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The EASIEST Chicken Salad Recipe

Growing up, tuna salad was a staple in my house. As an adult, I make canned chicken salad far more often. Some links in this article are affiliate links that earn me a commission if you purchase through them.

Canned chicken salad sandwich

Why you’ll love this recipe

When I want a simple meal that requires no heating of my house with the oven or ok really much work at all, I turn to this recipe. It takes less than three minutes to make, and it’s tasty and filling.

When I want to put more effort into chicken salad, I poach chicken breasts and make the chicken salad while they’re still warm. That’s a different kind of chicken salad altogether though, as this one focuses on an easy pantry meal.

This canned chicken salad is so easy that my son has made it by himself since he was maybe 6 or 7. In fact, this may have been his school lunch staple when I didn’t have leftovers ready for him.

How should I serve canned chicken salad?

This canned chicken salad is incredibly versatile. It is fantastic on bread as a sandwich, but you can enjoy it in so many other way, too.

It’s naturally gluten free, which means I can serve it to my kids’ friends who have dietary restrictions. In fact, I often enjoy it on top of a rice cake rather than as a sandwich.

This simple chicken salad recipe is perfect to add to lettuce for a salad, too. This helps add protein and turns a side salad into a full meal.

Of course, we eat this chicken salad on bread as a sandwich, too, sometimes toasted, sometimes not. I like it with sliced tomatoes and lettuce, but my kids enjoy it just plain.

Chicken salad sandwich quarter

When I’m really in a pinch, I grab some of my favorite crackers and enjoy it on crackers, too. Yes, sometimes straight from the bowl, and it makes a great mid-afternoon snack.

Needless to say, I always keep some of the Kirkland canned chicken from Costco in my pantry. I know I’m not the only one!

Crackers with chicken salad

If you’re a visual learner, watch the video. It really is this simple to make!

How to Jazz Up Canned Chicken Salad

This chicken salad add Parmesan cheese to give it some extra flavor, and it tastes absolutely delicious this way. However, you may want to get creative and add different flavors to it depending on what you have in your pantry.

I like to swap it up so my kids don’t get bored with it, and it also lets me use up ingredients that are almost gone but I can’t quite throw away.

You don’t need more than one or two additional items, and I use about a quarter to a half cup total, depending on what I add. Test it out, and have some fun.

Some of my favorite mix-ins include:

  • Sliced grapes
  • Dried cranberries
  • Toasted pecans (toast them for just a few minutes in a pan on your stove, shaking it – you’ll thank me)
  • Pepitas
  • Chopped celery
  • Whole grain mustard (just a tablespoon or so)
  • Finely chopped shallots
  • Green onion
  • Chopped pickles
  • Diced green apple
  • Chopped Red or yellow pepper
Read This Next:  Spinach Caprese Salad

Ingredients to Make Canned Chicken Salad

  • Canned chicken
  • Mayonnaise
  • Parmesan cheese (freshly grated, not the green can)
  • Pepper

These are the ingredients that are part of this recipe. There are tons of optional ingredients you can add to change the taste or make this fancier.

See the ideas in the previous section for some ideas of what you can include.

How to Make Canned Chicken Salad

Open your chicken and drain it. You don’t have to squish out all the juice, as it tastes better without a super dry chicken.

Place the chicken into a nonskid bowl, and add the mayonnaise.

Grate the Parmesan into the bowl with your zester – one of my favorite tools. I never use the green can but always grate from the block because it tastes so much better, and it’s cheaper in the long run.

Add pepper, then stir together with a fork. Use the fork to ensure the chunks of canned chicken separate enough to get the flavors mixed throughout your chicken salad.

Serve immediately in a wrap, on a sandwich, with crackers, or however you prefer.

If you have leftovers, store them in a tightly sealed container for two to three days in the fridge. It’s good cold, so no need to warm it up!

Be sure to bookmark this canned chicken salad recipe to make again!

More favorite pantry meal ideas:

Canned Chicken Salad

Canned Chicken Salad

Yield: 3 servings
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes

This simple, four ingredient recipe tastes absolutely delicious. Enjoy it on a sandwich or on crackers. Either way, this kid friendly, gluten free simple meal is sure to be a new favorite.


  • 12.5 ounce can chicken
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper


  1. Open your chicken and drain it.
  2. Place chicken into bowl with mayonnaise, Parmesan, and pepper.
  3. Stir together with fork.
  4. Serve immediately in a wrap, on a sandwich, with crackers, etc.


Feel free to jazz this up further with your favorite mix-ins from sliced grapes to chopped peppers to pepitas and more.

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As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 3 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 417Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 866mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 32g

This site uses an outside source to provide nutrition. If you need exact details, please calculate yourself.

Did you make this recipe?

Please rate the recipe above and save it on Pinterest so you can find it to make again and again. Leave me a comment to let me know what you think about it, too!

Simple canned chicken salad

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Friday 26th of May 2023

Mixed the canned chicken with a mashed hard boiled egg, mayo, chopped onion, salt and pepper. Simple and delish!


Saturday 1st of July 2023

Oh this sounds like a great way to dress it up. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.


Monday 16th of January 2023

Do you think chopped cucumber would work


Tuesday 28th of February 2023

It could if you use just the outer part of it. I would want the crunch from that and could enjoy it (much like chopped water chestnut where it adds crunch without a ton of flavor). Be sure to not use the softer inside portion as that would not work well from a texture or flavor perspective.

Jack Bookwalter

Friday 6th of January 2023

This may seem weird but don't knock it till you've tried it. I added fresh green grapes like you suggested, but they were FROZEN. Cut them in half and mixed right in with salad. Delicious! (grapes never freeze solid). Was like chicken salad popsickle!


Tuesday 28th of February 2023

Interesting. I would never have thought to use frozen grapes. I'm glad you enjoy it.


Tuesday 20th of December 2022

This is great! I didn't have parmesan so I decided to play. I added some shredded carrots for crunch and color, half of a large apple-chopped - more crunch and flavor and about 3 tbs of pickle relish. With the added relish I was able to use 1/2 the amount of mayo and it's still not too dry and it's lower fat. After tasting it I added a few shakes of dill weed. Perfect for a sandwich or on crackers. Thank you!


Tuesday 28th of February 2023

Perfect. I love how you played with this. It sounds like a delicious version.

Mikey Morris

Sunday 17th of April 2022

Very simple yet very tasty and filling.


Monday 18th of April 2022

Thanks! I think you hit the nail on the head with that.

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