Sweet Peppers Deli Chicken Salad Recipe


So, you’ve been craving this delicious Sweet Peppers Deli Chicken salad recipe but can’t make it to the store. Or maybe you live too far from a place that sells this salad and want to make it at home. Either way, you are in luck. I love this chicken salad. It’s great on a sandwich and I always seem to have some left over. This recipe is my go to favorite but there are other ways to enjoy the chicken salad at the end of this post.

Chicken Salad with Celery Root and Sweet Peppers

Colorful take on chicken salad


  • Peel and julienne the celery root; steam about 4 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Plunge celery root into bowl of iced water to stop cooking and preserve crispness. Once cooled, drain well in colander and then on paper towels. 
  • Meanwhile, julienne the green beans (or asparagus). Steam for about 3 minutes and then plunge green beans (or asparagus) into bowl of iced water to stop cooking and preserve crispness. Once cooled, drain well in colander and then on paper towels. *
  • Combine celery root, green beans, sweet peppers, onion, and chicken in large bowl. Stir well to combine.
  • Mix together lemon juice, mayonnaise, and yogurt until well blended. Stir into chicken mixture, coating well. Sprinkle minced parsley and basil over mixture; stir well again. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve on lettuce or spinach leaves, if desired.


*Hold the green beans (or asparagus) and fresh herbs back from the salad if you want to make this ahead of time. Mix all other components together and refrigerate for up to two days. Add green beans and herbs right before serving to preserve their bright green color.
Adapted from 1986 RSVP column in Bon Appétit from Elaine Bell Catering

Favorite Chicken Salad Recipe

Favorite Chicken Salad

Prep:15 mins

Cook:0 mins

Total:15 mins

Servings:6 to 8 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Chicken salad is an ultimate favorite, and there are many variations out there for this salad. This chicken salad with red onion recipe has a little twist to it, as we use sweet bell pepper relish and Cajun or Creole seasoning blend to add a little zing. While this recipe makes six to eight sandwiches, it can easily be scaled to make less or more, if needed. 

This is a great way to use up any leftover or rotisserie chicken, and you can also add your own touch to the chicken salad. Toss in some sunflower seeds, or diced up apples for additional crunch and flavor. Sprinkle on some Sriracha or Tabasco sauce for even more of a zing.

The perfect sandwich for a warm summer day, this chicken salad works well to take on backyard gatherings or picnics in the park with family and friends. Let the kids join in and help you by putting the chicken salad on the bread to make the sandwiches


  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups cooked diced chicken
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons sweet pepper relish, or to taste
  • Cajun or Creole seasoning blend, optional
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 12 to 16 slices of bread, or 6 to 8 sandwich rolls

Steps to Make It


  1. Gather the ingredients.Favorite Chicken Salad ingredients
  2. Combine chicken with celery, onion, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, lemon juice, pepper, relish, Cajun or Creole seasoning, and salt.Combine chicken, celery, onion, mayonnaise, lemon juice, pepper, relish, seasoning, and salt in a bowl
  3. Add more mayonnaise as needed.Mayo added to the chicken salad in the bowl
  4. Fill sliced bread or sandwich rolls with mixture.Favorite Chicken Salad on toast


  • Chicken salad is also great to eat on a bed of lettuce with some sliced tomatoes, with some crackers, or all by itself.
  • Chicken salad is a great way to use up any leftover or rotisserie chicken.

Recipe Variation

  • While we use sweet bell pepper relish, feel free to use sweet pickle relish or a dill pickle relish. Either one will give the salad a nice flavor.
  • Use plain Greek yogurt in place of half of the mayonnaise.
  • Use cooked red or sweet onion instead of raw.
  • Add in some diced apples for more of a crunchy sweet taste.
  • Toss in some sunflower seeds.
  • For even more spice, sprinkle on or mix in some Sriracha or Tabasco sauce.

How to Store

Homemade chicken salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three to five days. 

Classic Chicken Salad

This family favorite chicken salad is made with celery, bell pepper, green olives, apple, lettuce, and mayo—plus a secret ingredient that makes all the difference!

Best Chicken Salad Recipe with a mayo dressing in a light blue bowl

Chicken Salad

What Makes This Chicken Salad Special

The “secret sauce,” so to speak, of this chicken salad, is the tablespoon of plum preserves my mom adds to the mayo-based dressing. You could use any berry jelly or jam, but as we always have a lot of plum jam on hand (thanks to several plum trees), that’s what mom reaches for first.

Mom balances out the sweetness from the dab of jam with a bit of lemon juice.

The result? Wonderful!

