad with walnuts and grapes
- Turkey salad – Just in case you have leftover turkey instead of chicken!
- Southwest chicken salad
- Southwest quinoa bowl with chicken
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded or chopped (about 3 cups shredded chicken)
- 1 cup diced celery (about 3 stalks)
- 1 cup diced apples (about 1 apple)
- ½ cup chopped scallions (about 3 scallions)
- ¼ cup raisins
- ½ cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted (optional)
- Bread, croissants, lettuce, or crackers for serving
- In a large bowl, mix together Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, curry powder, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine.
- Add chicken, celery, apples, scallions, raisins and stir well to coat all ingredients with dressing.
- Can be eaten immediately, but for best flavor and texture, refrigerate for at least one hour. If adding nuts, stir in immediately prior to serving or sprinkle on top of each serving.
- Store leftovers in a covered container for 2 to 3 days.
- Use whatever type of yogurt you prefer: nonfat, 2%, or full fat Greek yogurt, or regular plain yogurt. Nutrition information is calculated using nonfat Greek yogurt.
- Nutrition information is for chicken salad with almonds and does not include bread.
- This is a lightly dressed chicken salad. If you prefer a more heavily dressed chicken salad, you may wish to double the dressing ingredients.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.