Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Chicken Salad with Basil and Parmesan (Low-Carb, Gluten-Free)

If you have basil in your garden, don't miss out on making this Chicken Salad with Basil and Parmesan!

Chicken Salad with Basil and Parmesan found on

(Updated with better photos and step-by-step instructions, July 2014.) 

This Chicken Salad with Basil and Parmesan is something you should make when you have lots of basil in your garden, because through the years I've learned you just can't put too much chopped basil in this salad.  I finally found a good sunny spot to relocate the herb pots I used on the deck last summer, and I'm happy to say I have lots of fresh basil this year, so when I cooked with my niece Kara recently we made this favorite basil-loaded chicken salad recipe to update the photos.

Whenever I read over the recipe before we started to make it, I knew immediately I'd be changing it a little, and for this updated version I switched out the original cup of mayo for 3/4 cup of mayo and 1/4 cup buttermilk for a slightly thinner dressing that had a little bit of tang from the buttermilk.  I also used a very generous amount of chopped green onions and fresh basil compared to the original recipe, but if you have to buy basil from the store, you can definitely get by with less basil.

You can make the salad with leftover chicken, but if you're starting from scratch, trim the chicken breasts and cut into third lengthwise.

I used a mixture of canned chicken broth and water to cook the chicken, combined with 2 teaspoons of Italian Herb Blend.  (You could use poultry seasoning if you don't have the Italian blend.)

When the liquid comes to a boil, add the chicken and cook at the barest simmer until it's cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.

Drain the chicken into a colander and let it drain very well.

Then cut the chicken into cubes about 3/4 inch square.

I used these Herb Scissors, my newest kitchen infatuation, to cut the basil into thin strips.

 If you're using basil from the garden, give it a wash in a Mini Salad and Herb Spinner.

The dressing is flavored with the fresh basil, chopped green onions, and a few tablespoons of freshly-grated Parmesan.

First, whisk together the mayo and buttermilk so it's smooth.

Then stir in the basil strips, chopped green onion, and Parmesan.

Gently stir the dressing into the cubes of chicken, season to taste with salt and fresh-ground black pepper, and serve.  (This can also be chilled for a few hours before serving.  

And just for fun, here's the previous photo for this recipe from 2009, which was actually not half bad for back them!

Chicken Salad with Basil and Parmesan(Makes about 6 servings, recipe adapted from one that appeared on the Best Foods site.)

4 cups diced cooked chicken, cut in 3/4 inch pieces
(If you're cooking chicken for this recipe, use 4 chicken breasts to get 4 cups diced chicken.  See below for cooking instructions.)
3/4 cup mayo (Can use half regular mayo and half light mayo if you want less fat)
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sliced green onion (or more)
1/2 cup sliced fresh basil leaves (or more)
3 T. grated Parmesan, Asiago, or Romano cheese
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Ingredients for Cooking Chicken:
1 can (14 oz.) low-sodium chicken broth
2 cans water
2 tsp. Italian Herb Blend (or Poultry Seasoning will work too)

If you're cooking chicken for this, trim visible fat from 4 chicken breasts, then cut the chicken lengthwise into thirds.  Put the can of chicken stock, 2 cans of water, and the Italian Herb Blend into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.  When it boils add chicken breasts, turn heat to medium low, and  let simmer 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.  Drain the chicken into a colander placed in the sink and let it cool.  (I saved the liquid in the freezer to add when I'm making chicken stock.)

While the chicken cools, slice the basil leaves (and wash if needed), chop green onions, and measure the freshly-grated Parmesan. When it's cool, dice chicken into pieces about 3/4 inch square and place into medium-sized bowl.

Combine mayo and buttermilk, whisking until it's smooth.  Then stir in green onion, Parmesan, and basil. Add dressing to the chicken in the bowl and gently mix until chicken is well coated with dressing. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. This can be served immediately or chilled slightly before serving.  This will keep in the fridge for about a day, but it's best freshly made.

Click Here for Printer Friendly Recipe

South Beach Suggestions:
This is made with all low-glycemic ingredients, making it great for any phase of the South Beach Diet, but use portion control if you're actively trying to lose weight.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight using The Glycemic Index partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Ideas for Chicken Salad:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Chicken Salad with Fresh Tarragon and Peas ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Hummus Chicken Salad ~ Aggie's Kitchen

Leftover Chicken Salad with Mustard, Hearts of Palm, and Olives ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Cashew Chicken Salad with Grapes ~ Barefeet in the Kitchen

Chopped Chicken Salad with Cafe Rio Flavors  ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!
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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. Thanks for the recipes.
    Mr. Quist

  2. This looked so good - I snagged it for a post. Thanks, Dear! ;-)

  3. This sounds great. I'm going to try it. Maybe you could make it again and post a picture?

  4. Joyandpain, I'm updating the old recipes without photos as fast as I can! This one is on the list.

  5. thank you, this looks really good :) I've just been diagnosed with early diabetes so I've been thrust into eating better. I'll save this recipe to try!

  6. Thanks for another recipe to use basil! I have 3 small plants in my yard...I appreciated your basil post from earlier, too!

  7. This looks so delicious! I love chicken salad but never thought to put in fresh basil. I have an abundance of basil on my balcony!!! That's a great idea to sub some ff Greak yogurt for the mayo!

  8. Yum! This is a nice change from the typical walnut-cranberry-apple chicken salad recipe. Which I love! But it's nice to see another variation.

