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A brilliant make-ahead curried chicken salad balanced with tart apples, sweet raisins, and finished with cilantro, this is one you will make over and over!
Step-by-step photos and instructions are below!
Summer is officially here, and with it comes the make ahead food that I can throw together and keep in the fridge ready for a quick meal whenever one is needed. This is a slightly different take on a classic chicken salad, and a favorite way of mine to use up leftover chicken.
I love that it actually gets BETTER the further ahead I make, as the curry flavor really does develop and tastes better the next day.
The spicy but not blazing hot curry is balanced perfectly with the sweet/tartness of the granny smith apple, and the crunchy celery – and then the chewy little raisins, and the fragrant cilantro – all in one mouthful.
If you love this curry chicken salad, you’ll love my classic chicken salad with Greek yogurt, too!
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- This salad is perfect to make ahead.
- Uses common ingredients, easily found at your local market.
- This makes an amazing quick lunch or snack.
- It keeps well for several days, perfect for meal planning.
How to serve Curried Chicken Salad
I like to make a simple sandwich, with plain bread, pita bread, or a nice buttery croissant but have been known to use lettuce leaves, like a lettuce wrap. You could also just pile it onto a bed of lettuce too. Either way it’s epic.
I have included step-by-step photos and instructions, as well as tips and tricks in the post. If you’d rather skip all that, scoot right on down to the full recipe card located at the bottom of the post.
How to cook chicken for a salad:
It’s super easy. I typically use leftover chicken for this recipe, but whenever I have a hankering to make this and have no leftovers, here’s what I do:
Add chicken breasts, a little salt and pepper and enough water or chicken broth to cover the chicken to a saucepan.
Heat to a simmer, and cook until chicken reaches 165F. Cool completely, before dicing.
Season chicken breasts, and add to instant pot (use the trivet). Add 1 cup of water or chicken broth to the pot. Cover, seal and set to high pressure for 10 minutes.
Do a quick release. Cool completely before dicing.
Recipe Ingredients and Possible Substitutes
The full list of ingredients and quantities is found in the printable recipe card below.
- Mayonnaise. I use 1/2 cup mayonnaise – but you can switch some of it out for Greek yogurt or plain yogurt instead!
- Curry Powder. I use a madras curry powder, but any kind will do! Use a little bit at first, and increase as you taste test the dressing.
Just note how much you add so the next time you make this, it’s perfect off the bat!
- Chicken. See below on how to cook tender chicken breasts for salad if you aren’t using leftover rotisserie chicken! Cut into bite-sized, small pieces.
- Apple. I use a tart, crisp Granny Smith apple. because it goes so well with the sweet flavors of the raisins
- Celery. Crisp celery adds crunch!
- Raisins. I use golden raisins for this. You could use fresh grapes if you have them on hand.
- Cilantro. A pop of freshness – don’t leave this out!
- Salt and pepper. I use kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
How to make Curried Chicken Salad:
Scroll for Recipe
The full list of ingredients, quantities and instructions can be found in the printable recipe card below.
Dice the cooked chicken, core and dice the apple, dice the celery, chop the cilantro.
Make the creamy dressing
Make the salad
In a large bowl, add the chicken, chopped apple, celery, raisins, and cilantro. Mix the dressing into the chicken mixture.
Do a quick taste test and add salt and black pepper to taste (I use about ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper). Sprinkle with extra cilantro.
Serve with salad greens, lettuce cups or some fresh bread.
What to do with leftovers
Store in an airtight container, or in a container covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Crunchy cashews or sliced almonds sprinkled over the top are awesome, along with a good sprinkle of curry powder.
Red onion or green onions are great additions to this recipe.
Grab some lettuce leaves and make lettuce wraps!
Lime juice, lemon juice or a little apple cider vinegar can be used to brighten this. about 2 tsp will do it!
More delicious salad recipes:
- Summery White Bean Salad. Served chilled or at room temperature, this Summery White Bean Salad is great to make ahead, or to grab and go! A short prep time means you can have it on the table fast!
- Greek Chick Pea Salad An excellent make-ahead Salad, that will stay good for a few days in the fridge, making this perfect for lunches.
- Caprese Orzo Salad (Basil Tomato Mozzarella). An easy side, this salad combines tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil with a yummy homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Make ahead!
- Grilled Vegetable Salad with Tarragon Dressing. A spectacular, smoky charcoal-grilled vegetable salad, bursting with flavor, this is an easy side that you can make ahead or make with the family!
- Roasted Beet Salad with Feta & Walnuts. Made with feta and roasted walnuts, drizzled with a homemade vinaigrette. The beets are the star of the show!
- Southwest Chicken Salad (with Chipotle Ranch Dressing). Classic flavors made fabulous in this hearty Southwest Chicken Salad. With enough protein to make this a wonderful main dish vs a side, this is a salad you’ll make over and over!
- The Best Tuna Salad Ever. Crunchy, spicy and full of flavor – this is not your average tuna salad recipe! Jalapenos, onion, tomatoes, and celery all feature in this super easy to make recipe!
Curried Chicken Salad
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 Tbs mild curry powder
- 1 tsp water
- 2 cups chicken (, cooked and diced)
- 1 granny smith apple (, cored and diced)
- 2-3 ribs celery (, diced)
- 1/3 cup raisins ((I use golden raisins))
- ½ cup cilantro (, chopped)
- Salt and pepper
- In a small bowl, blend together the mayo, curry and water until will combined.
- In a larger bowl, add the chicken, apple, celery, raisins, and cilantro.
- Mix the dressing into the chicken mixture.
- Do a quick taste test, and add salt and pepper to taste (I use about ½ tsp each of salt and pepper).
- Chill, until needed.
Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.
Update: This recipe was originally published in May of 2017. It was republished with updated photos in June of 2022.