Hot Chicken Salad Casserole {Retro Recipe} (2024)

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Hot Chicken Salad is a retro mid-century recipe that will charm you with its simplicity. Traditional chicken salad ingredients are combined in a bubbly casserole, topped with a crunchy potato chip and almond crust. Close your eyes and you will be transported back in time.

I must been living under a rock, because I had never heard of Hot Chicken Salad, or eaten it. Have you?

Hot Chicken Salad Casserole {Retro Recipe} (3)Apparently it was a popular entree back in the day at women’s luncheons, club meetings, church socials, reunions and potlucks, and when I saw a mention of it on my friend Hung Le’s Facebook page, I knew I had to make it. Apparently he and his then-fiance, now-wife Corinne made it for guests at their wedding rehearsal dinner in 1989, from a recipe that was a signature dish of their host. The world turns, as it does, and now, 3 decades later, Hung made it for the pre-wedding dinner of another young couple about to be married. That’s the kind of charming full-circle ritual that makes me happy to hear about.

Hot Chicken Salad Casserole {Retro Recipe} (4)Here’s the recipe they followed (above), and it comes from a community cookbook called “Favorite Recipes” from the Associated Women for Harding (University) in Searcy, Arkansas. Hot Chicken Salad Casserole {Retro Recipe} (5)A little Googling led me to discover that the submitter, Stephanie Carr, was from Searcy (she died in 2015 at the age of 93.) It may have originally been a Southern Living Magazine recipe…who knows?

I can see why this recipe has stood the test of time — it’s comforting, a hot and bubbling casserole version of your favorite chicken salad, and a taste of home for many people.

How to make Hot Chicken Salad

It’s easy!

Hot Chicken Salad Casserole {Retro Recipe} (6)Poach the chicken. It doesn’t look lovely while it’s cooking, but it produces tender chicken. The recipe calls for breasts, but I used thighs (boneless, skinless) because I think they have more chicken flavor. Suit yourself.

Hot Chicken Salad Casserole {Retro Recipe} (7)Quickly chop celery and onion. You could use green onions if you like, instead, or shallots. The original recipe calls for a tiny amount of grated onion, but grating onion seems like a technique of yore to me.

Hot Chicken Salad Casserole {Retro Recipe} (8)Mayo is the binder in this recipe. I’m using Avocado Oil Mayo from Better Body Foods, which has been my favorite for several years. It has a wonderful flavor and mouthfeel, uses cage-free eggs and rich-tasting avocado oil, is non-GMO, gluten-free (of course!) and has no soy (for those who are watching ingredients). {The company sent me a sample for recipe development use.}

Hot Chicken Salad Casserole {Retro Recipe} (9)Dice the chicken when it is cool enough to handle.

Hot Chicken Salad Casserole {Retro Recipe} (10)Mix everything in a big bowl.

Hot Chicken Salad Casserole {Retro Recipe} (11)Scrape into your casserole baking dish. The recipe didn’t call for greasing the dish, so I didn’t. And there was no problem scooping out of the dish after baking, because the mayo has plenty of fat. Suit yourself, though. Spray if you want to.

Hot Chicken Salad Casserole {Retro Recipe} (12)Sprinkle the top with cheese and crushed potato chips. Don’t even consider leaving these off. I mean it. Don’t make me come over to your house and bash those chips for you. Pro tip: Lay’s makes a lower-salt chip that I like a little too much, but feel free to use either regular potato chips or a lower-salt version. It’s going to be good either way.

Hot Chicken Salad Casserole {Retro Recipe} (13)Baked…call everyone to the table!

Substitution ideas and tweaks for Hot Chicken Salad

This casserole takes well to tweaking, so consider any of the following ideas. I hope by now you know how much I enjoy tweaking a recipe!

1. Additions to the mixture before baking:

  • A finely diced red, yellow or orange bell pepper.
  • A handful of dried cranberries.
  • A peeled, cored, diced apple.
  • Two hard-boiled eggs, chopped.
  • Sliced green onions (scallions) instead of regular onions.
  • 8 ounces of sliced water chestnuts, drained, for more crunch.
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon, or 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice.
  • Frozen peas, thawed.
  • 3 slices of cooked crisp bacon, chopped or crumbled
  • Use rotisserie chicken instead of cooking the chicken yourself, to speed things up. This will add more sodium, so watch your salt levels elsewhere in the recipe.
  • Use leftover Thanksgiving turkey instead of chicken.

