Chicken Salad Recipe With A SECRET Ingredient!

My Chicken Salad Recipe uses a secret ingredient that you will LOVE! I’m going to show you how to make the best chicken salad with easy, simple ingredients and shredded rotisserie chicken!

Chicken Salad is one of those simple recipes that everyone makes differently. I have been making my version of chicken salad for years, and I felt like it was time I shared it with you! You don’t need a lot of crazy ingredients to make the best chicken salad, which is why I make it so often. It’s one of my go-to lunch recipes that can be made with very minimal effort.

I usually have my chicken salad on a bed of lettuce, but on a croissant, some whole grain bread, or even a Sweet Dinner Roll would be delicious!

What’s The Secret Ingredient?

Yep, I teased you on the secret ingredient and I am ready to spill it! I LOVE adding pickles to my chicken salad…not just pickle relish, but diced dill pickles, but that’s not super unusual. What I like to add for that extra flavor is a splash (or two) of pickle juice!!

Why Add Pickles?

Diced pickles add salty flavor and crunchy texture. I am a pickle girl, and while this recipe calls for 1/2 cup of diced pickles, I usually add some extra. And I will add that I have found that crunchy “New Pickles” or the brand Claussen are my favorite. They are not quite as briny and extra crunchy.

Pickle Juice, Really?

Stay with me here…pickle juice is basically seasoned vinegar that is used to brine the pickles. AND lots of chicken salad recipes call for lemon juice, which is also acidic, so it’s not a huge jump! Plus, you get the salty flavor from the pickle juice as well, which helps season the chicken salad! I’m telling you, try it!!

Chicken Salad in a bowl made in 5 minutes

What Ingredients Do You Need For Chicken Salad?

Luckily you probably have everything you need for chicken salad in your kitchen right now…as long as you have the chicken! Here’s what else you will need:

  • Mayonnaise: I always prefer to use Hellmann’s mayo. No low-fat or (gasp) Miracle Whip for me!
  • Seasonings: I keep mine simple with just salt, pepper, parsley, garlic powder, and onion powder. I don’t like raw onions, so the onion powder gives great flavor without the crunch of the onion. If you do like onions, you can add in 1/4 cup of diced onions!
  • Cashews: I LOVE adding lightly salted nuts into my chicken salad for texture. You can use other nuts in place if you’re not a cashew fan!

What Type Of Chicken Do You Use In Chicken Salad?

My favorite way to make this chicken salad is with a rotisserie chicken. I pick them up at the supermarket pretty much every time I am there.

PRO TIP: Shred the rotisserie chicken while it’s still warm, it’s SO much easier!

If you have leftover baked or grilled chicken you can absolutely use that too! AND if you plan ahead I absolutely recommend using my chicken marinade if you’re preparing the chicken yourself. It makes the chicken salad super flavor-packed!

What Else Can I Add To This Chicken Salad?

This is where you can get creative! Use my recipe as a base and let play with ingredients to find your favorites! You can easily switch this up from being a savory chicken salad to a sweet one, simply by omitting the pickles and pickle juice and adding in diced apples, or grapes and add lemon juice or apricot preserves! Here are some other ideas:

  • Olives
  • Capers
  • Diced Bell Pepper
  • Diced Celery
  • Diced Onion
  • Mandarin Oranges
  • Chives
  • Seasonings: Basil, Oregano, Tarragon, Curry Powder,
  • Avocado
  • Raisins or Craisins
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Cucumbers

Do I Have To Add Cashews To This Recipe?

Of course not! You can add pecans, walnuts, or pistachios if you liked the idea of adding nuts. If you are allergic to nuts or jyst don’t like them, absolutely leave them out!

Also note that if using cashews, the longer they sit in the chicken salad, the softer they will become. So if you have this leftover the cashews lose a bit of their crunch. It’s still delicious, but worth noting.

Easy Chicken Salad with rotisserie chicken

Looking for more Salad Ideas? Try These:


Easy Chicken Salad Recipe on a Croissant


My Favorite Chicken Salad Recipe Ever!


  • 4 cups shredded chicken (approximately 1 Rotisserie Chicken)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup diced dill pickles
  • 1/2 cup chopped cashews
  • splash of pickle juice


  1. In a medium mixing bowl combine the chicken and the mayonnaise until evenly mixed.
  2. Add in the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, pickles, and cashews. Stir until combined.
  3. Add a splash of pickle juice, about a tablespoon. Mix in. Taste and add more if desired.
  4. Serve over lettuce, or on a sandwich.


To make this a sweeter chicken salad, omit the garlic powder, onion powder, and pickles. Add in diced apples or grapes in place of the pickles. And add in a tablespoon of apricot jam in place of the pickle juice.

You can also sub out the cashew for walnuts or pecan if desired.

Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Keywords: chicken salad, cookies and cups, chicken, chicken recipe, pickles, cashews, chicken salad recipe

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