That Spicy Chick

Coronation Chicken Salad

This Coronation Chicken Salad is quick and easy to make, exploding with bright flavors, and incredibly delicious in a sandwich, wrap, lettuce cups, or salad! Cooked cold chicken gets tossed with sautéed curry spiced onion, dried apricots, grapes, toasted pecans, coriander and mint leaves in creamy mayonnaise!

Front view of coronation chicken salad piled on a slice of bread with lettuce on a plate. Knife and fork and green grapes in a bowl in the back.

Friends, meet my current summer salad obsession – this coronation chicken salad!

It has stolen my heart with all of its beautiful (mild-ish) spicy curry notes. And I’m absolutely in love with the delicious flavors from the juicy sweet dried apricots and grapes, crunchy toasted pecans, and heavenly creamy mayonnaise! 😋

Chicken salad piled on a slice of bread with lettuce with a fork thats cut out a bite with a knife on a plate. Grapes in a bowl in the back.

Why this Recipe Works

  • It’s straightforward and easy to make. You cook the chicken (or use leftover cooked chicken or shredded rotisserie chicken for a short cut), prepare all your other ingredients, make the sautéed spiced onion, then toss everything together and you’re done!
  • Sautéing the onion with spices and tomato paste makes them less pungent, sweeter and robustly flavorful.
  • Toasted pecans add a lovely contrast and crunchy texture.
  • It’s bright and fresh thanks to fresh coriander and mint leaves.
  • The acidity from the lemon juice compliments the flavor of the curry powder and brightens everything up!
  • It’s great for meal prep. In fact, the flavors kind of intensify over time, so leftovers taste amazing the next day, and the day after!
  • You can enjoy it in a variety of ways for lunch – in a tasty sandwich, salad, lettuce cups, or a wrap. Pick your own adventure!
  • It’s lusciously creamy thanks to full fat mayonnaise (my preference always for chicken salads.) Although, you can substitute with Greek yogurt for a lighter version if you like.

Ready to take your summer lunch game up a notch? Let’s make some!

What is Coronation Chicken Salad?

Coronation chicken salad is made of cooked cold chicken, curry powder (or paste), dried apricots, fresh herbs, spices, nuts (usually almonds), and a creamy mayonnaise-based sauce. It originated in Britain, and was created for and served at the coronation banquet of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 (hence the name). You can enjoy it in sandwiches, salads, lettuce cups, and wraps.

Today, it can be found pretty much everywhere in the UK – from delis, coffee shops, supermarkets, and to restaurants. In the US, it’s known as ‘curried chicken salad’, and you can find a variation of it being sold in tubs in big supermarkets like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

At its core, coronation chicken salad is a delicious curry chicken salad that’s a little sweet, a little spicy, and wonderfully creamy! My version is adapted from the original Coronation Chicken Salad recipe created by Rosemary Hume to suit my taste and flavor preferences. It’s incredibly tasty and packed with exciting flavors.

If you’re a chicken salad sandwich lover like I am, I think you’re going to love the flavor explosions in your mouth from this one!

Top view of coronation chicken salad piled on a slice of bread with lettuce on a plate. Knife and fork and green grapes in a bowl in the back.

Ingredients

  • Olive Oil: Or you can use any other cooking oil you prefer.
  • Chicken: I used chicken breasts and baked them with a bit of salt and pepper before dicing them. You can also pan-sear them if you prefer. Alternatively (and to save time), you can use any leftover chicken you have on hand in your fridge or freezer, or even shredded store-bought rotisserie chicken.
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly cracked Black Pepper
  • Yellow Onion: Or you could use red or white onion instead too.
  • Curry Powder: I recommend using a mild one such as McCormick’s Curry Powder.
  • Turmeric Powder
  • Tomato Paste (known as tomato puree if you are in the UK): This thick paste comes in small cans and can be found in almost all supermarkets.
  • Lemon Juice: As always, I recommend using freshly squeezed lemon juice for optimum flavor.
  • Mayonnaise: I like to use full fat Kraft mayonnaise so that the chicken salad is nice and creamy. But you’re welcome to use Greek yogurt or low-fat mayonnaise for a lighter version. Or you could compromise and use half mayonnaise and half Greek yogurt.
  • Grapes: Either green or red seedless grapes will work.
  • Dried Apricots
  • Pecans
  • Mint Leaves
  • Coriander (Cilantro)
  • Ground Cayenne: Feel free to use as much or as little as you like based on your heat level preference. Or omit it entirely if you prefer to make this mild.

