This AVOCADO CHICKEN SALAD RECIPE is packed with layers of color, flavor, and texture. It also swaps most of the mayonnaise for a tangy avocado dressing that’s perfect for using up preserved avocado.
CHICKEN SALAD RECIPES
For this post, when I say chicken salad I am talking about a lettuce free salad where chicken and other ingredients are bound together with a creamy dressing.
We do have several other amazing chicken salad recipes that contain chicken as a protein in a salad. Our Healthy Asian Chicken Salad Recipe uses whole ingredients for a lighter version of a salad favorite. This Romaine Hearts Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad grills both the chicken and the romaine for a stunning and flavorful keto friendly dinner.
We also have a really unique Pomegranate Tuna Salad Recipe that is beautiful and delicious!
UNIQUE CHICKEN SALAD IDEAS
Chicken salad recipes can be incredibly simple or incredibly diverse. There’s the classic chicken salad with lots of mayonnaise, a bit of lemon juice, and some finely chopped celery. You can do a Greek yogurt chicken salad, curried chicken salad, a spicy buffalo chicken salad, even a Mexican style chicken salad.
But my favorite chicken salad recipe is an avocado chicken salad, where most or all of the mayonnaise is swapped with avocado mashed with a whole bunch of fresh herbs and spices.
HOW TO MAKE AVOCADO CHICKEN SALAD
Here’s everything you need to know about making avocado chicken salad; from ingredient substitutions to preparing everything in advance.
WHAT KIND OF CHICKEN MEAT TO USE IN CHICKEN SALAD
The first key to a really good chicken salad starts with the chicken. I find that boneless skinless chicken breasts give the best texture for the meat in your chicken salad. My favorite chicken to use is the breast meat from a rotisserie chicken or oven roasted whole chicken.
Now you can either get a whole rotisserie chicken in the store or some stores, especially places like Costco, actually sell a package of just the breast meat from their rotisserie chickens. I love that rotisserie chicken meat is already packed with flavor. It’s well seasoned so you don’t need to do anything except chop it up.
Another quick and easy option is using chicken breast meat from a can. Just make sure that you drain it really well because nobody wants soggy chicken salad.
Your third option is to actually cook raw or frozen and thawed chicken breasts yourself. If you do this I suggest starting by brining the chicken breasts in salt water for about an hour. You can even add in some garlic and onion powder to the brine if you like.
Then you can cook the chicken breasts in the oven, pan fry them, grill them, whatever you want! Just make sure the internal temperature in the thickest part of the breast reaches 165°F.
Whatever way you decide to get your chicken, you want to start with chopping it up into bite-size pieces. I like my chunks of chicken no more than half an inch so that I can get plenty of other ingredients from the salad in each bite, and not just a giant chunk of chicken.
WHAT KIND OF FRUIT TO USE IN AVOCADO CHICKEN SALAD?
We’ve got a few other ingredients that we’re going to need to chop up into bite-size pieces in addition to the chicken. First up are some red seedless grapes.
I like the red grapes because they add the color to the chicken salad along with juicy sweet bursts of flavor. I couldn’t find seedless grapes when I made this to photograph, so went with seeded, and it actually worked pretty well. But my kids prefer seedless so that’s still my recommendation.
You can definitely just use a knife to cut each grape in half or quarters depending on the size of the grape. But I got this little grape slicer because it lets my kids help me with cutting up the grapes and they really enjoy using it. I love that cooking time is connecting time for our family, and this is one easy way to make that happen.
We are also going to add an apple to the avocado chicken salad. Apples and avocados go so well together and really complement each other in the salad.
If you like tart you could use super tart Granny Smith apples, but my current favorite is a Pink Lady which is slightly tart and very crisp. Just like the chicken, you want to chop your apple into small chunks no bigger than half an inch or so.
WHAT KIND OF VEGETABLES GO WELL IN CHICKEN SALAD?
Okay we’ve got avocados, grapes, and apples. That covers our fruits, now it’s time for a couple veggies.
First up is the classic addition to add crunch to salads, the mild mannered celery stalk. Homegrown or farmer’s market celery is going to have a lot more flavor than store bought.
Celery is slightly bitter with a mild peppery taste. It’s one of those flavors that isn’t very noticeable until it’s missing. If you really like celery, you can add some of the leaves chopped up with the stalks. They have a lot more flavor to them.
The other vegetable in this chicken salad is carrots. It’s a bit of an unusual addition. But I like the pop of orange, and the bit of earthy sweetness. Carrots also add a different kind of texture than the apples and celery.
You can grate a carrot, spiralize it thin and chop it, or simply buy already shredded carrots to reduce your prep time.
NUTS OR SEEDS IN CHICKEN SALAD
Our final mix-in for this salad is some shelled sunflower seeds. You could also use chopped nuts like walnuts or pecans, but I like using sunflower seeds because they are safe for nut-free school lunches.
Plus they are already the perfect size for the avocado chicken salad without needing any chopping. Sunflower seeds are also packed with healthy fats and nutrients, just like ripe avocados!
CREAMY AVOCADO DRESSING FOR CHICKEN SALAD
Start with one large avocado mashed up really well. If you’re using frozen mashed avocado, this is about one cup of mashed avocado. And make sure to get it out of the freezer to thaw before you’re ready to make your dressing. You can keep the bag sealed and thaw it in a large bowl of slightly warm water.
