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Healthy Keto Chicken Salad Recipe

Keto Chicken Salad is an all-time favorite and a classic salad. For those hot days when you don’t want to turn on your oven, this low carb chicken salad recipe is going to be your go-to recipe. It’s quick and easy and most importantly it tastes amazing!

Low Carb Chicken Salad recipe

It’s official…summer is here guys and the more recipes we can share with you the better. A great summer recipe is this delicious keto chicken salad. This time of year it’s important to have recipes that don’t require using a hot stove or oven, and this is one of those. It’s a quick, and light dish while still giving you plenty of flavors and is versatile. 

You may have heard of a Waldorf Chicken Salad which is loaded up with apples, cranberries, and nuts. It’s a bit higher in carbs and sugar so that’s why we came up with a much better option for you. 

This low carb chicken salad has become one of my husband’s favorites, along with our Keto Egg Salad, and Low carb Tuna Salad. I hope it becomes a regular on your menu this summer.

What is Chicken Salad?

A classic chicken salad is a combo of chicken, mayonnaise, celery, and onion. Some chicken salads add in fruit such as grapes or apples, nuts, or even lemon juice. 

Chicken salad is normally eaten as a sandwich, or just eaten in a bowl by itself, often as a side dish.

Is Chicken Salad Healthy?

bowl of Keto Chicken Salad with lettuce tomatoes and lemon

Whether chicken salad is healthy or not depends on what ingredients you put in it and how much. For example, the amount of mayo you add can determine how healthy or unhealthy your chicken salad is. 

You can lose weight by eating chicken salad but like I said, going easy on the mayo is key to whether you can still lose weight by eating it. In fact, you can swap out the mayo altogether and use greek yogurt instead. 

Use chicken breasts, instead of dark meat chicken with skin on because white-meat chicken is leaner and fewer calories. Then add in some extra veggies like onions, celery, even cucumbers can be a nice healthy addition. 

Not only are veggies a healthy add on, but if you aren’t eating low carb then adding fresh fruit is healthy as well. 

Another way to ensure your keto-friendly chicken salad is healthy is to swap out the bread and put it inside a lettuce wrap instead.

Is this Chicken Salad Keto-friendly?

Chicken salad with mayo is definitely keto-friendly?? Yessssss!!!! This keto salad recipe is not only keto-friendly, in my opinion, but it’s also top of the list for keto recipes. 

How many carbs are in a serving of chicken salad? For ½ cup serving it’s only 0.9 NET CARBS. Pretty good right?? 

But what about mayo? Can you eat mayo while on keto? Most store-bought mayo’s don’t contain carbs but make sure you read the label first. 

I recommend Hellman’s Mayo being the best store-bought option. But another good option is making your own homemade mayo, that way it doesn’t include any artificial fillers.

What Ingredients are in Low Carb Chicken Salad?

Keto Chicken Salad ingredients
  • Chicken – Fresh poached chicken breast is the best option. Once it’s been cooled then either dice or shred it. 
  • Mayo – I like Hellman’s the best, it doesn’t contain any carbs. But feel free to make your own. 
  • Red Onion – I love adding red onion to pretty much all of my salads. 
  • Celery – Adds a nice crunch to your chicken salad. If you don’t like celery it’s ok, it can be omitted. 
  • Mustard – You can use any kind of mustard, but I went with Dijon. 
  • Spices – I only used a small amount of salt and pepper. I feel that it added just enough flavor.

Canned Chicken vs. Fresh Chicken

You may be wondering if it’s better to use canned chicken or fresh chicken better when making low carb chicken salad. From our experience, both options will work just fine. 

I’ve been making chicken salad for years and I prefer using fresh chicken over canned. I feel that the texture holds up better, canned chicken can be mushier which is better for recipes like Buffalo Chicken Dip.

Now if you do decide to use fresh chicken as I do, you can use a rotisserie chicken or you can boil your own. Honestly either way it’s pretty easy. But I think you will prefer the taste and texture of using fresh chicken.

