Get ready for a lunch that’s anything but boring—easy Curried Chicken Salad makes the perfect sandwich, wrap, or low-carb lunch when served on a big bed of greens. This mild (but delightfully zippy) recipe uses almonds and fresh grapes. The result is just the right balance of crunch and sweetness.
You can make this recipe with leftover Rotisserie Chicken, easy! Serve big platters of Curried Chicken Salad and the Best Tuna Salad side by side at your next get together. Serve with some rolls and lettuce cups—guests can mix and match. For other amazing salads perfect for everything from work to potlucks, take a peek.
If you’ve been paying crazy prices for Curried Chicken Salad at Whole Foods or your local deli, you’ve come to the right place. This classic chicken salad recipe is easy to make. And thankfully, it costs so much less than the stuff at the salad bar.
Curry chicken salad has been popular for decades, and really, what’s not to love? Tender roasted chicken breast tossed with almonds, grapes, and celery in a fragrant turmeric-and-spice-scented mayonnaise dressing...yum. It will probably become your favorite lunch any day of the week. Add or subtract ingredients to make your version exactly the way you like it.
Making Curried Chicken Salad for a crowd? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
Curried Chicken Salad ingredients:
- Chicken. Leftover rotisserie chicken works great in this recipe. If you're making chicken especially for the salad, here's what to do. Roast a few chicken breasts in the oven at 350 degrees and roasted until tender and cooked through. When cool, remove the skin and cut the meat into chunks.
- Grapes. Seedless, please! Red grapes add lovely color, but use green grapes if they look better at the store. Slice them in half so they go father.
- Celery. For amazing crunch. Leave it out if you don’t care for celery.
- Scallions. Add just enough oniony flavor without the bite.
- Slivered almonds. Toasted almonds taste so good in this salad.
- Parsley. Or cilantro.
- Celery seed. Completely optional, but celery seed adds a delicious extra layer of flavor in this salad.
- Curry powder. Mild or a little spicy, Madras curry powder is a blend of spices that give this chicken salad its distinctive taste.
- Mayonnaise. Good quality mayo doesn't always have to be the most expensive. Hellman's or Best Foods is delicious.
- Lemon juice. Or any kind of vinegar: white, champagne, or apple cider vinegar. Ina Garten uses white wine.
Here are some other fun ingredients to add to a chicken salad flavored with curry powder. Add what you think sounds good!
- Shredded carrots.
- Roasted salted cashews.
- Mango chutney. Major Gray’s chutney, sold by the jar in grocery stores, provides sweetness and earthiness to the chicken salad. Some people love it!
- Raisins or currants. Zante currants (little raisins, actually) or golden raisins, especially.
- Craisins. In case you don’t like raisins, use dried cranberries. The little bit of sweetness adds so much to the salad.
- Pineapple. A little bit of finely-chopped pineapple adds sweetness, too.
- Couscous. Tiny Mediterranean pasta, or its larger cousin Israeli couscous, is a natural fit.
What's in curry powder?
Depending on the brand or variety, curry powder can be mild all the way up to spicy. Dip your pinkie finger in the powder and try it, If it's super spicy, add more lemon juice to temper the spice.
Basic yellow curry powder can contain:
- Coriander. (aka cilantro seed)
- Dry mustard.
- Black pepper.
- Cayenne pepper or ground chilies.
How to make Curried Chicken Salad:
You can make this chicken salad up to a day ahead of time. It keeps three to 5 days in the refrigerator. It doesn’t freeze well, however, so eat what you got!
By the way, the photos are here for the visual learners. For specific amounts, scroll down to the recipe below.
- First, make the dressing. Whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, curry powder, celery seed, and salt and pepper.
- Then add the chopped chicken, celery, grapes, scallions, almonds, and parsley. Toss everything together until well combined.
- Next, take a taste. Adjust for seasoning and serve!
How to make Curried Chicken Salad healthy:
Some cooks prefer to make curried chicken salad no mayo, and make the sauce with plain Greek yogurt instead. All in all, it's pretty healthy as it is! This recipe doesn't have any added sugar, aside form the mayonnaise. Add extra veggies, fruit, and nuts and enjoy.
What to serve with curried chicken salad:
Lots of greens. Romaine lettuce wraps, butter lettuce cups, or a big bed of baby field greens.
Curried Chicken Salad Recipe
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon celery seed optional, see notes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups cooked chicken cubed or shredded
- 2 ribs celery finely chopped
- 1 cup red seedless grapes halved or quartered (see notes)
- 4 scallions whie and green parts, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds or sliced almonds, toasted (see notes)
- 2 tablespoons Minced fresh parsley
- Bread or butter lettuce leaves, for serving
- In a large bowl, add mayonnaise, lemon juice, curry powder, celery seed, and salt and pepper to taste (I like 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Whisk to combine.
- Add chicken, celery, grapes, scallions, almonds, and parsley. Toss to coat. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve on bread or in lettuce cups.
To make ahead:
- Curried chicken salad can be made and refrigerated one day in advance. Before serving, stir in a spoonful of mayonnaise, a squeeze of lemon juice, and more salt and pepper to taste.
- I really like celery seed in chicken salad. But, if you don't have it and you don't want to buy it, it's okay to leave it out. I made curried chicken salad for years without celery seed and I always loved it just the same.
- I prefer to quarter my grapes for chicken salad so they are roughly the same as everything else. But, it's okay if you just cut them in half.
In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat almonds until browned and fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 3 to 5 minutes. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.