I make lots of Chicken salads in the summer, usually loaded up with something fun or special…but every now and then I get a craving for a good old fashioned chicken salad. A few years back I was introduced to Costco’s Chicken Salad by my sister in law. My gosh, did it ever hit the spot and it’s crazy good. But I couldn’t help but think it would be so easy to make a Copycat Costco Chicken Salad at home.
That Costco Chicken Salad really is the epitome of an old-fashioned chicken salad. It’s simple, something like Grandma would have made. A little chicken, a little mayo, a touch of celery & onion. And if you sort through the ingredients on the package, you can see a little parsley and some lemon in the mix.
About Copycat Costco Chicken Salad – Instant Pot or Not:
But speaking of ingredients on that Costco packaging! Holy crap! There are like 20 things in there! So knowing I can make Costco Chicken Salad at home and make it cheaper, and make it cleaner got me motivated. And though thankfully it’s cooler this week the hot hot weather we have been having motivated me too, to get something in the fridge so I had a leg up on dinners and lunches. Maybe some Chicken Salad Sandwiches, maybe Stuffed Avocados or Tomatoes – maybe just chicken salad on crackers.
Another quickie hot weather low effort barely cook dinner idea is to make Chicken Salad Pasta Salad. Okay, that sounds redundant. Just cook up some macaroni, cool it and mix the two together, maybe add a little extra mayo along with some salt and pepper (a teaspoon of vinegar never hurts in a pasta salad to brighten it) and chill. Or go fancier with other types of pasta, maybe something along the lines of rigatoni and add in a range of veggies of your choice.
Of course, you can add things to your chicken salad, especially because there are not a lot of additional flavors already; it’s kind of a neutral base. Add a little Frank’s Red Hot and & stuff mini bells or jalapenos for some quick poppers. Serve as is or heat, with cheese and/or wrapped in bacon. Make wraps: Take the flavor Southwestern by adding in sharp red or Pickled Red Onion, cool, crunchy diced bell pepper and if you’d like a drizzle of taco sauce. Morph it into something on the Asian side with sour Pickled Daikon and Carrot, spicy chilis, a sprig of cilantro and a cool sliver or two of cucumber.
Or maybe you have another way to use Chicken Salad! Share if you do.
Around the House:
Summer’s rolling on. The renters behind me seem to be cutting back on feeding animals. If you follow me, you might recall I’ve had massive medical issues when Chance (my young labrador) pulled me off my stone steps last winter going after the five rabbits sitting there, squirrels invaded my garage and storage and ripped out the insulation, chewed the studs and ruined everything in there, animals destroyed my garden, a coyote family moved in and we’ve been finding animal carcasses in the yard (Chance HATES the coyotes & I’ve had two run-ins with them) & I could go on.
There’s never been anything like this amount of animals in the 20 years I’ve lived here. It’s a vermin fest. Unfortunately, residual animals that have decided to nest near all that food (mostly in my yard and gardens) have become habituated & are a huge issue. The newest feeder that they placed on city property just feet away from my bedroom (my house backs on a dead-end alley so the feeder was on city property) is now gone. I gottta admit these guys are fun to watch, but animal feeding can cause serious issues for neighbors. Myself, I’m a huge animal lover, but I’m all about a people-first policy. Please excuse my sick sense of humor in the photos below!
Making Copycat Costco Chicken Salad – Instant Pot or Not:
But let’s get back to that chicken salad! If you really want to mimic Costo’s Chicken Salad, you’ll want to start with a Rotisserie chicken or Costoco’s packaged Rotisserie chicken. Me, I prefer to start with just chicken breast, which on sale at the grocery beats either of those Costco products in pricing. You can also use chicken thighs or a combination of the dark and white meat, or start with a whole chicken, which is what I’m guessing most of our Grandmas would have done. And of course, you can use any leftover chicken or even your leftover holiday turkey in this recipe.
For the best results and flavor, cook the chicken in broth or stock and add a little Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning to the cooking liquid. (I just happen to have my own special blend! How convenient, lol! Jump to the recipe on my post on Rotisserie Chicken – No Rotisserie Needed. Whether cooking on the stovetop or the Instant Pot, for the moistest, tender chicken, allow to cool in the broth or stock. In the Instant Pot, allowing the chicken to naturally release for 20 minutes takes care of some of that time.
