Curried chicken salad is a perfect meal or snack for parties and picnics. Serve as lettuce or flatbread wraps, or eat on sandwiches with ciabatta or croissants. The salad can be made up to 2 days in advance.
(Updated post.) Before I get into this curried chicken salad recipe, let me give you a bit of background (or, click the Jump to Recipe button!). Every year since 2003 I have trekked out to Garner Park in Madison, WI with friends and family to attend Opera in the Park. At this event, an epic gourmet picnic ensues among the crowd of over 10,000. Wine and charcuterie are almost certainly involved—it’s all very la-de-dah, but in a fun, good-natured way.
What to bring, what to bring…
It takes a lot of deliberation and agonizing to decide upon an entree for the main event. After due anguish, I arrived at curried chicken salad sandwiches. After all, they travel well and are incredibly easy to assemble. I served the curried chicken salad sandwiches on sliced ciabatta rolls with some arugula. In addition, I included a thin slather of a golden onion chutney. However, after tasting the sandwich, I decided that the chutney’s flavor contribution didn’t justify the effort of making it. (I’ve duly left it out of the recipe—live and learn, HA!)
This chicken salad has a spicy kick that’s perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the grapes. It gets fabulous crunch from the onion and sliced cilantro stems (of course, if you’re a genetic cilantro hater, leave that out!). I made the salad on Friday night in anticipation of a Saturday picnic. However, it didn’t hurt at all that it sat in the fridge an extra day: quite the contrary, in fact. The flavor got even better (I know because I checked!).
The sandwiches were a big hit…they may just be the perfect picnic food. Luckily, I had saved some of the salad at home in the fridge, which the hubster and I happily ate in lettuce wraps for lunch the next day.
Keep your food safe!
One word of caution: if you do decide to make this salad for a picnic, be careful to make sure that it stays cold. Otherwise, you risk striking your entire party with food poisoning. Wouldn’t that be a bummer? So plan ahead and freeze plenty of ice packs. Another great strategy is to pour about 1″ water each out of several plastic water bottles, freeze them, and then use them as ice packs. Not only does your food stay cold, but YOU stay hydrated!
Making Curried Chicken Salad
This curried chicken salad recipe is a great way to use up leftover roast chicken. I actually spring for a rotisserie chicken to make this chicken salad: I pull the skin off, pick it off the bones (save the carcass to make broth, like in this Slow-Cooker Rotisserie Chicken Pho), and cut the meat into bite-sized pieces.
And then? It’s a simple matter of gathering all the ingredients and mixing them together. So easy! It’s best if you can make the salad a day in advance (which, in my book, is also a win—no stress on “game day”!). This allows the flavors to really deepen and meld.
That’s it! For serving, you have lots of options: nice, big Bibb lettuce leaves, pita, naan, ciabatta, tortillas, and croissants, for example. I hope you enjoy this Curried Chicken Salad, and happy picnicking! For more cookout/potluck recipe ideas than you’ll ever need, check out my Virtual Memorial Day Potluck Recipes Roundup!
I’m linking my curried chicken salad recipe up with:
- #CookBlogShare, a great food blogger recipe-share at Recipes Made Easy.
- #CookOnceEatTwice, for recipes that are just as good left-over as they are when you made them, hosted by Searching for Spice.
- #RecipeOfTheWeek hosted by A Mummy Too.
- #BrillBlogPosts, a link party with a variety of lifestyle reads hosted by Honest Mum.
Curried Chicken Salad
- 1 cup seedless red grapes - halved
- 1 cup celery - washed and cut into small cubes
- 1 cup onion - minced
- 3 cups cooked chicken breast - chopped in small cubes
- ½ cup mayonnaise - (See Recipe Note #1)
- ½ cup fat-free Greek yogurt - drained
- ½ tsp yellow mustard seeds
- ¼ tsp powdered curry leaves - (see Recipe Note #2)
- 3 tsp curry powder - MILD (see Recipe Note #3)
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ¾ cup chopped cilantro - ¾ leaves, ¼ stems
- 1 ½ cup arugula - for garnish (optional)
- Mix all ingredients and refrigerate until serving, ideally one day. Serve on croissants or ciabatta rolls, or wrap in tortillas or lettuce. Enjoy!
- To make this dish even healthier, omit the mayonnaise and increase the fat-free Greek yogurt to 1 cup.
- You can find dried curry leaves in ethnic grocery stores, or order them from Amazon.
- If you or any of your crowd are sensitive to spicy food, start with only 1 tsp of curry powder. I like a mild curry for making this salad: if you have a hot variety, make sure that you reduce the amount you use (e.g., start with 1 tsp and adjust to taste).
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