  9. Amanda, this should be very diabetes friendly.

    Frieda, I love basil, so this is perfect for me. Isn't it fun to grow!

    Meghan, an abundance of basil is a wonderful thing, and this is a good way to use some of it. Let me know if you try it with the yogurt; I'm thinking it will be good!

    Maris, thanks! Cranberry, apple, chicken salad sounds great too.

  10. That's how I chop my chicken when I make chicken salad. I'd like to say that I was naturally inclined to do so but the truth is I saw Barefoot Contessa do it on t.v. She makes a mean chicken salad.

    I agree about the basil - we have more that we can use so I've been putting it in everything and it is so good. The other day I read about how you oven roasted mushrooms and I did it but used different was so good. :)

  11. As soon as the basil in my garden is more than a half inch tall, I can try this recipe!! Patience.....

  12. Kalyn, this looks great and I must try it when my basil plant gets a bit bigger. My Thai basil is going nuts, but the Italian basil is lagging behind. Thanks for the recipe.

  13. Amy, I confess I'm just a bit obsessed with cutting things the same size ever since I took a Chinese cooking class and learned about "symmetry of cut" but I do think it makes a difference. No doubt that BC makes a great chicken salad! Glad you liked the roasted mushrooms.

    Elenka, it will grow. When it does, be sure to trim regularly.

    Lisa, I never did get any Thai basil planted this year, it's been a weird garden year around here.

  14. Thanks for the link! I have been really enjoying stepping out of my chicken salad comfort zone and trying new and different combinations. I am trying to get my little herb garden to grow so I can have limit-less herbs available when I want to make recipes like this.

  15. Katie, loved the sound of your salad with cranberries and walnuts (and then in one of the comments Maris gave me the idea of adding apples to it too, which also sounds good.) Limitless herbs is a wonderful thing. Not sure if I have completely achieved it, but I do have a healthy herb garden!

  16. I just may try this!
    I have been searching for your chicken salad with walnuts and cranberries, but can't find it anywhere!! Could you possibly email it to me?? I'd be so grateful!


  17. Nancy, I don't have a recipe for chicken salad with cranberries and walnuts; it's one of the links in this post.

  18. This is my kind of chicken salad! It's a good thing I have plenty of basil in my garden.

  19. This sounds like it takes regular old chicken salad to a whole new level. Excellent!

  20. Kalyn, you just told me to trim my basil regularly. Can you tell me exactly what you mean by that? (I feel so stupid, I've been growing the stuff for years. Mostly have trouble with something putting holes in it....)

  21. I mean that when the plant gets large leaves at the end of the stems (and especially it it's in the beginning stages of making flowers) you should trim that stem (leaving some leaves on at the bottom.) Then the basil will make two stalks where you trimmed, producing even more leaves. You can see how I trim my basil and read about freezing it in my post about How to Freeze Fresh Basil. It will really make a difference in how much basil your plants produce in a year.

  22. I can totally taste this stuffed in a WW pita!

  23. Katerina, I did eat some that way and it was great!

  24. I just made it with Greek yogurt instead of mayo. Delish!

  25. Made this for dinner tonight! It was delicious. I had it as a salad, and my husband had a sandwich. He loved it too!

  26. Spanishamada, thanks so much for letting me know. Now I want to try it that way myself.

    Amy, thanks! So glad to hear you liked it. (That's just how my dad and I ate it too, sandwich for him and salad for me.)

  27. I love chicken salad and find it's a terrific way to turn left-over chicken into a tasty lunch or supper. I just tried a new chicken-salad recipe that uses gorgonzola cheese and basil. At first the strong gorgonzola taste was surprising but within a few bites I couldn't stop eating it. I agree with you, cheese, basil and chicken make a winning salad. Thanks for the post.

  28. Cristie, love the idea of using gorgonzola! Sounds great.

  29. those ingredients make so much sense to me!

  30. This sounds delicious...I'll have to try it! I generally make my chicken salad with crushed red pepper flakes for seasoning, as well as a teensy bit of salt and pepper, then use a lowfat vegan mayo, thinly sliced celery, a touch of coarse and spicy honey mustard, and tons of chopped red grapes for a taste of sweetness to counteract the spicy!

  31. Oh come on, you *know* mayo is supposed to be mixed with yogurt/Greek yogurt :)

    Love the idea of adding basil. Still have a lot of basil in the back yard, gonna give this one a try!

  32. I love fresh basil and am looking forward to using it in this recipe next time I grab some. It looks so simple.

  33. I made this for lunch, with basil and onion from my garden, and it was the best chicken salad I've ever had! Thanks so much for sharing this.

  34. Gwen, thanks for letting me know you tried it and liked it. This is one of my favorites for leftover chicken.

  35. so simple, but so delish. i'm having this for lunch today on top of some greens since i'm still on phase 1. i can't wait to try it with whole wheat pita bread tho.

  36. Glad to hear you are enjoying the recipes.

  37. I made this last night. It is so delicious!!!

    I've pinned it so others will give it a try too.

  38. Do any weight watchers know how many points this would be per serving??? Thx

  39. This chicken salad is really making me want to go on a picnic! Just imagine how great it would be made into sandwiches and passed around with glasses of lemonade. Yay!

  40. Eileen, that sounds good to me!

  41. There's finally enough basil in my garden to do justice to this chicken salad recipe!


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