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This fabulous Southern Chicken Salad recipe featuring Carolina peanuts and tropical pineapple will satisfy a hankerin’ for a taste of home!
Prepare this easy chicken salad recipe using grilled or poached chicken breasts, leftover rotisserie chicken, or as I do often with canned white meat chicken!
Southern Chicken Salad with Pineapple – Southern Luncheonette Recipes
This uniquely southern lineup of ingredients is a great option for serving as a salad at parties or as weekday chicken salad sandwiches in packed lunches. When I am in a hurry, I use canned all white meat chicken that I run through my food processor and mix this homemade chicken salad recipe to serve atop buttery croissants or on a bed of lettuce.
If adding sweet, crushed pineapple and salty peanuts to chicken salad is a new recipe method for you, prepare to be wowed! The basic ingredients are fairly straightforward; white or dark meat chicken, mayonnaise, and well-chopped white or red onion provide the basis for most southern-style chicken salad.
In lieu of sweet pickles and celery stalks, we’re adding in a can of crushed pineapple, the juice and zest of a fresh lime, a chopped Granny Smith, and good old USA peanuts! This ensemble makes for an easy meal for packing in lunches and can be as swank an appetizer or finger food for your weekend poolside party as they come!
Do You Have What’s Needed to Make This Southern Chicken Salad Recipe? Check the List!
- crushed pineapple with juices
- real mayonnaise
- a lime
- lite soy sauce
- black pepper
- cooked chicken
- a Granny Smith apple
- sweet onion
- salted peanuts
- green leaf lettuce
- croissants or basic white bread
- tomato slices
How This Recipe Came About…
If any of you have had the pleasure of dining at a Jason’s Deli, then you may be familiar with Jason’s Deli chicken salad recipe. It is famous for the standout flavor profile that is pineapple although most eaters do not even realize it’s in there.
Jason’s Deli is known for so many amazing items on their menu, but the flavorful chicken salad I’ve just described may well be the one thing eaters come back again and again for.
Jason’s chicken salad definitely inspired this recipe, but I’ve changed it up to reflect the ingredients readily available here in the South on an everyday basis. The addition of southern peanuts is a no-brainer if you enjoy that familiar sweet crunch, and combined with lime and soy sauce, an umami Thai flavor profile beckons.
Trust me, your eaters won’t be missing the sweet pickle relish in this southern style chicken salad recipe! That familiar taste of pineapple in the background is hard to put your finger on but while it’s adding so much flavor it’s also keeping the salad from needing any more than 3/4 of a cup of mayo.
Southern salads like this chicken salad dish or my Egg Salad Sandwiches with Cucumber Dill Spread are endearing to a lot of folks as we grew up enjoying them in local luncheonettes. For as little as .85¢ you could anticipate a good chicken salad sandwich to arrive to your spot at the counter along with a side of potato chips or some French fries.
Add to it a classic Brooklyn Egg Cream or Black and White Soda and your perfect meal was had midday and deliciously to boot!
What Kind of Chicken Should I Use for This Southern Chicken Salad Recipe?
The beauty of this lineup of ingredients is that any type of cooked chicken works. I most often use cooked canned white meat chicken that I pulse 3 to 4 times in my food processor because I like a finer textured salad spread.
If you’re anything like me and shop at big box stores often enough to where you’ve always got a rotisserie chicken in your refrigerator, by all means use it. My favorite way when using leftover rotisserie chicken is to combine light and dark meat in a large mixing bowl and use forks to ‘pull’ the meat.
If you prefer to do it all from scratch, the best ways to prepare a couple of chicken breasts is either poaching or grilling. Allow them to cool before cutting into large chunks and either pulling with forks or adding to the food processor for a few quick pulses.
The next time I make this chicken salad, I plan to utilize a smoked chicken which I’ll smoke myself on my barrel smoker. I can already envision the smoke flavor in the end mixed together with sweet pineapple and creamy mayo being a match made in flavor heaven!
How to Serve Up the BEST Chicken Salad Sandwich?
Surprisingly, you don’t need too much to pull off serving up a great chicken salad sandwich aside from a solid classic chicken salad recipe like this one! Once you’ve got that, reach for basic white bread or a buttermilk white bread, buttery croissants, some leaf lettuce, and my personal favorite, some homegrown tomatoes you’ve sliced into 1/2-inch slices.
There is something about toasting bread that sets a chicken salad sandwich up for success, but it’s certainly not critical. The important thing here is to make sure you’ve got the freshest bread you can get your hands on.
Layer the lettuce atop your bread of choice, followed by a generous heap of the chicken salad. Finish with tomato slices and the top slice of bread. Serve with sweet pickles and a handful of chips or even additional chunks of pineapple.
How to Serve Up the BEST Chicken Salad at A Party?
