What to Serve with Chicken Salad – 15 Fantastic Sides
There are as many types of chicken salad as your imagination will allow. Spicy chicken salad. Sweet and savory chicken salad. Traditional chicken salad sandwiches with mayonnaise, or chicken salad tossed with soy sauce and sesame oil for an Asian twist.
What about a delicate chicken salad with white grapes and tarragon, or a chicken salad that’s big and robust with roasted vegetables?
So, the question of what to serve with chicken salad and all its variations is equally vast and endless.
The base of chicken salad is – of course – Chicken. Braised chicken, rotisserie chicken, canned chicken, shredded chicken, and just a plain old baked or grilled chicken breast are all a wonderful base to start the salad with.
You may already have a family favorite or be open to new and bold(er) flavors. (Hello, radish micro greens!)
Whichever way you prefer your chicken salad, there’s one thing everyone agrees on – there’s always room on the table for this classic dish.
It’s a perennial lunch go-to that can be dressed down for a bagged lunch at the desk, or dressed up and served on china for an elegant lunch with friends and family al fresco.
Served on a salad of greens with an iced tea – chicken salad is the meal of the summer.
And here are some appetizing thoughts on for chicken salad sides whether you serve it on a platter or spread between two slices of bread. Spicy sides, fried sides, and healthy sides – you can find a wealth of ideas to choose from here.
So, let’s dive in.
15 Chicken Salad Sides
1. POTATO CHIPS (LOW FAT)
Gemma over at Bigger Bolder Baking has a creative way to make simple (and with just the bare minimum of olive oil), potato chips in the microwave.
The trick is thinly sliced potatoes, and rinsing (and drying) them well. She also includes ideas for homemade seasonings that will appeal to any chip lover.
These will go with nearly any type of chicken salad, and will evaporate off the plate!
Check out the recipe here:
2. DEEP FRIED POTATO CHIPS
If a fried chip is more your speed when digging into a chicken salad sandwich, Tomas Andersson, over at Sourdough and Olives, has a fantastic and fun tutorial on how to make deep fried potato chips.
These chips will go with any type of chicken salad – and anything else you can think of.
The magic of the technique is in a little potato parboil bath with vinegar. Give those potatoes a little pre-fried love!
Click here to read all about it from… wait for it…. an engineer at an actual potato chip company: sourdoughandolives.com
3. QUICK AND EASY DILL PICKLES
With just 24 hours lead time, you can amaze everyone around the table with homemade dill pickles! How amazing will these pickles be with a classic chicken salad?
Crisp. Dilly. Slightly spicy. Oh, my.
Jenn over at Once Upon a Chef has a foolproof recipe for refrigerator pickles that will make everyone drool. These bad boy spears are heavy on garlic and dill, which are the superheroes in the pickle world.
Here’s the link to swoon over: onceuponachef.com
4. A LOADED GREEN SALAD
Double (or triple) your protein and double (or triple) your fun!
This salad from What’s Gaby Cooking is loaded with chickpeas, and feta – which, combined with chicken salad makes this luscious salad a little nutritional powerhouse.
Spoon a hearty serving of this next to your chicken salad on whole grain bread – and bam! You’re good to go for hours in the afternoon.
There’s also a flavorful basil vinaigrette that makes everything extra wonderful. See it all at: whatsgabycooking.com
5. CHEESE STRAWS
If crackers are nice as a side to dollops of chicken salad, think about how much more cheese straws would up the flavor ante!
These crunchy bites of cheddar and butter are never going to be labeled as “health food,” but they’re homemade and made with real ingredients.
They’re so fantastically decadent! But a few won’t hurt, especially while nibbling a chicken salad loaded with fresh veggies served over baby arugula. Live a little!
And Jamie over at My Baking Addiction has a recipe that’s going to make you fall in love with this southern favorite. mybakingaddiction.com
6. CREAMY SWEET MACARONI SALAD
Peas, please! This luscious macaroni salad is what goes with chicken salad no matter what version you make up.
