Make Ahead

Spicy Chicken Salad

October  4, 2022
7 Ratings
  • Serves 4-6
Author Notes

In a sort of convoluted story, this used to be a curried chicken salad. But, then it went a new direction. The short version of the story is, several years ago I was in Norway with my family and we happened to have an extra roast chicken sitting around (this is the sort of thing that happens in my family. We also sometimes have extra racks of roast ribs or piles of fish cakes - last minute dinner menu changes, you see. Sometimes, of course, we just eat multiple dinners at once instead of leaving leftovers. Anyway...). I decided to improvise a simple curried chicken salad out of it for everyone to have for lunch. None of the others there had ever had anything like it. It was a complete hit, and was immediately considered by my family to be one of my signature dishes, frequently requested ever since. But, the most recent time I went to make "my" curried chicken salad, I got sidetracked from the spice cabinet by my bottle of sriracha. I decided to spice the salad with that instead. This naturally led to a progression of other changes, some swapping of herbs, adding other flavors like fish sauce, taking out the dried fruits and replacing them with chopped vegetables and so on. The end result? Another total hit.
Some other notes, this is completely delicious piled atop lightly dressed (with oil and lime juice) salad leaves or in sandwich form on crusty bread. Or you can eat it on it's own straight from the bowl, which I'm all for. Sometimes I just roast up a pile of chicken legs instead of a whole chicken - I much prefer legs to breast because they're so much meatier. Oh, and since I'm thinking about it, given the weather today, if it's way too hot to cook, a rotisserie chicken is entirely acceptable in place of roasting the chicken yourself. —fiveandspice

What You'll Need
  • 1 approximately 2-lb. chicken, roasted by your preferred method (I use Barbara Kafka's high heat method)
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons sriracha
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2-3 dashes of fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon each, minced Thai basil and fresh cilantro
  • 1 scallion, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet bell pepper (red, orange, or yellow)
  • 1/2 cup chopped sugar snap peas
  • 1/2 cup seeded and finely chopped English cucumber (peel left on)
  • salt
  1. After the chicken has been roasted, let it cool to room temperature (in the meantime, take off the crispy skin and hand it out to all those waiting for lunch as something splendid to nibble on). Once cool, remove the meat from the bones and use your fingers to shred it all into bite-sized pieces. (Save the carcass for making stock, of course!) Transfer the chicken to a large bowl and toss with a couple of pinches of salt.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, rice vinegar, 1 Tbs. sriracha, ginger, fish sauce, basil, cilantro and scallion. Pour this dressing over the chicken and toss. Taste and if you'd like more heat and flavor (you know you do), add the second Tbs. of sriracha and toss again.
  3. Add the bell pepper, snap peas, and cucumber and toss until everything is well coated with the dressing. Taste and add additional salt or fish sauce to taste.
  4. Serve over a bed of lettuce sprinkled with finely chopped, toasted peanuts if you can eat nuts. Or, go all banh mi style, and stuff the salad into sliced baguettes along with some smashed avocado and some more cilantro and cucumber slices. This salad will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days, but you will likely have to stir it up again before serving to reincorporate the juices from the cucumber that accumulate.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • meganvt01
  • gingerroot
  • aargersi
  • EmilyC
  • fiveandspice

9 Reviews

meganvt01 July 22, 2012
Delicious! I made this this afternoon and it was everything I hoped for. This is my new go-to chicken salad!
fiveandspice July 23, 2012
Awesome!! I'm so glad you liked it! It's definitely become my go to chicken salad as well. I think I've made it 7 times in the last two months! :)
gingerroot July 19, 2012
This sounds so good; I love your spicy SE Asian take on chicken salad, especially details like fresh grated ginger, fish sauce and crunchy cucumbers. Yum!
fiveandspice July 19, 2012
Thanks Jenny! Glad it gets your approval. :) It's so funny, but I rarely crave food with SE Asian influences in the winter, and then come summer it's practically the only thing I want to eat!
aargersi July 18, 2012
YUM! Add me to roasted chicken / all things spicy camp too!!!
fiveandspice July 18, 2012
Thanks Abbie! Consider yourself added. :)
EmilyC July 14, 2012
This looks great, fiveandspice! We typically grill or roast at least one chicken every week, so I'm anxious to try this nice twist on chicken salad.
fiveandspice July 15, 2012
Thanks EmilyC! If you give it a try, let me know what you think! I'm definitely in the frequent roasting of chicken as well. :)
fiveandspice July 15, 2012
Erp, forgot the word camp, there. The frequent roasting of chicken camp...