This delicious and nutritious California Chicken Salad Recipe is packed with flavors and healthy ingredients that will keep you full and satisfied all day long.
This gluten-free, healthy NO MAYO salad is loaded with fresh flavors from celery, red grapes, green apples, onions and toasted pecans, along with a creamy dressing comes together in less than 15 minutes. Serve it on a salad, in a sandwich, in a croissant, in a lettuce leaf, or a pasta.
Reasons to Love this Recipe?
- Very quick and easy; it comes together in less than 15 minutes.
- A delicious meal and perfect for meal prep for lunch or dinner.
- Also, it is a healthy salad because it doesn’t contain mayo.
- An excellent option for parties.
Is California Chicken Salad Healthy?
This best California chicken salad is not only delicious and easy to make, but it is also packed with health benefits. Unlike classic chicken salad that use mayonnaise in the dressing, my recipe uses a homemade honey-based dressing with Greek yogurt that is both healthy and flavorful. Here are some health benefits of this California chicken salad without mayo.
- High in Protein: The chicken in the salad is an excellent source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues in the body. (1)
- High in Fiber: it also contains various high-fiber ingredients like celery, red grapes, and pecans. High-fiber diets have been linked to lower blood cholesterol levels and improved digestive health.
- Low in Calories: This California chicken salad is an excellent choice for those watching their calorie intake. It is low in calories yet high in nutrients, making it the perfect lunch or dinner choice for those looking to maintain a healthy weight.
What is California Chicken Salad?
California Chicken Salad is a classic whole foods Sonoma chicken salad recipe. It is made with shredded chicken breast, red grapes, celery, and pecans with a creamy mayonnaise and poppy seed dressing. In my copycat recipe, I used Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise to make it healthier and more nutritious!
California Chicken Salad Recipe Ingredients
This chicken salad is timeless and easy to make in less than 15 minutes, with few simple ingredients.
- Cooked chicken– use any leftovers of rotisserie chicken or grilled chicken. If you don’t have any pre-cooked, you can poach, grill, or pan-sear chicken breasts or thighs.
- Celery and red onion – add a fresh flavor and crunchy texture to the salad.
- Grapes– Seedless red grapes give sweetness to the salad.
- Green apple – gives the salad an extra crunchy and tangy taste.
- Pecans – toasted pecans adds an extra crunchy flavor to the salad.
- Plain Greek yogurt– As this recipe is without mayo, I like using non-fat Greek yogurt.
- Dijon mustard – adds a tangy taste
- Honey – substitute with maple syrup if you like.
- Garlic – one clove of minced garlic.
- Apple cider vinegar – to balance the dressing.
- Poppyseeds – A great addition, as it adds a slightly nutty flavor.
- If you don’t have any leftover chicken, don’t worry! Just poach a skinless breast for an hour using simple ingredients; toss the skinless chicken breasts, bay leaves, cardamom pods, onion, salt, and black pepper into a large pot filled with water and cook for about an hour until the chicken is tender. Leave it to cool down to room temperature then shred or dice it before adding it to the salad!
- Add pecans raw without toasting and replace pecans with almonds or walnuts.
- Substitute the red onions with green onions.
- Fresh herbs always make a difference (cilantro, parsley, or dill).
- Instead of using apple cider vinegar, use lemon juice or white vinegar.
How to make the Best California Salad:
** Scroll down to see the full ingredients and video in the recipe card!
Step one – Prepare the chicken. Shred or chop the chicken into small pieces in a large bowl. You can shred the chicken using your hands, a knife or a stand mixer until you get finely shredded chicken.
Step two – Toast the pecan. In a large skillet, lightly toast the pecans over medium heat for 4-5 minutes; stir so they don’t burn. Set aside and let cool completely. Chop them using a knife.
Step three – Dice: Finely dice the celery stalks, green apples, and red onions. Cut the red grapes into halves. Add to the chicken.
Step four – Prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, combine Greek yogurt, honey, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, poppy seeds, minced garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper. Mix and set aside.
Step five – Combine. Finally, pour dressing over the salad and toss to coat thoroughly. serve immediately and enjoy!
- According to the FDA, don’t leave the chicken salad at room temperature for more than 2 hours because it contains yogurt!
- For the best results, serve the salad cold. Also, it will taste better the next day!
- If you plan for meal prepping, don’t add the onions, because they will get watery.
How to Serve this California Chicken Salad Recipe?
Sandwich: Add the salad to a bagel, croissant, Whole Wheat, or White Pita Bread. Or wrap it in lettuce wraps for a lighter low-carb option.
· Salad: My favorite way is place the salad on a bed of Greens and avocado slices!
· Pasta: Whole Wheat or Regular pasta. Check out my post discussing the difference between whole wheat and regular pasta here.
· Serve it on its own or as a dip with crackers.
Can you make this Recipe Dairy-Free?
Absolutely! Use dairy-free yogurt as unsweetened coconut yogurt instead of Greek yogurt.
Storing and freezing
Storing: Store the leftover California chicken salad in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container.
Freezing: I don’t recommend freezing this salad as the dressing won’t hold up!
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