This creamy, easy whole food Vegan Chicken Salad is made with soy curls, vegan mayo, a few veggies, and a handful of pantry seasonings for a super simple meal. In just 10 minutes, you’ll have a delicious, kid-friendly filling for sandwiches or a flavorful side dish you can bring to barbecues.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
It doesn’t take much to create a creamy and filling picnic lunch. This Vegan Chicken Salad is made with whole foods, a creamy dressing, and plenty of flavor! Stuff it into sandwiches, wraps, or enjoy it as a picnic-perfect side dish.
My Vegan Chicken Salad recipe is:
- Meal Prep Friendly. Make a batch of this vegan chicken salad on your meal prep day and enjoy healthy, hearty lunches all week long! Use it to make sandwiches or wraps, or add it to your favorite salads for an extra dose of plant-based protein.
- Takes just 10 minutes to assemble. Want to know the secret to the best vegan chicken salad? Soy curls! These small dried pieces of soy soak in vegan chicken broth to rehydrate and in 10 minutes, you have a vegan-friendly protein that mimics the flavor and texture of classic chicken pieces. While the curls are rehydrating, you can whip up the dressing for a totally fuss-free meal.
- Allergy-Friendly. This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free (depending on which mayonnaise brand you use).
- Kid-Friendly. I've never known a kid who wasn't crazy for creamy chicken salad. It also pairs very nicely with other kid-friendly dishes like my Pasta Salad and Herbed Potato salad!
Bring a batch of this delicious and easy vegan chicken salad to family barbecues, backyard parties, or your next potluck. It is sure to be the talk of the town!
What is vegan chicken made of?
The whole food vegan chicken in this salad is made from soy curls. Made from non-GMO soy beans, these are an all-natural alternative to store-bought imitation vegan chicken. I love using soy curls for all sorts of recipes because they’re budget-friendly, soak in lots of flavors, and have a long shelf life.
Ingredients and Substitutions
The easy ingredients in this simple vegan salad are friendly to your wallet and still bring big flavors. This list of ingredients doesn’t stray far from the traditional recipe. Here’s what you need:
- Soy curls - Butler’s brand soy curls are the “chicken” in this vegan chicken salad. Once they’re rehydrated, soy curls become flavorful and tender. They’re a wonderful (and inexpensive) protein source you can add to soup, salads, and noodle bowls. If you can’t find soy curls, you can use pre-packaged chicken strips or Gardein chick'n scallopini cut into pieces.
- Vegan chicken bouillon - I like to use Better than Bouillon No Chicken Base to rehydrate the soy curls and infuses rich, herby, and salty flavors into each piece. Feel free to sub the bouillon for another brand of vegan chick’n bouillon cubes or vegetable broth instead.
- Vegan mayonnaise - To make it extra creamy!
- Celery - Some chopped celery in the salad gives each bite a bit of crunch and texture.
- Dijon mustard - This is an absolute must for an extra creamy and flavorful vegan chicken salad. You can use yellow mustard or spicy brown mustard if it’s what you have at home but the flavors won’t be as deep.
- Lemon juice - For brightness and acidity. Feel free to swap this for apple cider vinegar.
- Herbs and seasonings - Some fresh dill, onion and garlic powder, celery salt, and turmeric are all this salad needs to really pump up the flavor.
How to Make
No fancy equipment required here! Making vegan chicken salad at home is easy and fast, plus it doesn’t need to chill in the fridge before you dig in. Throw it together in a bowl and enjoy!
Here’s how it’s done:
Rehydrate the soy curls: Place the soy curls in a large bowl and pour the vegan chicken stock over top. Let them sit until the curls are rehydrated.
Make the dressing: Combine the rest of the chicken salad ingredients in a bowl and mix them together.
Add the soy curls: Now that the soy curls are hydrated and the excess water has been removed, place them in the bowl with the mayonnaise and seasoning mixture. Stir it all together until the soy curls are coated.
My vegan chicken salad with soy curls is a staple side dish at picnics, barbecues, and potlucks.
Have you ever stuffed chicken salad into sandwiches and wraps? It’s outstanding! This recipe:
- Makes a delicious filling in between slices of whole wheat bread
- Is tasty in a wrap with lettuce, onions, and tomatoes
- Is perfect topped on a green salad.
