16 Things to Add to Chicken Salad for Flavor
Chicken salad is one of the all-time favorite spring and summer meals. It’s delicious, very easy to prepare, and quite versatile — I love adding numerous ingredients to adjust it to my taste. It’s simple, it’s quick, and I love the experimentation process. So, what can you add to the chicken salad for flavor?
Boiled eggs, roasted bacon, pickling juice, chutney, herbs, spices, olives, nuts, grapes, bell pepper, and celery are just some of the ingredients that make a flavorful chicken salad.
Although chicken salad is delicious, even if it contains only chicken meat, mayo, and spices, it is a meal that allows you to experiment with various flavors. In the following text, you will find 15 ideas to improve it or make it more to your taste. So, let’s start!
Celery and Onions
Celery and onions are classic ingredients that add a crunch and depth of flavor to the dish. Celery is low in calories, great for digestion, and pairs well with other vegetables you might consider adding to this meal. 
Onions contain antioxidants that may have health benefits. Still, I’m usually extra careful about how much I add because of its strong flavor and smell. 
When preparing the salad, you should chop the celery and onions finely to ensure that they are evenly distributed throughout the dish. These are essential ingredients that add texture and flavor to chicken salad, turning it into a delicious and healthy meal.
Boiled Eggs & Avocado
It might seem a bit over the top to add boiled eggs to chicken meat and mayonnaise, but the combination is so delicious you will want to make it again and again.
Simply boil a few eggs, let them cool, peel, chop them to bite size pieces, and mix in with the rest of the salad. Chop the avocado to bite size pieces and toss it in too. A delicious combination!
However, since this combination contains a large amount of cholesterol, I suggest you avoid adding more than 2 or 3 eggs in a salad for 4 people, and more than half an avocado.
In case you need something crunchy and salty in your chicken salad, bacon is one of the best additions to this meal.
Heat up the frying pan on medium heat, throw in thinly sliced bacon, and fry it until it becomes crispy brown. Remove it from the pan, let it cool, break it down into bite-size pieces, and mix it with the rest of the salad.
Crunchy bacon will diversify the texture of the salad and give it a salty kick.
Pickles and Pickling Juice
Whenever I want to enrich the flavor of my chicken salad, I add pickling juice into the mix. The tangy and salty liquid gives a specific edge to a mild combination of chicken and mayo.
You can use any pickling juice, although I prefer leftover cornichon juice. While at it, try adding some chopped pickles into the mix to create a chunkier and more interesting texture.
Chutney and Sour Cream
Chutney is one of the ingredients that pair well with numerous chicken meals. To add it to a chicken salad that contains mayo, it is best to combine it with Greek yogurt and sour cream. Although you can experiment with various flavors, if you are not sure where to start, mango chutney is the safest option.
To prepare this savory extravaganza, you will need some scallions, curry powder, almonds, and mayo. Mix it all with chicken meat, mango chutney, Greek yogurt/sour cream, and spices, and enjoy the blend of sweet, tangy, and spicy. If you wish to kick it up a notch, I suggest also adding dry cranberries or raisins.
You can also use various herbs. This meal has a mild taste, so adding some aroma to it is always welcome. You can either use it dry or fresh. However, I prefer using fresh herbs, especially since they are easy to grow at home.
Adding fresh basil, dill, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, oregano, or tarragon would make a simple yet quite effective change to your chicken salad. All of these match well with chicken meat, but that might not be the case when it comes to the rest of the ingredients.
For instance, if you are making a salad with green onion, rosemary, parsley, or cilantro might be too aromatic, but basil or oregano could be a good choice.
Aside from salt and black pepper, plenty of spices work well in a chicken salad. You can use curry powder, pepper flakes, paprika, garlic or onion powder, olive oil, and even some brown sugar. Some stores even have a special chicken spice mix that contains dehydrated vegetables, salt, and dry herbs.
If that is not to your flavor, you can always make your mix by using spices you have at home. I usually add spices to the meat and mix it before adding any of the so-called wet ingredients to ensure everything blends well. Make sure to mix everything well before adding mayo, sour cream, or chutney.
Olives are a favorite ingredient in many salads, and this one is no exception. Their aromatic and slightly tangy flavor takes this meal to a new level, adding a Mediterranean note to it.
