Mayo-Free Chicken Salad Sandwiches have tons of flavor thanks to fresh thyme and a simple lemon vinaigrette.
These sandwiches are my contribution to this month’s edition of Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. Our menu this month features all dishes that include our favorite herbs! We’ve got a great mix from a cocktail to desserts; all recipes showing just how versatile these garden favorites can be! Hosting this month is Laura from Mother Would Know. Earlier this month I went to a happy hour hosted by The Skimm (if you don’t already get their morning news summary, what are you waiting for?) It was at a place that I always assumed was a typical dive bar, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that they actually had a really nice menu.
I had a seared scallop appetizer and a craft beer, but there were two other items on the menu that really intrigued me. The first was a roast carrot plate. I’ve never seen anything like that on a restaurant menu before, but I’m definitely into it. The second was a lemon-thyme chicken salad served with pita wedges. Since I don’t eat mayonnaise, chicken salad isn’t something that I think about very often. But this version said it was mayo-free, and it sounded absolutely delightful.
The theme for this month’s Progressive Eats was fresh herbs, and I couldn’t wait to get home and make my own mayo-free chicken salad to share with the group. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to see what everyone else made! I’m so excited with how this recipe came out! It’s absolutely delicious and it only takes about 10 minutes to throw together. It’s perfect as an easy dinner, but would also be a great addition to your picnic basket or tucked into your lunchbox. Also, can we talk about croissants for a minute? I can’t remember when the last time I had one was, and wow have I been missing out. I definitely need more croissants in my life. While I was trying to figure out what to serve this chicken salad on, I found these croissants in the bulk bakery case at my local grocery store. They were small – about the size off my palm – and curved into a complete circle. Sliced crosswise, they made the perfect pillowy rolls for my chicken salad sandwiches, and their buttery flavor was a really nice contrast against the tart lemon dressing.
If you want something less indulgent, this mayo-free chicken salad would also be great on pita or on a soft bun like a hamburger roll. If you’re limiting your carbs, you could also eat it in lettuce or endive cups, on top of a green salad, or straight out of the bowl.
How to make mayo-free chicken salad sandwiches
To keep things nice and simple, I bought a rotisserie chicken to make this salad. Roast chicken is nice and juicy, so I knew it would make a great base. You could also use chicken breasts poached in chicken broth (or beer!) for this recipe, but I’d stay away from grilled chicken, which is drier. I added thinly sliced celery for a little crunch, and added in the celery leaves for extra flavor, along with parsley and fresh thyme (my absolute favorite herb).
I was worried that my chicken salad would be dry without something like mayo or yogurt, but this simple lemon dressing adds plenty of moisture and I didn’t think it was missing anything at all. The dressing is based off my favorite lemon-poppy vinaigrette, and the tart lemon and tangy mustard adds a ton of brightness and summery flavor to the chicken salad.
Mayo-Free Chicken Salad Sandwiches with Lemon and Herbs
- 2 Tablespoons pine nuts (optional)
- 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
- 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 shallot, minced
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 4 small croissants, pita bread, or lettuce cups, for serving
Set a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until toasted. Remove from heat.
Add the chicken, celery, thyme, parsley, and toasted pine nuts to a mixing bowl. Mix to combine.
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, shallot, and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the chicken; mix to combine. Eat immediately or refrigerate until chilled.
Serve the chicken salad on croissants, with pita bread, or in lettuce cups.
I like using a rotisserie chicken for this recipe, which keeps things nice and easy. If you prefer cooking your own chicken, substitute two boneless chicken breasts poached in chicken broth.
If your celery still has the leave attached, chop those and add them to the salad. They have a beautiful, mild celery flavor that really enhances the salad.
I am not a certified nutritionist. Nutrition information calculated using myfitnesspal is provided as a courtesy, but will vary depending on the specific brands of ingredients you use. Information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional advice by certified health professionals; please consult with your doctor regarding specific health needs.
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