Chicken Salad

chicken salad

Back in the 90’s my parents owned a tearoom in Houston and this chicken salad was one of the most popular item on the menu. Our main business was for lunch time since we were surrounded by a lot of offices and within driving distance of NASA and many of their contractors. I was lucky enough to meet a few of the commanders of the space shuttles and we used to host a dinner for the wives of the astronauts. They were all such gracious people. I even saw HM The Queen as she was driving to NASA on one of her state visits. I was on the side of the road waving frantically and she and HRH Prince Philip waved back very majestically. 

Thinking back on it now, the tearoom was a great little place but my interest wasn’t really in helping my parents run a restaurant. I did help and was cook, baker, caterer and hostess at various times, but back then my interest lay in Engineering and not in visions of billowing mounds of meringue or French pastry making techniques. How things change!

Once in a while, I did get that surge of enthusiasm and creativity and I would whip out a cookbook and create something. My profiteroles were a hit with many a dinner party we catered and I even attempted a Christmas fruit cake once (that was a flop, unfortunately.)

More often than not, the restaurant meant hard work and long hours. I would sit on the corner table closest to the coffee machine and work out mathematical conundrums and theoretical Physics problems while maintaining a Miss Universe-like smile serving customers (and downing gallons of coffee in between.) My father didn’t close for any holidays or hurricanes  but he did give the staff off… except for the free labour he had at home. We were the schmucks that worked every Christmas, Easter, Eid Ul Fitr, Eid ul Adha and life threatening hurricane.

Now, I would do anything to have that tearoom back. Oh the things I would do with it. But that’s neither here nor there. I still have the recipes from the restaurant and make them often at home, with my little touches, of course.

This chicken salad was loved by everyone. It could be found piled high in sandwiches alongside a bowl of soup or fruit salad, or by itself stuffed inside a hollowed out tomato with the house fruit salad adorning either side. There were finger sandwiches, brown bag lunches and our famous Tri Salad ( a scoop of chicken salad, a scoop of tuna salad and a scoop of fruit salad served with tea bread/cream cheese finger sandwiches.)

The ingredients and preparation are simple and it pulls together really quickly. It has no fancy, schmancy ingredients but the simplicity of the ingredients it does contain work so well together and create an amazing balance of crunchiness, sweetness, saltiness and creaminess.

Everyone is probably wondering why I am going on about chicken salad in the dead of winter? School lunches. I have been making a lot of this to fill sandwiches for the kids’ lunches and my hubby’s lunch. There are only so many PB&J’s they will eat. I don’t like to use cold cuts on a regular basis because of the nitrites and phosphates etc. I’ll make this chicken salad, tuna salad, egg salad and roast beef and chicken sandwiches. 

I like to use just chicken breast in the salad; looks prettier and tastes better. You can use boneless chicken breast or bone in which is what I use. Just poach them or even bake them. The chicken breast mixes better with the mayonnaise if it is very soft, and for this reason I prefer to use poached or boiled chicken. I like to use a sweet, crisp apple, like Fuji here in the US. The sweetness really makes a difference in the salad. The celery provides the crunch.

The original tearoom salad used dried tarragon as the herb. I have a bad story where once I added too much and it really overpowered the salad and I have been afraid ever since! I use parsley now but it is very good with tarragon. The tarragon is what sets it apart from the other chicken salads and gives it a unique flavour. If you are not fond of tarragon’s anise-y flavour, leave it out. It’s good either way.

chicken salad



2 or 3 boneless chicken breasts, very softly poached, chopped

2 medium, sweet apples, small dice

2 large sticks celery, small dice

1 cup mayonnaise (may need less or more according to preference)

1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon (add more if you like the flavour)

chopped fresh parsley

salt and pepper to taste


Toss together the chopped chicken breast, apples, celery, parsley and tarragon in large bowl.

Add the mayonnaise starting with 1/2 cup and mix.

Add the rest of the mayonnaise if needed, add salt and pepper to taste.

Don’t add too much salt until you get the consistency right since mayonnaise contains salt too.

Pile high in sandwiches, in a hollowed tomato or in an avocado.

Makes about 6-8 cups of chicken salad.

 chicken salad

 chicken salad


Hope you have a go and try this chicken salad, especially if you need to pack a lunch or take on road trips ( we had a supply on our trip.)

What are some of your favourite sandwich fillings or lunch box treats? 

Hope you’re all having a great week!  