There are so many great ways to incorporate a traditional southern chicken salad into your party menu. It comes down to the type of party you’re throwing and your personal preference as to if you’ll fancy it up or stay casual with your nibbles!
My favorite is to use hard boiled eggs for Deviled Eggs, alternating filling every other egg with a heaping spoonful of this pineapple chicken salad. Top them off with sweet pickle cubes or slices and the traditional Deviled Eggs with paprika to set them apart with bright colors on your egg tray.
Create a cracker tray with a bowl of chicken salad in the center and offer traditional buttery captain’s wafers as the base. I also LOVE to stuff Campari tomatoes and top thick slices of cucumber with chicken salad. Use a bit of mayonnaise as ‘glue’ to get your spread to stay put.
Finger sandwiches work really well, too. I think they resonate with partygoers so well because they are a familiar taste and help keep things tame at gatherings where alcohol is being served. Try using this southern chicken salad recipe as a base for finger sandwiches at your next party.
How Long Does Chicken Salad Last in the Fridge?
Given the incorporation of cooked chicken, any chicken salad will last 3 to 4 days in the fridge in an airtight container. Beyond 3 to 4 days, the flavors begin to merge and are undiscernible rendering it more or less blah.
Since I am not a fan of reviving things with sweet relish or Miracle Whip, I recommend tossing any leftovers at that 3-day or 4-day mark. This is of course if you even have any leftover chicken salad to begin with – don’t be so sure you will!
How to Make This Southern Chicken Salad Recipe?
Chop or Shred Your Chicken
The biggest part of this method is deciding what texture you prefer your chicken salad. SERIOUSLY.
Pop it into the food processor and pulse a few times or shred or chop to the desired texture before beginning. Gather all of the other ingredients and a large mixing bowl to get started.
Mix the Dressing
I like to make what I call the dressing first. A can of crushed pineapple with the juices is added to my mixing bowl, followed by some lime juice and zest, real mayonnaise, lite soy sauce, a hint of freshly cracked black pepper, and some finely chopped almost minced sweet onion.
Use a whisk to incorporate everything very well and ensure any ‘tiny floating islands’ of mayo are broken down. In goes the chicken, a chopped Granny Smith with or without the peel, and about a half cup of salted peanuts. Chop the peanuts or leave them whole, it’s your choice.
Add in the Chicken and Remaining Ingredients
The chicken salad is ready to go at this point, but I’d be doing you a disservice by instructing you to dive right in. That is because the unique ingredients in this recipe benefit from having time to marry.
Refrigerate to Marry the Flavors if Time Allows
I recommend piling everything into an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid. Once in the container, use a spatula to press the salad spread down to where it’s flat.
Apply the lid and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or more; I personally go 6 to 8 hours because it really makes a difference in that flavor. When you’re ready to serve, give the salad spread a good stir before heaping it atop bread or lettuce leaves.
How Far Ahead Can This Southern Chicken Salad Be Made?
DO make this southern chicken salad recipe ahead and DO refrigerate it to marry the flavors for at least 2 hours. I go 6 to 8 hours ahead and up to 24 hours ahead because it really makes a difference in that flavor.
The salad spread will keep under refrigeration for 3 to 4 days however it’s doubtful you will have a much leftover – I promise!
If You Like This Recipe…
…you might also like:
- Egg Salad Sandwiches with Cucumber Dill Spread
- A Tender and Crispy Baked Chicken Sandwich
- Easy Po’ Boy Steak Sandwich
- New York Club Sandwich Recipe
Southern Chicken Salad with Pineapple – Southern Luncheonette Recipes
- 1 (8 ounce can) crushed pineapple with juice
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons lite soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ small sweet onion chopped very fine, about 2 tablespoons
- 2 cups chicken fully cooked; chopped, pulled, diced, or pulsed to desired consistency in a food processor
- 1 small Granny Smith apple chopped, with or without skin
- ½ cup salted peanuts whole or chopped
- croissants or white bread
- green leaf lettuce
- thick, ripe tomato slices
- to a large mixing bowl add the pineapple and its juice, lime juice and zest, mayonnaise, lite soy sauce, black pepper, and some sweet onion. Use a whisk and incorporate until all of the ingredients are smooth.
- Add in the chicken, a chopped Granny Smith with or without the peel, and about a half cup of salted peanuts. You may chop the peanuts or leave whole. Give the ensemble a good stir to get the chicken very well coated.
- The chicken salad is ready to enjoy immediately however this salad does benefit from having time for the flavors to marry. I recommend piling everything into an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid. Once in the container, use a spatula to press the salad spread down to where it's flat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. When you're ready to serve, give the salad spread a good stir before heaping it atop bread or lettuce leaves.
The nutrition value can vary depending on what product(s) you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.
Please note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not deviate unless otherwise specified.