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Sweet and Savory Chicken Salad Recipe

This ‘Church Lady Level’ sweet and savory chicken salad recipe is particularly delicious with toasted pecans and sweet champagne grapes.

a glass plate, with sweet and savory chicken salad and fruit

All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC

What Can I Do to Bland Chicken Salad to Make It Taste Better?

Bland chicken salad is just a bummer, but it needn’t be because it’s one of those recipes that you ‘taste as you go.’ This offers the opportunity for you to put your personal spin on the final product, perking it up so that it’s not only flavorful, but also super eye appealing.

If you are the savory sort who does not fancy anything sweet or nutty mixed into your chicken salad, consider adding the following in moderation, tasting as you go. Finely chopped red onion, fresh parsley, fresh rosemary, tarragon, or other fresh chopped herbs, thinly sliced green onions, a dollop of sour cream, celery seed or poppy seed, finely chopped dill pickle, or a scant amount of Dijon mustard.

If you are the sweet and nutty sort who desires a hint of sunshine in your chicken salad, consider adding these ingredients in moderation, and tasting as you go. Honey-flavored Greek yogurt, halved seedless grapes, tiny fresh grapes such as Zante/Corinth grapes, golden raisins, sweet pickle relish, chopped apple, diced fresh pear, curry powder, any type of toasted nuts or seeds, and any type of sugar-coated nut such as a praline pecan or honey roasted almond.

Today, this recipe is offering a bit of both!

a glass plate, with sweet and savory chicken salad and fruit

Sweet and Savory Chicken Salad

Leftover chicken, whether from a store-bought rotisserie chicken, baked boneless skinless chicken breasts, or poached raw chicken breast, makes for an easy and perfectly packable lunch of delicious chicken salad. I enjoy mine atop a bed of lettuce with apple wedges and crackers. Chicken salad sandwiches are at the top of that lunchtime favorites list, too.

The easy recipe I am sharing today is a great way to get the best of two worlds. Think sweet and savory both in a creamy chicken salad recipe. These are all very simple ingredients I’ve specified. The end result just may be the best chicken salad recipe you’ve ever assembled.

Do You Have What You’ll Need for My Sweet and Savory Chicken Salad Recipe? Check the List!

  • cooked chicken, white meat, dark meat, or a combination of both
  • hardboiled eggs
  • crisp celery
  • diced white onion
  • mayonnaise
  • black pepper
  • fresh Corinth grapes (produce department) sometimes sold as Zante grapes, Zante currants, or champagne grapes
  • pecan halves
  • fresh rosemary leaves
  • fresh sage leaves
  • fresh thyme leaves

optional for making a great chicken salad sandwich

  • lettuce cups or lettuce leaves
  • favorite sandwich bread

A Great Addition to Lunchtime’s Roster is This Easy Chicken Salad Recipe

In my intro, I exclaimed that the recipe I am sharing today is ‘Church Lady Level.’ I really, really meant it. If you’ve ever attended a luncheon at your congregation and tasted the exquisite salads, marvelous bakes, and delectable desserts, you know what ‘Church Lady Level’ is!

This is a creamy salad that compliments other salads such as potato salad, macaroni, or egg salad if serving plated. I adore a plated salad sampling and look forward to the scoop of cottage cheese, butter crackers, and fruits offered alongside.

For the best chicken salad sandwich of your life, make a point of baking your own bread. You could also purchase the best bread you can get your hands on the day it’s baked. If I’m serving this classic chicken salad recipe as an option on a buffet for a baby shower, gal pal luncheon, or family gathering, I bake this bread.

Offer slices of bread alongside large lettuce leaves (for lettuce wraps or for building a colossal sandwich), sliced red tomato, and even strips of crispy bacon and sharp cheddar cheese slices for the ultimate chicken salad club.

a close up of sweet and savory chicken salad on a plate, with some blueberries and a butter cracker

What Are Corinth Grapes?

Corinth grapes, also known as Zante grapes, Champagne grapes and Zante currants, are sold in your grocers produce section. They are a fresh fruit and are sometimes displayed nearer the berries versus the other fresh grapes.

Also known as Zante currants (once they’re dried), Corinth grapes are TINY, sweet, and a visually appealing ingredient.

They taste identical to red grapes, are seedless, and make fantastic additions to cheese boards, mixed salads like this one, and of course, fruit salads.

a close up of Zante grapes, with slices of cheese and herbs
In this photo, the Corinth grapes I have added to this Charcuterie display are tinier than the pecan that rests beside them. They are entirely sweet, have no seeds, and are utterly luscious paired with most anything savory.

How to Make This Sweet and Savory Homemade Chicken Salad?

Prepare the Chicken

Every basic chicken salad recipe requires either shredded chicken or chopped chicken. The ‘shred’ versus the ‘chop’ is based largely on getting the right texture down for you and your eaters.

I’ve been known to pulse in my food processor, too, so don’t discount shortcuts made possible with trusty appliances. Shortcuts are welcome, and I am all about shortcuts 🙂

To a large mixing bowl, add your cooked chicken. You are looking for about 2 cups, again chopped or shredded.