How to Make Coronation Chicken Salad

Cook the chicken:

I opted to bake the chicken breasts using my easy method for juicy baked chicken breasts. But you’re welcome to pan-sear or poach them instead if you prefer. (Instructions for pan-searing are in the Notes section of the recipe card).

To bake the chicken…

  1. Prep: Preheat your oven to 175°C/350°F. Line a baking tray with a sheet of aluminum foil and brush lightly with a bit of olive oil.
  2. Season the chicken: Clean and pat-dry the chicken breasts with paper towels. Brush olive oil on the chicken breasts, then season them with kosher salt and black pepper on both sides. (The oil helps to keep the chicken juicy during baking and allows the seasonings to better adhere to the chicken breasts.)
  3. Bake: Place the chicken breasts (plump side up) on the prepared baking tray and bake for 20-22 minutes, turning once using tongs halfway through so that the flat side is facing up.
  4. Rest and cube: Remove the baking tray from the oven and let the chicken rest for 10-12 minutes to lock in all the juices. Transfer the chicken breasts to a chopping board, making sure to let any extra liquid/juices drip onto the foil before placing them on the board. Cut into cubes with a sharp knife (or shred with two forks if you prefer) and set aside.
Diced chicken on a cutting board with a knife.

Prepare the other ingredients:

While the chicken is baking, you can prepare the other ingredients. Thinly slice the onion, then slice in half so that they are smaller and bite-sized. Wash and pat-dry the grapes, then cut them into halves. Chop the apricots, mint leaves, and coriander. Lightly toast the pecans in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes until browned and fragrant. Transfer to a cutting board and chop them. Use a citrus squeezer to squeeze the lemon for juice. Store the juice in a small bottle in the fridge until needed. (You can use any leftover lemon juice for other recipes.)

Small bowls with toasted chopped pecans, chopped apricots, sliced onion, halved green grapes, chopped mint leaves and coriander, sliced onion. Lemon juice in a small bottle.

Make the Sautéed Spiced Onion:

Heat olive oil in a medium-sized nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion, curry powder, turmeric powder, and the tomato paste. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until everything is well combined and the onion has softened. Turn off the heat and stir in lemon juice. Set aside to cool.

Sliced onion topped with curry powder, turmeric, and tomato paste in a pan with oil.
Sautéed spiced onion in a skillet.

Make the Coronation Chicken Salad:

Combine everything: In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken cubes, sautéed spiced onion, mayonnaise, grapes, dried apricots, pecans, chopped mint leaves and coriander, curry powder, turmeric powder, ground cayenne, kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste, and lemon juice. Mix with a spoon until everything is evenly combined.

Toasted chopped pecans, sautéed spiced onion, cubed cooked chicken, green grapes, mint leaves, coriander, and mayonnaise in a large mixing bowl.

(Note: Alternatively, you can add the mayonnaise, curry powder, turmeric powder, ground cayenne, kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper and lemon juice to the mixing bowl and whisk until everything is evenly integrated. Then add the chicken cubes, sautéed spiced onion, grapes, dried apricots, pecans, and chopped mint leaves and coriander to the sauce. Toss until everything is evenly coated in the sauce. Either method works, but I realized after shooting the photos that this method is slightly more efficient.)

Tossed coronation chicken salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl with a spoon.

Serve!: Serve in sandwiches with your favorite sandwich bread and fillings such as lettuce/mixed salad greens, cucumber, sliced tomatoes, etc. Or enjoy it in tortilla wraps, lettuce cups, or in salads!

