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Curried Chicken Salad is loaded with tender chunks of chicken, sweet apples and raisins, crispy celery, and crunchy cashews in an easy, creamy sauce. Pile it on lettuce, stuff it into your favorite croissant, or wrap it up for a tasty, flavorful lunch or light dinner!

We live for cold salads in the summer and this curried chicken salad does not disappoint! Be sure to check out some of our other favorites like BLT Pasta Salad, Tex-Mex Doritos Taco Salad, and Grilled Corn Summer Salad.

An aerial view of a bowl filled with curred chicken salad in a bed of lettuce

Curried Chicken Salad Recipe

This curried chicken salad is a bold twist on our best chicken salad recipe that I make with grapes and almonds. While that version is a classic, this curried chicken salad variation has a few simple changes that have a big impact on the flavor that we also love. It’s hard to say which is our favorite!

This one is slightly sweet and savory, without being spicy, so it’s a great way to expose kids to different flavors!

Trader Joes, Pioneer Woman, and Ina Garten all have versions of this classic salad recipe that saw huge popularity in the 1980’s, then sort of disappeared for a while and recently has been making a comeback at specialty sandwich shops.

A side view of a bowl filled with chicken salad and lettuce

If you already have cooked chicken on hand, this recipe takes all of about 15 minutes to throw together and makes a fantastic dinner or lunch that can be packed ahead for meal prep purposes. It’s also a great way to use a rotisserie chicken or leftover grilled chicken breasts from a previous meal.

Ingredients in curried chicken salad

All of the ingredients needed to make curried chicken salad in small bowls and containers.
  • Cooked chicken: This is a great recipe for using leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken from the store. But if you need to cook chicken breasts specifically for this recipe, I recommend roasting them in the oven or poaching them on the stovetop.
  • Celery: Finely diced celery adds a good crunch and bright, clean flavor to this salad that lightens it up.
  • Apple: Chopped apple adds a wonderful fruity element and crunch that goes so well in chicken salad.
  • Raisins: The little bit of chewiness and burst of sweetness from the raisins is fantastic. Golden raisins or dried cranberries would work well too. Or just leave them out altogether if you hate raisins!
  • Roasted & salted cashews: Pecans are another good option if you don’t have cashews on hand.
  • Green onions: I love the mild bite of green onions in chicken salad, but diced red onions will work well in their place.
  • Mayo: If you want to make this dish a little healthier, you can replace half or all of the mayo with Greek yogurt.
  • Sour cream
  • Lemon juice
  • Honey
  • Curry powder: If you are hesitant about how strong the curry flavor will be, start with 1-2 teaspoons, then taste and add more until you reach the amount you like. I always use one full tablespoon of curry powder, but have even seen similar recipes with 2-3 tablespoons of curry powder. My personal preference is a middle-of-the-road approach that even my kids love. The curry flavor is strong without overpowering the other elements of the chicken salad.
  • Salt & pepper
a large glass bowl filled with the curried chicken salad ingredients with exception to the sauce

How to make curried chicken salad

  1. Prep all of the ingredients: Cook and chop the chicken into bite-size pieces, slice and chop the apple, celery, and green onion.
  2. Make the dressing: Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, curry powder, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and whisking together.
  1. Make the salad: In a large bowl, combine the chicken, chopped apple, celery, raisins, and cashews. Pour the mayo-curry dressing over the top. Toss everything together until mixed and all of the chicken is coated in the sauce.
  2. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes until ready to serve.
Pouring the curry sauce into the bowl of chicken salad ingredients

Make ahead instructions

This curried chicken salad recipe is great to make for a party because it is so easy to make in advance, is served cold, and holds up well. You can cook the chicken a day or two in advance and assemble the whole salad up to 4-5 days ahead since it keeps that long in the fridge. It’s just as good on day 4 or 5 as it is on the first day.

Freshly tossed together chicken salad in a bowl with a smaller owl of chicken salad and lettuce inside

This salad doesn’t freeze well, unfortunately. The dressing separates and the crunchy ingredients lose their crunch after being frozen and thawed.

Curry chicken salad variations

  • Add some matchstick or grated carrots for extra veggies
  • Add red or green grapes that have been sliced in half. You can use these in addition to the apples or in place of them. Either way, lots of people love chicken salad with the sweet juiciness of grapes.
  • Try curried chicken salad with diced mango for a more tropical flavor!
  • If you don’t like the flavor of celery but still want the crunchy textural element, try using jicama instead!
Several bowls of lettuce bedded chicken salad

Healthy curried chicken salad

If you want to make a healthier version of this recipe, you can use homemade mayo or full-fat plain greek yogurt for all or part of the mayo and sour cream and leave out the honey.

If you serve this on lettuce instead of bread, it’s an easy low-carb, paleo, Whole 30, and Keto recipe.

A close up aerial image of chicken salad in a glass bowl

What to serve with curried chicken salad

Our favorite way to serve this chicken salad is over green leaf or butter lettuce. The flavor and texture of the lettuce is the perfect backdrop for the bold curry flavor of the chicken salad. It also makes this dish naturally gluten-free.

You can also serve curried chicken salad as a sandwich by piling it between your favorite bread or croissants. Or get some flatbread or a tortilla and make a wrap with it!

More cold salad recipes

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Curried Chicken Salad
Yield: 6 servings

Curried Chicken Salad

Curried Chicken Salad is loaded with tender chunks of chicken, sweet apples and raisins, crispy celery, and crunchy cashews in an easy, creamy sauce. Pile it on lettuce, stuff it into your favorite croissant, or wrap it up for a tasty, flavorful lunch or light dinner!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 cups cooked, roughly chopped or shredded chicken)
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon yellow curry powder
  • 1 tart apple, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 3/4 cup roasted, salted cashews
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions

Instructions

  1. Cook and chop the chicken into bite-size pieces, slice and chop the apple, celery, and green onion.
  2. Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, curry powder, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and whisking together.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, chopped apple, celery, raisins, and cashews. Pour the mayo-curry dressing over the top. Toss everything together until mixed and all of the chicken is coated in the sauce.
  4. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes until ready to serve.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 609Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 121mgSodium: 706mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 3gSugar: 32gProtein: 38g

This post first appeared on Savory Experiments, where I am a contributor.