A lightened-up curry chicken salad made with Greek yogurt and avocado mayonnaise. Free of unhealthy, overly processed, refined oils.
WHAT MAKES GREAT CHICKEN SALAD?
In my opinion, there are 3 crucial elements to delicious chicken salad:
- Properly cooked chicken
- High quality mayonnaise free of any unhealthy, overly processed, refined oils, and
- An ingredient with “crunch”
This Healthy Curry Chicken Salad delivers on all three of these essential elements of great chicken salad and adds a healthy twist by using half mayonnaise and half Greek yogurt for the dressing base. This is a basic, foolproof, chicken salad recipe that you can customize to your liking by varying the herbs, spices, nuts, and dried fruit/berries. (See the last paragraph of this post for suggestions.)
HOW TO COOK CHICKEN FOR CHICKEN SALAD
There are so many ways to cook chicken for chicken salad. Many people like to poach boneless, skinless chicken breasts for chicken salad but I think this method results in dull, flavorless meat. Another popular option is to buy a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. This is a great time saver, but I’ve steered clear of grocery store rotisserie chickens ever since I learned that these birds are often old, almost expired chickens taken from the meat case just a day or two before they’re about to go bad, and then roasted in the store’s rotisserie oven. (This explains why they’re so cheap! They’re also super high in sodium.) I’m sure that most of these chickens are perfect safe to eat, but I was so turned off when I learned this that I never purchased a rotisserie chicken again! By far, the best method to cook chicken for chicken salad is this one:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Place 3 bone-in, skin-on, chicken breasts (about 4 pounds total) on a baking sheet. Brush them all over with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and sprinkle on 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.
- Roast in the bottom third of the oven for 35-40 minutes.
- Remove from oven and immediately cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil.
- Let the chicken rest like this for at least 1 hour, and up to 3 hours, before removing the skin and bones, and cutting/shredding the meat into bite size pieces.
You’ll end up with around 2½ pounds of succulent, flavorful chicken meat that’s easy to shred – enough to make about two batches of Healthy Curry Chicken Salad. (Make one batch and freeze the remaining chicken to make another batch at a later date.)
USE HIGH QUALITY MAYONNAISE
Please use high quality mayonnaise when you make Healthy Curry Chicken Salad or chicken salad of any type, for that matter. Most people don’t think of mayonnaise as a “processed food”, but the oil in almost all store-bought mayonnaise is made using a highly intensive refining process whereby chemicals are used to extract the oil from various seeds. Cheap, factory refined oils such as canola oil, soybean oil, and, sunflower oil (all used widely in the production of mayonnaise) are thought to cause widespread inflammation in the body and have been linked to diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Many mayonnaise manufacturers have started using “expeller pressed” and “organic” varieties of these oils and those are better, but still not as healthy as my favorite oil for mayonnaise – avocado oil. It’s easy to make your own avocado mayonnaise with an immersion blender or food processor. (You can even make it by hand, without those appliances. Check out this video tutorial.) If you don’t have time to make your own mayonnaise, or prefer store-bought, you’re in luck because within the past few years, avocado oil mayonnaise has been appearing on grocery store shelves. Here are my three favorite brands – ones I highly recommend:
- Primal Kitchen
- Chosen Foods
- Sir Kensington
There are no refined oils in any of these products – just super clean ingredients.
AN INGREDIENT WITH CRUNCH
Good chicken salad should be cool and creamy, but to balance out all that velvety texture you need an ingredient with some serious crunch. Celery is what I use when I make Healthy Curry Chicken Salad, however, there are other ingredients you can substitute for that “crunch” factor such as:
- Diced apple pieces
- Water chestnuts
- Diced bell peppers
- Minced or grated carrots
- Cracker pieces (add them just prior to serving so they don’t get soggy)
WAYS TO CUSTOMIZE THIS RECIPE
It’s easy to modify this recipe by switching up some of the ingredients. Keep the proportions of chicken, avocado mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, and salt and pepper the same but try making substitutions for the other ingredients to create you own custom chicken salad recipe. Suggestions for celery substitutions are listed above and here are some more suggestions to help you further customize this recipe. (Note that the ingredient measurements given in the recipe won’t match exactly, or be appropriate, for some of these substitutions so adapt how much you use of each to suit your taste preference.)
Instead of curry powder use: Italian seasoning, Cajun seasoning, or poultry seasoning
Instead of fresh parsley use fresh: basil, cilantro, or tarragon
Instead of honey use: maple syrup, date syrup, or agave nectar
Instead of dried cranberries use: grapes, apricots, or dried cherries
Instead of walnuts use: almonds, pecans, or hazlenuts
Instead of scallions use: chives, red onion, or yellow onion
Instead of lemon juice use: lime juice, orange juice, or apple juice
For more chicken salad recipes check out: Carrot Chicken Salad Wraps, Dill Pickle Chopped Chicken Salad, and Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad.
If you make Healthy Curry Chicken Salad, don’t forget to snap a pic and tag me over on Instagram @QueenofMyKitchen. I’d love to see your creation!
Healthy Curry Chicken Salad
- 5 cups (19 ounces) cooked, shredded chicken
- 2 large celery stalks, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- 2 medium scallions, white and light green parts, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup (4 ounces) dried cranberries or raisins
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup avocado mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup unsweetened, full-fat, Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Place the chicken, celery, parsley, scallions, cranberries, and walnuts in a large bowl.
- Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over the chicken mixture.
- Stir until all the ingredients are well combined.
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