I personally love spooning it onto a thick slice of toasted sandwich bread with some butter lettuce. A simple, yet incredibly satisfying and flavorful lunch! 😋

Front view of coronation chicken salad piled on a slice of bread with lettuce on a plate. Knife and fork and green grapes in a bowl in the back.

Full ingredient amounts/instructions in the recipe card below.

Cook’s Tips

  • Use leftover cooked chicken. This chicken salad is a great way to use up any leftover chicken you have in your fridge or freezer. Be sure to thaw overnight in the fridge if using leftover cooked frozen chicken.
  • Use rotisserie chicken. To save time, you can use shredded rotisserie chicken if you like. You’ll need about 2-2.5 cups of chicken.
  • Don’t serve the chicken salad cold. I find that this chicken salad tastes best when it’s just slightly cold or at room temperature. I recommend taking out any leftovers that you’re storing in the refrigerator 15-20 minutes ahead of serving. Let it sit on the counter to allow its temperature to come up.

FAQs

Can I make this ahead?

Yes. You can make it 3-4 days in advance.

How should I store leftover chicken salad and how long will it keep?

Store any leftover chicken salad in a sealed container in the refrigerator and consume within 3-4 days.

How can I make this lighter?

Use Greek yogurt in place of the mayonnaise. Alternatively, you can compromise and use half Greek yogurt and half mayonnaise so that the chicken salad is still lusciously creamy.

Can I make it dairy-free?

No change is needed. However, if you’re making this lighter by using yogurt instead of mayonnaise, be sure to use a thick dairy-free yogurt.

Can I make it gluten-free?

No change is needed. All of the ingredients in my version of coronation chicken salad are naturally gluten-free. Just be sure to use gluten-free bread or tortilla if you’re making a sandwich or wrap.

Can I make it vegetarian?

Yes. Use a plant or soy-based meat alternative such as meat-free ‘chicken’ or Quorn. You can also swap the chicken for a can (14 ounce/400 grams) of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) if you wish.

Can I make it vegan?

Yes. Follow the advice for making it dairy-free and vegetarian (see above).

Is this chicken salad freezer-friendly?

I have not tried freezing this chicken salad as it never lasts that long in my home. If you do try freezing it, let us know how it worked out for you in the comments section below!

Fork holding up a bite of curry chicken salad, lettuce, and bread above a plate with a slice of bread with curry chicken salad.

Variations

  • Make it milder: If you’re not big on spice, simply adjust the amount of curry powder and ground cayenne to suit your taste. Or you can omit the ground cayenne entirely if you prefer.
  • Use different nuts: Chopped pistachios, walnuts, toasted slivered or sliced almonds, pine nuts, or any other nuts you like would all taste great.
    Use different herbs: Fresh Italian basil, parsley, tarragon, etc. would also work well.
  • Add seeds: Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or sesame seeds would be a nice addition.
  • Use other dried fruit: Instead of dried apricots, you can also make this with raisins, sultanas, or dried figs.
  • Use different fresh fruit: If you like, you can swap the grapes for diced mango, pineapple, tangerines, strawberries, cherries, etc.
  • Add veggies: Shredded carrot, diced celery and cucumber are great veggie options for this chicken salad.
Coronation chicken salad piled on a slice of bread with lettuce on a plate. Text overlay "Coronation Chicken Salad". Tossed coronation chicken salad in a large mixing bowl.

More Easy Summer Lunch Recipes


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Chicken salad piled on a slice of bread with lettuce with a fork thats cut out a bite with a knife on a plate. Grapes in a bowl in the back.

Coronation Chicken Salad Sandwich

This Coronation Chicken Salad is quick and easy to make, exploding with bright flavors, and incredibly delicious in a sandwich, wrap, lettuce cups, or salad! Cooked cold chicken gets tossed with sautéed curry spiced onion, dried apricots, grapes, toasted pecans, coriander and mint leaves in creamy mayonnaise!

