Have you ever worked with a personal shopper? They go out into the world, hunt through all the colors, styles, and fit options, then show up at your home with a very small selection of only the best-fitting, high-quality, worth-it garments making your job as a consumer almost effortless. It sounds ideal, doesn’t it?
I want to be your chicken salad personal shopper. I have done the research for you, gladly embarking on the hard work of preparing and tasting lots of variations, and now I am here with a selection of only the best, top-tier, worth-it chicken salads to delight your palette.
Besides being a fan in general of chicken salad, sampling and trying them wherever I go, I have also cooked through all of Ina Garten’s cookbooks, making and tasting each of her numerous variations and landing on a list of what I consider to be the best chicken salad has to offer based on my experience.
Ina Garten’s Curried Chicken Salad.
Let’s begin with a bit of a controversial choice. Curry is not for everyone, and I understand and accept this limitation. However, if you like (or even tolerate) curry, you will adore Ina’s Curried Chicken Salad. Sweet, smokey, crunchy, just the right amount of curry, balanced with a splash of white wine, this is the chicken salad I have served at special occasions. Most memorably, I recall making this for my son’s baptism lunch with a big platter of croissants, fresh fruit, and Ina’s Orzo with Roasted Vegetables. Yum.
Ina Garten’s Chicken Salad Sandwiches.
This is the most classic, traditional, buttoned-up version of chicken salad I have come across. A minimal list of ingredients yields a chicken salad that is well-suited to sandwiches, as the name suggests, but also is the perfect chicken salad to serve alongside a more robust, strongly flavored pasta dish. Or if you are serving a trio of salads (chicken, egg, and tuna for example), this is the chicken salad that will quietly play well with others, still special in her own way, but not at all wimpy.
Apricot Almond Chicken Salad.
I have written many words about my love of this chicken salad, and I stand by each of them. This was the only chicken salad I ate for years, and I stalked the the Central Market deli case, pouncing when they would have it in stock. I love it so much I have developed my own version so that I can create it at home whenever the mood strikes. I love pairing this with a super-seedy loaf of whole grain bread and a quart of strawberries when taking a casual meal to someone.
Ina Garten’s Mustard Chicken Salad
Point of order with this recipe title. Yes, there is mustard in the sauce. But, no, I would not define or title this chicken salad by the presence of the mustard, and in fact I think it is kind of a deterrent to trying it.
Mustard Chicken Salad sounds hard to like. Instead, I would call this chicken salad “The One With The Broccoli and Tomatoes, You Know The One You Liked So Much Last Time I Made It,” because that is, ten times out of ten, exactly how I describe it to my family when I make it.
Mustard Chicken salad really goes above and beyond, making a full meal out of a one-bowl chicken salad. The broccoli and cherry tomatoes in with the chicken and savory sauce just work in a way that makes this chicken salad stand out.
My family never remembers this chicken salad by it’s given name, but then when I remind them (see above), their eyes light up, and they can’t wait to dive in. I would also like to add, as a charming endorsement, that my teenage son love (LOVES) Mustard Chicken Salad. I cannot explain this except to say that if Jake likes it, you know it is good.
Hurley House Lemon Basil Chicken Salad
If you live in Fort Worth, then you can enjoy this chicken salad as part of the Hurley House lunch menu. But if you don’t, the recipe is here on my site, and I would say it is particularly special. I have dubbed this the Chicken Salad For People Who Don’t Like Chicken Salad, because that is the way many Hurley House fans have described it. I hope you will be a fan too!