Why Southern Women Love Serving Chicken Salad

Every seasoned Southern cook has a recipe for chicken salad up her sleeve. Find out why.

Lisa Cericola
Tarragon Chicken Salad Recipe
Tarragon Chicken Salad
Photo: Jennifer Davick

When it comes to iconic Southern dishes, chicken salad doesn’t rank high on most people’s lists. And yet it’s at the center of luncheon menus, baby showers, church potlucks, summertime picnics, and your own kitchen table whenever you need to throw together a quick lunch or snack. Chicken salad is so simple to make and so commonplace that it doesn’t seem like a dish worth celebrating. But that’s exactly what makes it great.

Here are five reasons why Southern women (and men!) love chicken salad:

You can throw in whatever you have on hand
Minced celery and onion is a classic way to go, but chicken salad is a blank canvas for all sorts of ingredients and flavors. If it’s summer, throw in some fresh herbs and diced tomatoes. If it’s fall, add chopped apples and pecans. Spring calls for green onions, or even diced strawberries. And winter is the perfect time for chicken salad with rich caramelized onions or roasted root vegetables. Take things in a completely different direction with curry powder, or stir in some pesto. Our Terragon Chicken Salad (pictured above) has crunchy pecans, Granny Smith apples, red onions, and celery in a Greek yogurt and mayonnaise dressing.

It can be decadent or healthy
Depending on your add-ins and dressing, chicken salad can be as light as you please. Or not at all. Make it over-the-top indulgent with plenty of mayonnaise and chopped bacon, or keep it on the healthier side with a simple vinaigrette (or low-fat Greek yogurt) dressing and lots of fresh vegetables and herbs.

It’s a great use for leftover (or rotisserie) chicken
Southern women do not like to waste food. It’s a genetic thing. So any recipe that allows us to use up something we already have on hand is an instant favorite.

It comes together in minutes
If the chicken is already cooked, chicken salad is one of the fastest homemade meals you can make. Just chop and stir—no stove or oven required.

You can eat it anytime
Well, probably not for breakfast—although it’s totally fair game for brunch. Chicken salad is obviously great sandwiched between two slices of toasted bread, but it’s also a great light dinner served on a bed of salad greens with some crusty bread on the side. Or you can bulk it up even more by adding cooked whole grains like farro or quinoa or some cooked pasta. And there’s no better way to upgrade a cocktail hour than a little bowl of chicken salad with crackers and crudités.

Learn how to make our best-ever Chicken Salad:

There’s no better way to upgrade a cocktail hour than a little bowl of chicken salad with crackers and crudités. It's the perfect addition to any luncheon, church function, garden party, or porch sittin' with friends.