Serve up this rich and creamy BBQ Chicken Salad for lunch, a picnic, or a potluck. Tender shreds of chicken and crisp produce are coated in a seasoned BBQ and mayo-based sauce that is perfect to enjoy as a sandwich or on its own!
This is the chicken salad for those of you who substitute forkfuls of lettuce for freedom, flag wavin', and 'merica tattoos. That's right, the only thing bolder than your assortment of red, white, and blue formal ties are the all-American flavors packed into this creamy chicken salad with a BBQ twist.
What is Chicken Salad
This is not the sort of chicken salad that gets served up on a plate drowning in a forest of lettuce leaves. Rather this BBQ Chicken Salad is a twist off of the classic chicken salad that features tender shreds of chicken tossed in a creamy sauce with fresh celery, onions, and seasonings. It is ideal for serving as a sandwich, or on its own. Why do they call it a salad if there is no lettuce? Because, the sauce is technically a dressing coating the chicken and fresh produce.
What Can You Add to Chicken Salad
As this BBQ Chicken Salad demonstrates, you can get creative with the flavors in your chicken salad. Chicken Salad with Grapes and Pecans, and Chicken Salad with Apples are both popular variations as well. However, chicken salad doesn't even need to be mayo-based as my Bacon Avocado Chicken Salad demonstrates. For this recipe, I've added classic barbeque flavors to replicate your favorite outdoor grilling flavors.
How to Make BBQ Chicken Salad
The dressing for this recipe is simply a creamy mixture of mayo, your favorite homemade BBQ sauce, and apple cider vinegar. Celery and onions both compliment these flavors well and add a satisfying crunch to each bite. However, you can really amp up the flavor with your choice of chicken.
What is the best chicken to use for this BBQ Chicken Salad? Let's do a countdown:
Smoked Whole Chicken: This is the most flavorful, if not time-consuming, choice. This heavily seasoned chicken is slow-smoked for 3-4 hours until every tender nook and cranny is saturated with flavor. I like smoking multiple chickens at once so I have some to eat for dinner, and leftovers to make chicken salad for future meals.
Grilled Chicken: This is a great compromise choice. Grilled chicken cooks up much quicker than a smoked chicken, but still sucks up a ton of extra flavor that will really enhance the flavor of your BBQ Chicken Salad.
Rotisserie Chicken: This is the cheater cheater pumpkin eater choice. Hey, this isn't your college finals week, cheat all you want! Rotisserie chicken is already cooked, exceptionally tender, and full of flavor. All you have to do is shred it up and put it in the chicken salad. It is the easiest way to make any chicken salad.
BBQ Chicken Salad Sandwich
You have a lot of options when making BBQ Chicken Salad Sandwiches. Pretzel buns are what I used in the photos you see in this post. They are a fantastic option. Other great choices include ciabatta buns, brioche buns, or simple hamburger buns. I do recommend lightly toasting the inside of the buns if you are able to do so. This will add a nice contrasting texture that will stand out against the creamy chicken salad in each bite.
BBQ Chicken Salad
- Buns for serving
- Combine mayo, BBQ sauce, and cider vinegar in a dish and whisk together,
- Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine and evenly coat with sauce.
- Serve on buns or it can be enjoyed with a fork.
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