chicken salad on a white plate

Cold Chicken Salad

Magda Born
During the summer heat wave, it is not fun to be spending long hours in a hot kitchen preparing meals. Fortunately, there are delicious cold recipes we can enjoy in the summertime. This is my favorite version of a chicken salad. It is fast and easy to prepare and great as leftovers for the next day. 
Course Salad


  • 1 c freshly cooked rice
  • bag of washed and dried lettuce 
  • 3 pieces chicken
  • 3-5 Tbsp mayonnaise or aioli  (You can learn how to make easy homemade mayonnaise or aioli here.)
  • salt to taste


  • Leftover cold rice does not work in this recipe since cold rice forms clumps. The best-cooked rice comes out of a rice cooker, which is inexpensive to purchase and lasts a long time. Start with making rice and letting it cool by spreading it on the bottom of a large mixing bowl. If the rice is too hot when mixing all the ingredients together, the lettuce will "cook" and wilt. (I used Japanese short grain rice for this recipe)
    rice being stirred in a pan with a wooden spoon
  • Tightly wrapped heads of lettuce, like iceberg and crisp head varieties, have a low amount of phytonutrients. Choose the most intensely colored loose-leafed salads for the most phytonutrients. Loose leaf lettuce comes in red, purple, or reddish brown hues.  
    mixed lettuce leaves in a bowl
  • If you are using lettuce from your garden, or you are not sure if the purchased bagged lettuce is prewashed, be sure to wash it well. The easiest way to wash salad is using a salad spinner. I've had this one for at least 25 years, and it works very well.
    lettuce leaves being cleaned in a salad spinner
  • Gently simmer the chicken in a shallow pan. You can add herbs or spices for extra flavor. This cooking technique is called poaching, and it is just when the water is barely bubbling. Cooking it too vigorously can make the chicken too tough and overcooked. It is better to cook the chicken with the skin on it to retain moisture. Depending on the power of your cooking range, which is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units), simmer the chicken for about 10-15 minutes from the boiling points or until the thermometer is in the thickest part of the meat, while not touching the bone registers 165°FCooking time also depends on the thickness of the meat and whether it has a bonePoached chicken breasts make a versatile main ingredient that can be sliced and served as-is or used to make a variety of dishes: It can be used in sandwiches, in a chicken salad or as a salad topping, in tacos or burritos. 
    chicken pieces being simmered in a pan
  • When the rice and chicken are cooled, slice the chicken and add it to the rice. Add mayonnaise or aioli and mix well.
    chicken rice and mayo in a bowl with stirring spoons
  • As the last step, when the rest of the ingredients are mixed well, gently fold in the greens. Mixing it too much will bruise it and make it look unappealing.
    greens added to the chicken and rice mixture
  • The salad can be refrigerated overnight and served cold the next day. 
    finished chicken salad and serving spoons covered with plastic film


Magda Born

Community Services Librarian

Kansas City, Kansas Public Library

625 Minnesota Ave.

Kansas City, KS 66101

913-295-8250 ext 1103


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