They’ll metaphorically shake hands, pull up chairs alongside of each other and say, “How do you do?”
This pasta salad and chicken salad absolutely adore each other. The combination of peas, celery, tangy apple cider and sweet bell pepper sing in perfect concert with a delicate chicken salad.
Get the recipe from Tiffany at Crème de la Crumb here: lecremedelacrumb.com
7. WILD RICE SALAD WITH DRIED FRUIT AND ALMONDS
What is it about wild rice that makes it so appealing? Is it the nutty flavor? Is it the stunning color? Is it the way it lends itself to ingredients that are both savory and sweet?
Oh, it’s all of that.
And this salad is what to serve with chicken salad – hearty ones, as well as light and floral ones. Feel free to put it through its paces, and it will amaze you. It. Pairs. With. Everything.
Click here to visit Erin at The Speckled Palate and she’ll walk you though how to make it: thespeckledpalate.com
8. CREAMY BACON POTATO SOUP
Let’s guild the lily, shall we? Serving a potato soup that’s full of smoky bacon flavors and creamy cheesiness alongside any iteration of chicken salad might just be too good to be true.
Rachel and Karissa, from Red Apron Girl, talk us through making this satisfying and rich soup.
They even trim out a little extra fat along the way – proving that such a lusciously creamy classic can be healthier without sacrificing flavor. Finishing with fresh scallions really freshens it up in the end too.
We weren’t kidding when we said we were gilding the lily, were we? Click here for the recipe: redaprongirl.com
9. CRAZY COLORFUL AND THE BEST HEALTHY COLESLAW EVER
Some coleslaws are just exuberantly happy. They jump out of the bowl or plate and tickle the visual senses. This is one of those and it will brighten up any grilled chicken taco salad.
It’s loaded with purple cabbage, cilantro, carrots and has a kick from the jalapeno.
This slaw is devoid of mayonnaise – which is just fine – because Monique over at Ambitious Kitchen tosses it all in a vinaigrette that’s as bright and feisty as the salad itself.
Check it out here: ambitiouskitchen.com
10. CHILLED CUCUMBER SOUP
Light. Crisp. Refreshing. Insanely delicious. Creamy cucumber soup is all those things in one bowl.
Jenn over at Veggie Inspired gives a delightful overview on cucumbers in general – and directions on how to make this delectable soup which answers the perennial question, “What can I do with all these cucumbers?”
This soup would pair delightfully with a classic chicken sandwich, or one with chicken and fruit.
Check out the recipe here and prepare to fall in love: veggieinspired.com
11. ASIAN VEGGIE SALAD WITH NUTS AND SEEDS
When you’re tucking into that chicken salad loaded with ginger and scallions in a little rice wrap, why not round out the plate with this Asian-inspired salad?
This version is loaded with flavors and textures – simply irresistible. Kristen over at The Endless Meal walks readers through the recipe along with ideas on how to make it vegan, paleo or Whole30 compliant.
The dressing would also work perfectly as a double duty binder for your next Chinese chicken salad. See more at: theendlessmeal.com
12. ROASTED ASPARAGUS AND LEMON
Crunchy, lemony, and savory – this roasted asparagus dish is a fantastic chicken salad side of any type.
Clean flavors and ease of preparation are the hallmarks of asparagus in general, and this recipe in particular.
Amy over at She Wears Many Hats explains how to get this side dish into – and out of – the oven in no time at all.
And don’t be shy about eating the lemons rind and all, they’re delicious! Bon appetit!
Read more about this goodness at: shewearsmanyhats.com
13. FARRO SALAD WITH VEGETABLES, OLIVES, AND FETA
How do you like your ancient grains? A little toothsome and surrounded by bright, vibrant colors? How about with a kiss of brininess and fresh summer tomatoes and cucumbers?
Guess what? Today is your lucky day, because this is the salad for you!
Sara, from Dinner at the Zoo, created a salad that’s a treat for the eyes and the taste buds.
