Whole30 Chicken Salad with Grapes & Walnuts
How to Make Chicken Salad Whole30 with Avocado Oil Mayo
This creamy whole30 chicken salad recipe is just as satisfying as the classic recipe! Simple yet flavorful, nourishing, and you really only need to make one swap to make the classic recipe paleo and whole30 compliant. I’ll show sow to make chicken salad whole30 & paleo friendly, using a store-bought or homemade avocado oil mayo that’s free from added sugars.
With hearty shredded chicken breast, crunchy celery and walnuts, and sweet bursts of grapes, all coated in a rich and creamy mayonnaise—this whole30 chicken salad is loaded with tasty flavors and fun textures! Plus, I like to add a dash of fresh tarragon, a distinct herb that tastes refreshing like springtime. It’s a simple addition, but nowadays it’s like a secret ingredient that I use to elevate every chicken salad.
Put it all together, and you’ve got a satisfying meal that’s easy to prep in advance, and you can conveniently keep it on-hand in your fridge! Whether you’re doing the whole30, living a paleo lifestyle, or just looking for a nutritious lunch idea, it’s worth giving a whirl. Seriously, use a compliant mayo that you like or try your hand at homemade avocado oil mayo, and you’d never even guess this chicken salad is whole30.
And, as always, if you’re not specifically hankering for a whole30 or paleo chicken salad recipe, don’t worry about the mayo! Use whichever mayo you enjoy, and the rest of the recipe can stay the same. Same goes for any of these ingredients. Don’t like grapes? Try chopped apples instead! Can’t find tarragon? Swap it out for dill or your favorite herb! Get creative with the ingredients you enjoy.
Paleo & Whole30 Chicken Salad Ingredients
- Shredded chicken breast
- Grapes (or chopped apples)
- Walnuts, (or pecans, almonds)
- Green onions
- Homemade avocado oil mayo, or your favorite Whole30 mayo
- Dijon mustard
- Fresh tarragon (or dill, or fresh herb of choice)
- Lemon juice
- Salt & pepper
How to Make Whole30 & Paleo Chicken Salad
Pretty much, this whole30 chicken salad recipe is just like any other chicken salad recipe—but with 2 key considerations.
- 1) Use a whole30 compliant source of chicken as the base, while still keeping the prep convenient. For me, this means poaching my chicken breasts in water for about 10 minutes. Also, I discovered this nifty hand-mixer hack that makes shredding the meat super quick! (Yes, this is weird, but yes, it actually does work.)
- 2) Use a whole30 compliant mayonnaise option, which can either be store-bought or homemade. Personally, my go-to is an avocado oil mayo!
Is Canned Chicken Whole30 Compliant?
The short answer: it depends on the brand. Generally, the standard canned chicken that you’ll find at the grocery store contains some form of “modified food starch” or “rice starch” or other additives—which are neither whole30 compliant nor paleo. So, if you want to use canned chicken in this recipe, be sure to read the ingredients lists closely to find a brand that’s suitable!
Personally, the only whole30 compliant brand I’ve tried is Wild Planet, which sells an organic canned chicken breast that contains only chicken and salt. I’m also aware of a brand called Valley Fresh, which has a whole30 compliant option—but only if you buy their organic canned chicken.
What About Rotisserie Chicken?
The short answer: most of the time, NO. I know, this can be disappointing. It seems like a rotisserie chicken should be a simple, “clean” option, but most contain all sorts of additives that just aren’t suitable on whole30. Generally, it’s best to steer clear of rotisserie chicken during your whole30—unless you’ve got access to a great grocery store (like Bristol Farms) that sells an additive-free rotisserie chicken.
How to Poach Chicken Breast
So, if you can’t find (or don’t want to splurge on) whole30 compliant canned/rotisserie chicken, your best option is to take a few minutes to cook your own. For the purposes of this whole30 chicken salad recipe, the easiest method is to just poach a couple of chicken breasts! “Poaching” simply means boiling the meat in water to cook it, and it’s super straightforward and quick.
- Add boneless chicken breasts to a pot, cover them with water, and bring to a boil.
- Turn down heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes (depending on size of breasts). Chicken is cooked when no longer pink and reaches an internal temperature of 165°F or 74°C. (Best to check this with a meat thermometer to be sure!)
- Once cooked, remove from pot, rest until cooled enough to handle, then shred. You can shred the meat with 2 forks, or cut the breasts in half and shred them in a bowl with a hand mixer! (Seriously, try this and see for yourself…)
Can You Eat Mayo on Whole30 & Paleo?
The short answer: yep, but read the ingredients list to find a compliant brand. Whether it’s a whole30 or paleo chicken salad that you’re wanting to make, the mayo that you use matters.
Usually, your standard mayonnaise (think: Hellman’s, Best Foods, Kraft) is made with added sugars, as well some kind of vegetable oil—like soybean, canola, safflower, or sunflower oil. Plus, most contain some kind of food starch. For paleo, all of these are no-gos. On whole30, the sugars, starches, and legume-based oils (i.e., soybean oil) are not compliant. The other vegetable oils listed are allowed, but it’s recommended that you limit your intake.
So, to make your chicken salad whole30 and paleo friendly, choose a mayonnaise made with a compliant oil—like avocado oil or olive oil—and NO added sugars or food starches. Be prepared, even some olive oil based mayos will still contain added sugars and/or food starches! (Lookin’ at you, Kraft.) Read those ingredients lists diligently and find a brand that you like. Or, whip up a batch of homemade mayo in minutes!
Homemade Avocado Oil Mayonnaise vs. Store-Bought
Personally, my favorite Whole30 compliant option is Sir Kensington’s avocado oil mayo. It’s rich and creamy like a classic mayo, and it contains no added sugars or other unnecessary additives. Even my partner, Christian—who absolutely loves a traditional mayonnaise—is a fan of Sir Kensington’s avocado oil mayo!
Better yet, make your own homemade avocado oil so you are in control of the ingredients! Honestly, homemade avocado oil is my favorite kind and it always tastes the best to me. Of course, sometimes I just want the convenience of a premade store-bought mayo. But my homemade version only takes 5 minutes to make, and with only 5 ingredients: avocado oil, an egg, lemon juice, Dijon, and salt.
To see how this recipe is made—along with the rest of this bento lunch box—check out my Bento Box Breakfast & Lunch video!
Paleo & Whole30 Chicken Salad
- 2 cups chicken breast cooked & shredded (~12oz)
- 1 cup grapes halved or quartered (or chopped apples)
- 3 stalks celery
- ¼ cup walnuts chopped (or pecans, or almonds)
- 2 green onions diced
- ½ cup homemade avocado oil mayo or your favorite Whole30 mayo*
- 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp fresh tarragon or dill (or fresh herb of choice)
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp salt to taste
- ½ tsp pepper to taste
To poach & shred chicken breast:
- Add boneless chicken breasts to a deep pot and cover with water.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink and reaches an internal temperature of 165°F or 74°C. (I recommend checking the temperature with a meat thermometer if you have one! Exact amount of time will depend on the size and number of breasts. Larger cuts may need 15 minutes.)
- Remove chicken from pot and rest until it’s cool enough to handle safely.
- Shred on a cutting board using 2 forks. Or, cut breasts in half, add to a bowl, and shred using a hand mixer! (This is weird, I know, but with a bit of patience it actually works and is super convenient!)
To prepare chicken salad:
- In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, mustard, tarragon, lemon juice and salt & pepper.
- Add shredded chicken, grapes, celery, walnuts, and green onion and toss to coat.