Curry Chicken Salad
This Curry Chicken Salad is perfect when you’re looking for new flavor variations from the classic. It’s great for lunches, picnics, or for keeping on hand in the fridge. It only takes 15 minutes to make!
Chicken salad is so underrated, and I think it’s one of the best foods out there.
Since my son started school this week, I’ve been trying to think of some lunchbox friendly foods to send with him. Something better and a bit more nutritious than a PB&J, you know?
Chicken Salad was one of the first things to come to mind. It’s one of those instances where the meat is pleasant to eat cold, it packs lots of protein and healthy fats (if you use a good quality mayo), and most importantly, it’s quite delicious. It’s good enough to eat on its own, or it can be packed into wraps.
The key to a great Curry Chicken Salad is balancing out the flavors.
Yellow curry powder is relatively mild, but it greatly benefits from the sweetness of raisins, some fresh crunchy apple, crunchy cashews, and the freshness of crisp celery and chopped chives. Each ingredients brings an important role in making the end results delicious and balanced.
Tips for Best Results
Use fresh curry powder – Spices, especially ground spices, tend to lose their flavor rapidly as they sit in the pantry. The general rule of thumb is that they will stay potently fresh for 3 to 6 months after opening. They won’t necessarily be “bad” at that point, but less flavorful. So try to use freshly purchased yellow curry powder here for optimal flavor.
Consider how to cook the chicken – If you want to make things extra easy, you can simply buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, and chop it up. However, my absolute favorite way to cook chicken breasts for chicken salad is to use the slow cooker. It makes for the absolute juiciest, moistest meat ever! See Crockpot Chicken Breast for directions. This is also a great opportunity to use leftover chicken.
Let the chicken salad rest – After you mix everything together, I recommend letting it chill in the fridge for an hour in order for the flavors to meld. This is optional, but it does taste marginally better.
Step by Step Overview:
In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, yellow curry powder, kosher salt, black pepper, and lemon juice in a medium bowl:
The lemon juice might seem slightly unusual, but its brightness balances out the rich mayo and warm spices in the curry powder. It also gives the curry dressing a more buttermilk-like consistency that I find really delicious.
I also recommend using a high quality creamy mayo here. You can buy one that uses a healthy oil, like olive oil, or make your own homemade mayonnaise.
Whisk that to combine, then add cooked chicken breast, chopped apple, raisins, cashews, crunchy celery, and fresh chives:
I use this Crockpot Chicken Breast for the salad. It’s really easy (basically just throw the meat into the slow cooker), and makes for very moist end results.
I like to chop it into cubes, but you may use shredded chicken if you prefer that texture.
Curried chicken salad takes well to quite a few variations, and is easily adapted to any personal preference you have for particular flavors. Here are some swaps that I love.
The apples – I love using apples for this recipe, whether sweeter red varieties or more tart green apple, but you can also swap in grapes for a different type of sweetness.
The chives – I like using chives here because they provide a nice freshness and onion-like flavor, without being too harsh. If you prefer something different, feel free to try fresh chopped cilantro or parsley. You can also try thinly sliced green onions or minced red onion.
The cashews – Cashews are my favorite nut to use here, but almonds and pistachios would also go nicely in this mix.
The dressing – Swap out half the mayonnaise for Greek yogurt, if you enjoy a more tangy flavor.
The raisins – Feel free to use other types of raisins, such as golden raisins. Dried cranberries are great here too.
Stir all of the ingredients together, until evenly coated in the creamy dressing:
Ideally, like with any protein-based salad recipe, you want to let it sit for an hour or two so the flavors can meld, and the raisins can plump, but you are free to eat it right away too.
Keep in mind that the cashews will soften as they sit, so if you prefer a crunchy texture when eating, you can save those until you’re ready to eat, and stir them in at the end.
How to Serve It
This easy curry chicken salad is great for meal prep, or for eating freshly made. Here are my favorite ways to enjoy it.
Make a wrap – Stuff into a storebought tortilla wrap or butter lettuce wrap and pack for lunch or a picnic.
In a croissant – Of all the breads you can use to make a sandwich with this, I happen to think a croissant is the best. It holds the chicken mixture well and has a soft and buttery quality to it that’s perfect here.
In a pita – Another great option that holds the filling well. Add romaine lettuce or whatever other fillings you’d like.
In wonton cups – These are an unexpected but delicious vessel. See how I did it in my Crispy Green Curry Chicken Wonton Bites post.
Recipe FAQ and Tips
Keep in an airtight container or a bowl tightly covered in plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 5 days. Know that the fresh flavor starts to go downhill on day 3, but it will still be safe to eat.
The raw ingredients like the celery and apple won’t freeze well, so it’s not recommended.
Absolutely, and it is better when made ahead! For peak flavor, do not make it more than 2 days ahead of time.
Curry Chicken Salad
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tbsp yellow curry powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cooked crockpot chicken breasts cut into bite-size chunks*
- 1 tart apple peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces**
- 2/3 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup roasted salted cashews
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup sliced chives
- In a large bowl, whisk to combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, curry powder, salt, and pepper. It should have a relatively thin texture, like buttermilk.
- Add the chicken breast, chopped apple, celery, cashews, raisins, and chives. Stir well to coat.
- Ideally, refrigerate the salad for an hour or two before serving, so the flavors can meld and the raisins can plump. Then enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.