This is your classic, flavorful chicken salad, but lightened up. Classic Chicken Salad with Herbs has the simplicity of a classic mayo-based chicken salad, but the addition of fresh herbs kicks it up a notch in the flavor department. Serve this delicious chicken salad on a bed of greens, in your favorite wrap, with crackers and fresh veggies, or as a classic sandwich for the ultimate lunch.
What you’ll need to make this recipe
Here’s your ingredient list for this recipe:
- chicken breast
- light mayo
- plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- lemon juice
- kosher salt
- celery seed
- poppy seed
- white onion
How I lighten-up this classic chicken salad with herbs
It took a lot of trial and error (mostly error) to figure out how to lighten up chicken salad without making it super dry and boring. Chicken salad should be moist and creamy, and usually that requires a ton of mayo… and that’s what makes it delicious, right?
A lot of lightened-up chicken salad recipes call for yogurt in place of mayo, which I can appreciate. But mentally I couldn’t get over the fact that the salad was primarily yogurt. I just felt like I was tasting that yogurt tang. And if you don’t like yogurt at all, it’s just not an option for a mayo replacement.
Over time I have realized that a combination of mayo and Greek yogurt provides the perfect base for chicken salad! The yogurt just kind of helps stretch the mayo, without changing the flavor whatsoever.
These are the brands of mayo and yogurt I use on a daily basis, but any will work.
Trust me on the yogurt. A lot of people might shy away from this recipe because of the yogurt, but I promise you, you don’t taste it at all.
Besides this switch, it doesn’t take much else to lighten up a chicken salad. Chicken breast is generally a light option, and the other ingredients we are adding here are just veggies and herbs!
All about poaching chicken
As always, for any of my recipes that call for poached chicken, you can use a cooked rotisserie chicken, you can use canned chicken, or you can roast your own chicken. Whatever is easiest for you, or whichever method you prefer!
I’ve included step-by-step instructions on the recipe card below for how to poach chicken. If you’ve never done it before, I recommend you trying it. It’s very easy to do, and it’s also more economical than buying a fully-cooked rotisserie chicken (or two, in this case).
I have been poaching my chicken for chicken salads for a while now. Not only is it SUPER easy, but the chicken comes out super moist.
When you’re poaching chicken, you can add any flavor you want to your pot. For example, when I make my Thai Chicken Salad, I use ground ginger and lime in the water. For this recipe, I keep it simple with my basic poaching method. This includes some dried bay leaves, peppercorns, and salt. This is the basic recipe I use for most of my chicken salads, since it can work with most flavor profiles.
To poach the chicken, simply place the raw chicken breast in a large pot. Next, add the salt, peppercorns, crushed garlic cloves, and bay leaves.
Next, cover the chicken with cold water. Make sure everything is submerged under the water. Place the pot on the stove with a lid, and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the water to a rapid simmer, and cook uncovered. Cook until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165F. You can determine that by using a meat thermometer like this one.
When the chicken has reached the internal temperature of 165, remove it from the pan and place it on a cutting board to cool. Then, shred it using two forks. This method will yield 6 cups of cooked chicken breast.
Making the chicken salad
Once your chicken is cooked, it’s really just chopping some veggies and throwing it all together!
Chop the onion, celery, scallions and parsley. Grab a large mixing bowl, and whisk together the Greek yogurt and mayo, followed by the other seasonings. Then fold in the cooked chicken and chopped veggies and herbs.
Classic Chicken Salad with Fresh Herbs
- large pot
- mixing bowl
- 3 lbs chicken breast, raw
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp whole peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves, dried
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1/2 cup light mayo
- 1/2 cup plain non fat Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp Dijon
- 1/2 tsp celery seed
- 1/2 tsp poppy seeds
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
- 1/2 cup onion, diced
- 1/4 cup scallions, fresh, chopped
- 1/4 cup parsley, fresh, chopped
- Add the raw chicken breast to the bottom of a large pot.
- Add the salt, peppercorns, smashed garlic cloves, and bay leaves.
- Cover the chicken with cold water.
- Place the lid on the pot, and bring the water to a boil.
- Reduce to a low boil or rapid simmer, and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165F.
- Remove the chicken to a cutting board to cool.
- Chop or shred the chicken.
- Yields 6 cups of cooked chicken. You can skip this altogether and purchase cooked chicken breast instead.
- Chop the onion, celery, scallions, and parsley.
- Combine the yogurt and mayo in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, dijon, celery seed, poppy seeds, and salt, and whisk together to form a dressing.
- Fold in the cooked chicken and the diced onion, celery, scallions and parsley.
- Taste for seasoning.
- 4 WW points (green plan)
- 2 WW points (blue and purple plans)
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