Now my preserved avocado from the freezer already has lemon juice in it. If you’re using a fresh avocado, go ahead and add a teaspoon of lemon juice to it after mashing.
While many avocado chicken salad recipes don’t use mayonnaise, we aren’t avoiding mayonnaise altogether. We are just using two tablespoons of it.
One of my favorite cookbooks, which isn’t actually a cookbook, is the Flavor Bible. It lists every ingredient you can think of and what ingredients pair well with it. Avocados and mayonnaise are basically BFFs.
That said, if you really don’t like mayonnaise, you can skip it!
After the mayo comes some freshly chopped dill and parsley. You can also skip the parsley if you are using the celery leaves, as they have a similar purpose in flavor. That slight bitterness just helps kind of pull all the flavors together.
Next comes chopped green onions (or scallions) a bit of garlic powder, onion powder, and of course some salt and pepper. Finally a splash of apple cider vinegar, and a dollop of Dijon mustard.
If you want to really get crazy you could even add some curry powder, but that will change the flavor profile so try without it first and see what you think.
MIXING AVOCADO CHICKEN SALAD
Go ahead and whisk the dressing together with a fork, and then dump in all your chunky ingredients.
Once your chicken, grapes, apples, celery, carrots, and sunflower seeds are in the giant bowl, use a spatula to start gently scooping down to the bottom of the bowl and folding it up over the top of the salad.
Repeat this step until your salad is well mixed.
HOW TO EAT AVOCADO CHICKEN SALAD
Now comes the fun part, picking how to eat it!
Our family’s favorite is avocado chicken salad toast. Just toast a piece of good whole grain bread, and dump on a nice scoop or two of the chicken salad. It’s an easy meal with fruit, veggies, protein, and complex carbs.
If you’re going low carb, you can pile the avocado chicken salad into some romaine leaves. My kids call these chicken salad boats.
And of course, you can always just eat your avocado chicken salad right out of the bowl.
IS AVOCADO CHICKEN SALAD HEALTHY?
Healthy is a very relative term. This recipe uses whole ingredients, fruits, vegetables, and heart healthy fats, so yes, I call this a healthy avocado chicken salad recipe.
If you are looking for a lightened up healthy avocado chicken salad recipe, try our original chicken salad recipe with creamy avocado dressing.
That recipe swaps most of the mayonnaise for fat free Greek yogurt. You could also skip the olive oil in the recipe, and swap ALL the mayonnaise for Greek yogurt.
Just make sure to use some water to thin the dressing out.
IS AVOCADO CHICKEN SALAD KETO FRIENDLY?
If you’re looking for a Keto avocado chicken salad recipe, just skip the grapes and apples. While they are a delicious addition, they are very high in carbs and not the best fit for a keto diet.
DOES AVOCADO CHICKEN SALAD TURN BROWN?
The thing that causes avocados to brown is exposure to oxygen. You can preserve avocado in the freezer with an airtight sealed bag (keeping the avocado from having oxygen touch it). But once that avocado is mixed into your chicken salad, the oxidation process begins.
So yes, avocado chicken salad does turn brown within a day or two depending on how fresh your avocado is. If made with fresh avocado it should stay green for a couple days.
HOW TO KEEP AVOCADO CHICKEN SALAD FROM TURNING BROWN
If you want to make it ahead and avoid having your avocado turn brown, I suggest chopping all your salad ingredients. Toss the apples with a little lemon juice to keep them from browning (this works for apples but not avocados, despite popular opinion). Mix your salad ingredients and keep sealed in the refrigerator.
Then mix all of the dressing ingredients EXCEPT for the avocado. Store the partial dressing sealed in the fridge. An hour or two before serving, mix mashed avocado into the dressing ingredients and then fold the salad ingredients into that.
HOW LONG DOES AVOCADO CHICKEN SALAD LAST?
Avocado chicken salad is SAFE to eat for 4-5 days after making it, if kept in the refrigerator. But as mentioned above, you will find it turns brown after a day or two.
We do eat it after it turns brown and find the flavor to still be wonderful.
PIN TO SAVE AVOCADO CHICKEN SALAD FOR LATER
Don’t lose this recipe! Pin to save it and then leave a photo in the comments of the pin once you make it. We love seeing your creations and hearing how you make our recipes your own!
AVOCADO CHICKEN SALAD PRINTABLE RECIPE
- 1 large avocado, well mashed
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise or light mayonnaise (optional)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 cups chopped cooked chicken breast meat
- 20 red seedless grapes, quartered
- 1 Pink Lady apple, chopped small
- 1 large celery stalk, chopped small
- 1 large carrot, grated
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- In a large bowl mix mashed avocado, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, green onions, dill, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.
- Add chicken, grapes, apple, celery, carrot, and sunflower seeds.
- Mix well with a large spatula.
- Serve with crackers, on toast, in lettuce cups, or eat it straight from a bowl.
- If you are using frozen preserved avocado, plan on using 1 cup. If your frozen avocado already has lemon juice in it, taste before adding additional lemon juice to your dressing.
- Feel free to omit the mayonnaise completely if you want to avoid it. I just love the way mayonnaise and avocado go together so I include a couple tablespoons.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 263Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 74mgSodium: 438mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 27g
Nutrition information is an estimate only.