Wondering how much chicken salad to plan on per person? Find out the amount you need based on the bun size and quantity of side dishes.
Chicken salad sandwiches are a classic dish served at events with large groups of people. Think teacher appreciation luncheons, baby showers, or family picnics.
Chicken salad can be any kind of salad with added chicken. However, chicken salad served at a get-together usually refers to a mixture of chopped chicken meat and a binder, like mayonnaise or cream cheese.
If this is your first time planning a huge get-together, you may be concerned about having enough food for everyone.
How much chicken salad should you plan per person? Plan on ½ cup of chicken salad filling per person when serving it as a sandwich filling on a regular-sized croissant bun. This is about 2½ pounds of chicken salad for every 10 people. If several side dishes will served, reduce the amount of chicken salad by about 25%.
These factors can also affect the amount of chicken salad you need.
- The size of the croissant or bun for the sandwich
- Whether the chicken salad is the main course or one of several side dishes
- The quantity of additional food being served
This article will give you a better idea of the amount of chicken salad you will need for different group sizes. You will get great serving tips on the best bun size to use and the ideal sides to fill your guests up.
Plus, check out the best canned chicken salad sandwich recipe to serve to a crowd.
How Much Chicken Salad Based on Bun Size
If you like to roll with the popular crowd, a butter croissant is the way to serve chicken salad sandwiches.
Costco and Sam’s Club sell a dozen full-sized croissants for less than half the price of croissants found in most grocery stores.
Recently the croissant was changed from the better-known crescent shape to a more standard straight shape. The new shape helps hold sandwich materials better.
Expect guests to use about ½ cup of chicken salad on this bun. This is a generous estimate of filling which will make a hefty sandwich.
For a more conservative portion, plan on ⅓ cup per person.
Although not every guest will fill their sandwich to the brim, estimating ½ cup per person will help ensure you don’t run out of filling before you run out of bread.
Keep in mind that serving other sides reduces the amount of chicken salad filling needed by roughly 25%. Approximately 2 tablespoons less per person.
Here’s a good guide on the amount of chicken salad you can expect to provide per the number of expected attendees.
Luckily, Costco and Sam’s Club both sell chicken salad by the pound. So, if you plan to buy the salad for your luncheon, here’s how many pounds to get.
How Much Chicken Salad Per Person
When served on a regular-sized croissant
Number of guests
@ ½ cup of salad per person
RELATED: If you are purchasing chicken salad for your event, you will love this post on how to jazz up store-bought chicken salad. Easy suggestions make a huge difference in the taste.
A recent research study found that the smaller the container an individual has to hold their food, the less food they will take. In other words, if you provide a smaller bun, people will take less filling.
Taking it a step further… supplying smaller plates may mean guests consume less too.
If you have a tight food budget, mini croissants may be a good solution. Especially if you offer an assortment of side dishes.
You will need ¼ to ⅓ cup of chicken salad filling for each small croissant. For comparison, a mini croissant weighs just 12 ounces, compared to a standard croissant with a net weight of 28 ounces.
How Much Chicken Salad Per Person
When served on a mini croissant
Number of guests
@ ¼ cup of salad per person
RELATED: Need to know how long chicken salad lasts? Read the post to find out how to safely serve chicken salad and how long it lasts in and out of the fridge.
Chicken Salad as an Appetizer
Sometimes chicken salad is an appetizer instead of a main dish. For example, serving chicken salad on a charcuterie board with crackers.
When chicken salad is served as an appetizer, plan on 1 to 2 tablespoons per person.
And by the way, there are TONS of crackers you can serve with chicken salad. Paired with crackers is just one way to serve chicken salad as a side dish.
Find out all the creative ways you can serve chicken at a party.
Are Mini Croissants or Regular Croissants a Better Option?
So, which is a better option? It comes down to your preference and food budget. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind when you decide.
- Regular-sized croissants require more chicken salad. But you can buy this bread in bulk at Costco or Sam’s Club. This is cheaper than buying croissants at a grocery store.
Sometimes Sam’s Club has cocktail croissants (the mini version) too.
- The more chicken salad sandwich toppings you provide, the less chicken salad is needed per person, regardless of the croissant size.
You may be interested in all these creative chicken salad sandwich toppings.
- A variety of side dishes means less chicken salad needed to satisfy your guests.
RELATED: Have a lot to do to get ready for your party? Why not make the chicken salad early. Get all the tips you need to make chicken salad ahead of time.
Best Side Dishes for Chicken Salad
When you have an assortment of sides, most people want to try a little of everything. This fills guests’ plates, and they will be satisfied with less chicken salad.
Here are some of the most popular side dishes to serve with the sandwich.
- Green Salad. A standard green salad is a simple and easy option. It can help round out this sandwich and make it even healthier.
- Pasta Salad. Pasta salad is cheap and a breeze to throw together. You might even have two pasta salad choices with so many flavorful versions.
- Jello Salad. Jiggly Jello salad is not just for kids. Mix in fruit, Cool Whip, or even sherbet for a salad that is gobbled down.
- Fruit. Another simple and healthy side, use any seasonal fruit. A fruit tray, fruit skewers, or fruit salad are all appropriate sides.