You can use either black or green olives, chopped or whole. Since olives are an acquired taste, if you never combine them with chicken salad, it is best to add a small amount. Also, black olives have a stronger flavor, so I recommend starting with green olives.
Mustard always makes a good combination with chicken meat. If you enjoy its tangy flavor, I suggest using it instead of mayonnaise. However, you can mix it however you find it to be most tasteful.
For instance, try combining mustard and chicken meat with brown sugar, mango chutney, celery, and some vegetables. It is highly nutritious, a bit spicy, tangy, and sweet.
Nuts and Grapes
Although nuts and grapes may seem like an unlikely combination, it is actually quite common. This type of salad is very healthy, crunchy, fruity, and savory, and a perfect summer meal.
You can combine almost any sort of grapes and nuts, yet toasted almonds and white grapes, such as Muscat, are the most common mix. If you are not a fan of almonds, try hazel, cashew, or walnut. Also, Muscat is a white grape, but chicken salad is equally delicious with red grapes. So, there’s another option to try out.
Bell Pepper and Black Beans
If you wish to improve not only the flavor of your dish but also to make it visually interesting, slice some red, green, and yellow bell pepper, and add it to the chicken meat. They add a sweet and tangy flavor to the salad and are also a great source of vitamin C, which helps boost the immune system. 
Aside from that, they make a great combination with black beans, which are also highly nutritious. Black beans are a source of protein and fiber, and they add a rich, earthy flavor to the salad. Although boiling black beans before mixing them with the rest of the salad, I prefer doing that, just to make sure they are chewy and soft.
Together with chicken, bell peppers, and black beans, make a hearty and satisfying meal. Overall, it is a salad my family enjoys quite a lot.
If you are looking for a spicy kick, jalapeno pepper is the perfect ingredient to achieve that. Jalapenos are commonly used in Mexican cuisine and have a distinctive flavor that ranges from mild to very spicy, and hold the potential to turn a plain chicken salad into an exciting dish.
Before adding jalapenos to any dish, remove the seeds and membranes if you prefer a mild flavor. Try using pickled jalapenos as well. They will give the salad a tangy flavor.
Avocado and Sweet Corn
Avocado and sweet corn are another tasty and healthy combination that is perfect for mixing with chicken meat. Avocado contains healthy fats, fiber, and potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. It also adds a lovely green color and creamy texture to the salad.
Sweet corn is filled with fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins. It adds a sweet and crunchy element to the dish and makes it visually interesting with its yellow color.
To add avocado to a salad, mash it with a fork or chop it into small pieces. Before adding sweet corn, you should either grill or boil it and then cut off the cob.
Croutons are a very popular ingredient when it comes to adding texture to a dish. They add a delicious crunch and are a great way to use up leftover bread.
To make croutons, cut stale bread into bite-sized cubes. Heat the pan with a few drops of olive oil on medium-high; toss bread cubes into it together with seasonings such as salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Bake the croutons in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are crispy and golden brown. Remove them from the pan, and once they cool down, add them to the chicken salad.
You can make croutons from different types of bread, from sourdough or whole wheat. That way, you can add extra flavor and nutrition to the dish. Croutons are a simple yet tasty addition that makes salad texture more interesting.
Dry fruits are a lovely, sweet, and chewy addition to soft chicken meat. Some of my favorite choices are dried cranberries, raisins, and apricots.
If you are using cranberries or raisins, you can simply throw them into a salad mix; still, dried apricots need some chopping. Consider also soaking them in warm water for a few minutes to plump them up before adding them to the salad. The sweetness of the dry fruits pairs well with the savory flavors in the chicken salad, making it a savory, mouthwatering meal.
Radishes and Iceberg Lettuce
Radishes and iceberg lettuce add a refreshing crunch to a salad with chicken meat. Radishes are a source of vitamin C and fiber, and their slightly spicy flavor adds a specific zing to the salad. 
Iceberg lettuce is a low-calorie vegetable that adds a crispy texture to the dish. If you are on a diet, combine iceberg lettuce, radishes, and chicken meat with spices, oil, and lemon juice. You can also add other vegetables, such as cucumbers or carrots, for extra color.
When using any of these ingredients in chicken salad, make sure you wash and chop them finely to ensure that they mix well with the other ingredients.