This curried chicken salad recipe (aka coronation chicken) features tender chicken in a creamy mayonnaise-based dressing with curry, sweet and spicy mango chutney, fruity dried apricots, and nutty almonds. It has a complex, well-balanced flavor profile, and whips up in just 10 minutes, which means it's perfect for weekday lunches!
In today's world, food fads are everywhere. It's fun to see innovations and what the next viral TikTok food trend will be. But the classics have my heart.
Vintage heirloom recipes that are hand-written in gorgeous script, tattered and food-splattered, and left forgotten in our grandmother's recipe boxes. Nourishing recipes that graced our ancestor's tables 100 years ago. Those are the recipes I'm interested in.
The thing about a good chicken salad is that it never goes out of style.
Earlier this year when I was planning the Mother's Day Downton Abbey-themed afternoon tea for my grandmother and her friends (which I talked more about in my mini Victoria sponge cake recipe post), I was brainstorming a variety of finger sandwiches. In the end I decided that coronation chicken salad sandwiches had to be on the menu!
(Side Note: At the time when I was planning my grandmother's tea party, it was right around King Charles III's coronation on May 6, 2023! I am a bit - fashionably - late to the party in terms of posting this coronation chicken recipe in time for that event, but it's so delicious it still deserves to be shared. My grandmother and her friends absolutely loved it at their afternoon tea. And a classic recipe never goes out of style!)
What is Coronation Chicken?
Coronation chicken salad is a curried chicken salad with a creamy base.
Some type of fruit (traditionally apricot) is included to balance the savory curry spice blend.
A lot of recipes add nuts for crunch; we use flaked almonds (also called blanched sliced almonds) here.
Scallion adds a savory mild onion flavor.
And mango chutney is the secret ingredient that takes this curry chicken salad over the top!
Easy Curried Chicken Salad Recipe
If you've been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that I swore off curried chicken salad in the very first chicken salad recipe I ever posted (which was this delicious cranberry walnut chicken salad!).
I revisited the idea of curry powder in creamy chicken salad because coronation chicken salad is a classic, and I wanted to include it in the finger sandwiches menu for my grandmother's afternoon tea. So I did a ton of research, brainstormed, experimented, and tweaked. One bite and I was shocked - curried chicken salad is amazing!
After I developed my take on this classic recipe, I made it into finger sandwiches for a friend. And she had the same reaction that I had - wow, I never knew curried chicken salad was this good! Lol. I completely understood.
So, if you're thinking you don't like curry in general or curry in chicken salads, I encourage you to give this one a try! Remember, taste buds can change. I think you might be surprised.
This royal recipe feels elegant, but is quick and easy to whip up. Dare I say this might just be your favorite new way to use up leftover chicken?!
In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas. For the full recipe (including ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.
- Mayo - or you can use a mix of half mayo and half plain unsweetened Greek yogurt
- Mango chutney - I love the balanced sweet, tangy, and slightly spicy flavor profile that mango chutney adds to curried chicken salad; if you prefer, you can use apricot preserves instead
- Fresh lemon juice - to brighten the flavor
- Curry powder - this spice mix adds complex flavor and aroma to the creamy dressing for this salad
- Salt and black pepper - to season our chicken salad
- Cooked diced chicken - I use poached chicken, but you can use rotisserie chicken or even canned chicken (like in my canned chicken salad recipe)
- Scallion - for a mild onion flavor; you can use chives instead
- Cilantro - cilantro's fresh brightness adds a background note that really wakes up the flavor of this dish, but feel free to skip it or use parsley instead if cilantro isn't your thing
- Dried apricots - or you can substitute with golden raisins (sultanas), or even regular raisins
- Almonds - the nutty, roasted flavor of lightly toasted almonds adds delicious crunch to this salad
- Lettuce, bread, crackers, etc. - you can serve this easy chicken salad recipe on a bed of lettuce, as a sandwich, or with crackers for scooping up
How to Make Curried Chicken Salad
Add the mayo, mango chutney, lemon juice, curry powder, salt, and black pepper to a large bowl, and stir to combine.
Add the chicken, scallion, cilantro, and apricot, and fold everything together to coat in the creamy dressing.
Sprinkle the toasted almonds on top, and serve any way you like.
