This California Chicken Salad Recipe is a great recipe when you need something quick, easy, healthy, and delicious! Made with rotisserie chicken, avocado, and fresh lime juice, this chicken salad is a delicious meal to whip up when you don’t feel like cooking!
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I love chicken salad! If you use a rotisserie chicken or have leftover grilled chicken or pre-cooked chicken, it comes together in minutes!
The one thing I don’t enjoy about many chicken salad recipes is they are super heavy on the mayo! This California chicken salad recipe combines avocado, fresh lime juice, cilantro, a little onion, and just a BIT of mayo!
If you want a delicious, light chicken salad, you have to try this chicken salad without mayo!
The result is a nice light, fresh-tasting avocado chicken salad! According to my family, it’s the best chicken salad because they aren’t big mayo people. This chicken salad makes a delicious lunch or light dinner!
Serve on top of greens as a salad, or make California chicken salad sandwiches…or devour it right out of the bowl with crackers (my personal fave).
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
- Super easy–comes together in less than 15 minutes!
- A delicious meal for lunch or dinner!
- A lighter take on the traditional chicken salad–very little mayo in this salad!
- Recipe can be easily doubled or tripled to feed a crowd!
- Great for parties and casual get-togethers!
You’ll need the following ingredients to make this delicious California Chicken Salad:
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST CALIFORNIA CHICKEN SALAD: STEP-BY-STEP
Here are some quick visual instructions. Remember that full instructions with exact ingredients will be in the recipe card below!
Step 1: Shred your chicken, or chop into small pieces (Pro Tip: Using a stand mixer or hand mixer will get the chicken nice and fine).
Step 2: Add all other salad ingredients.
Step 3: Gently toss. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Add more lime juice if desired.
RECIPE TIPS & TRICKS
How to shred your chicken: There are a few ways to get shredded chicken:
Mixer: Use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer! It takes about 3-4 minutes on medium speed to get the chicken finely shredded. You can do less time if you want larger pieces.
Chopping: Just use a good old-fashioned knife and chop the chicken into small pieces.
By Hand: I often like larger pieces of chicken for my chicken salad, so I will just use my hands the chicken breasts apart as I remove it from the whole chicken or cooked chicken breasts.
🌟MAKE AHEAD TIP 🌟
If you want to make this ahead, shred your chicken and chop the onion and cilantro; store in the fridge. Wait to mix everything together with the avocado until you’re ready to enjoy!
HOW TO STORE
- Storage: Store leftover chicken salad in an airtight container like this (or similar food container) in the fridge for up to 2 days. After this time, the salad is still safe to eat, however, the avocado will start to turn brown, and moisture from the onion will start to release into the salad. To preserve the taste of the dish, I try to eat leftovers the next day.
You can also store leftovers in a small bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap (or my favorite bowls with airtight lids!!). Before serving, freshen it up with a little fresh lime juice!
Note: Chicken salad that has been left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours should not be consumed, according to the FDA. Read more here: How Long Does Chicken Salad Last in the Fridge?
- Freezing: Although it’s POSSIBLE to freeze this chicken salad, I do not recommend it. You can read all the details about freezing chicken salad in this post: Can You Freeze Chicken Salad? for more details!
ADDITIONS AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Mayo: Full-fat Greek yogurt or sour cream can be substituted for the mayo.
Onion: Any white or yellow onion or even green onion can be used in place of red onion.
Seedless grapes: Grapes are a delicious addition for a bit of sweetness!
Bell Peppers: Peppers are a great addition for more crunch and color!
Cherry Tomatoes: …or sliced tomatoes if you are making sandwiches!
Crunchy Celery: LOVE the great crunch chopped celery gives this chicken salad!
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Whole Foods has a delicious Sonoma chicken salad with a poppy seed dressing that is absolutely delish. Some people call that a “California” chicken salad. However, I have dubbed my version “California” because….you guessed it…the AVOCADO!!!!
This salad is heavy on the avocado, light on the mayo, and has lots of bright fresh flavors! As a lifelong Californian, that is how I would characterize “California cuisine!” LOL!
There are four main ways I love to enjoy chicken salad:
1. Sandwiches: on regular bread, croissants, or pita bread!
2. Wraps: Wrap in a flour tortilla, add some crispy lettuce and you have the perfect wrap.
3. With Crackers: There is nothing easier than just putting a stack of crackers out and letting everyone dig in!!
4. With Greens: Pile this avocado chicken salad into lettuce wraps or serve chicken mixture on top of a bed of greens for a fresh and healthy meal.
TOOLS FOR THIS RECIPE
OTHER SALAD RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
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California Chicken Salad
- 4 cups rotisserie chicken, chopped See Note 1
- 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
- 1-2 large avocados, diced
- 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- juice of two limes (about 4 tablespoons), to taste lemon juice works, too
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- If you are using rotisserie chicken, remove all breast meat. Then shred or chop to your desired size (See Note 1).
- In a large bowl, add chicken and all salad ingredients.
- Mix gently until everything is combined. Add more lime juice and freshly ground black pepper, if you like.
- Serve immediately or chill until you are ready to serve.