When I heard we were going to be doing a story on six different types of chicken salad for our March/April issue, the first thing I did was call my mom. Chicken salad is one of her absolute favorite Southern foods, both to make and to eat. She loves to try new variations any time we go out to lunch, but she holds her chicken salad to a high standard. Real, white meat chicken is an absolute must, and the dressing should have a perfect balance of mayo to add-ins. If you can impress her with it, you’ve gained her approval for all of eternity. She refuses to eat at any place that can’t make a good chicken salad and even has a list of all the places that make the best. In fact, her absolute favorite place is O’Carr’s in Birmingham, Alabama, where I live, so every time she comes to visit me, we have to go.
For Southern women, chicken salad is a tradition. We were raised eating chicken salad made from our mothers’ or grandmothers’ recipes, and in time that recipe is passed down to us. A ladies luncheon just wouldn’t be the same without chicken salad served on a buttery croissant or over a bed of fresh greens.
Classic Flavors, with a Twist
For Paula especially, chicken salad holds a very special meaning. It’s what saved her and her boys from near homelessness and jumpstarted her cooking career. Now, 25 years later, we pay tribute to the original dish that is so special to Paula. We came up with six creative and fresh ideas and even went through 40 pounds of chicken testing these salads. They’re creamy, sweet, spicy, fresh, crunchy, and everything else you would expect from Traditional, Chutney, Tex-Mex, Greek, Thai, and Caribbean chicken salads. And don’t worry, none of those 40 pounds went to waste—our staff was eating chicken salad for about two weeks.
We all enjoyed getting the opportunity to do such a fun story and hope all you Southern ladies will love the recipes as much as we did. Of course, nothing beats traditional chicken salad, but sometimes it’s fun to switch up the routine. And I think I can say with 99% certainty that my mom would give her stamp of approval to these recipes.
Get the recipes!
To get all the recipes, you can pick up a copy of our March/April issue of Cooking with Paula Deen, or you can check out a few here.
If you have a favorite chicken salad recipe, feel free to share it in the comments below. We love hearing from you!