This healthy chicken salad recipe is nutritious, easy to make, and deliciously infused with extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt, and lime juice and then packed with sweet shallots and different herbs.
Enjoy as-is, or top it with add-ons like creamy avocado or hard cheese bits to enjoy a high-protein healthy salad for lunch or dinner in 10 minutes.
This old family recipe is the only chicken salad I grew up with and so worth making if you love fresh and hearty Mediterranean flavors.
Usually, I make it with juicy, tender shredded meat from a whole poached chicken, which is perfect if you are into weekly meal prep.
But it also works with leftover rotisserie chicken, or you can give some new life to your cast-iron chicken roast dinner from last night.
Let's make it!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Classic Recipe —It's a handed-down chicken salad recipe with good-quality olive oil as the secret ingredient (no mayo).
- Easy — It's an easy recipe that comes together with simple ingredients.
- Light yet Satisfying —Lean protein paired with fresh ingredients makes the healthiest and easy chicken salad that's super satisfying.
- Healthier version —It's high in protein, low carb (and Keto-friendly), and gluten-free, all wrapped in delicious flavors.
- Adaptable —By adding or leaving out a few ingredients, you can find your favorite ways to make the healthiest tasty chicken salad.
Ingredients & Notes
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
Here are the main ingredients that go into this healthy chicken salad recipe.
Lime—Lime juice imparts a unique, refreshing element to the salad and balances the salty flavors and oily texture. Lemon juice is a great alternative.
Cilantro—My grandmother always used parsley, but over the years, I've added cilantro to the mix and use it more often now as the main herb. Choose whatever you like best, or use a combination of both.
Shallots—It's my favorite onion in this homemade chicken salad. They add a deliciously sweet and mellow oniony flavor. But you can also use a finely sliced red or green onion, especially if you enjoy a punchier taste.
Olive Oil—Go for extra virgin olive oil to give the chicken meat a subtle creamy texture and amazing flavor.
Find the perfect balance of flavors with these add-ons to make it your own.
- Add more fresh parsley or cilantro than suggested. Their chopped green leaves add a refreshing aromatic touch.
- Throw in a few chopped Basil leaves and fresh Rosemary (highly suggested).
- Top it off with creamy avocado and aged hardy cheese. Parmesan cheese is a great option.
- Sometimes, I even throw in small red cherry tomatoes or serve them on the side (perfect for when you want to make a chicken sandwich).
- If low-carb isn't your concern, add some juicy grapes cut in half.
Note: To switch things up, try adding a drizzle of this Cilantro Parsley Chimichurri Sauce.
How to Make Healthy Chicken Salad
See the full recipe with measurements in the recipe card.
Step One (Picture 1 above) - Place the cooked chicken in a large mixing bowl and, with your hands, pull apart the chicken meat into smaller shreds.
Step Two (Picture 2 above) - Add chopped shallots and parsley (or cilantro).
Step Three (Picture 3 above) - Add add-ons like avocado, cheese, Basil leaves, and chopped fresh Rosemary. Season with a good pinch of salt and black pepper and gently toss to combine.
Step Four (Picture 4 above) - Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and pour olive oil over the salad. Toss to combine. Add more salt or black pepper to taste.
Note: For best results, let the chicken salad rest on the kitchen counter for 10 to 15 minutes for the flavors to melt and the olive oil to soak in.
- A healthy lunch or light dinner—It pairs well with a refreshing mango salad and a pineapple mocktail or piña colada during warm summer months. For colder days, pair it with healing bone broth, Stracciatella soup, or a simple side like Roasted Baby Bok Choy.
- Chicken salad sandwiches—Serve on top of olive oil-coated crusted bread. Then sprinkle some crushed red pepper flakes if you enjoy some heat.
- Make a lettuce wrap—Serve the chicken salad on sweet Romaine lettuce leaves to keep it low-carb.
- A perfect potluck dish—It's the easiest thing to bring to a potluck with a crusty baguette and a cucumber avocado quinoa salad.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge (without avocado) for up to 4 days.
So here you have it, a super healthy chicken salad recipe to add to your light meal rotations and a great way to use up leftover chicken.
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Easy And Healthy Chicken Salad Recipe (No Mayo)Mariska Ramondino
To make the salad
- 2 ½ cups cooked chicken, shredded 300 grams (Rotisserie chicken will work here)
- 1 large shallot, finely sliced or chopped About ⅓ cup chopped or 40 grams
- ⅓ cup packed chopped fresh cilantro or parsley leaves or more as desired (20 grams)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil or more as desired
- 1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- ½ lime or lemon, cut into wedges to garnish
- 1 avocado, peeled and cubed
- 5 - 7 fresh basil leaves chopped or teared into small pieces
- 1 - 2 teaspoons chopped fresh Rosemary
- ½ cup cubed hard cheese of your choice 68 grams
- Place chicken in a large mixing bowl. Use your fingers to sufficiently pull or shred the chicken meat.2 ½ cups cooked chicken, shredded
- Add the shallots, cilantro, or parsley. If you choose to add all or one of the add-ons, throw them in now (like avocado, fresh Basil, Rosemary, and cheese).1 large shallot, finely sliced or chopped, ⅓ cup packed chopped fresh cilantro or parsley leaves, 1 avocado, peeled and cubed, 5 - 7 fresh basil leaves, ½ cup cubed hard cheese of your choice, 1 - 2 teaspoons chopped fresh Rosemary
- Gently toss all the ingredients until well combined.
- Season royally with extra virgin olive oil, lime or lemon juice, salt, and black pepper to taste.¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice, Salt and black pepper to taste
- Toss gently again to ensure the olive oil and seasonings are equally divided.
- Taste and add more salt, pepper, or olive oil, if preffered. Toss again and taste until seasoning is just right for you.
- Serve with extra lime wedges on the side.½ lime or lemon, cut into wedges
- Make it a full meal with a large salad on the side or serve on (low-carb) bread or lettuce wraps to make chicken sandwiches.
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Nutrition (% Daily value)
Disclaimer: This nutritional data is calculated using third party tools and is only intended as a reference.