Every home cook needs a great curried chicken salad recipe in their repertoire. This one is my favorite!
This curried chicken salad is tender and creamy. The exciting flavors come from the combination of warm curry spices mixed with tangy lime juice and sweet fruity chutney.
Scoop it onto a salad for lunch, serve it on endive spears for an appetizer or make a sandwich and pack it up for a picnic. Any way you serve this curried chicken salad, you are in for a treat. The recipe is easy, it can be prepared ahead, and the flavors are outstanding.
Who invented curried chicken salad?
Since starting Panning The Globe I've learned that there is often an interesting story that explains how a particular dish came to be. So whenever I'm working on a recipe, I always do a quick search into its origin, to see if I can find anything worth reporting. What I discovered about the history of curried chicken salad completely surprised me.
I expected to find an India connection because of the curry. I didn't expect to learn that curried chicken salad was invented by Cordon Blue chefs in London to feed the 350 foreign dignitaries attending Queen Elizabeth II's coronation luncheon on June 2,1953.
The dish which was described as "...a recipe of cold chicken in a curry cream sauce," came to be called "Coronation Chicken." The coronation chicken recipe was later published in The Constance Spry Cookery Book (1959). Constance Spry was in charge of flowers for the Coronation banquet. Here's a look at the historical coronation chicken recipe.
The Invention of Curry Powder
In researching this recipe, I was also surprised to learn that curry powder did not originate in India. It's a British invention.
When the British were colonial rulers over India in the mid-1800's delicious Indian curry recipes made their way back to Britain with returning colonialists. The curries used in these dishes were labor intensive, with upward of twenty different spices, freshly toasted and ground, for a single recipe.
Apparently British colonial cooks weren't too keen on going through the painstaking process of making the complex spice mixes. Plus, fresh spices were expensive and hard to find in Britain. The solution was curry powder. A British company called C&B manufactured the world's first curry powder and cooking recipes with curry became a lot easier.
The Best Curried Chicken Salad Recipe!
There are so many curried chicken salad recipes out there, each with its own unique mix of delicious ingredients, from fruit to nuts. But if you want the best curried chicken salad, before you consider the variable ingredient additions, you have to be sure you've got the best possible base. The foundation of an excellent curried chicken salad is tender chicken and a fantastic curry mayonnaise.
This curried chicken salad recipe uses tender juicy homemade poached chicken and a curry mayonnaise that has a few special components that make it next-level delicious.
Though you'll love this curried chicken salad as is, you can also add your favorite ingredients to take it in whatever direction you like. Some popular additions include raisins, cashews, apples and celery.
Curried Chicken Salad Ingredients
- Perfectly poached chicken - or you can use rotisserie chicken or any cooked chicken but be sure the chicken is nice and tender.
- Mayonnaise - homemade or store bought
- Yellow Onions
- Curry Powder (see below for my recommendations)
- Fresh lime juice
- Mango chutney or apricot preserves
- Kosher salt
How To Make Curried Chicken Salad
- Shred the chicken or cut it into bite-sized cubes
- Make the curried mayonnaise
- Toss the chicken with the mayo - that's all there is to it!
The Best Curry Mayonnaise
Most curry mayo recipes for curried chicken salad are fairly similar, using curry powder for warm heat and spice, lemon or lime juice for brightness, honey or preserves for sweetness. This curry mayonnaise has a few special ingredients and techniques that make it off-the-charts delicious: sautéed onions and toasted curry powder. Plus, I highly recommend you use Madras Curry Powder. I've tried lots of curry powders and Madras is the clear winner.
To make the curry mayonnaise, finely chop the onion and sauté it in vegetable oil until tender and translucent. Add the curry powder and toast it in the pan with the onions for a minute or so, until fragrant. When the onions and curry have cooled to room temperature, stir them together with the mayonnaise, lime juice, chutney and salt.
Which Curry Powder Is Best for Curried Chicken Salad?
- Curry powder is a mixture of spices and and can vary significantly.
- Many experienced cooks would agree that homemade curry powder, made with freshly toasted and ground spices, is superior to the stuff you buy in a jar. Yet I've chosen to use store-bought curry powder for this chicken salad, as was done for the curried chicken salad at Queen Elizabeth's luncheon.
