Lemon Basil Chicken Salad – Shredded chicken in mixed with Greek yogurt, mayo, lemon zest, and fresh basil to make for an incredible chicken salad
One of my favorite meals to eat when I’m in need of something cool and refreshing is chicken salad. I just love how it can be super filling but also great for those relentless summer days. And even greater than that, it’s so versatile! This is something I learned when the restaurant Chicken Salad Chick opened up in town years ago. They have so many kinds of chicken salad that I never had before but man, are they good!
My go-to chicken salad usually is their Fancy Nancy, which has apples, pecans, and grapes. But recently, a new flavor has taken by heart – Lemon Basil. It’s packs a punch of flavor that is down-right addictive. I am obsessed! So I just had to try to recreate it at home.
And that’s exactly what I did this week. Here is my Lemon Basil Chicken Salad, shown here as a sandwich, but you will find yourself just eating it all alone. It’s THAT good!
The key to the best chicken salad
For me, the best chicken salad is one that is flavorful, moist, and properly shredded. I don’t love chicken salad that is made with diced pieces of chicken. It’s hard to eat because it falls right out of a sandwich. It also doesn’t absorb the flavors so well.
That’s why I insist on shredding chicken for chicken salad. To achieve this, I first poach my chicken to cook it through. This also ensures the chicken retains moisture so doesn’t dry out the salad. For added flavor, I use chicken stock as my poaching liquid.
Once the chicken is done cooking, it’s shredded in my mixer (yup, it really works!) and then gets tossed in the lemon basil dressing.
The lemon basil dressing
This dressing is incredibly flavorful, which is driven by lemon zest, fresh basil, and a little garlic. It gets it’s creaminess from a combination of mayo and Greek yogurt. I feel like Greek yogurt is the best substitute for mayo in salads because it doesn’t take anything away (well, except fat) but makes it much healthier.
We make this dressing by simply processing all dressing ingredients in the food processor. It then gets added to the shredded chicken and mixed all together to make the lemon basil chicken salad.
Tips & Tricks
- Chicken tenders are used in this recipe because they shred really easily. But if you’re in a pinch and only have chicken breasts, that will still do the trick. They might take longer to cook, though.
- To know if the chicken is done cooking, I used a meat thermometer. Once the internal temp was 165 degrees, I knew it was ready.
- A food processor is the best tool you can use to make the dressing for the chicken salad. But if you don’t have one, just make sure to mince the basil and garlic before mixing with the other ingredients.
- The chicken salad tastes even better when the ingredients have had time to sit together for a few hours. Therefore, if you can, make it ahead of time to get the flavor extra wonderful.
Lemon Basil Chicken Salad
- 32 ounces chicken stock
- 1¼ pounds raw skinless chicken tenders
- ½ cup mayo
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 cup basil leaves (about 2 ounces)
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Place chicken stock in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and add chicken tenders. Make sure tenders are completely covered with chicken stock. If not, add more stock or water. Cook until chicken is fully cooked, about 15 minutes. Remove from stock and discard the stock.
- While the chicken cooks, place the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until basil is in small pieces. Set aside for next step.
- Place cooked chicken in a bowl of a stand mixer. Using a paddle attachment, beat chicken on low to shred the chicken. Once shredded, add in the blended dressing and mix on low to combine with the chicken.
- Remove from bowl and make sandwiches or store in refrigerator to enjoy later.