The Best Way to Use Leftover Chicken (and Eat It All Week Long)

updated Aug 18, 2022
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Chicken Salad with Grapes Recipe

Classic chicken salad with toasted pecans and juicy red grapes.

Serves4 to 6

Makes6 cups

Prep15 minutes

Cook2 minutes to 4 minutes

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Credit: Kelli Foster

Every week I seek inspiration to answer the same question: “What do I do with leftover chicken?” While I could turn it into tacos, bake it in a pot pie, or stir it into a soup, the very best way to use up leftover cooked chicken (or a freshly purchased, tender rotisserie chicken) is creamy chicken salad. Studded with toasted nuts and jewels of juicy red grapes, chicken salad makes me excited to eat leftovers.

This isn’t your average chicken salad — it relies on both mayonnaise and yogurt in the dressing for a creamy consistency and acidic tang that lightly coats the chicken, celery, and other mix-ins without feeling too heavy. Here’s how to make the very best chicken salad with grapes.

Yogurt or Mayo: Which Is Better for Chicken Salad?

A creamy, seasoned dressing is all you need to turn shredded chicken, crunchy celery, toasted walnuts or pecans, and grapes into an easy lunch or picnic staple. For this dressing, combine mayonnaise with either sour cream or plain yogurt. Regular or Greek yogurt can be used, although the regular yogurt will give the dressing a slightly thinner consistency.

Add more flavor to the dressing with Dijon mustard, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Because refrigeration can dull the flavor, make sure to taste and adjust the seasoning if you plan to serve this chicken salad straight from the fridge.

Looking for a mayo-free chicken salad? Try gỏi gà, a citrusy Vietnamese chicken salad, or opt for avocado chicken salad.

The Best Grapes for Chicken Salad

Sweet and juicy grapes are just what you need elevate this everyday mayo-based salad. While I prefer tart green grapes for eating out of hand, red grapes are my pick for partnering in this salad. Seedless red grapes add a hint of sweetness and a pretty purple-red color to the naturally neutral salad. Halve the grapes, or cut them into quarters if they are especially large, before stirring them in.

Credit: Kelli Foster

How to Serve Chicken Salad with Grapes

You may be tempted to eat this creamy chicken salad with grapes and nuts straight from the mixing bowl, but there are other ways to serve the deli classic. Try scooping a serving onto a bed of crunchy romaine or tender butter lettuce. Make an easy lunch by spreading the chicken salad between sliced bread or a croissant served alongside salty potato chips. Chicken salad can also moonlight as a dip on snack boards. Serve with sturdy crackers, celery, and chips for scooping.

Chicken Salad with Grapes Recipe

Classic chicken salad with toasted pecans and juicy red grapes.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 2 minutes to 4 minutes

Makes 6 cups

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup

    pecan or walnut halves

  • 1/2 cup

    sour cream, whole milk plain yogurt or plain Greek yogurt

  • 1/3 cup

    mayonnaise

  • 1 tablespoon

    Dijon mustard

  • 2 teaspoons

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

  • 4 cups

    cooked chicken (about 20 ounces)

  • 1

    medium shallot

  • 2 ribs

    medium celery

  • 1 1/2 cups

    red seedless grapes (about 6 ounces)

Instructions

  1. Place 1/2 cup pecan or walnut halves in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, tossing frequently, until fragrant and lightly toasted, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board to cool slightly.

  2. Place 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt, 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

  3. Use 2 forks or your fingers to shred 4 cups cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add to the dressing.

  4. Prepare the following, adding each to the bowl of chicken salad as it is completed: Coarsely chop the nuts. Finely chop 1 medium shallot (about 2 tablespoons). Halve 2 celery ribs lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise (about 1/2 cup). Halve (or quarter if large) 1 1/2 cups red seedless grapes.

  5. Fold the salad together with a flexible spatula until everything is evenly combined. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

Recipe Notes

Cooked chicken: One (3-pound or larger) rotisserie chicken generally yields at least 4 cups cooked chicken.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Nuts will soften upon refrigeration.

This post was originally published on Kitchn. Read it there: Chicken Salad with Grapes