Make Ahead

Chicken Salad

April 19, 2010
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

A few years ago, Toby Cecchini published a tuna salad recipe in the New York Times that was unlike any I'd seen before. Divorced of mayonnaise, the tuna was left in large slivers, dressed with lemon and oil, and mixed with pepperoncini, dill, parsley and smoked almonds. There wasn't a scrap of celery in sight. The tuna held its own between lashings of pepper and flourishes of dill, and seemed like so much more than just tuna salad.

I wondered: why not apply the same method to chicken? I like a good mayonnaise-based chicken salad, but one with more candid flavors would be a great recipe to have around for when chicken salad and a glass of white wine feels like the perfect weekend lunch. —Amanda Hesser

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • Salt
  • 4 cups cubed roasted chicken (I like to include some of the crisp skin)
  • 3 tablespoons slivered peppadew peppers
  • 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts (drained thoroughly)
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped smoked almonds
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • Lemon juice, to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Sprinkle the onion with salt and toss to coat. Let sit for 15 minutes. Squeeze the onions to drain any juices.
  2. In a bowl, toss together the onion, chicken, peppadews, artichoke hearts and almonds. In a small bowl, whisk together the thyme, mustard and vinegar. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the chicken and fold together. Squeeze in lemon juice to taste -- it will take a fair amount, probably 1/2 to 1 lemon. Let sit for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Megan
  • Michelle de Lima
    Michelle de Lima
  • LeeLeeBee
  • creamtea
  • Burnt Offerings
    Burnt Offerings
Amanda Hesser

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

23 Reviews

Megan May 9, 2016
I've had this saved for a long time and finally tried it tonight. What a gem!!! I used leftover chicken and it came together very quickly. I usually don't like cold chicken, but all the wonderful strong flavors made this so so good. I served it over lightly dressed arugula and dusted it with some smoked paprika. With a glass of wine this was weeknight perfection.
Amanda H. May 9, 2016
Glad you gave it a try!
Michelle D. July 12, 2015
As someone who really doesn't like raw onions, I'm wondering how much the salting tames their flavor. I'm considering reducing, omitting, or vinegaring them.
LeeLeeBee February 13, 2013
This dish is fantastic. One rotisserie chicken provided exactly four cups of shredded meat. I couldn't find smoked almonds or sherry vinegar, so I substituted white wine vinegar and added about 1/4 tsp of smoked paprika instead. Fabulous summer (in Australia) lunch over arugula!
Patsy January 8, 2012
My comment has nothing to do with the wonders of these recipes but the ease of use of the Food52 site. Thanks for the community of cooks and the amazing site - I lied - the recipes are great too!
Amanda H. February 4, 2012
Thanks so much, Patsy!
skeefer September 19, 2011
Making this for second time tonight - it rocks. Great combination and an easy dinner!
Amanda H. September 30, 2011
I like comments like yours!
creamtea September 3, 2011
I made this for a screaming 2 night slumber party of teenage girls. No smoked almonds available on short notice so I bought roasted, sauteed them, blotted them and added TJ's South African Smoke to the almonds and to the chicken mixture. Next time I would skip sauteeing them and just add the Smoke to the entire mixture. No pappadews in the immediate vicinity and no time to go to Zabar's, so I found a bottled pappadew sauce and threw in several T.'s of that. Finally, some dried apricots were out on the counter after prolonged snacking, so I sliced a handful and added that too--the fruitiness seemed to go with the smoke and heat. There is still some in the fridge for a midnight snack. Will the teenagers notice??
Amanda H. September 3, 2011
Bravo on the improvisation!
Susan R. August 11, 2011
WOW! I had to improvise, since I'm in a small town with not all of the ingredients available (peppadews). But, this was so good! So easy, and really a party hit. I made three different Chicken Salads, and this by far was the best.
Amanda H. August 14, 2011
So glad! Thanks for your comment.
Burnt O. May 29, 2011
Ate far more than my share of this today at Mrs. Wheelbarrow's get together. I'm catering my niece's graduation party in 2 weeks, and this just got added to the menu! AND - it was so nice to see you (and your adorable mini-me daughter) again!
aichkaybee May 17, 2011
Oh Lordy, this was so good. My Whole Foods happens to have a marinated artichoke heart and peppadew combo in the antipasto bar, so the ingredients were super easy for me to come by as well. Can't wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow for lunch. Many thanks for the awesome recipe!
Amanda H. May 17, 2011
You're welcome! So glad you enjoyed it!
iowabaker May 17, 2011
I will never think of chicken salad the same again! Absolutely divine! I didn't have sherry vinegar so I used red wine vinegar and added lots of chopped parsley, lemon juice, and zest. The other commenters are right. This is amazing!
Amanda H. May 17, 2011
Hey -- thanks for taking time to let me know your thoughts!
IthacaNancy May 16, 2011
So good and easy! I used maple vinegar instead of sherry vinegar and roasted red peppers since we didn't have peppadews . . . leeks instead of onions . . . tamari roasted almonds instead of smoked almonds . . . but I don't think any of the changes detracted from the recipe. We liked it, and it was a good way to get my husband to include some vegetables in his diet and break out of eating his cold chicken as slabs with mayonnaise on bread.
Amanda H. May 16, 2011
Kudos to you for your efforts to broaden his palate!
AntoniaJames May 13, 2011
If you could not use pappadews because of a guest's allergy to them, what would you use instead? Or would you perhaps just not worry about a substitution? I'm thinking, perhaps, a few picholine olives, coarsely chopped . . . . Thank you. ;o)
Amanda H. May 15, 2011
If it's not an allergy to all peppers than I might just use a roasted pepper. But if it is an allergy to all peppers, then yes picholines sound great!
healthierkitchen April 13, 2011
I'm surprised I didn't comment on this ages ago, as I've been making this since first posted. I just linked to it on food pickle and noticed that I never did say how much I love this chicken salad. I've never loved mayo so this is perfect for me, but the combination of the vinaigrette, peppadews and almonds is amazing!
Amanda H. April 14, 2011
glad you like it!