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Gluten-free Chicken Salad

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This gluten-free chicken salad might just be the best chicken salad recipe you’ve ever had! The perfect combination of flavors and textures makes this dairy-free chicken salad popular for a simple lunch or dinner.

Gluten Free Chicken Salad Sandwich

Chances are, you’ve tried chicken salad quite a few times in your life. This recipe combines some simple ingredients for an easy chicken salad recipe that has great flavor and texture.

Crisp celery, tender chicken, crunchy toasted pecans, and sweet-tart dried cranberries all give incredible flavor to this ultimate chicken salad recipe.

Gluten Free Chicken Salad in bowl

Is chicken salad gluten-free?

While chicken salad often is gluten-free, it’s definitely not a for sure thing. If you’re ordering chicken salad from a restaurant, or a friend is serving you chicken salad, you’ll want to ask to see the ingredients list. You just never know what someone’s secret ingredient is! Some people even put bread crumbs in their chicken salad for texture. Many recipes for chicken salad call for vinegar, and you never know if someone chooses to use malt vinegar in their recipe.  (Malt vinegar contains gluten.)

You’ll also want to ask about their procedures for preparing both the chicken and the chicken salad. Watch out for broth containing barley yeast extract or wheat used when cooking the chicken.

Ask questions about the preparation such as shared cutting boards or if they use the same scoop to scoop the chicken salad onto other people’s gluten bread before scooping onto your plate. The potential for cross contamination is high given that most people eat chicken salad on bread or crackers.

Is chicken salad dairy-free?

People usually make chicken salad without dairy, and this recipe follows suit. Unless you cook your chicken in butter, there wouldn’t be any dairy in this recipe. 

Let’s take a look at the ingredients in this gluten-free dairy-free chicken salad recipe:

Chopped Chicken Salad ingredients on a board

Notes on ingredients and substitutions for this chicken salad recipe:

  • Mayonnaise: You can use your favorite mayonnaise. I used Chosen Foods mayo this time.
  • Dill: If you don’t have fresh dill on hand, you can substitute with 1 teaspoon dried dill instead. Fresh gives the best flavor – so try to put it on your grocery list or find a neighbor that grows it!
  • Pecans: If you are allergic to pecans, you can simply leave them out or add in more chopped celery in their place. If you prefer walnuts, you can use them in place of the pecans equally. See below for notes on toasting the pecans. I like these pecans.
  • Garlic Salt: I use garlic salt in just about everything I make! You can substitute with onion salt if you prefer.
  • Chicken: Used chicken cooked in your preferred method. Here I grilled some chicken breasts and cubed it. You can use chicken you cook in skillet or crock pot or even Rotisserie chicken.
  • Red Onions: I used chopped red onions in this. If you prefer another variety of onion, feel free. If you want to sweeten up this recipe, use a Walla Walla sweet onion – it won’t add much color but it’ll add a sweetness.

Before you make the chicken salad, you’ll want to toast the nuts. Toasting nuts is a must to get the best flavor in most recipes, including this one. Thankfully it is super easy. 

How to toast the pecans for chicken salad:

  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. 
  • Spread pecan halves or chopped pecans (or chopped walnuts if preferred) in an even, single layer on a baking sheet. (I like to line my baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up)
  • Bake for 5-10 minutes (check chopped nuts at 4-5 minutes) until they are starting to brown and smell fragrant.
  • Do not let them burn – you’re just toasting them.
  • Cool before adding them to the chicken salad.

Gluten Free Chicken Salad on a bun with a fork

Chicken Salad Sandwich:

Chicken salad sandwiches are a great option for a luncheon, picnic, or even dinner. Grab your favorite gluten-free hamburger buns, stuff with a generous helping of chicken salad, and pack to go or serve right away. The bread pictured here is bfree rolls. I highly recommend putting this chicken salad on these homemade gluten-free hamburger buns.

To make them even better, you can spread the buns with butter and sprinkles with onion salt or garlic salt, and toast in the oven for a few minutes at 375 degrees. Let them cool a few minutes before topping with the chicken salad.

Chicken Salad with Crackers:

Kids and adults both love eating this chicken salad with their favorite crackers. It’s also a super easy lunchbox idea and makes for a healthy after school snack.

Gluten Free Chicken Salad with crackers

I used Glutino gluten-free crackers here. Use your favorite gluten-free crackers!

You can round this out as the perfect lunch if you make this blueberry lemonade to go with it too!

If you like this recipe, be sure to try my easy egg salad recipe too! 

Looking for another chicken dinner that’s ready in about a half hour? Be sure to try my gluten-free chicken stir fry recipe.

I hope you enjoy this gluten-free chicken salad recipe too! If you make these and love them, please come back and give this recipe a 5 star rating in the recipe card! Feel free to comment with tips or to share any successful substitutions you made.

Gluten-free Chicken Salad Recipe:

Yield: 6 servings

Gluten-free Chicken Salad

Gluten Free Chicken Salad on a bun with a fork

The textures and flavors from the different ingredients make this the best gluten-free chicken salad! Most of the time spent preparing this is chopping everything up! It's very easy to make. You can double everything to serve more people too.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh dill (see note)
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 cups (about 1/2 lb) cooked, chopped chicken
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together mayonnaise, dill, garlic salt, salt, and pepper.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients (chicken, pecans, celery, cranberries, onions) and stir until combined.
  3. Taste and add additional seasonings as desired.
  4. Serve immediately with gluten-free crackers or on gluten-free buns, or cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until ready to eat.

Notes

*If you don't have 1 Tablespoon of fresh dill on hand, you can substitute 1 teaspoon of dried dill.

*See blog post for notes about ingredients and substitutions.

You'll want to add salt and pepper to your taste. Start with the amount I listed, and then add more garlic salt, salt and/or pepper until it meets your liking!

To toast the pecans for best flavor:

  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. 
  • Spread pecan halves or chopped pecans (or chopped walnuts if preferred) in an even, single layer on a baking sheet. (I like to line my baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up)
  • Bake for 5-10 minutes (check chopped nuts at 4-5 minutes) until they are starting to brown and smell fragrant.
  • Do not let them burn - you're just toasting them.
  • Cool before adding them to the chicken salad.

Pin this to your gluten-free lunch recipes board on Pinterest:

Gluten Free Chicken Salad on a bun

or this one with crackers:

I hope you and your family enjoy this gf chicken salad recipe!

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Alexandria Cannito

Wednesday 27th of May 2020

I have been looking for new meals to try for lunch. This looks so good and follows gluten and dairy-free guidelines! I also appreciate you sharing two different ways to enjoy this recipe. Thank you for sharing!

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