Light Meat vs. Dark Meat for Chicken Salad?

cutting poached chicken for Keto chicken salad

The next question that comes to us is if white meat or dark meat is better for this keto chicken salad? 

I would tell you for most recipes that chicken thighs and drumsticks are where it’s at. But that being said, for traditional chicken salad, white meat chicken is what’s commonly used. Why is that?? 

Chicken breasts don’t have a ton of flavor which means that your flavors all come from the other ingredients that you add while keeping the chicken from becoming overpowering.

I also found that cooked chicken breasts have a better texture after being chilled, and can be diced or shredded more easily. At times dark meat can become chewy when served cold. 

With all of this being said, white meat isn’t best for all other chicken recipes, but the best option for this Keto chicken salad recipe is using light meat.

Best Seasonings

I ended up adding just some salt and pepper to our low carb chicken salad recipe. I found that the onions, celery, and mustard added enough good flavor.

Other options for seasonings that would work are:

  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Poultry Seasoning
  • Fresh or Dried Dill 
  • Celery Salt

Recipe Variations

Here’s the great thing about making homemade keto-friendly chicken salad, it’s kinda like a blank canvas. Here are some variations: 

  • Swap out the mayo for a creamy avocado dressing or a dijon mustard dressing
  • Cheddar Bacon Chicken Salad – Replace the mayo with sour cream and add in chopped bacon and cheddar cheese. 
  • Waldorf Chicken Salad – Add in apples, walnuts, and grapes. This is probably best to do when you’re not eating low carb due to the added fruit.

Optional Add-Ins

how to make Keto Chicken Salad

You can add whatever you like or don’t like to it. Some ideas for things you can add in this keto salad are: 

  • Hard-Boiled Eggs – A lot of people love hard-boiled eggs and they go great with not only chicken salad, but also keto tuna salad. 
  • Nuts – Pecans, Walnuts, and Sliced Almonds are all fantastic additions to your keto chicken salad. They add not only flavor but give you some healthy fat and protein. Try putting in some Low Carb Roasted Nuts to add some sweetness.
  • Seasonings and Herbs – Fresh or dried dill, fresh or dried parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, poultry seasoning, celery salt, or paprika. 
  • Fruit – While on keto you need to be careful when adding fruit, especially dried fruit due to the sugar and carb content. The best fruit that can be added on keto is avocado. 
  • Non-Keto Fruit – Apples, Cranberries, Mandarin Oranges, and Grapes.

How to Make Chicken Taste Good?

Chicken breasts tend to be pretty flavorless and get dried out very easily. That’s why I don’t cook a lot of recipes with white meat chicken.

However, when I do cook it, I like to add in as many spices and other veggies like onions, garlic, celery, even some lemon juice. Chicken is versatile and so many things can be added to it to make it taste good.

Chicken Salad Dressing Options

Don’t like mayonnaise?? Not a problem, you still can enjoy this low carb chicken salad. 

Avocado – Mash some ripe avocados with a little bit of salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Not only are you adding some extra healthy fat but also a good flavor. 

Greek Yogurt – This is a great replacement for mayo. It gives you the same creamy texture that mayo has. Check the label before you buy it because it still contains some carbs. You want to choose a greek yogurt that has no added sugar and is higher in fat.

Chicken Prep Options

When it comes to prepping our chicken for this keto salad there are a few options:

  1. Poached Chicken – Cover the chicken with water in a pot and let them simmer on the stove until cooked through. The chicken needs to reach 165 degrees, which should take about 10-14 minutes. 
  2. Pre-cooked Rotisserie Chicken – This is an easy option if you don’t have time to poach the chicken. Pull the chicken off of the bones and either shred or dice. Costco has the best rotisserie chickens. It’s the biggest bang for your buck. 
  3. Oven-roasted Chicken – Coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees. 
  4. Canned Chicken – Not my favorite but still doable. Make sure to completely drain the can first.

How to Make Keto Chicken Salad from Scratch

Follow my instructions for making this easy keto chicken salad.  First let’s start out with our creamy mixture:

Preparing Creamy Mixture

In a small bowl combine the mayo, mustard, salt, pepper, red onion, and celery.