In the south, the addition of chopped hard-boiled eggs is customary. If you are/were a fan of Chick-Fil-A when they still featured their own chicken salad, you’d have been consuming chopped hard-boiled egg in that chicken salad.

the edge of a glass plate, with sweet and savory chicken salad and slices of tomato

Add in Supporting Ingredients

Finely dice enough white onion to equal 1/4 cup (about one half of a medium-sized onion) and finely dice a stalk of celery and its leaves if you are fortunate enough to have a stalk bearing leaves. Add all to the chicken.

From here, add a few grinds of your pepper mill, finely minced fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage leaves, and about a half cup mayonnaise. Stir using the tines of a fork to get everything very well incorporated and taste it.

a platter, with chicken salad and fruit and butter crackers

Build the Chicken Salad

The reason I suggest tasting the salad now is, so you are able to discern what seasoning(s) are lacking. At this point, the only seasonings I add are by way of additional diced onion or celery because that’s where I want to derive my flavor.

Turn your oven to 425°F. Turn a handful of pecan halves out onto a baking sheet and toast them in the preheated oven for 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove and chop the nuts, adding to the chicken salad for that little bit of crunch once they’re cooled, about 5 minutes. Pluck the Zante/Corinth grapes from their vines and toss them into a colander.

a pile of Corinth grapes
Corinth grapes, also known as champagne grapes or Zante grapes, are available in your grocers produce section.

Rinse very well under cold water before spilling out onto paper toweling and allowing to drain. Add them carefully to the chicken salad and combine gingerly so as to avoid crushing the tiny grapes.

If you are unable to find Zante/Corinth grapes in your grocers produce section, opt instead for seedless red or green grapes. Slice them in half and add to the chicken salad as you would the other ingredients, last, to avoid accidentally juicing them.

Southern Chicken Salad with Pineapple Cover Image
If you happen to be a connoisseur of chicken salad, do NOT miss my method for Southern Chicken Salad with Pineapple. It’s part of my Southern Luncheonette Recipe series and is chock full of southern goodness right down to the inclusion of American grown Carolina peanuts.

Chill the Salad Before serving

While the salad is ready as soon as everything is combined, I find that the flavor benefits from having at least 30 minutes to an hour for the ingredients to get happy with one another.

If you have the time, pop everything into an airtight container and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy as a salad garnished with tomato slices, berries, and crackers, or as a sandwich atop your favorite style bread.

featured for Sweet and Savory Chicken Salad Recipe

Sweet and Savory Chicken Salad Recipe

Jenny from Not Entirely Average
This 'Church Lady Level' savory chicken salad is made particularly delicious with the addition of toasted pecans and tiny champagne grapes.
5 from 1 vote
Servings: 4 servings
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Chilling Time 30 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Sandwiches
Cuisine American, Southern
Servings 4 servings
Calories 463 kcal


  • large mixing bowl


  • 2 cups cooked chicken white meat, dark meat, or a combination of both; chopped or shredded to desired consistency
  • 2 medium eggs hard-boiled and cooled; chopped fine
  • 1 large rib and leaves celery diced fine
  • 1/2 medium white onion diced fine
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise or to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Corinth grapes removed from stems and well washed
  • 1/2 cup pecans toasted and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary fresh; minced
  • 1 tablespoon sage fresh; minced
  • 1 tablespoon thyme fresh; minced

optional for making sandwiches or lettuce wraps

  • favorite sandwich bread
  • lettuce leaves butter lettuce leaves work great for wraps


  • To a large mixing bowl, add cooked chicken. To this, add in the chopped hard-boiled eggs, diced celery and onion, black pepper, minced herbs, and mayonnaise. Use the tines of a fork to get everything very well incorporated.
  • TASTE; if additional aromatics (onion or celery) are required, add them now. I can usually discern if I require more, but I sometimes also wait until everything has had a chance to chill. Pro Tip: if you are lucky enough to have celery ribs with their leaves, try chopping some of the leaves into the chicken salad. The leaves have bunches of fresh flavor and also look visually appealing.
  • Toast the pecans on a baking sheet at 425°F for 3 to 5 minutes. Cool. Coarsely chop and add to the chicken salad mixture. Again, use the tines of a fork to get everything very well incorporated. Add the Corinth/Zante grapes to the chicken salad. Gingerly combine using the tines of the fork so as to avoid crushing the tiny grapes.
  • While the salad is ready as soon as everything is combined, I find that the flavor benefits from having at least 30 minutes for the ingredients to meld. Load the salad into an airtight container. Chill it for at least 30 minutes. Serve plated over salad greens with sliced fruit and butter crackers, or as a sandwich or lettuce wrap.


Leftovers May Be Stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Stir well before serving.
Substitute Seedless Red Grapes if you are unable to source Corinth/Zante grapes


Serving: 1servingCalories: 463kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 22gFat: 37gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 17gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 146mgSodium: 271mgPotassium: 387mgFiber: 2gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 342IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 66mgIron: 2mg
Keyword chicken, chicken salad, lunch, sandwiches
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Recipe Rating


    1. Barbara, absolutely. You kind of know they’re ready when you begin to smell them. Just keep shaking the pan 🙂 Jenny