This lighter California chicken salad is full of juicy grapes, crunchy celery and a sweet dressing made with poppy seeds, creamy mayonnaise and tangy Greek yogurt. If you love Whole Foods Sonoma Chicken Salad recipe, you will love this copycat recipe. Make this easy recipe for your lunch meal prep for the week!
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Table of contents
Why This California Chicken Salad Is The Best!
I love chicken salad with sweet red grapes and a little crunch from pecans and celery, but sometimes a classic chicken salad is too heavy and loaded with mayo. My spin on the poppy seed dressing is a little lighter. It is made with half mayonnaise and half Greek yogurt. I use yogurt because it has more protein and less fat than mayonnaise, while still adding that creaminess to the dressing.
This creamy chicken salad recipe is perfect for lunch or a light meal. I make a batch for leftover for an easy lunch during the week. I think it is even better the next day after the flavors have time to develop.
chicken- boneless skinless chicken breasts are preferred for this chicken salad recipe. You can use leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken to make this recipe even easier. If you are cooking the chicken for this recipe make sure you allow it to cool to room temperature before adding it to the creamy dressing.
If you are really short on time another option is canned chicken. You will need 2 8 ounce cans and make sure that you drain thoroughly before adding to the dressing.
grapes- seedless grapes add the perfect sweetness to the recipe.
poppyseeds- add a slightly nutty flavor and a crunchy texture to the dressing. These can be found with the spices in your local grocery store.
celery- crunchy celery is always a great addition to chicken salad.
In a large bowl mix Greek yogurt, mayo, red wine vinegar, maple syrup, poppy seeds, salt, and black pepper. Set aside the dressing ingredients while preparing the salad.
Chop the grapes, celery, pecans and green onion. I half my grapes, but you can chop them into quarters if you prefer.
Add the chicken, chopped fruit, vegetables and nuts to the bowl with the salad dressing. Stir well to coat the chicken mixture. Garnish with some chopped fresh parsley if you like. This can be served immediately or chill for an hour before serving.
How To Serve California Chicken Salad Recipe
You can make a sandwich with a couple slices of bread or eat the chicken salad on crackers or pita chips. If you are looking for a lower carb option add the chicken salad to a bed of greens with cherry tomatoes or eat in lettuce wraps.
What Is Chicken Salad Good With?
I love to pair chicken salad with other light food like this delicious fruit salad with honey lime dressing or Mediterranean green beans. Chicken salad is so adaptable it goes with pretty much anything.
Store leftover chicken salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days for the best results.
Because of the mayonnaise based dressing in the salad I do not recommend freezing chicken salad.
Substitutions and Additions
green onions- You can substitute green onions for chopped red onion. I prefer the milder flavor of the green onion but either will work.
red wine vinegar- Use apple cider vinegar or white balsamic vinegar in place of red wine vinegar.
chicken- I prefer chicken breast to make my chicken salad but you can also use dark meat if you are using a whole chicken.
Chicken salad is best served cold.
Because of the water content in celery and grapes chicken salad is best when served the day its made or day after. It is safe to eat after that but may loose it's crunch.
This California chicken salad is a healthier recipe because it uses Greek yogurt to help make the dressing creamy without adding too much mayo. Most chicken salad recipes rely more on the mayo, making them not as healthy.
By adding more fruit you can add a lot of flavor to chicken salad. In addition to the grapes you could add apples, berries and dried cranberries for a extra bit of flavor.
Herbs also add a lot of flavor without the calories. Try adding dill, thyme or cilantro for a twist to the recipe.
Looking For Other Sandwich Ideas? Try These!
Did you try this recipe? Please let me know what you think! Leave a comment below, and a 5- star rating. I would love to hear from you! Subscribe Here to get new recipes sent straight to your inbox!
Healthy California Chicken Salad Recipe
- ⅓ cup Greek yogurt
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
- ¼ teaspoon seasoned salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups chicken, cooked and chopped *see notes
- ½ cup grapes, halved
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- ¼ cup pecans, chopped
- 1 green onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
- In a large bowl mix the dressing ingredients.
- Chop the chicken, grapes, celery, pecans and green onions.
- Add all chopped ingredients to the bowl with the dressing and stir to coat.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and serve on bread or a salad.