Savory yet sweet and packed with some serious flavor intensity, this gluten-free Curried Chicken Salad is far from your run-of-the-mill chicken salad.
You know what? Growing up kinda rocks.
Did you do a double take on the last word? Betcha did. No, that is NOT the other word that you were thinking of that ends in “cks” and is often found next to “growing up.” And yes, I realize I might be the first person in history to say that [and yes, I realize that I’m more grown than growing…].
But it does have its perks — having more freedom, calling all your own shots, being able to adventure in new and exciting ways, and on and on.
One of my favorite things about being an adult? Getting to try lots of new things. Specifically, new food things.
Like CURRY for example.
I know, curry is not the craziest of ingredients, but as a kid, I don’t think I had curry often, if ever. And, being the extremely picky eater that I was, it probably wouldn’t have gone over well with me, anyways.
But then I grew up, my taste buds matured, and discovered that I love all things curry.
Specifically: this Curried Chicken Salad.
One of the things I love most about curry is that it pairs perfectly with both savory and sweet flavor profiles. Not a lot of spices can swing both ways quite as well.
This curried chicken salad? It’s pretty firmly in the sweet camp. Just where I like it.
It’s amazing to me how just a little bit of cinnamon, apple, and craisins can take a regular ol’ run-of-the-mill curry dish and punch it up about 15 levels — it’s what makes this chicken salad jaw-dropping good. You see the curry color, think you know what to expect, and then WHAM-BAM. Flavor explosion in your mouth.
It’s pretty easy and quick, too, which is always a huge plus in my book! “I love cooking a long, complicated meal after a busy day at work” ← said no one, ever.
Before you start cooking, just be sure to have everything chopped, measured, and ready to roll. This recipe requires a good amount of stirring (you don’t want those spices to brown up too much and burn in the pan!) so things can get a little stressful if you don’t have everything ready to rock before you start the cooking process. Not that I know from experience or anything. Ahem.
Also, you’ll want to be sure to let everything cool down a bit before you toss the mayo in at the end. And absolutely do not add it to the warm pan with all of the other stuff. It will turn into a gummy yucky mess.
Speaking of the mayo, I’m not the biggest mayo-drenched chicken salad fan (oh heeeey skinny jeans) so this recipe only calls for 2 tablespoons. If you want something a little more creamy, feel free to keep adding mayo until you hit your desired consistency. Or try using greek yogurt! that would be a great substitution here.
Besides the intense and perfectly balanced flavors, my favorite thing about this dish is it’s versatility. There are seriously about a billion ways to enjoy this chicken salad and they are all equally good.
Eat it in a lettuce wrap (my favorite!), serve it over rice (my husband’s preference), throw it on top of a big salad, wrap it up in a [gluten-free] tortilla, make it into a sandwich, etc.
AND it can be eaten hot or cold and is just as delicious both ways. Basically, the leftovers never, ever taste like leftovers. Doesn’t get much better than that.
So in short, being a kid had it’s perks, but would I go back to childhood if it meant a lack of curry in my life? No stinkin’ way.
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
- 2½ T. olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 tsp. curry powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 large apple, finely chopped (I like gala or fuji for this recipe)
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup walnuts, chopped
- 3 scallion stalks, green and white portions separated
- 2 T. mayo
- Season the chicken pieces with the salt and black pepper; set aside.
- Heat 2 T oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, while constantly stirring. Add the curry powder, and continue to cook/stir for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the additional ½ T of olive oil and chicken to the pan and let the chicken cook for 5-8 minutes or until cooked through.
- Add in the cinnamon and scallion whites, stirring well. Cook for 1 more minute, then add the apple, craisins, and walnuts. Continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes, until everything is warmed. Remove the curried chicken mixture from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Once cooled a bit, stir the mayo into the chicken mixture, and garnish with the scallion greens.
- Serve on rice, on a bed of lettuce, as a wrap, or however else your heart desires!