Chicken Salad With Pecans

Chicken salad was a mainstay in my youth, a cheap supper that Mom somehow managed to stretch into two delectable servings. Her cooking skills transformed a single whole chicken into a double-decker at lunchtime. She would first skillfully boil the chicken, making a hearty chicken and rice meal that warmed our tummies with the savory broth and some of the meat. Then she would work her magic again, making a delicious chicken salad with the soft leftover chicken.

Not only did Mom’s creativity produce a delicious supper, but it also demonstrated her resourcefulness. There was not a single piece of that entire bird that went to waste. It was an economical and delectable method to maximize our family dinners, transforming a simple fowl into a multipurpose feast that kept us full and satisfied.

This culinary alchemy was about Mom’s creativity, her ability to transform basic ingredients into hearty, satisfying dishes, not merely about lengthening a meal. I have happy memories of those chicken-based meals, the creamy chicken salad and the steaming chicken and rice, which is a credit to Mom’s ability to turn common items into beloved family favorites.

“There are as many ways to make chicken salad as there are liver pills at Carter’s,” goes the proverb. (Have you heard that sentence before?) To be honest, there are a ton of delicious chicken salad recipes available. My favorite recipe varies a lot based on how I’m feeling. There are moments when I long for the faint taste of curry powder blending into the mixture. 

Other times, I’m craving something sweet, so I’ll go for crisp apples or luscious grapes to give things a fruity flavor. Some days, though, I just want it the way my mom used to make it: straightforward, traditional, and incredibly delicious. And what do you know? That’s the version I’m going to share with you—a simple, uncomplicated, and incredibly tasty one. Now let’s get started.

This dish is all about that warm, ageless taste that takes me back to my mom’s kitchen, not about complexity or a big list of ingredients. The simplicity speaks volumes, with every mouthful reminding you of the dinners you had as a child. This specific chicken salad’s simplicity is what makes it so lovely. The key is to bring out the flavors of the staple foods rather than overpowering them with elaborate spices or unusual additions.

So, if you’re ready, let’s go on this culinary adventure together. It’s a trip that honors simplicity, welcomes nostalgia, and guarantees a bowlful of delicious handmade food.

So how should you cook your chicken?

The simplicity of this recipe for chicken salad, which starts with cooked and chopped chicken, is what makes it so beautiful. The best part is that practically any cooked chicken tastes great in this recipe. They all do their parts to perfection, whether the chicken is roasted, boiled, or even just a reliable rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. I’ve even used leftover fried chicken and used it to make a great chicken salad by carefully removing the breading. I find the diversity of flavors that each method offers to be quite enjoyable.

But my go-to technique is to cook two or three large chicken breasts in water that has been lightly salted and peppered. Cooking them until they are soft and cooked through, then slicing them up to make the 4 cups needed for the dish, is a simple operation. What’s the crucial element here? Watch how the chicken simmers; too high of a boil may often cause the meat to become tough and dry. Instead, use a low simmer to guarantee that deliciously delicate and juicy texture we all love. Additionally, using a meat thermometer is the key to success since it ensures that the chicken is cooked to the ideal 165°F without ever being overdone, retaining the juicy texture that we all love.

This recipe isn’t just for cooking chicken; it’s also for perfecting the texture of the meat, which is essential for the tastiest possible chicken salad.

Is there a small trick to making your Pecan Chicken Salad even better? Toast those almonds! Although I don’t specifically mention toasting pecans in the recipe, I highly recommend doing so before adding them to this delicious salad. To be honest, roasting pecans is my secret weapon because I use them in almost all of my recipes that call for them. Why? Because toasting enhances their flavor and adds a wonderful crunch, it’s a great way to include them into this salad.

Toasting is an easy process. Just spread out your pecans on a baking sheet with a rim and bake them at 350°F. It will take around 5 minutes if they are cut; it will take closer to 10 minutes if the pecans are whole. Keep an eye out; they’re ready when they turn golden and you smell that delicious nutty aroma! When perfectly roasted, let cool before incorporating these crunchy, flavor-filled pecans into your mixture.

Not only does toasting your pecans improve their flavor, but it also elevates the entire salad experience by adding a rich, satisfying texture and flavor that will make you cherish every bite.

How wonderful Creole mustard is! Let me tell you a little secret: ever since I discovered Creole mustard at my neighborhood grocery shop years ago, it has changed my life. This amazing condiment easily takes food to a whole new level, acting as a taste enhancer. However, it can be a little difficult to find on store shelves. Don’t worry, though; if you can’t find this jewel, a spicy brown mustard is a great substitute.

Recipes benefit greatly from the unique punch that creole mustard offers—a blend of tartness, zest, and a touch of fire that awakens your palate. It’s that hidden element that, with very little work, gives meals depth and complexity. Don’t worry, though, if it’s playing hard to get at your neighborhood shops. A classic spicy brown mustard might serve as a great substitute, giving your chicken salad a similarly zesty boost. It might not be a perfect fit, but it certainly adds that satisfying flavor you’re after.

You can be confident that your chicken salad will still have a burst of bold flavors that will leave you wanting more, regardless of whether you use Creole mustard or a reliable alternative.


4 cups chopped cooked chicken

2 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped

2 ribs celery, finely chopped

1/4 medium sweet or white onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup chopped pecans

2 tablespoons pickle relish (You can use dill or sweet. I much prefer the dill.)

2 teaspoons creole or spicy brown mustard

1/2 to 3/4 cup mayonnaise

salt and pepper to taste


In a large bowl, combine the chicken, eggs, onions, celery, and pecans.

To create the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, and relish in a medium-sized bowl.

Toss the chicken mixture to coat after adding the dressing. To taste, add more salt and pepper. To let the flavors mingle, cover and chill for at least one hour. Serve with sandwiches, crackers, etc.


To enhance their taste, roast the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet at 350°F for approximately 5 minutes, or until their color has darkened and they release a fragrant aroma. Let cool fully before incorporating into the salad. 

Please note:

If nutritional values are given, please note that they are estimates that may differ according on the brands utilized. I suggest getting your favorite brands and entering the ingredients into an online nutritional calculator if you’re concerned about the number of calories and other nutritional facts.

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