2. Topping ideas

  • French-fried onions instead of crushed potato chips.
  • Ruffled potato chips instead of plain.
  • Use all the Cheddar in the casserole, and top with 1/4 cup shredded or grated Parmesan before baking.
  • Crushed butter crackers (like Ritz) instead of potato chips. Or saltines.
  • Panko or breadcrumbs instead of potato chips.
  • Crushed bagged croutons instead of potato chips.

3. Serving ideas

  • Stuff it into a tomato: Set a tomato in a salad bowl, cut crosswise with 2 deep cuts like you are making an X but don’t cut all the way through, fan out the quarters and stuff a big scoop of this casserole in the tomato.
  • Serve it over rice, for a heartier meal. (Teenager alert!)

What to serve with Hot Chicken Salad

  1. Fruit salad
  2. A fresh green salad
  3. Steamed broccoli or green beans
  4. A light dessert

Hot Chicken Salad

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: Serves 6-8.

Hot Chicken Salad Casserole {Retro Recipe} (14)

Hot Chicken Salad is a retro mid-century recipe that will charm you with its simplicity. Traditional chicken salad ingredients are combined in a bubbly casserole, topped with a crunchy potato chip and almond crust. Close your eyes and you will be transported back in time.

Ingredients

  • 3 whole chicken breasts (or I used 6-8 boneless, skinless thighs)
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 (8-ounce) can pineapple rings in juice, drained and chopped (optional and not in original recipe; this is Dorothy's wildcard addition)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Reserved chicken broth
  • 1/4-1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup crushed potato chips

Directions

  1. Turn oven on to 450F degrees.
  2. Put chicken breasts in a pot and cover with water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for 30 minutes, covered, until cooked. (Depending on whether you use bone-in or boneless, breasts or thighs, your chicken might be done at the 15-minute mark. It should read 165F degrees on an instant-read thermometer you have inserted deep into the flesh.) When chicken is done, remove from pot and reserve the broth. When chicken is cool enough to handle, dice. There should be 2-3 cups diced chicken.
  3. While chicken is cooking, add the following to a large mixing bowl: celery, onion, garlic, 2/3 of the grated cheese and mayo. Add the pineapple if you are using it, and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine. Add diced chicken and stir. Taste for seasoning, and add another pinch of salt if it needs it; remember that the rest of the cheese and potato chips are going on top, so they will naturally add more salt.
  4. Scrape into an 11- by 7-inch baking dish. Pour 1/3-1/2 cup of the reserved chicken broth over everything, and sprinkle on remaining grated cheese. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle on almond and potato chips, and return to the oven for an additional 5-7 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and serve.
  6. Serves 6.

Notes

Recipe source: Stephanie Carr of Searcy, Arkansas--> Nancy Lavender O'Neal --> Hung Le, of Malibu, Calif.

Recipe tweak suggestions: --Add a finely diced red, yellow or orange bell pepper to the mixture before baking. --Add 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped, to the mixture before baking.--Add 8 ounces of sliced water chestnuts, drained, for more crunch. --Add grated zest of 1 lemon to the mixture. --Add frozen peas to the mixture. --For a new serving idea, set a tomato in a salad bowl, cut crosswise with 2 deep cuts like you are making an X but don't cut all the way through, fan out the quarters and stuff a big scoop of this casserole in the tomato. --Use rotisserie chicken to speed up the prep.--Use leftover Thanksgiving turkey--Top it with French-fried onions instead of crushed potato chips.

https://www.shockinglydelicious.com/hot-chicken-salad/

Copyright Dorothy Reinhold | ShockinglyDelicious.com. All rights reserved.

Hot Chicken Salad Casserole {Retro Recipe} (15)Pin the image below for Hot Chicken Salad ⇓ to your Pinterest board to save this recipe

Hot Chicken Salad Casserole {Retro Recipe} (16)Here are another couple of Le family recipes you might like

Hung and his wife are famous in our community for feeding hordes of sports teams, student and church groups, and throwing open their doors for an annual dessert party.

    1. Hot Chicken Salad Casserole {Retro Recipe} (17)Try Hung Le’s Famous Noodles
    2. Hot Chicken Salad Casserole {Retro Recipe} (18)Try Corinne Le’s Spiced Zucchini Bread
    3. Hot Chicken Salad Casserole {Retro Recipe} (19)Try Corinne Le’s Cookie Dough Truffles

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Tagged as:casserole, celery, Chicken, dinner, potato chips, potluck

Hot Chicken Salad Casserole {Retro Recipe} (2024)
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