Recipes > Lunch/Dinner > Healthy Chicken Salad Base Recipe

Healthy Chicken Salad Base Recipe

This recipe is higher in protein and lower in unhealthy fats than traditional chicken salad recipes. We also added fresh herbs and the option to add a variety of vegetables to make this classic chicken salad recipe plant-forward and even more delicious!
Healthy chicken salad on a bed of greens in a salad bowl

This is one of our base recipes. Chicken salad is a classic lunch recipe, but we find that many recipes are lacking in flavor, nutrition, and texture. This healthy chicken salad base recipe has Greek yogurt to boost nutrition, herbs to add flavor, and mix-ins to customize to YOUR taste!

Three Must-Know Cooking Skills

For recipe success, learn how to:

Culinary Tips for this Simple Chicken Salad Recipe

Mix together the chicken salad dressing first to ensure that all the ingredients are evenly distributed before adding the chicken.

If adding optional spices, start with less, then add more to taste.

Need to cook chicken for this recipe? Try out this simple simmering method. Season about 1 pound of raw chicken breasts with salt and pepper, place in a sauté pan, and add water or broth until it covers the bottom quarter of the breasts. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 25-30 minutes until tender. 

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Plain Greek Yogurt: substitute plain yogurt. Choose a fat content that fits within your overall diet.
  • Mayonnaise: substitute up to ½ of the mayonnaise with more Greek yogurt. Keep in mind that the fat in the mayonnaise (provided by eggs and oil) helps improve the texture of the sauce. Look for mayonnaise made with avocado, canola, or olive oil. To make chicken salad without mayo, replace the mayo with additional yogurt or substitute some sour cream.
  • Herbs: use Italian parsley, cilantro, dill, or basil, as these all complement chicken well, but feel free to add any fresh or dried herb to your taste.
  • Lemon Juice: substitute apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, or white wine vinegar.
  • Garlic: substitute ½ teaspoon pre-minced garlic, ½ teaspoon garlic flakes, ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic, or ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder. 
  • Chicken: while you could substitute diced or shredded turkey, it would no longer be chicken salad!

Base Recipe Variations

Remember that this is a base recipe, so the goal is for you to customize it to your taste! Keep it simple or spice it up!

Use these additional ingredients for even more flavor and texture.

  • Hot Sauce: use sriracha, buffalo sauce, chipotles in adobo, or your favorite hot sauce.
  • Mustard: use Dijon, yellow, stoneground, or whole mustard.
  • Spices: use chili powder, coriander, cumin, curry powder, onion powder, turmeric, or your favorite spice blend.
  • Fruits or Vegetables: use diced apples, grapes, broccoli, celery, carrot, cucumber, red bell pepper, or whatever sounds good to you.
  • Cheese: we recommend strongly flavored cheeses because just a little bit goes a long way. Asiago, blue, feta, goat, gorgonzola, and parmesan are some of our favorites. Shredded cheddar cheese is a classic option for a buffalo chicken salad.
  • Nuts or Seeds: use toasted slivered or sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, chopped pecans, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds for more crunch.
  • Onion: use red onion, green onion, or shallots for best flavor.
  • Hardboiled Eggs: learn how to make hardboiled eggs here!

When selecting ingredients, it can be helpful to think of a cuisine or flavor profile you are trying to achieve. Italian, Mediterranean, Greek, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, and Latin are just some cuisines to consider. Use your creativity and imagination! 

Want some chicken salad flavor inspiration?

Use this recipe variation for inspiration, then have fun exploring other flavors, ingredients, and textures!

Equipment Recommendations

Use these basic kitchen tools for recipe success:

Find all of our favorite kitchen tools here!

Is chicken salad with Greek yogurt healthy?

Yes! By cutting back on the mayonnaise and replacing it with gut-friendly Greek yogurt, this recipe is higher in protein and lower in unhealthy fats than traditional chicken salad recipes. We also added fresh herbs and the option to add a variety of vegetables to make this classic chicken salad recipe plant-forward and even more delicious!

Chicken

Chicken is a lean protein source. It is also rich in B vitamins and minerals, such as iron. When consumed as part of a diet rich in vegetables, chicken may help reduce the risk of developing overweight and obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. Further, white meat is considered moderately protective or neutral on cancer risk. We recommend purchasing organic and/or pasture-raised chicken if it is within your budget.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a great source of B vitamins, calcium, and probiotics. It is also higher in protein than regular yogurt. Select a fat content that works within your overall diet. If you tend to consume a lot of foods high in saturated fat (such as whole milk, red meat, and cheese), a low-fat or fat-free variety is your best choice. If you limit saturated fat in your diet, full-fat varieties are okay.

Herbs

Green herbs, like Italian parsley and dill, not only add a pop of freshness and great flavor to the chicken, but they add nutrition too! Herbs are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that promote health and help fight diseases.

Learn more about health benefits of different foods and ingredients or in our book, To Your Taste!

Chicken Salad Serving Suggestions

To make a delicious Whole Life Plate, serve this classic chicken salad with whole grain crackers or pita chips and a side of fresh fruits and vegetables. You can also add this chicken salad recipe to a sandwich, wrap, or green salad.

Storage Recommendations

For best quality, store leftover chicken salad in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days.

Want more tasty lunch ideas?

Check out these favorites!

Healthy Sandwich Base Recipe

Simple Green Salad Base Recipe

Healthy Wrap Base Recipe

Hummus Base Recipe

Healthy chicken salad on a bed of greens in a salad bowl

Healthy Chicken Salad Base Recipe

This is one of our base recipes. Chicken salad is a classic lunch recipe, but we find that many recipes are lacking in flavor, nutrition, and texture. This healthy chicken salad base recipe has Greek yogurt to boost nutrition, herbs to add flavor, and mix-ins to customize to YOUR taste!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients
  

Base Recipe

  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise (olive or canola oil based)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons chopped fresh herbs
  • 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced (~½ teaspoon)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken (~10 ounces cooked)

Mix-ins to YOUR taste

  • 1-2 Tablespoons hot sauce or
  • 1-2 teaspoons mustard (Dijon, stoneground, etc.)
  • ⅛-2 teaspoons spices
  • ½ cup diced fresh fruits or vegetables
  • ½ cup shredded cheese
  • ¼ cup dried fruit
  • 2 Tablespoons diced or minced onion
  • 1-2 Tablespoons toasted nuts or seeds
  • 1-2 hardboiled eggs, diced

Instructions
 

  • Combine Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, herbs, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and additional spices or sauces in a medium bowl.
  • Add diced chicken and any other mix-ins to your taste. Using a spatula, fold to gently combine.
  • Eat on its own with whole grain crackers or make a sandwich, wrap, or green salad. Enjoy!

Notes

If adding optional spices, start with less, then add more to taste.
 
If you add a lot of mix-ins and find the salad too dry, add a little more Greek yogurt to taste.
 
Check out this recipe for flavor inspiration!
Curry Chicken Salad with Apples
Keyword Healthy Chicken Salad

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