You can easily customize your salad to include different flavors, vegetables, spices, and more. Play with the flavors using my suggestions:
- Add-in options: Sliced purple grapes, blanched almonds, dried cranberries, sliced radishes, red onion or scallions, pepitas, or raisins would all be delicious added in.
- Chickpeas: If you don’t have soy curls, canned chickpeas are the next best thing. Mash a can of chickpeas and mix them in with the veggies, spices, dijon, and mayo.
- Tofu: A brick of drained firm tofu will also work as a backup if you don’t have soy curls. Just crumble it up and mix it in with the rest of the ingredients.
- Seasonings: Mix up the flavors by adding in poultry seasoning, swapping the turmeric for curry powder, or some chopped parsley instead of dill.
Did you come up with an amazing combination the world should know about? Let me know in the comments below, or tag me in your Instagram shots so I can cheer you on!
Making my vegan chicken salad is about as easy as a recipe can get - there's not even any real cooking required! That said, I do have a few tips to make sure your meal comes out beautifully (and quickly) every single time:
- Use boiling water. Make sure that your water comes to a rolling boil for the best results. This will help the bouillon dissolve more quickly, and also does a better job at rehydrating the soy curls.
- Use fresh lemon and herbs. This vegan chicken salad will still be delicious if you opt to use bottled lemon juice and dried dill, but the dish tastes next-level delicious if you can get your hands on the fresh stuff.
- Think ahead! I love making this recipe for my meal prep day not only because it is super speedy and very versatile, but also because it tends to taste better with a little time. While you can certainly eat it straight from the mixing bowl (I have on more than one occasion), it will taste best after a few hours of resting in the fridge after the flavors have had a chance to meld.
Frequently Asked Questions
Made with a mayonnaise dressing and shredded chicken, traditional chicken salad is far from being vegan. Thankfully, all it took were a few slight adjustments to turn this recipe into a plant-powered treat!
Vegan chicken salad is made with soy curls and vegan mayonnaise instead of animal-based ingredients. With a few spices, dijon mustard, and veggies, the flavors in this dish are bold, vibrant, and rich. As a bonus, there’s plenty of plant-based protein in each serving!
Sure! Swap in a drained can of chickpeas for the soy curls. Give them a light mash with a fork, then toss with the easy chicken salad dressing for a tasty, healthy, and soy-free meal!
Heck yeah, they are! Unlike some other plant-based chicken alternatives, soy curls are made with just one ingredient: whole soy beans. They're high in protein, low in calories, and minimally processed, plus they do a great job of soaking up whatever flavors you throw at them.
More picnic- and cookout-ready side dishes
If you make this recipe and LOVE IT, please give it 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐!
Vegan Chicken Salad
- 2 cups soy curls can sub 2 cups of vegan chicken strips
- 1 tablespoon Better than Bouillon No Chicken Base can sub other vegan chick’n bullion
- ½ cup vegan mayo
- 2 stalks of celery chopped small
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1-2 tablespoon lemon juice can sub apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fresh dill can sub ½ teaspoon dried dill
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Pinch of pepper
- Take 1 cup of boiling water and mix it with chicken bullion in a large bowl. Add soy curls to bowl for 10 minutes to rehydrate. Add more hot water if needed to cover the soy curls.
- Meanwhile, mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
- When soy curls are rehydrated, press all the water out of them and discard the water. I wring them with my hands or put them in a colander and press the water out.
- Add soy curls back to the large bowl with the mayo mixture and stir to coat the soy curls.
- Enjoy as-is or add to sandwiches, wraps, or salads.
PLEASE NOTE: Nutritional information data is computer generated and only an estimate so it should be used only as a guide.
Mary Ellen Valverde MS, CNS, LDN is a Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist who empowers vegans to feel confident in creating sustainable habits that align with their values and health goals. She shares easy gluten-free plant-powered food to nourish your body + satisfy your tastebuds. Mary Ellen's recipes and nutrition info have been featured on Yahoo News, Parade, VegNews, LIVESTRONG, Dr. Axe, Greatist, LIVEKINDLY, Brit+Co, Well+Good, and more.