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What To Serve With Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is a way of life in the south! Here’s my guide on the best side dishes and bread to serve with chicken salad.

chicken salad on bed of lettuce

Need to feed a crowd with little effort? What about a quick and easy, belly-filling lunch sandwich? If so, chicken salad is the way to go.

Whether you pick the bones off your whole roasted chicken or use leftover store-bought rotisserie chicken, chicken salad is a fantastic way to use up leftover chicken. Then, all you have to decide is what to eat with it. Do you serve it on a bed of lettuce, as a dip, or in a sandwich?

Before we talk about what side dishes go best with chicken salad, let’s make sure we are on the same page, ok?

What Is Chicken Salad?

Here in the south, classic chicken salad is made with seasoned chopped or shredded chicken with some type of binder. This is usually mayonnaise and mustard and sometimes includes white or apple cider vinegar and olive oil. 

In addition to the chicken and binders, savory add-ins often accompany the chicken salad. These can include hard-boiled eggs, bacon, chopped celery, onions, and either freshly chopped dill pickles or prepared relish (either sweet or dill).  

Chicken salad is most often served cold on a bed of greens or as a sandwich. It can also be used as a dip for celery and crackers at parties, reunions, and get-togethers.

In other areas, the chicken salad may contain chopped chicken with binders other than mayonnaise and mustard, such as Miracle Whip, salad dressing, Greek yogurt, sour cream, shredded cheese, or cream cheese.

Chicken salad can also contain other ingredients such as fresh lemon juice, apples, grapes, mango chunks, dried cranberries, raisins, oranges, pecans, sliced almonds, or walnuts. Sometimes, green or red bell peppers, tomatoes, and corn are added for a southwestern flair.

Seasonings can vary and may include cajun seasons, curry, and fresh herbs such as dill, parsley, and garlic.

My basic go-to chicken salad uses salt and pepper as well as paprika as the seasonings!

southwestern chicken salad wrap with tomatoes, peppers, and corn

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What Side Dishes To Serve With Chicken Salad?

Because chicken salad can be made with a variety of binders, your sides will vary widely. The type of binder used will help dictate what is best to serve with your chicken salad. 

For example, if your chicken salad is made with a mayonnaise binder, you may want to avoid a cold pasta salad made with mayonnaise. Instead, you may choose to serve a cold pasta salad made with a vinaigrette.

Or if your chicken salad is made with grapes and nuts, you probably don’t want to serve a side dish of fruit salad containing grapes or nuts.

Due to the variations of chicken salads, there are an endless number of sides that go well with it. 

The sides you choose will also depend on how your chicken salad is served. 

chicken salad with toast on a plate

What Is A Serving Size For Chicken Salad?

A serving size of chicken salad can usually range from 4 to 8 ounces, ½ cups to 1 cup per person, at a minimum

How Much Chicken Salad Per Person?

When making chicken salad sandwiches, plan on 6 to 8 ounces per person. When serving the chicken salad on a bed of salad greens along with other sides, plan on 10 to 12 ounces per person. 

It sounds like a lot, but when you make a good chicken salad, it will get eaten up quickly. Trust me, err on the side of caution and make extra. The worst thing that happens is you have leftover chicken salad. Oh, and did I tell you chicken salad is always better the next day?

The exact amount you make will depend on the event (dinner, lunch buffet, or baby shower) and how the chicken salad will be served. Consider the following:

  1. Is the chicken salad being served as the main entree, or will there be other main dish proteins?
  2. Are you serving chicken salad sandwiches, serve your chicken salad as a dip with crackers and raw veggies, or on a bed of lettuce?
  3. What other sides will you be serving? How many other sides will be served?

If your chicken salad is the main dish and you are serving it as a dip or on a bed of lettuce, or if you have minimal sides, make plenty!

What Soups To Serve With Chicken Salad

There are many soups that go well with chicken salad and are some of the best healthy sides for chicken salad you’ll find. Some of the best are:

  • Vegetable soup
  • Creamy tomato soup
  • Potato Bacon soup
  • Butternut squash
  • Cold cucumber soup
  • Mushroom and Rice-based soups
  • Avocado soup
  • Cold vegetable soups (think summer veggies like zucchini and squash)

If you are serving classic chicken salad, you should avoid soups with chicken in them and soups with strong flavor profiles like Mexican or Asian.

However, if you are using nontraditional seasonings and binders, feel free to pair your chicken salad with a soup using the same or complementary seasonings!

chicken salad in a bowl with lettuce

What To Serve With Chicken Salad When On Keto?

