Healthy Lemon Basil Chicken Salad

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This easy and low fat Healthy Chicken Salad gets a pop of flavor from lemon and basil. This is my go-to lunch during the summer. Swapping out the mayo for non-fat Greek yogurt ups the protein content without sacrificing flavor. I like this chicken salad with my favorite high-protein, low carb wraps but it’s also great on regular sandwich bread or as a salad. Best of all, it’s ready in a flash when you use pre-cooked chicken!

The Very Best Healthy & Delicious Chicken Salad over a picture of the chicken salad as a sandwich and in a bowl

The days are getting warmer here in Nashville and in the spring, my thoughts always turn to … chicken salad. I absolutely love chicken salad and, thanks to the Swan House, a classic “ladies who lunch” establishment in Atlanta and their famous chicken salad, I always feel grown-up and elegant when I’m eating it.

However, I’ve been trying to eat healthier. The tons of mayo that are in most chicken salads doesn’t do any favors to my waistline and I like to get as much protein as I can. So I’ve swapped out the mayo for high protein non-fat Greek Yogurt. The lemon juice and basil (along with just a touch of Sriracha) make the dish so flavorful, I’ve actually gotten to the point where chicken salad with mayo seems too sweet and heavy to me.

I like to serve this chicken salad as a wrap by adding some spinach and using Flatout Light Original Flatbread. The Flatout Flatbreads are my newest obsession. One wrap is only 60 calories and it has 6 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber (for a total of only 5 grams net carbs). I’m not an affiliate for them, I just love these wraps! This sandwich and some light soup will fill me up and keep me from feeling hungry until dinnertime.

Healthy Chicken Salad with Lemon and Basil as a Sandwich

Why You’ll Love This Healthy Chicken Salad

  • Replacing the mayo in found in typical chicken salads with greek yogurt makes this chicken salad lower in calories and fat and higher in protein.
  • The lemon juice and basil add nice subtle flavor to this chicken salad.
  • Endlessly customizable for any tastes or preferences.
  • Takes less than 30 minutes to make.
  • Even better the next day!

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Healthy Lemon Basil Chicken Salad Ingredients

Healthy Lemon Basil Chicken Salad Ingredients

You’ll Need:

  • 2/3 cup non-fat greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded or cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup shredded fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Substitutions and Additions

  • I like to bake several boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the oven with a little olive oil and salt and pepper on Sunday afternoons. That way, I have healthy baked chicken on hand throughout the week for any recipes. However, if you want to make this even easier, you can always use pre-baked grilled chicken strips or a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket. Just make sure you chop your chicken finely so your chicken salad is smooth and not too lumpy.
  • You could also season your chicken as you cook it for a more intense flavor. Some seasoning mixes I like to use are Trader Joe’s Cuban Style Citrusy Garlic Seasoning Blend or Penzeys Pepper.
  • I always season my baked chicken with salt and pepper so I usually don’t add more salt to this recipe. But you may want to add 1 teaspoon of salt to your mixture if you find it bland.
  • You can add almost anything you want to this recipe! I like to add chopped pecans for a satisfying crunch. Slivered almonds are also great as well. Even water chestnuts work well in this recipe.
  • Try adding some garlic powder if you would like to add even more flavor to the dish. A tiny amount of lemon zest can amp up the lemon flavor as well.
  • Dry Ranch Salad Dressing is amazing added to Chicken Salad.
  • For a true southern-style Chicken Salad, toss in a couple of finely diced boiled eggs. If you do this, you’ll need to add a little extra greek yogurt so your salad isn’t too dry.
  • Because this is a savory-style Chicken Salad, I don’t typically add fruits to this salad, but it tastes wonderful when topped with canned mandarin oranges.

How to Make Healthy Lemon Basil Chicken Salad

STEP ONE: In a large bowl, combine the greek yogurt, fresh lemon juice, dijon mustard, sriracha, and pepper. Stir well.

Combing the first 5 ingredients of healthy chicken salad

STEP TWO: Add chicken, celery, green onions and basil to the bowl.

Add chicken, green onions and basil

STEP THREE: Gently toss until well-combined.

Stir the chicken salad gently until combined

STEP FOUR: Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 24 hours before serving. Sprinkle pine nuts on top before serving.

Completed chicken salad in bowl

Recipe Tips

  • My favorite Greek Yogurt to use in this recipe is Trader Joe’s Plain Non-Fat Greek Yogurt. It has a more savory taste to it so it’s a good substitute for Sour Cream and Mayonnaise. Plus, it’s high in protein (22 grams) and lower in sugar (6 grams) AND fat-free! It’s also so good I could (and have) eat this all by itself.
  • This salad is even better after being refrigerated overnight.

How to Shred Your Chicken for the Best Chicken Salad

I usually like my chicken salad a little chunky so I typically shred my chicken by hand or cut it up into 1/2 inch cubes. If I want my chicken salad to look really elegant, though, I like to shred it as finely as possible using a mixer. You could even use a food processor to shred your chicken. Just make sure you don’t over shred your chicken because it will turn into mush.

Serving Suggestions

One serving of this chicken salad is 1/2 cup but I won’t judge you if you double that. You can serve this chicken salad in countless ways:

  • On a bed of lettuce or spinach with some saltine crackers
  • On top of baked puff pastry (soooo good)
  • As the filling in a croissant
  • On toasted whole wheat sandwich bread
  • As a wrap with spinach and other veggies
  • As a dip with a veggie platter

How to Store

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Can This Chicken Salad be Made in Advance?

Sure! You can make this salad up to 5 days before and store in the fridge until serving.

Can you Freeze This Chicken Salad?

Unfortunately, no. The high water count in the cooked chicken and the celery will turn this into a sodden mess if frozen.

Healthy Lemon Basil Chicken Salad
Yield: 6 servings

Healthy Lemon Basil Chicken Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

This lemon basil chicken salad is healthy and flavorful, but still filling and satisfying. We use greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise for lower calories, higher protein, lower fat chicken salad that's creamy without being too fatty!

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup non-fat greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded or cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup shredded fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Instructions

    1. In a large bowl, combine the greek yogurt, fresh lemon juice, dijon mustard, sriracha, and pepper. Stir well.
    2. Add chicken, celery, green onions, and basil to the bowl.
    3. Gently toss until well combined.
    4. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 24 hours before serving. Top with pine nuts before serving

Notes

  • This salad is even better after being refrigerated overnight.
  • I usually like my chicken salad a little chunky so I typically shred my chicken by hand or cut it up into 1/2 inch cubes. If I want my chicken salad to look really elegant, though, I like to shred it as finely as possible using a mixer. You could even use a food processor to shred your chicken. Just make sure you don’t over shred your chicken because it will turn into mush.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1/2 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 141Total Fat: 3.8gSaturated Fat: .8gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 86mgCarbohydrates: 2.3gFiber: .4gSugar: 1.4gProtein: 23.5g

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