Coronation Chicken Salad Variations
- Mayo - for a similar creamy base but with more protein, you can use plain Greek yogurt instead of mayo, or use replace half of the mayo with Greek yogurt or crème fraîche
- Mango chutney - you can substitute apricot preserves or peach preserves for the mango chutney; if you do, I recommend adding a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes to simulate the sweet/spicy flavor of mango chutney
- Dried apricots - you can use brown raisins or golden raisins (sultanas), or switch it up a little and use grapes or chopped apple instead for sweet fruity flavor
- Almonds - flaked almonds are an ingredient in the original coronation chicken salad recipe; you can omit them or use any type of nuts you like (pecans are another favorite of mine)
How to Store Homemade Chicken Salad
You can store this this chicken salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. If you’re not serving it right away, wait to add the almonds until right before serving.
Like many mayonnaise-based chicken salads, this salad doesn't freeze well (the texture of the creamy mayo-based dressing changes). However, if you want to meal prep this dish you can cook the chicken (I recommend poaching chicken) and freeze it for up to 4 months. Then when you want to make this curried chicken salad, thaw the chicken, make the dressing, chop up the few things that need chopping, and you're all set!
Curried Chicken Salad Recipe FAQs
Why is it Called Coronation Chicken?
Originally called Poulet Reine Elizabeth, this dish is called coronation chicken because Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume made it for Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953.
These ladies were both principals at Le Cordon Bleu cookery school in London. They were in charge of preparing the food for the coronation banquet to feed 350 guests. Hume and Spry came up with this innovative recipe, which was a hit not only all over the United Kingdom, but all over the world.
What was in the Original Coronation Chicken Salad?
According to Le Cordon Bleu London, the original coronation chicken consisted of:
Chicken, boned and coated in curry cream sauce, with, one end of each dish, a well-seasoned dressed salad of rice, green peas and pimentos.
The ingredients used were remarkable for their time, with many of them only just becoming available, whilst the majority of the country was still under the restrictions of post-war rationing. The original recipe consisted of young roasting chickens, water and a little wine to cover carrot, a bouquet garni, salt, peppercorns and a cream of curry sauce.Le Cordon Bleu London
Can I Use Rotisserie Chicken?
Yes! Like most chicken salad recipes, rotisserie chicken will work well for coronation chicken salad (curried chicken salad).
How Do You Serve Coronation Chicken?
If you're wondering how to serve this, don't overthink it. Eat it any way you'd enjoy any other chicken salad! Here are a few ideas:
- On a bed of lettuce - keep the carbs down and still enjoy this classic British recipe
- As a sandwich or wrap - on hearty sourdough bread or in a wrap
- Made into finger sandwiches - On soft white bread with the crusts trimmed to make dainty finger sandwiches that are perfect for snacking or afternoon tea
- As a snack - Along with crackers to spread the chicken salad on
- On a bed of rice - If you're using leftover cold rice, I recommend reheating it briefly because cold rice is hard and not the most pleasant thing to eat. I find the best way to reheat rice is in the microwave covered with a sufficiently wet paper towel to rehydrate the rice
More Chicken Salad Recipes to Make
Curried Chicken Salad Recipe (Coronation Chicken)
- ½ cup mayo or ¼ cup mayo + ¼ cup plain unsweetened Greek yogurt or crème fraîche
- 3 tablespoons mango chutney see Notes
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 cups cooked diced chicken see Notes
- 2 scallions green and white parts, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- ¼ cup minced dried apricots or sultanas/golden raisins
- 6 tablespoons blanched sliced almonds toasted (also called flaked almonds)
Optional Serving Ideas:
- Lettuce or leafy salad greens
- Bread for finger sandwiches
- Add the mayo, mango chutney, lemon juice, curry powder, salt, and black pepper to a large bowl, and stir to combine.
- Add the chicken, scallion, cilantro, and apricot, and fold everything together to coat in the creamy dressing.
- Sprinkle the toasted almonds on top, and serve any way you like.
- Nutrition Information: The nutritional information for this recipe was calculated without the optional serving ideas.
- Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. If you’re not serving it right away, wait to add the almonds until right before serving.
- For the Chicken: You can use poached chicken, roast chicken, rotisserie chicken, or even canned chicken for this recipe. If you’ll be cooking the chicken yourself, the fastest and easiest method is to poach it; for 3 cups of cooked diced chicken, you’ll need about 1 pound to 1 ¼ pounds of raw chicken. The 3 cups of cooked diced chicken doesn't have to be exact; 2 ½ cups to 3 ½ cups of cooked diced chicken will work fine here.
- Mango Chutney: I like to use Royal Preserve Spiced Mango Confit for this recipe, which is available on Amazon; it has a nice sweet heat and I really like the touch of ginger in it.