Although you can make chicken salad using cubes of freshly cooked chicken, canned chicken is an easy alternative because you do not have to take the time to cook it. However, it still allows you to mix your own chicken salad, which has the advantage of letting you include the perfect amount of mayonnaise, spices and additional ingredients for your tastes. When using canned chicken for chicken salad, you can either keep the pieces in cubes like diced chicken or shred it for a creamier salad.
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Chunky Chicken Salad
Measure about 1/4 to 1/3 cup mayonnaise for every cup of canned chicken you plan to use. Put the mayonnaise in a mixing bowl.
Put large chunks of chopped celery, halved grapes, chopped nuts, raisins, hard-boiled eggs, onions or other ingredients of your choice into the mixing bowl. The total amount of these ingredients should be no more than half the volume of the chicken you plan to use.
Stir the mayonnaise and chunky ingredients together.
Season with salt, pepper and herbs to taste.
Open the can of chicken, drain the broth and carefully spoon the chicken into the mixing bowl.
Combine all of the ingredients with a few quick strokes. Avoid stirring for longer as this might break up the fragile chunks of canned chicken.
Shredded Chicken Salad
Open the canned chicken and drain the water or broth.
Use a fork to flake the chicken as you pour it into the mixing bowl. When you are done, the chicken pieces should all be very small and the flaked chicken should look like flaked canned tuna.
Chop a variety of additional ingredients into small pieces. Potential ingredients include raisins, nuts, celery and onions. Because the chicken is shredded, the other ingredients should be small so the chicken salad is relatively smooth.
Put all of the additional ingredients into a measuring cup with half the volume of the chicken you used. Do not use more than this or you will detract from the flavor of the chicken. Dump the ingredients into the mixing bowl.
Measure 1/4 to 1/2 cup of mayonnaise per cup of chicken and add this to the salad. A shredded chicken salad typically requires more mayonnaise than a chunky chicken salad because there is more surface area to cover.
Mix all of the ingredients together. Season to taste with salt, pepper and herbs.
Serve chunky chicken salad on a bed of lettuce or in a sandwich. Shredded chicken salad works much better in a sandwich than it does on a bed of lettuce.