Smoky Chipotle Chicken Salad

5 from 2 votes

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This chicken salad has a little heat and a lot of crunch.

Yellow bowl of Smoky Chipotle Chicken Salad.
Yellow bowl of Smoky Chipotle Chicken Salad.

Smoky, slightly spicy, popping with flavor, this is a chicken salad that will not have anyone yawning.

Poached Chicken for Chicken Salad

To make your own poached chicken breasts for this recipe, see the Note below the recipe. Poaching boneless chicken breasts is ridiculously easy, and a great thing to know if you are a fan of chicken salad, or you need quick cooked and shredded chicken for dishes like enchiladas on a regular basis.

Rotisserie Chicken for Chicken Salad

Otherwise if you shred the breasts and thighs of a purchased rotisserie chicken you should end up with about the right amount for this recipe.

If I use rotisserie chicken for a chicken salad, I save the bones, skin, and wings and then simmer them in some less-sodium chicken broth to make an enriched stock to use later in a soup, or a risotto or something like that. A total stock shortcut, and because rotisserie chicken skin is usually such a nice burnished brown the stock has a gorgeous deep color as well.

Bowls of Smoky Chipotle Chicken Salad and bread.

I save the drumsticks because there is nothing Charlie and Gary like better than a cold drumstick, and you don’t get all the much more meat from them anyway – might as well let the boys have their snack.

How to Serve Smoky Chipotle Chicken Salad

This chicken salad is great in a deli roll, heaped on toasted bread or crostini, or piled on top of a salad. It definitely has a kick – if you want a subtler dose of heat, you can use less of the chipotles.

Slices of bread topped with Smoky Chipotle Chicken Salad.

Chipotles in Adobo in Chicken Salad

To make pureed chipotles in adobo sauce just dump a can of them into a food processor and bend until combined. This will keep for week in a covered container in the refrigerator. Scoop out teaspoons or more to bring a bit of smoky heat to all kind of soups, stews, sauces, casseroles and dressings.

I have noticed that the heat level gets a bit more pronounced the longer you have stored the paste, so be aware of that little piece of info. Taste the dressing (knowing that once the chicken is added, that will defuse the heat a bit), and add more as desired.

Sub in scallions for the onions if you like, and play around with other fresh herbs. The chicken salad will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Smoky Chipotle Chicken Salad in a bowl and on bread.

More Chipotle Recipes to Try:

5 from 2 votes

Smoky Chipotle Chicken Salad

This chicken salad has a little heat and a lot of crunch.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 People


  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pureed chipotles in adobo see Cooking Tip
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ½ cup finely diced celery
  • ½ cup finely diced onion red or yellow
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken white or dark meat, or a combination


  • In a large bowl combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, pureed chipotles, thyme, salt and pepper.  
  • Stir in the celery, onions, pepper and chicken until the chicken salad is well combined.  Serve chilled.


Cooking Tip

To make pureed chipotles in adobo sauce just transfer a can to a food processor and bend until combined.  

To Poach Chicken Breasts

If you want to use low-sodium chicken broth instead of water you will end up with a rich stock that can be used in soups and other recipes, and the chicken will have even more flavor.  Pick seasonings to cook the chicken that will complement the finished dish.
  1. Place 4 boneless chicken breasts in a pot large enough so that they at least close to being in a single layer. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the top. You can add in seasonings: ideas are a bay leaf, sliced onions, fresh herbs, halved lemons or limes, a few splashes of white wine.
  2. Cover the chicken with cold water. Bring the water to a boil. You’ll probably see some white scummy foam collecting on the surface as the water comes to a boil — if you’ll be using the poaching liquid for a soup or other recipe, you can skim this off; otherwise, it’s fine to leave it.
  3. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
  4. Remove the chicken from the liquid and wait at least a few minutes before slicing, dicing or shredding.


Calories: 264.11kcal, Carbohydrates: 3.75g, Protein: 26.88g, Fat: 14.93g, Saturated Fat: 3.15g, Cholesterol: 83.16mg, Sodium: 172.97mg, Potassium: 341.77mg, Fiber: 1.13g, Sugar: 2.13g, Vitamin A: 769.14IU, Vitamin C: 26.46mg, Calcium: 22.25mg, Iron: 1.44mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Excellent and easy. After making it as written, I ended up making a few changes for my personal taste. I found I didn’t care for the thyme, so I now omit it. If I use chicken breast (versus dark meat), I double or even triple the amount of dressing, since chicken breast tends to be dry. I’ve made this several times, and it’s been a consistent hit every time. I also increase the amount of chipotles because I like it spicy, but you don’t have to. This is definitely a keeper!