I also used my Seasoning Salt in my recipe. You can use regular salt or any seasoning salt; I just happen to be a little bit gaga about my own special blend (Homemade Seasoning Salt) and thought it made my Chicken Salad just right. Now Costco doesn’t say anything on their label about seasoning salt but they have a lot of different ingredients that intensify the flavor. A bit of seasoning salt can do the same for you. And speaking of those ingredients Costco uses, some are stabilizers which help to keep the Chicken Salad from separating after it’s stored. Your homemade will need to be stirred back together if it gets a little watery.
Variations on the Chicken Salad:
If you wanna go all rogue with your chicken salad, but still stay in that “old fashioned” range, you just cannot go wrong with adding in 2 chopped hard-boiled eggs, a little sweet or dill pickle relish and/or a little of the brine or a splash of vinegar, and maybe a touch of dry mustard powder.
Can I just give a shout out and say how good my sandwiches were when I made them with my Sweet Tart Bread & Butter Pickles? They were magic! I even dribbled a few drops of the pickle juice over the chicken salad in my sandwich. Then I added some of that brine to the chicken salad that was remaining. So that made it “Better than Costco Chicken Salad!”
You can feel free, too, to add more or less of any of the ingredients in the recipe. Go by taste and what you like.
Saving Money on Copycat Costco Chicken Salad – Instant Pot or Not:
Shop carefully for your chicken and know the highs and lows in your area; normally chicken will drop to a rock bottom low once a quarter or so. The larger family packs are generally less per pound so pick them up, and portion in sizes your family will use and freeze.
Condiments are usually at their lowest price in the summer and even lower around any holiday. With Labor Day coming up, you can pretty much count on that being the last “hurrah” for great prices on many items. If you’re not stocked up on the items you’ll usually see on sale (See my post on Summer Holiday Grocery Shopping) cherry-pick those sales for the best bargains and buy in quantity.
Not only does making your spice blends from scratch (see Spice Herb & Flavor Packet Substitutes) save money, but it also gives you the opportunity to customize and you’ll have the freshest tasting flavors. Any spice mix you buy should never cost more than the most expensive ingredient in it or you are just basically paying for a name or someone else’s expertise. While some spice blends are complicated and can take a bit longer, many like the ones mentioned on this page, the Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning (which you’ll find on my post for Rotisserie Chicken – No Rotisserie Needed) and the Homemade Seasoning Salt, are simple and made with everyday spices.Print
Copycat Costco Chicken Salad – Instant Pot or Not
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: abt 4 1/2 cups 1x
- Category: Chicken
- Cuisine: American
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, each cut in several chunks (about 4 cups cooked, shredded chicken) see note
- 1 32- ounce carton chicken broth or stock, optional (enough to cover chicken as it cooks)
- 3/4 teaspoon Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning, optional
- 1 small stalk finely diced celery (about 3/4 cup)
- 1/2 finely minced (preferably sweet) onion (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 1/4 cup mayonnaise, to taste
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt or 1 teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon seasoning salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoon parsley, chopped or 1 tablespoon dried
First, cook and cool the chicken:
On the stove, in a saucepan add chicken and cover by 1 inch with chicken stock or broth. Add Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning if using. Bring to a good simmer, then turn down the heat and continue to cook at a bare simmer until chicken has cooked through about 12 minutes. If time allows, cool in the stock, then drain. Stock may be reserved for another use.
To use the Instant Pot, add chicken, Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning if using, and stock to cover by 1 inch. Seal and set to High Pressure, 10 minutes. Allow a 20-minute natural release then vent any remaining pressure. If time allows, remove liner from pot and continue to let chicken cool. Stock may be reserved for another use.
For both methods:
Shred chicken, preferably with a mixer, either a stand mixer or hand mixer. A food processor with a dough or cutting blade works well, too, in batches. Place mayonnaise in a large bowl, add the lemon juice, salt and/or seasoning salt, pepper and parsley. Mix together. Add chicken in two or three batches, mixing after each. Taste and adjust seasonings and add more mayonnaise if desired .
Serve immediately if you wish; it’s better if placed in the fridge for an hour before serving. There are no stabilizers in this recipe; stir back together if at any point the dressing becomes watery during storage.
- It’s not easy to get an exact amount of chicken unless it is weighed..this should be around two good sized breasts. As stated the ingredients listed should get you close, but if you use more or less chicken, you’ll want to adjust the other ingredients by taste.
- If chicken salad is too thick, wait for the hour fridge time and if it’s still too thick, thin with a little milk.
I’ll be posting Copycat Costco Chicken Salad sat Fiesta Friday #289 this week. Drop by and to see the best of these bloggers post for the week!