It’s also loaded with chickpeas for a little legume love. Not to mention that it’s stellar with nearly any type of chicken salad.
14. BROCCOLI APPLE WALNUT SALAD
Mmm. Curry chicken salad. Served on bread or just on its own, it’s a wildly popular combination of flavors that usually includes some sort of fruit with the chicken. Maybe some apples, maybe some grapes, and maybe both.
But don’t let the fruit love end there!
Over at Bowl of Delicious, Elizabeth has a fresh, fruity, and crunchy broccoli salad with tart cranberries and apples that will tie your whole lunch or dinner plate together.
Grab the link here: bowlofdelicious.com
15. GARDEN VEGETABLE QUINOA SOUP
Chicken salad sandwiches love to hang with soup. They complement each other and look fabulous together on the table.
And this veggie quinoa soup is so savory and hearty that any type of chicken salad sandwich will nestle up next to it in pure bliss.
Beth at Budget Bytes lays out the instructions to make this herby, lightly garlicy, and earthy quinoa soup.
Check out this awesome side soup recipe here: budgetbytes.com
LET’S TURN THIS INTO A FULL MEAL, YO.
When does chicken salad and a couple of sides turn into an eye-poppingly memorable meal? With flavor, textures, color, and presentation.
Serve the salad family-style in a super large bowl or on a platter lined with baby greens and fresh herbs. Have croissants or rustic bread sliced on wooden or granite cutting boards so everyone can simply grab slices to start fixing their plates and chomping chicken salad sandwiches.
Go with the Grain
In terms of grain products, feel free to explore options beyond bread. Pita, crackers, warmed tortillas and herbed wraps are all wonderful chicken salad conductors! (And a gluten-free option is always a good idea, too.)
And make sure to have lots of pickled items scattered around the table. We mentioned the quick dill pickles above, but pickling liquids like that (along with variations on them) lend themselves to a variety of vegetables.
Think, bright pink baby onions, fennel, green beans, celery root, and carrots. Chicken salad loves to be accompanied with bright and briny flavors.
Assembling is Half the Fun
Lay out just those few things along with a few of the side dishes listed above and you’ll have a groaning dining room table that’s perfect for a dinner party, luncheon, or just a fun family weekend meal.
Now, let’s talk about the main subject. The super-fun subject. Let’s talk chicken salad.
A basic (and classic) version of chicken salad is chicken with lemon, mayonnaise, celery, salt and pepper. It’s simple and clean.
But, these days you’re as likely to see it made with Greek yogurt as you are mayo. Yogurt gives it a tang that’s irresistible. So, if you’re looking for a little skootch of extra flavor and zing, give that a shot!
Other fun salads play with flavor components that both work nicely together and delightfully startle the palate.
For instance, supple chicken with crunchy almonds, cabbage, and chow mein noodles tossed in a rice vinegar and sesame oil vinaigrette. Hello, Asian salad!
Of course, there’s another well-loved classic twist – the taco chicken salad served in a fried flour tortilla with iceberg lettuce, grilled chicken, tomatoes, black olives, avocado, and sour cream.
And these days, with our ever-expanding produce, dairy and cheese aisles in the grocery store, the go-to doesn’t have to be cheddar.
Use Monterey Jack along with a plain sour cream topping for the chicken and lettuce.
We’re falling in love with crumbled queso fresco, cilantro, and lime crema for extra flavor and creamy texture.
Chicken salad and chicken salad sandwiches are as ubiquitous to lunches, brunches (move over quiche), and dinners as bread itself.
Sourcing the chicken is half the fun. You can use fresh, pulled chicken that you boil or roast unseasoned; or even use last weekend’s leftovers from your Cornish game hen dinner.
For a memorable meal, just gently fold all your favorite flavor combinations into a bowl with a binder – vegetables, fruit, herbs and chicken, and serve it with a couple of choice options from our what to serve with chicken salad list above. Or three…
Because we all know chicken salad is always better the next day.