If you’re on a gluten-free or keto-type diet, here are some ways to eat chicken salad without bread:

  • Romaine hearts and butter lettuce to make a wrap
  • Scoop out tomatoes or sweet peppers and fill with chicken salad
  • Low-carb tortillas
  • Cucumbers (slice and top with chicken salad)
  • Spoon onto low-carb crackers
  • Cheese platter
  • Parmesan cheese crisps
  • Chaffles (waffles made with cheese and eggs)
  • Green salad

What To Serve With Chicken Salad Sandwiches?

  • Dill pickles (strips or whole)
  • Cheddar cheese straws
  • Crispy green salad with vinaigrette dressing
  • Roasted gold or red potatoes
  • Cold macaroni salad
  • Fresh fruit salad
  • Raw veggie strips
  • Potato chips
  • Grilled or baked sweet potatoes
  • Tomato and cucumber slices, tossed in simple vinaigrette dressing
  • Crispy tortilla chips and salsa
  • French fries
  • Baked russet potato
  • Grilled corn on the cob
chicken salad sandwich on a croissant

Best Bread To Serve With Chicken Salad Sandwiches

If you’re asking yourself what side dish goes well with chicken salad sandwiches, then you’re in luck because there really isn’t a bad bread to serve with chicken salad. Some of my favorites are:

  • Crusty baguette
  • Pita bread
  • Sourdough bread (sliced thick and toasted)
  • Toasted sandwich bread (white or whole grain)
  • Grilled flour tortillas
  • Rye bread
  • Crunchy multi-grain bread
  • Pumpernickel bread
  • Croissants (make sure they are soft and fresh)
  • Rolls (slider rolls and dinner rolls go well)

Best Side Dish For Chicken Salad Wraps

If you’re tired of the same old chicken salad sandwich, switch things up and put it in a wrap or serve your chicken salad in pita bread.

  • Potato salad
  • Cold Pasta salad
  • Fruit salad
  • Potato Chips
  • Green salad
  • Cold marinated vegetables (cucumber, tomato, red onion, etc., marinated in Italian dressing)
  • Cold macaroni salad
  • French fries
  • Chips (potato or veggie)
  • Nuts
  • Dill Pickles (whole or sliced)

Serving Dish Ideas For Your Chicken Salad And Sides

Chicken salad finger sandwiches are perfect for parties and showers. And if you find yourself in need of some great serving dishes, check these out below.

Below are a few of my favorite disposable and nondisposable serving dishes.

  • Three Tier Rectangle Plate Set (white, minimalist with clean lines)
  • Chilled 5 Compartment Condiment Server Caddy
  • 7 Piece Geometric Round Stoneware Appetizer Set (perfect for olives, nuts, chips)
  • Clear Plastic 9″ x 13″ Disposable Serving Platters

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Make Chicken Salad Less Salty?

If your chicken salad is too salty, you’ll need to add some fat or acid to counteract the saltiness.

Start by adding vinegar or lemon juice a little at a time. Depending on the amount of chicken salad you have, the amount you use could be anywhere from 1/2 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon or more.

If you’d prefer to add fat rather than lemon juice or vinegar, start by adding some seeds, nuts, or even an avocado. Toasted or raw nuts such as almonds, walnuts, or pecans make great additions.

Tip: When making chicken salad, always consider the salt content of every ingredient you will be using, and then salt accordingly.

How Do You Keep Chicken Salad From Getting Watery?

If you’re adding high water content vegetables like celery or onions, dice them up, add a little salt to draw out the moisture, and let them sit on a paper towel or drain in a colander.

How Do You Fix Dry Chicken Salad?

There are several strategies you can use to fix a dry chicken salad.

First off, if you are using leftover chicken breast, shred it instead of dicing it up.

Shredded chicken is always easier to moisten than diced chicken. But if you hate shredded chicken, make sure it is finely diced and add plenty of moisture.

If you’ve already made your chicken salad and it is dry, you could try adding a little more fat in the form of mayo, greek yogurt, or oil.

Final Thoughts From Cost-Effective Kitchen

Chicken salad is a great way to stretch your leftover chicken. Whether it’s eaten as a dip for veggies or served as a sandwich, you can’t go wrong.  It’s also great for those busy fend-for-yourself nights, parties, potluck dinners, etc.

Remember, you don’t need to go hunting for chicken salad recipes. All you need is chunked or shredded chicken and a binder to hold it together. The add-ins and spices can be tailored to your needs.

When choosing a side dish to accompany your chicken salad, remember to choose complementary dishes that vary in texture and flavor. As we mentioned previously, you may not want a heavy mayonnaise-based pasta salad along with your mayonnaise-based chicken salad. Then again, maybe you do! And that’s ok!

Also, remember chicken salad is always better after it has melded together in the fridge for several hours. So, make it early in the day if you want it for dinner that night. 

Oh, and if you have any suggestions not listed in this article, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you!

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Until next time…


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