How to Make the Best Chicken Salad

Chicken salad recipes are a summertime staple—and for good reason. Chicken salad recipes are versatile, and can be jazzed up to make adventurous versions like Thai Peanut Chicken Salad and Jalapeno Chicken Salad. Here we share with you all of the recipes we’ve created, and the tips and know-how you’ll need to prepare them.

To Rinse or Not to Rinse

Is it necessary to rinse chicken before you use it?

Both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration advise against washing poultry. According to their research, while rinsing may remove some bacteria, the only way to ensure that all bacteria are killed is through proper cooking. Moreover, splashing bacteria around the sink can be dangerous, especially if water lands on food that is ready to be served. All the same, some people will argue that chicken should be rinsed for flavor—not safety—reasons. After sitting in its own blood and juices for days, they argue, chicken should be unwrapped and refreshed under running water. To find out if rinsing had any impact on flavor, we roasted four chickens—two rinsed, two unrinsed—and held a blind tasting. Tasters couldn't tell the difference. Our conclusion? Skip the rinsing.

Amount of Cooked Meat from Roasted Chicken

Here's how much meat you can expect to get from whole roasted chickens.

We roasted 3-, 4-, and 5-pound chickens and then picked them clean to find out how much meat we could get per pound. The birds averaged about 1 cup of cooked picked chicken per pound of raw chicken (the 3-pound raw chicken yielded about 3 cups cooked chicken), and the proportion of white meat to dark was about 2 to 1. If you're purchasing a cooked chicken from the market, remember that chickens lose about 25 percent of their weight when cooked, so plan on a 2 1/2-pound cooked chicken for 3 cups picked meat.

How to Cook Chicken for Chicken Salad: Our Two Favorite Methods

ROASTING

ROASTING

Even after the skin and bones are removed, the meat tastes roasted, and the resulting chicken salad is always superb. We’ve also determined that if you’re short on time, substituting a supermarket rotisserie chicken works just fine.  

 

SAUTÉING

SAUTÉING

Sautéed boneless, skinless chicken breasts turn out every bit as tasty as roasted chicken—and require just a few minutes of cooking time. We get the best results when we leave ½ an inch of space between each breast.

 

Breaking Down a Chicken, Making Parts

It may seem intimidating, but carving a whole roasted chicken isn't difficult. Here are the step-by-step tips you'll need to make this task effortless every time.

STEP 1

STEP 1

Cut where the leg meets the breast, then pull the leg away. Separate the joint by pressing the leg out and pushing up on the join, then cut through the joint.

STEP 2

STEP 2

Cut through the joint that connects the drumstick to the thigh. Repeat on the second side to remove the other leg.

STEP 3

STEP 3

Cut down along one side of the breastbone, pulling the breast meat away from the bone as you cut.

STEP 4

STEP 4

Remove the wing from the breast by cutting through the wing joint. Slice the breast into attractive slices.

 

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