- Veggie Platter. A colorful raw vegetable platter is another modest side. Serve the veggies with dip, and everyone will come back for seconds.
- Chips. The cheapest, easiest, and most popular side. Chips and dip, flavored chips, or tortilla chips and salsa are all fantastic with chicken salad sandwiches.
- Lemonade. Cool and refreshing lemonade or pink lemonade jazzes up any group picnic. Especially in the summertime.
- Soda Bar. Grab a few flavored syrups, crushed ice, soda water, and a splash of half and half. Now you are set for the most popular part of the party – the Italian soda.
You can’t forget the dessert. Not only does it round out the meal/celebration, but it also is something that can reduce the amount of salad you will need.
Cuz we have all skipped second helpings in favor of dessert, right?
- Easy Fudge. Use Nestle’s chocolate chips to make this easy, fool-proof fudge.
- Strawberry Banana Pudding. A twist on the original, strawberry banana pudding is fresh and cool for a summer picnic.
See the best cookie varieties for the pudding, so you don’t have to settle for ‘nilla wafers every time. The best news is you can make banana pudding ahead of time.
RELATED: Want even more side dish ideas? Check out the best sides to serve with chicken salad for a luncheon.
In 1863, Liam Gray, owner of Town Meats made one of the first chicken salad recipes. He grabbed his leftover chicken and mixed it with mayo, tarragon, and grapes.
The dish became so popular that his meat market was converted into a delicatessen.
Since its creation, chicken salad has been a popular dish for picnics and other large gatherings. And no wonder. It is cheap, easy to make, and tasty.
- Chicken. Cooking a whole chicken is the most economical way to make chicken salad. But you can also grab a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store or cook chicken breasts if you prefer.
To make it really simple, make chicken salad with Costco canned chicken.
- Celery. You will love the crunch celery adds.
- Green onions. Alternately, use red onions.
- Grapes. Green or red grapes can be used. Don't forget to wash, dry, and chop them in half.
- Sauce made from mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, dill, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt.
- Slivered almonds. If you have time, toast the slivered almonds. It is an optional but delicious step.
Cook chicken in whatever way you prefer. The Instant Pot is my preferred method.
- Remove the giblets from the chicken. Generously salt and pepper the chicken under the skin. Then let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes to temper (come closer to room temperature). This helps the chicken cook evenly.
- Pour ½ cup of water or chicken broth into the bottom of the Instant Pot and then place a trivet inside.
- Set the chicken on the trivet. Close and lock the lid. Then pressure cook on high for 20 to 25 minutes depending on the size of the bird. Let the Instant Pot release pressure naturally.
- Remove the chicken from the Instant Pot and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes or until it is cool enough to handle.
- Remove the skin and bones and cube the chicken.
- Wash and cut the celery, green onions, and grapes. Place them in the bowl with the chicken.
- In another bowl, mix mayonnaise, sour cream (or yogurt), lemon juice, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper to taste.
- Add any additional spices. When it tastes just right, mix half in with the chicken and veggies. Stir and add more sauce until it is to your liking. You may not need all the sauce.
- Stir in the almonds.
- Let the salad chill for at least two hours in the refrigerator.
RELATED: Got leftover chicken salad? Wonder if you can freeze it? Probably not, but take a look at when you can and can't freeze chicken salad.
Chicken Salad with a Whole Chicken
- 1 whole 3 to 4-pound fryer chicken
- Salt and pepper
- 2 to 3 stalks of celery chopped
- 3 whole green onions chopped
- 2 to 3 cups of grapes halved
- ½ cup of mayonnaise
- ½ cup of sour cream or plain yogurt
- Juice of 1 lemon about 2 tablespoons
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons of fresh dill minced
- Cayenne pepper to taste
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Kosher salt to taste start with ½ teaspoon
- ½ cup of slivered almonds
- 1 dozen full-size croissant rolls
Cook the Chicken
- TAKE OUT the giblets from the chicken cavity. Generously salt and pepper the chicken under the skin. Then let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes to temper (come closer to room temperature). This helps the chicken cook evenly.
- POUR ½ cup of water or chicken broth into the bottom of the Instant Pot inner container and then place a trivet inside.
- SET the chicken on the trivet. Close and lock the lid. Then pressure cook on high for 20 to 25 minutes depending on the size of the bird. Let the Instant Pot release pressure naturally.
- PULL the chicken out of the Instant Pot and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes or until it is cool enough to handle.
- REMOVE the skin and bones and cube the chicken.
Prep the Rest of the Salad
- WASH and cut the celery, onions, and grapes. Place them in the bowl with the chicken.
- In another bowl, STIR the mayonnaise, sour cream (or yogurt), lemon juice, brown sugar, cayenne, dill, black pepper, and salt to taste.
- MIX half the sauce in with the chicken and veggies. Stir and add more sauce until it is to your liking. You may not need all the sauce.
- STIR in the almonds.
- CHILL the salad for at least two hours in the refrigerator.
- If you prefer, you can use a rotisserie chicken. Or you can cook chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken.
- Chilling the salad is important, especially if you make the salad right after cooking the chicken.
More Recipes for a Crowd
- Find out how much sloppy joes to plan per person. Plus, get tips to stretch the meat further.