Best Ever Lemon Chicken Salad Recipe with Basil

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This Lemon Chicken Salad recipe includes fresh basil and citrus for a unique twist on the classic recipe. Make some today for a quick lunch or easy dinner! Perfect for hot summer nights! 

titled collage for lemon chicken salad recipe


Not much brightens up a dish more than the flavor of sweet citrus fruits. 

Fresh oranges, limes, and lemons are available all year long, so be sure to stock up and add their tangy flavor to your favorite dishes. They’re a great source of vitamin C!

You can easily make this for a light lunch or whip up this healthy chicken salad recipe with minimal effort for a simple dinner.

Chicken recipes like this are full of fresh flavors and are fast and simple! 

Once you combine chicken with the rest of the simple dressing ingredients, you’ll find that you have the perfect balance of flavor and taste.

This classic chicken salad recipe is perfect for easy lunches and really does make the best chicken salad. 

cooked lemon chicken breasts and fresh basil

Lemon Chicken Salad

Why put lemon juice in chicken salad? To brighten up your favorite chicken salad sandwich with a burst of citrus, of course! 

Italian herbs and seasoning round out the flavor in this lemon chicken salad recipe, and every bite has the right amount of crunch from a handful of chopped celery.

If you’re looking for more chicken salad recipes, I have plenty of options that include greens or noodles!

There’s a homemade version of Panera’s popular Green Goddess or a barbecue favorite that makes enough to feed the whole family.

For something more filling, try a bowl of my bacon ranch pasta salad or this refreshing pesto version with chopped tomatoes and mozzarella.

How to Make Lemon Basil Chicken Salad

  1. First, prepare two boneless, skinless breasts however is easiest. Chicken breasts vary in size, but on average, they weigh about 6 ounces each. 
  2. Shred the meat once it is cooked, then add it to a large bowl with the rest of the ingredients. 
  3. Mix everything with a fork until well combined and enjoy — it’s that simple!

Serving Suggestions

There are so many different ways to enjoy the bright flavors of lemon chicken salad!

  • Pile it on your favorite sandwich bread or lettuce wraps.
  • Use it as a dip for crackers or pita chips.
  • Add a scoop to some greens with a drizzle of vinaigrette.
close up: shredded chicken, celery, minced garlic, and spices in bowl

Lemon Chicken Salad Recipe Tips and Tricks

Time Saving Tip

I often make a big batch of shredded chicken in the crockpot to have on hand for recipes like this one. 

Even using a rotisserie bird from the store would cut down on prep time! 

Want extra lemon flavor?

Use this easy baked lemon chicken recipe for lemon basil chicken salad, so the meat is infused with citrus as well. 

Lower Fat Option

Swap the mayo for plain yogurt, and use a Greek variety if you prefer a thicker texture.

Add a little spice.

A few cranks of a pepper mill or a dash of red chili flakes will kick things up a notch!

Tip for easy shredding

Toss the cooked poultry into a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and turn it on low for a few minutes. 

You can also do this with a hand mixer, but it’s a little more work.

lemon chicken salad with basil

Lemon Chicken Salad FAQ

Can I make chicken salad ahead of time?

Absolutely! I recommend preparing lemon basil chicken salad no more than a day in advance if you will be serving it to guests.

Otherwise, it should stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days if you store it in a sealed container.

You could also cook and shred the chicken beforehand. Then, all you will need to do is mix up your lemon chicken salad when you are ready to eat!

Why put lemon juice in chicken salad?

Not only does lemon juice add flavor and tang to chicken salad, but the acidity brightens the whole dish!

If citrus isn’t your thing, pickle juice will have a similar — but more savory — effect.

What else can I add to chicken salad?

Popular mix-ins include green onion, chopped walnuts or pecans, apples, pickles, and even halved grapes!

Veggies like bell peppers, grape tomatoes, cucumber, and avocado are also delicious options for this lemon chicken salad recipe.

What makes a good chicken salad? 

The simple steps are almost my priority! I also love it when I can prepare chicken ahead of time and then put together the ingredients I want to make them. 

You can also save time by using leftover chicken or a cooked rotisserie chicken to make your new favorite chicken salad recipe. Adding fresh herbs (like fresh parsley or fresh dill) really adds a pop of flavor to the simple ingredients. 

Keep in mind that a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some crunchy almonds pair really well with the breast meat. I also think that using fresh ingredients in this easy chicken salad recipe is really important for your taste buds as well! 

And lastly – grab a big salad bowl and dig in! When it comes to your own personal consumption, you choose the best flavors to add to this easy recipe and enjoy! 

With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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lemon chicken salad on bread

lemon chicken salad on bread

Best Ever Lemon Chicken Salad Recipe with Basil

Donna Elick
Lemon Chicken Salad includes fresh basil and citrus for a unique twist on the classic recipe. Make it today for a quick lunch or easy dinner!
5 stars from 2 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Method Mixed
Servings 3 – 4


  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, I used my Baked Lemon Chicken
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon


  • Shred the chicken breast with two forks. Place in a large bowl.
  • Add all remaining ingredients. Mix well.
  • Garnish with additional basil, if desired.
  • Serve alone, as a sandwich, or in lettuce wraps.
  • Enjoy!


Serving: 1 | Calories: 700cal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 60g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 129mg | Sodium: 561mg | Sugar: 1g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 2mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled collage for chicken salad sandwich recipe

Originally published August 2021, updated and republished May 2024

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  1. 5 stars
    This was simple and easy, but so tasty. I had not thought about a citrus flavor like this on chicken before but it is so good.

  2. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! The lemon and basil make this salad stand out. Will definitely make again.

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