Zesty Chicken Salad


They say that the simplest recipes are the test of a good cook. Chicken salad is deceptively straightforward since it’s in the cooking method and subsequent flavor pairings that a truly excellent rendition comes together. First, up is poaching the chicken in gently simmering water. This ensures tender, not rubbery meat, which is crucial given that you’ll be using chicken breasts, not thighs. (Though those would also be delicious in a pinch.) Next, you’ll stir the cubed chicken together with just enough mayonnaise to bind, dill pickles for briny punch, shallot for kick, lemon juice for a fresh zing, and—an excellent wild card—fresh tarragon. It’s comforting, delicious, and original, just like a great chicken salad should be.

Hands On Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs
8 serves


  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (about 5 pounds total)

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for water

  • ¾ cup mayonnaise

  • 3 kosher dill pickles, chopped (about ¾ cup)

  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped (about ⅓ cup)

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place chicken and bay leaf in a wide, shallow saucepan with a lid and add enough water to cover. Lightly salt water. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 165°F, about 25 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board. Let cool for 30 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, whisk mayonnaise, pickles, shallot, lemon juice, tarragon, parsley, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until combined.

  3. Remove and discard skin and bones from chicken. Cut chicken into ½-inch pieces. Add to mayonnaise mixture and gently fold to combine.

    Zesty Chicken Salad Recipe
    Greg DuPree

Chef's Notes

Serving and Storing: Make your sandwich open-faced on toasted rye for a Scandinavian twist. Top it with a small handful of watercress or a slice or two of crispy bacon. Store chicken salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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