Nazneen Written by:

Indian by ancestry, American by motherhood and British by choice, I live in beautiful Colorado with my husband and four kids and, I love coffee...all kinds of coffee.


    • Nazneen
      January 22, 2013

      Thanks Nami! I wish I had the tearoom now…how things change.

  1. January 21, 2013

    Friends think I’m crazy for loving chicken salad as much as I do…you understand…thanks for sharing this. I think I know what I’m having for lunch =)
    The Squishy Monster recently posted..While in New York…My Profile

    • Nazneen
      January 22, 2013

      Chicken salad is great! I don’t think you’re crazy at all :)

  2. January 19, 2013

    It sounds like your parents were very hard workers and they taught you a good work ethic. The chicken salad looks very yummy and this would be so good for you. And this is a perfect recipe for the weather we’re having!
    hotlyspiced recently posted..Moving On…and…Pear, Rocket and Blue Cheese SaladMy Profile

    • Nazneen
      January 22, 2013

      Thanks Charlie. Yes, my parents did work very hard and gave us everything. I hope I work as hard as they did, I try at least. The salad is great and incredibly refreshing on a hot day. Keep cool!

  3. January 19, 2013

    This chicken salad sounds great! I enjoyed hearing your memories too, nice post!

    • Nazneen
      January 22, 2013

      Thank you Jayne! Thanks for stopping by!

    • Nazneen
      January 22, 2013

      Thanks Peachy! Yes, the tearoom was a little too homey for my liking but it was cute. I would do it differently this time around.

  4. January 17, 2013

    oh how fun! i would love to own a tearoom now though i am sure as a kid, i wouldn’t have cared much for it as i would have been busy with school and hanging out with friends…heheh.

    i can see why this chicken salad was so popular… the ingredients put together must taste great! being an avocado lover, i would like it with a slice to avocado in my sandwich. i want to make this so badly but i am still on a fat free diet. do you think i can use something other than mayonnaise?

    • Nazneen
      January 22, 2013

      Yes, I wasn’t too into it as a young adult. I wanted to do other things. Maybe you can try a low fat Greek yoghurt? It won’t be totally the same but it would be close.

  5. It is funny how our interests change over the years, isn’t it? I can just picture you in that tearoom working on your scientic equations, but smiling to customers all the while. This avocado looks like it pairs perfectly with this salad. I’ll keep it in mind next time I have some left-over chicken!
    Barb @ Profiteroles & Ponytails recently posted..10 Soul Warming Soups For A Cold Winter’s DayMy Profile

    • Nazneen
      January 22, 2013

      Thanks Barb. Avocado goes really well with this salad. I hope you try it out.

    • Nazneen
      January 22, 2013

      Thanks Uru!

  6. January 16, 2013

    We love chicken salad at our house. Whenever we have to travel some distance whether 30 miles or 1000 miles we always take sandwiches as you did in the car. We just don’t like to have to eat fast food. Homemade sandwiches are the answer for us!
    Your recipe is simple and delicious.
    Hope you’re feeling better.
    Caterina recently posted..Is this a relaxed kitty?My Profile

    • Nazneen
      January 22, 2013

      Thanks Caterina! Yes, I am doing better, thank you for asking. Hope things are well with you and hopefully there hasn’t been too much snow for you up there.

  7. January 16, 2013

    Memories and aspirations! I wouldn’t have minded being in your shoes meeting all those astronauts! I know exactly what you mean about the things you could do if you had the tearoom. My husband and I would love to open up a restaurant but with 4 young kids, it’s just not an option at the mo as we are very particular about the time we spend with them (hence the homeschooling!). But that doesn’t mean that I don’t go off having ideas and making plans in my head! Love your fresh and delicious salad!
    LinsFood recently posted..Healthy Prawn Noodle SoupMy Profile

    • Nazneen
      January 22, 2013

      Hi Lin! yes, it’s hard to even think about things you want to do when you have little children. I think all the time but even though my children are older, it seems they always need you and you put yourself on hold.

    • Nazneen
      January 15, 2013

      Thanks Eri! Hope you are doing well!

  8. Naureen
    January 15, 2013

    I remember this creamy, crunchy goodness. Just about the only chicken salad I have ever liked. Do I need to put an icepak if putting in Rehana’s lunch kit?

    • Nazneen
      January 15, 2013

      I guess it depends when Re eats lunch and when you pack it up. I make Laith’s lunch at 7.45ish and he eats lunch at 11. It’s in a thermo bag so I don’t pack an ice pack, I guess ideally you should!

Comments are closed.