  • Author: Lavina
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Lunch
  • Method: Mix
  • Cuisine: British, Indian-inspired
  • Diet: Gluten Free
Scale

Ingredients

For the Baked Chicken:

  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil (or any other cooking oil you prefer)
  • 2 Chicken Breasts (about 400 grams / 0.88 pounds), boneless, skinless – cleaned and pat-dried with paper towels
  • 1 TSP Kosher Salt (use half the amount if using table salt)
  • ½ TSP freshly cracked Black Pepper

For the Spiced Sautéed Onion:

  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • ½ Yellow Onion – thinly sliced, then sliced in half
  • ¾ TSP Curry Powder (I used McCormick’s)
  • ¼ TSP Turmeric Powder
  • 1.5 TSP Tomato Paste
  • ½ TBLS freshly squeezed Lemon Juice

For the Coronation Chicken Salad

  • ¾ cup Mayonnaise (Or use Greek Yogurt or low-fat mayonnaise for a lighter version, or half mayo and half Greek yogurt.)
  • ½ cup seedless Green Grapes (or red grapes) – washed, pat-dried, halved
  • ¼ cup Dried Apricots – chopped
  • ¼ cup (about 25 grams) Pecans – toasted and chopped
  • 12 TBLS chopped Mint Leaves
  • 12 TBLS chopped Coriander (Cilantro)
  • ¾ TSP Curry Powder
  • ¼ TSP Turmeric powder
  • 1 TSP ground Cayenne, to taste
  • 1/8 TSP Kosher Salt, to taste
  • 1/8 TSP freshly cracked Black Pepper, to taste
  • ½ TBLS freshly squeezed Lemon Juice

Instructions

For the Baked Chicken Breasts:

  1. Prep: Preheat oven to 175°C/350°F. Line a baking tray with a sheet of aluminum foil and brush lightly with ½ TBLS olive oil.
  2. Season the chicken: Clean and pat-dry the chicken breasts with paper towels. Brush ½ TBLS olive oil on the chicken breasts, then season them with kosher salt and black pepper on both sides. (The oil helps to keep the chicken juicy during baking and allows the seasonings to better adhere to the chicken breasts.)
  3. Bake: Place the chicken breasts (plump side up) on the prepared baking tray and bake for 20-22 minutes, turning once using tongs halfway through so that the flat side is facing up.
  4. Rest and cube: Remove the baking tray from the oven and let the chicken rest for 10-12 minutes to lock in all the juices. Transfer the chicken breasts to a chopping board, making sure to let any extra liquid/juices drip onto the foil before placing them on the board. Cut into cubes with a sharp knife (or shred with two forks if you prefer) and set aside.

For the Other Ingredients:

  1. Prepare the other ingredients: While the chicken is baking, prepare the other ingredients. Thinly slice the onion, then slice in half so that they are smaller and bite-sized. Wash and pat-dry the grapes, then cut them into halves. Chop the apricots, mint leaves, and coriander. Lightly toast the pecans in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes until browned and fragrant. Transfer to a cutting board and chop them. Use a citrus squeezer to squeeze the lemon for juice. Store the juice in a small bottle in the fridge until needed. (Use any leftover juice for other recipes.) 

For the Sautéed Spiced Onion:

  1. Make the Sautéed Spiced Onion: Heat 1 TBLS olive oil in a medium-sized nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion, ¾ TSP curry powder, ¼ TSP turmeric powder, and the tomato paste. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until everything is well combined and the onion has softened. Turn off the heat and stir in ½ TBLS lemon juice. Set aside to cool.

For the Coronation Chicken Salad:

  1. Combine everything: In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken cubes, sautéed spiced onion, mayonnaise, grapes, dried apricots, pecans, chopped mint leaves and coriander, ¾ TSP curry powder, ¼ TSP turmeric powder, ground cayenne, kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste, and ½ TBLS lemon juice. Mix with a spoon until everything is evenly combined. (Note: Alternatively, you can add the mayonnaise, curry powder, turmeric powder, ground cayenne, kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper and lemon juice to the mixing bowl and whisk until everything is evenly integrated. Then add the chicken cubes, sautéed spiced onion, grapes, dried apricots, pecans, and chopped mint leaves and coriander to the sauce. Toss until everything is evenly coated in the sauce. Either method works, but I realized after shooting the photos that this method is slightly more efficient.)
  2. To Serve: Serve in sandwiches with your favorite sandwich bread and fillings such as lettuce/mixed salad greens, cucumber, sliced tomatoes, etc. Or enjoy it in tortilla wraps, lettuce cups, or in salads.