Stir until well combined. Place in the fridge until the chicken is cooked.

mixing Keto Chicken Salad in a bowl with wooden spoon

Poaching Chicken

The first time I poached chicken I was nervous, but after I did it, I realized it was super easy.

bowl of raw chicken and an empty pot

Start out by filling a pot with water and putting it on the stove at medium-high heat. Make sure to add some salt to the water like you would for pasta.

Bring the water to a boil and add your chicken to the pot.

Let it simmer for about 10-14 minutes. You want the chicken to reach 165 degrees internally before using it in the salad.

Drain the chicken in a colander and let cool.

You want the chicken to be cooled off enough that it’s easier to cut or shred. If you have the time I recommend letting the chicken reach room temp, then place in the fridge for a while to get cold.

Putting it All Together

Once the chicken has completely cooled off and you’re able to actually handle it without burning your fingers then it’s time to cut it. Use a sharp knife, and dice the chicken into small pieces.

After the chicken is all cut, move it into a larger bowl.

bowl of chopped chicken

Then pour the creamy mixture you made earlier over the chicken. Stir until well combined.

I find that making your mixture ahead of time ensures that all the flavors really get mixed into the chicken so much better. 

As soon as the salad is well combined, serve immediately or place in the fridge to chill up. The flavors are best if able to marinate for a few hours first.

bowl of Keto Chicken Salad with chopped celery on top

I like to garnish it with some chopped scallions or celery for texture and presentation.

Best Tips for Low Carb Chicken Salad 

Here are some good tips to follow when making the best keto chicken salad: 

  • White meat chicken is a better option over dark meat chicken in this recipe.
  • Make a creamy mixture of the spices, mayo, mustard, onions, and celery first and then pour it over chicken. It is easier to get all the ingredients evenly mixed together this way. 
  • Mayo can be replaced with mashed avocado, greek yogurt. If you aren’t on keto then you could use sour cream instead. 
  • Additional add-in options are nuts, hard-boiled eggs, fresh herbs, other spices, and fruits. 
  • Chicken options are poached, oven-baked, pre-cooked rotisserie, or canned. 
  • Poached chicken is the best in my opinion. 
  • After the chicken has been cooked, let it cool down before you cut it. It makes it easier to cut and to handle.

Keeping Chicken Salad from Getting Watery

In order to keep your keto chicken salad from getting watery don’t add too much mayo. When people add in too much mayo a lot of the time the next day it will get watery. So just keep your mayo quantity on the lower side.

Other Diets This Recipe is Good For

  • Gluten-Free: Love giving you gluten-free recipes to add to your list of favorites. This is definitely one of them. 
  • Dairy-Free: There is NO dairy in this easy chicken salad. It contains mayo, which is also dairy-free. 
  • Paleo: The way the recipe is right now is not quite paleo, because store-bought mayo has soybean oil in it which is not paleo. But you can still make it paleo by making your own homemade mayo using olive oil or avocado oil instead.
  • Egg-Free: This chicken salad has mayo in it, and mayo contains eggs. So as we see it’s NOT AN EGG-FREE recipe. But replace the mayo with Greek yogurt, or mashed avocado and now you have an egg-free chicken salad.

How to Make a Low Carb Chicken Salad Sandwich

Just because you are on keto doesn’t mean that your days of eating a chicken salad sandwich are over! I know it might seem like it, but it’s not the case. All you need to do is whip up a batch of your keto chicken salad, then pair it with 2 slices of low carb bread. Put the two of them together and you’ve got yourself a low carb chicken salad sandwich. 

Oh, another great way to eat this keto-friendly chicken salad is to serve it with our Keto Chaffles which will make a low carb chicken salad sandwich! Make 2 chaffles and put a scoop of chicken salad in between. So delicious!

