Make the most of your pantry staples with this canned chicken salad. It's a quick and satisfying lunch - no cooking required. Scoop it onto crackers, serve it on a sandwich, or add it to a mixed greens salad.
Chicken salad with canned chicken is ready in under 10 minutes!
Why you'll love it
I picked up a few cans of chicken when they went BOGO at the grocery store the other day. They're a great backup in case you run out of fresh chicken and don't want to run to the store.
This canned chicken salad boasts crunchy celery, sweet dried cranberries, and nutty walnuts in a creamy mayo-based sauce! It's satisfying, packed with protein, and you don't even need to turn on the oven.
I like to serve canned chicken salad with multigrain crackers, but it tastes delicious on a croissant or atop some mixed greens too!
Canned chicken - Since chicken is the star of the show, it's best to buy the highest quality canned chicken you can afford. I recommend Swanson or Costco's Kirkland Signature canned chicken.
Mayo - Use your favorite brand or whatever's on sale. I used Duke's mayonnaise.
Honey - A little sweetness rounds out the heaviness of the mayo and the acidity of the lemon. Just a teaspoon does the trick! You can swap honey with sugar if that's what you have.
Lemon juice - Brightens up the dressing a bit. If you don't have a lemon, swap it with apple cider vinegar instead.
Salt - Salt equals flavor!
Mix-ins - I added celery, dried cranberries, walnuts, and a Honeycrisp apple. It's the perfect combo of sweet and crunchy!
How to make chicken salad with canned chicken
Drain the chicken - Canned chicken comes packed in water. Drain the water then squeeze the excess water out of the chicken. Don't skip this step. It tastes much better when you do this!
Transfer chicken - Once the chicken is squeezed and drained, move it to a large bowl.
Make the dressing - In a small bowl, mix the mayo, lemon juice, honey, and kosher salt.
Add the mayo - Pour the mayo mixture onto the chicken mixture and stir well to combine.
Add the mix-ins - Add the dried cranberries, walnuts, celery, and diced apples to the bowl with the chicken. Stir well to combine.
Serve - Enjoy immediately or chill in the fridge if you like it cold. I prefer chicken salad chilled.
- Drain and squeeze the chicken. Since can chicken comes packed in water, it is very wet. It tastes more like fresh chicken when you squeeze it out.
- Buy high-quality chicken. This canned chicken salad will only be as good as the chicken that goes in it. For best results, use high-quality chicken!
- Taste, then adjust as needed. Once the chicken salad is finished, give it a taste. If you like more mayo, add a bit more!
Ways to serve canned chicken salad
The best part about chicken salad is how versatile it is! I like to switch things up to keep it interesting. Here's a few delicious ways to serve it:
- As a sandwich! Try croissants, Hawaiian rolls, pita bread, brioche buns, white bread, or multigrain bread.
- Spoon it onto crunchy cucumber slices for a healthy and delicious snack!
- Add a scoop to a bed of mixed greens and serve with your favorite vinaigrette!
- Crackers or tortilla chips are a fan favorite! Gotta love that crunch.
- Spoon it into half of a ripe avocado for a boost of healthy fats.
- Chicken - Feel free to use a rotisserie chicken or shredded chicken in place of the canned chicken. Just be sure to chop the rotisserie chicken up first.
- Greek yogurt - For a healthy spin, swap half the mayo with unsweetened Greek yogurt.
- Nuts - Swap the walnuts with pecans, cashews, or slivered almonds. Or leave them out if you don't like nuts.
- Fruit - I prefer the sweet crunch of apples but grapes or pineapple work great too. Just be sure to cut them into small chunks first.
- Savory - If you prefer savory flavors, try swapping the fruit and nuts for cheddar cheese, bacon, and pickled jalapenos!
Store canned chicken salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
I don't recommend freezing chicken salad. The taste and texture suffers when you defrost it.
No, in fact it's better not to. Canned chicken is packed in water so it's already full of liquid. Rinsing it will just make it mushy. Simply drain the chicken in a fine mesh sieve and give it a good squeeze with your hands to remove the excess liquid.
Canned chicken salad lasts up to four days in the fridge. Be sure to store it in an airtight container to maximize freshness.
No, canned chicken is fully cooked and ready to enjoy. The canning process prevents the chicken from spoiling.
Yes, the FDA requires all canned chicken be cooked and processed in a way that kills harmful bacteria. This means it doesn't need to be cooked first to enjoy it cold.
Easy Lunch Recipes
Canned Chicken Salad
- Large Bowl
- cutting board & chef's knife
- Measuring cups & spoons
- 2 12.5 ounce cans of white meat chicken drained
- ½ cup mayo
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup diced celery
- ¾ cup chopped walnuts
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- 1 Honeycrisp apple cored and diced
- Dump the chicken into a fine mesh sieve and drain the water. Use clean hands to squeeze the excess water out of the chicken.
- Transfer the chicken to a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the mayo, lemon juice, honey, and salt.
- Pour the mayo mixture onto the chicken mixture. Stir well to combine.
- Add the dried cranberries, diced celery, diced apples, and chopped walnuts to the chicken. Stir to combine.
- Enjoy immediately or cover the bowl and chill until ready to eat.