Notes

Ingredient Notes, Cook’s Tips, FAQs and Variations

  1. Nutritional information: Nutrition information is for one serving of the coronation chicken salad and not for the sandwich bread or fillings.
  2. For pan-searing the chicken: You’re welcome to pan-sear the chicken breasts instead of baking them if you prefer. I recommend slicing the breasts horizontally in half and seasoning each piece with kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Then heat a bit of oil in a nonstick skillet and cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until fully cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board and allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes. Then dice into cubes or shred with two forks.
  3. Use leftover cooked chicken. This chicken salad is a great way to use up any leftover chicken you have in your fridge or freezer. Be sure to thaw overnight in the fridge if using leftover cooked frozen chicken.
  4. Use rotisserie chicken. To save time, you can use shredded rotisserie chicken if you like. You’ll need about 2-2.5 cups of chicken.
  5. Don’t serve the chicken salad cold. I find that this chicken salad tastes best when it’s just slightly cold or at room temperature. I recommend taking out any leftovers that you’re storing in the refrigerator 15-20 minutes ahead of serving. Let it sit on the counter to allow its temperature to come up.
  6. Can I make this ahead? Yes. You can make it 3-4 days in advance.
  7. How should I store leftover chicken salad and how long will it keep? Store any leftover chicken salad in a sealed container in the refrigerator and consume within 3-4 days.
  8. How can I make this lighter? Use Greek yogurt in place of the mayonnaise. Alternatively, you can compromise and use half Greek yogurt and half mayonnaise so that the chicken salad is still lusciously creamy.
  9. Can I make it dairy-free? No change is needed. However, if you’re making this lighter by using yogurt instead of mayonnaise, be sure to use a thick dairy-free yogurt.
  10. Can I make it gluten-free? No change is needed. All of the ingredients in my version of coronation chicken salad are naturally gluten-free. Just be sure to use gluten-free bread or tortilla if you’re making a sandwich or wrap.
  11. Can I make it vegetarian? Yes. Use a plant or soy-based meat alternative such as meat-free ‘chicken’ or Quorn. You can also swap the chicken for a can (14 ounce/400 grams) of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) if you wish.
  12. Can I make it vegan? Yes. Follow the advice for making it dairy-free and vegetarian (see above).
  13. Is this chicken salad freezer-friendly? I have not tried freezing this chicken salad as it never lasts that long in my home. If you do try freezing it, let us know how it worked out for you in the comments section below.
  14. Make it milder: If you’re not big on spice, simply adjust the amount of curry powder and ground cayenne to suit your taste. Or you can omit the ground cayenne entirely if you prefer.
  15. Use different nuts: Chopped pistachios, walnuts, toasted slivered or sliced almonds, pine nuts, or any other nuts you like would all taste great.
  16. Use different herbs: Fresh Italian basil, parsley, tarragon, etc. would also work well.
  17. Add seeds: Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or sesame seeds would be a nice addition.
  18. Use other dried fruit. Instead of dried apricots, you can also make this with raisins, sultanas, or dried figs.
  19. Use different fresh fruit: If you like, you can swap the grapes for diced mango, pineapple, tangerines, strawberries, cherries, etc.
  20. Add veggies: Shredded carrot, diced celery and cucumber are great veggie options for this chicken salad.
  21. Recipe adapted from the original Coronation Chicken Salad created by Rosemary Hume. 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
  • Calories: 551
  • Sugar: 8.8g
  • Sodium: 675.4mg
  • Fat: 45g
  • Saturated Fat: 6.8g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 36.2g
  • Trans Fat: 0.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 13g
  • Fiber: 2.6g
  • Protein: 24.5g
  • Cholesterol: 90.3mg

The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

This post may contain affiliate links. We are a part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

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