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!
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
1–2 TBLS chopped Mint Leaves
1–2 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
For the Baked Chicken Breasts:
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.
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.)
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.
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:
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:
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:
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 methodworks, but I realized after shooting the photos that this method is slightly more efficient.)
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.
Ingredient Notes, Cook’s Tips, FAQs and Variations
Nutritional information: Nutrition information is for one serving of the coronation chicken salad and not for the sandwich bread or fillings.
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.
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.
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.
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.