One of my favorite meals is chicken salad and today’s version, Smoked Chicken Salad is a real delight. Lightly smoked but not overpowering, the chicken balances beautifully with the grapes and pecans for a lunch or dinner that I would welcome any day.
When I worked for CharBroil, I received an electric smoker to review. A friend and I decided to give this new toy a test drive together and we smoked 4 whole large chickens. A little compound butter under the skin on the breasts, two lemon halves tucked inside the cavities, a quick brushing with oil and sprinkling of dry rub on top, and then we slid them into the smoker. They go straight onto the racks to get the most even exposure to the smoke – no extra equipment needed.
Traditional smokers use hardwood and are often difficult to keep the temperature level, requiring constant management. Even with auto-feeding pellet grills, there is refilling and monitoring needed. This smoker is electric and digitally programmed which means it automatically maintains the perfect temperature hour after hour. No fussing with it, little to no refueling thanks to a much larger smoker box, and you can literally walk away and let it do its thing.
This smoker is truly a “set and forget it” appliance. Once we had the birds in there, my friend and I spent a few hours chatting and making other recipes to enjoy alongside the chicken for dinner. We put the chickens in the smoker, inserted the thermometer probe in one of them, closed the door, set the desired internal temperature, and walked away.
When it was done, we opened the smoker and found these perfectly cooked birds – I couldn’t have been more thrilled!
After enjoying our delicious dinner that night, we each had extra chicken to take home and I used the cubed breast meat to make my new favorite, smoked chicken salad. It is loaded with tender smoked chicken, pecans, celery and sweet red grapes. Even better than my regular version!
The sweetness of the grapes beautifully balances the creaminess and savory flavor of the mayonnaise, and the celery and pecans add flavor and crunch. The smoky chicken added a depth of flavor creating an even better salad than my original.
Do I Have to Use Smoked Chicken?
No. If you don’t have a smoker or access to smoked chicken (or turkey), regular roasted or rotisserie chicken is delicious too.
As we get into the full swing of summer grilling and smoking, I thought you would enjoy this smoked chicken salad either as a stand-alone main course or as a way to use up your BBQ leftovers.
You can serve the chicken straight from the smoker – everyone will be drooling by the time it is ready – and use the leftovers to make this salad or you can smoke the chicken a day ahead and have the salad all made, making your party day even easier. After all, you deserve to enjoy yourself too and not spend the entire time cooking!
Have a wonderful weekend and use your cooked chicken to make this amazing smoked chicken salad!
Key Ingredients for this Recipe
- Smoked Chicken Breasts or meat from a rotisserie/roasted chicken
- Seedless Grapes, preferably red grapes
- Toasted Pecans
- Green Onions
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Make a quick compound butter by mixing seasonings and herbs into a stick of softened regular butter. I like to make it in larger batches, then form it into small logs, wrap them, and freeze. You can cut slices to melt over hot grilled steaks, potatoes, or crostini, or soften and use to self-baste chickens like I did today.
Kitchen Tools I Used to Make This Recipe:
- CharBroil’s Electronic Digital Vertical Smoker or other smoker
- Baking sheets
- Mixing bowls
- Sharp chef’s knife
- Sharp paring knife
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
For the smoked chickens’ compound butter I used a combination of the same dry rub I used on the outside of the birds (use your favorite rub), along with a little onion and garlic powder, dried thyme, salt, and pepper. I slipped a walnut-sized piece under the skin on the breasts and pressed it from the outside, smearing it over the breast meat. It melts as the chicken cooks, keeping the meat moist and adding flavor that usually is found just on the skin.
Avoid pre-seasoned or brined birds because they often include gluten ingredients. Mix together your own dry rub or you can use Stubb’s brand – their entire line of products is gluten-free!
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- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 4 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 5 tsp honey or agave syrup
- 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 lb smoked boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 3/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
- 2 cups red seedless grapes, halved
- 3 stalks celery, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 3 green onions trimmed and thinly sliced, or 1 small red onion peeled and minced, a few tablespoons reserved for garnishing
- Washed individual lettuce leaves, for serving
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to dress the salad. You can make the dressing a day ahead.
- Debone and cut the smoked chicken into bite-sized chunks and place in a large bowl. Add the pecans, grapes, celery and onions. Toss to combine. Add the dressing and toss again until everything is evenly coated. Taste and adjust seasonings with more salt and pepper if needed. Chill until ready to serve.
- To serve, lay a lettuce leaf on each serving plate. Add a scoop of the chicken salad, sprinkle with a few extra green onions and serve. Alternately, you can use the same mixture to make sandwiches.
- Note: If grapes are out of season, you can use apples, pears, dried cranberries, golden raisins, or other favorite fruits.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 468Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 105mgSodium: 267mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 2gSugar: 12gProtein: 37g
Create a New Tradition Today!
This recipe is part of Food Network’s weekly Summer Soiree celebration. See the links below for inspiration and great recipes and check out our Pinterest page for even more!
The Lemon Bowl: Lemon Garlic Chicken Kabobs
Bacon and Souffle: Roasted Shrimp Orzo
The Hungry Traveler: Ginger Vanilla Fruit Salad
Homemade Delish: Festive Champagne Punch
Dishin & Dishes: Savory Tomato, Roasted Garlic and Mozzarella Tart
Creative Culinary: Zucchini and Cream Cheese Casserole
TasteBook: Apple-Pecan Chicken Salad
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Batter Fried Pepper with Tzatziki Sauce
Healthy Eats: 6 Fall-Forward Recipes for Your Labor Day Celebration
Domesticate Me: Lobster Avocado Toast
Taste with the Eyes: “Margarita” Salmon Burger with Tequila, Lime, and Hatch Chiles
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Grilled Shrimp & Peaches with Arugula Pesto
Red or Green: Spicy Greek Chickpea Spread
The Heritage Cook: Smoked Chicken Salad (Gluten-Free)
The Mom 100: Yogurt Berry Pops
FN Dish: The Last Hurrah: Grill Absolutely Everything on Labor Day
Disclaimer: Char-Broil sent me with the smoker for review. I was not asked to write this post nor compensated for it. All opinions are my own. I only recommend products that I personally like and believe you will too.
Post originally written Sept 2015; updated June 2019