Chicken Salad with celery and bell pepper in a serving bowl

How to Cook Chicken for Chicken Salad

If you are going to cook chicken specifically for chicken salad, the easiest thing to do is to poach it.

What I like to do is put a pot of 2 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt on to boil. As the water is heating, I cut skinless boneless chicken breasts into large (2 1/2-inch) chunks. When the water boils, I add the chicken, and return the pot to a simmer. Then I turn off the heat, and cover the pot and let the meat sit for 15 minutes in the hot water while I prepare everything else. Poaching chicken this way allows the chicken to cook gently, so the chicken retains more moisture.

After the chicken is finished cooking you can save the poaching liquid as light chicken broth.

Poaching aside, you can easily use any cooked chicken for this chicken salad—rotisserie chicken, grilled chicken, or roasted chicken. My parents will often use leftovers from their favorite baked chicken, and even include some of the crispy skin in the salad.

How Long Will This Chicken Salad Keep

You can make this salad a day or two ahead of time if you wait to add the lettuce until right before serving. The salad will keep for several days in the fridge, but the lettuce will lose its crunch and get all wilty, so you may want to leave the lettuce out if you expect to have leftovers.

Do you have a favorite chicken salad recipe? Please let us know about it in the comments.

Classic Chicken Salad

PREP TIME10 mins



SERVINGS4 servings

We are poaching boneless skinless chicken breasts in salted water for this salad. You could also use any leftover cooked chicken meat, with or without the skin.


For the salad:

  • 1 pound raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2 1/2-inch chunks (or 2 to 3 cups cooked chicken meat)
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4 to 6 green olives, pitted and minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 to 1 apple, cored and chopped
  • 1/3 head iceberg lettuce, sliced and chopped

For the dressing:

  • 5 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon plum preserves, or any sweet berry preserve (or a lesser amount of honey)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Poach the chicken (skip if using already cooked chicken):Bring a pot with 2 quarts of well salted water (1 tablespoon salt) to a boil. Add the chicken breast (cut into large chunks) and return the water to a simmer. Then turn off the heat, and cover the pot. Let the chicken sit for 15 minutes (time it) or more while you prepare everything else.
  2. Make the dressing:Prepare the chicken salad dressing in a large bowl. Mix together the mayonnaise, preserves, and lemon juice. Taste for the proper balance of sweetness and acidity. The salad dressing should not be too sweet, nor too sour.Add more preserves or lemon juice until you have reached the balance you want. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Mix in the chopped celery, bell pepper, olives, red onion, and apple
  4. Dice the chicken, mix with dressing and vegetables:Remove the chicken from the poaching water and dice it. (Or dice already cooked chicken if that is what you are using for this salad.) Mix it in with the dressing and vegetables.
  5. Add lettuce:At this point you can make ahead. When ready to serve, fold in the sliced and chopped iceberg lettuce.

Copycat Willow Tree Chicken Salad

A copycat recipe of the famous Willow Tree chicken salad.

Yield: 4-6 servings 1x

PREP: 15 minsTOTAL: 15 minutes



  • 1 pound cooked chicken breast
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced celery
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper



  1. Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, blend chicken breasts until thoroughly shredded, or shred by hand. (Note: Shredded chicken rather than diced chicken pieces will help recreate the original Willow Tree chicken salad texture.)
  2. Remove bowl from the stand mixer and add in all other ingredients. Stir by hand to mix well.
  3. Serve over lettuce leaves or in sandwiches.

Southern Chicken Salad

Ingredients ½1x2x

  • 3 chicken breast, flattened
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 1/2 small white onion, diced
  • 5 hardboiled eggs, diced
  • 1 3/4 cups Mayonnaise, may need more or less. I used 1 cup Dukes and 3/4 cup Helmans
  • 1/4 cup sweet relish
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more if desired
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon onion powder, plus more if desire
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, plus more if desired
  • Celery salt to taste
  • Butter Bakery Croissants
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato


  • Season chicken breast with black pepper, celery salt, onion powder and garlic powder. You can also add more spices if you like.
  • Place chicken in a large skillet.
  • Add chicken broth and simmer covered on medium heat for 7 minutes per side or until done.
  • When chicken is done, let it cool and shred. Set aside.
  • In a bowl add chicken, onions, celery and eggs.
  • Toss to combine.
  • Stir in mayonnaise, sweet relish and the seasonings (black pepper, onion & garlic powder, celery salt) to enhance the flavor.
  • Remember to taste it as you mix in the seasonings to check for the perfect balance.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Overnight is best to maximize all the flavors.
  • Sandwich between a buttery bakery croissant with lettuce and tomatoes.


Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight for flavors to mix and mingle.

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