- Madras Curry Powder is my favorite store-bought curry blend. It's rich, flavorful and spicy with medium heat, and it makes incredibly delicious chicken salad.
- If you want to make this dish with fresh homemade curry powder, check out Madhur Jaffrey's curry powder recipe.
How To Serve Curried Chicken Salad:
- In a sandwich or roll-up with lettuce and tomato
- Elegant crustless finger sandwiches
- On crackers or endive spears, as an appetizer or hors d'oeuvre
- Scooped onto a big bed of greens for lunch
- Or, as they did for the Queen, on an oblong plate, accompanied by a salad of rice, peas, diced raw cucumber and finely chopped mixed herbs, with French dressing.
Two other must-try Chicken Salad Recipes:
• Venezuelan Avocado Chicken Salad (no mayo)
• Brazilian Chicken Salad: Salpicão
If you make this Curried Chicken Salad Recipe I hope you'll come back to leave a star rating and a comment. I'd love to know what you think!Print
Curried Chicken Salad Recipe
- Total Time: 40 mins
- Yield: 6-8 1x
Tender poached chicken in a creamy curried mayonnaise with lime juice and mango chutney.
For The Curry Mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ yellow onion, finely chopped (¼ cup)
- 2 tablespoons curry powder (I recommend Madras Curry Powder)
- 1 cup mayonnaise (I recommend Hellman's)
- 2 tablespoons mango chutney or apricot preserves
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
For The Poached Chicken (when you're in a hurry, skip this step and use 5 cups of tender leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken, shredded or cut into bite-sized pieces)
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
- ½ small onion, peeled
- 5 whole pepper corns
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- To poach the chicken, place chicken, onion, peppercorns, cloves and bay leaf in a large deep pot and cover with cold water by an inch. Bring to a boil over high heat and immediately turn the heat down to the lowest possible simmer so the water isn't bubbling at all. Cook, uncovered, 10-14 minutes, checking doneness after ten minutes by slicing into the thickest piece to make sure there's no pink color. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and shred or cut into bite-size cubes. Cool chicken in the fridge, covered, until you're ready to use it.
- Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Sauté onion 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, add curry powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, until fragrant. Remove from heat and scrape onions and curry into a small bowl. When cool, add the mayonnaise, chutney (or preserves), lime juice and salt and mix well. Curry mayonnaise will keep in the fridge, covered, for 3 days.
- Toss the chicken with the curried mayonnaise and season with salt, if needed. Curried chicken salad will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days.
Learn More About Poached Chicken: If you want to poach chicken thighs, bone-in breasts or even a whole chicken, you'll find all the details in this post on How to Make Perfect Poached Chicken.
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 25 mins
- Category: Lunch, Brunch
- Method: Poach
- Cuisine: English
Keywords: chicken salad, curried chicken salad, poached chicken with curried mayonnaise
[Originally published Oct 15, 2013. Updated Jan 12, 2023. The same delicious recipe with some new photos, helpful links and more pertinent information added to the written post]
Terri L Bennett
This is amazing!
This is the best curried chicken salad I've ever tasted! I poached the chicken from scratch - first time doing that and it was super tender and flavorful. The curried mayonnaise has so much flavor. I used apricot preserves - so good! Thank you for this excellent recipe.
I'm glad this recipe worked out so well for you Liz!
This was super delicious!! I'm trying to sneak some extra foods into my diet, so here's some adjustments I made:
- Instead of 1 cup mayonnaise, 1 cup greek yogurt; this was super good!
- I added diced celery, about the same amount as the yellow onion in the recipe
- Also chopped some red grapes in the food processor and added those
- Tossed in some slivered almonds
- Tossed the whole thing with a few handfuls of kale
I make this recipe over and over again!
I used a rotisserie chicken and some green tomato chutney a friend made me.
Only trouble is I have no self control around this salad. Mmmmmm
I don’t do reviews very often but this is worthy of that. I have made it twice now and it is so yummy!! Thank you!
I'm so glad you're enjoying the chicken salad Cindy. Thanks so much for coming back to let me know and for the rating.
Delicious and easy! Thanks for the great recipe!
Hi Brian - I'm so glad you enjoyed! Thanks for the rating and review 🙂
Just made this for a client's luncheon & it is so good I immediately started a batch for myself! I used the apricot preserves.