Smoked Chicken Salad Recipe

A smoked twist on the classic chicken salad.


Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

Why It Works

  • Slow smoking the chicken over indirect heat allows for maximum smoke flavor and ensures that the chicken stays moist.
  • A mayonnaise-based dressing that includes apple cider vinegar, hot sauce, and smoked paprika complements the barbecue flavor.

I like to fill my smoker as much as possible whenever running it—why waste good heat and space? Plus, I contend that the more meat in there, the better things seem to come out. So while I had a fire going to smoke a few duck breasts a couple of months ago, I decided to throw in a chicken and turn it into a smoked chicken salad that I could enjoy throughout the week.

To tell the truth, I'm not much of a chicken salad fan, but using fresh smoked chicken seemed like a way I could enjoy it. So I halved a whole chicken, sprinkled it with barbecue rub, and slow smoked it over applewood until the meat was just cooked through. After the chicken rested, I pulled meat from the bone, roughly chopped it, and mixed with a combination of traditional chicken salad ingredients and some extras that would complement the barbecue flavor, like smoked paprika, cider vinegar, hot sauce, and celery seeds.

My inclination was correct: I did enjoy this chicken salad much more than others I've had in the past. The smoked flavor on the chicken was somewhat strong coming out of the cooker, but the mayonnaise-based dressing tempered it. The celery and scallions added a nice freshness, while vinegar and lemon juice gave a contrasting tang that hinted at a white barbecue sauce. So no smoker space went to waste, and out of it I got a barbecue-influenced chicken salad that I think is a definite step up from the usual.

May 2013

Recipe Facts

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 90 mins
Active: 30 mins
Cooling Time: 60 mins
Total: 3 hrs
Serves: 8 servings
Makes: 1 quart

Rate & Comment


  • 1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds;1.6 to 1.8kg), halved

  • 1/4 cup your favorite barbecue rub (1 ounce; 30g)

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (4 ounces; 115g)

  • 3/4 cup (2 1/2 ounces; 70g) finely chopped celery (about 2 medium stalks)

  • 1/3 cup (3/4 ounce; 20g) finely sliced scallion (about 1 medium)

  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon

  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) apple cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 fist-size chunk of light smoking wood, such as apple or cherry


  1. Rub chicken all over with barbecue rub. Fire up smoker or grill to 225°F (107°C), adding chunks of smoking wood when at temperature. When wood is ignited and producing smoke, place chicken in smoker or grill, skin side up. Smoke until an instant-read thermometer reads 160°F (71°C) when inserted into thickest part of thigh, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove from smoker and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

    Chicken halves sprinkled with barbecue rub in the smoker

    Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

  2. While chicken is cooling, mix together mayonnaise, celery, scallions, lemon juice, vinegar, paprika, hot sauce, and celery seeds in a small bowl to make the dressing.

    Whisking the sauce for the smoked chicken salad.

    Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

  3. Pull meat from skin and bones and roughly chop; discard skin and bones. Place meat in a large bowl and pour in dressing. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

    Mixing the smoked chicken salad in a bowl.

    Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

Special Equipment

Smoker or grill


For a step-by-step process on how to smoke in a charcoal grill, check out our Guide to Grilling: Smoking on a Charcoal Kettle Grill.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
314 Calories
22g Fat
3g Carbs
24g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 314
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 29%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 84mg 28%
Sodium 380mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 24g
Vitamin C 2mg 11%
Calcium 28mg 2%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 275mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)