How to Serve Keto Chicken Salad?

two bowls of Keto Chicken Salad recipe

Traditional chicken salad is served in between 2 slices of bread. But since you’re eating low carb, how should you serve your keto chicken salad? A few ideas: 

  • Low Carb Bread – Either make or buy a loaf of low carb bread and make yourself a sandwich. 
  • Wraps – Use either a low carb tortilla or serve it in a lettuce wrap. Butter lettuce and romaine hearts are the best. 
  • Keto Cheese Taco ShellThis is another great low carb wrap option. 
  • Avocado – Cut an avocado in half and stuff it with chicken salad. 
  • Cucumber Boats – Slice a cucumber in half and scrape out the core. Stuff it with chicken salad.
  • In a Bowl – Probably my favorite way….just scoop it right into a bowl and eat until your hearts desire. 
  • Green Salad – Throw a scoop of it on top of a green toss salad. 
  • Chaffles – Cook 2 chaffles and place a scoop of chicken salad in between.

What Goes Good with Chicken Salad?

Different foods that go good with chicken salad are:

  • Keto Crackers are great for dipping into the chicken salad.
  • A platter of celery or carrots for dipping. 
  • A few slices of cheese served on the side is quite delicious.
  • Parmesan Crisps go fabulous with low carb chicken salad.

Can I Make Chicken Salad Ahead?

Making this easy low carb chicken salad ahead of time is awesome and comes in handy for making quick meals.

  1. It’s fabulous for meal prepping. Several times we have made a huge batch of chicken salad and I divided it up into separate containers, that way we could easily just grab a container and go. 
  2. Better the next day. Once the flavors sit and have been infused together it gives you much better taste. 
  3. Perfect for summer picnics. Unfortunately, this summer doesn’t look too promising for picnicking, but when life gets back to normal this is the best chicken salad to bring to your next picnic or gathering.

How to Store Chicken Salad

Once your chicken salad has been prepared put it in an airtight container and keep stored in the fridge. I always err on the side of caution when it comes to foods that have mayo in it. I only keep my chicken salad up to 4 days.

Can You Freeze Chicken Salad?

Recipes that contain mayo, like this low carb chicken salad, don’t really freeze well. When the mayo thaws, it separates, so I wouldn’t freeze your low carb chicken salad once it’s been prepared. 

But something you could do is cook the chicken and dice or shred it, then freeze it. When ready to make the easy chicken salad, thaw the diced chicken then combine it with all the other ingredients. 

Best Keto Chicken Salad

More Keto Recipes

If you’re in the mood for some other Low Carb Recipes then try our:

They all are Keto-friendly and low carb, and will be a hit at your next meal!

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Keto Chicken Salad feature

Healthy Keto Chicken Salad Recipe


  • Author: Stephanie Parlegreco
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 14 Servings (1/2 Cup per serving) 1x
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Description

Keto Chicken Salad is an all-time favorite and a classic salad. For those hot days when you don’t want to turn on your oven, this low carb chicken salad recipe is going to be your go-to recipe. It’s quick and easy and most importantly it tastes amazing!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 ½ pounds of chicken breast, diced 
  • ¾ cup celery, chopped 
  • ¾ cup red onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • ¾ cup mayo
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

Instructions

Notes

0.9 NET CARBS PER SERVING 

Chicken breast is a better option over dark meat chicken. 

Make a creamy mixture of the spices, mayo, mustard, onions, and celery. Then pour over chicken. It is easier to get all the ingredients evenly mixed together this way.

Mayo can be replaced with mashed avocado, greek yogurt. If you aren’t on keto then you could use sour cream instead. 

Additional add on options are nuts, hard-boiled eggs, fresh herbs, other spices, and fruits. 

Chicken options are poached, oven-baked, pre-cooked rotisserie, or canned. 

Poached chicken is the best in my opinion. 

After the chicken has been cooked, let it cool down before you cut it. It makes it easier to cut and to handle. 

I do not recommend freezing the chicken salad.

  • Category: Salads
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Keto Chicken Salad, Low Carb Chicken Salad, Keto Chicken Salad Recipe, Low Carb Chicken Salad Recipe, How to make Keto Chicken Salad, Best Keto Chicken Salad, Easy Keto Chicken Salad, Best Low Carb Chicken Salad, Easy Low Carb Chicken Salad, Gluten-Free Chicken Salad

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