Smoked chicken makes the best chicken salad, hands down. I love chicken salad, but ever since I tried it with smoked chicken using my Nordic Ware stovetop smoker, I don’t ever want to go back.
I like the smokey flavor of the chicken along with the sweetness of grapes and crunch of pecans. The combination is addictive. I can’t get enough. There’s a whole story behind this, but I’ll give you the recipe first!
Smoked Chicken Salad with Grapes and Pecans
- Nordic Ware 365 Kettle Smoker
- 2 lbs Chicken Breasts
- 3/4 c Mayonnaise
- 1 c grapes sliced in half lengthwise
- 1/2 c pecans toasted optional
- salt and pepper to taste
- Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper
- Take your stovetop smoker and put about 2 Tablespoons of wood chips in the center of the bottom (cherry, apple or pecan would work well here).
- Cover the drip tray in aluminum foil and place in the bottom of the smoker.
- Place the food rack on the smoker and spray with cooking spray.
- Add the chicken to the rack and make sure they are not touching and there are enough holes exposed to let smoke through. Place the lid on the smoker.
- Turn the burner to medium high heat and watch the thermometer to get it to optimal temp.
- Smoke the chicken for about 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.
- Let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes.
- Chop the chicken or shred the chicken (choose whichever method you prefer, I like chunks so I chop my chicken).
- Place the chicken in a large bowl and add the mayonnaise, grape halves and pecans and stir to mix.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Use this chicken salad on a kaiser roll, a croissant, a salad or straight out of the bowl!
Did you know that SEO results have a lot to do with the amount of words on a webpage? That’s why so many food bloggers ramble on about stupid stuff before they finally get to the recipe. So that’s why I gave you the recipe for “STOVETOP SMOKER CHICKEN SALAD” first, but if you really are interested in the origins of this recipe, then read on.
Several years ago, I had a patient who would bring in chicken salad to his appointments to share with everyone. He’d bring in several plastic containers that he would distribute throughout his visit. When I was new there I wasn’t really sure why everyone was so excited about him being there. It was like the whole place was buzzing, “Did you see?? Mr. ____ is here today!”. What does that mean? Is he famous? Is he a VIP or something? No, he just makes the best damn chicken salad in the world.
As soon as I tasted it, I was BLOWN AWAY. I already loved chicken salad, but I had never had anything like this before. He told me that he smoked the chicken first. He would just go and buy a ton of whole chickens, smoke them and make a huge batch of chicken salad. His version also had grapes and pecans, which were a nice touch.
I had to move away and thus lost him as a patient, but I was haunted by that chicken salad. I wanted it so bad, but HOW AM I GOING TO EVER HAVE IT AGAIN? I don’t have a smoker! I don’t even have a backyard to put a smoker in!
When I discovered the existence of stovetop smokers, my first thought was “OoOOOooOoOh!!! I can finally make smoked chicken salad with that!!!!”.
The first time I tried to replicate it, I was so happy. It tasted like I remembered. The taste is unmistakably smoky and those sliced grapes and pecans are just heavenly. The only thing I really do differently is I keep the chicken a little chunkier than he did and that’s just a personal preference.
You can also make this chicken salad by using a whole chicken. You may have to smoke it a little longer, but just smoke for 30 minutes and check the temperature. If it measures 165 then you are good, if not smoke it a little longer.
I use this steamer rack inside my stovetop smoker in order to do two tiers of chicken.
One more thing to note, when you smoke chicken without brining it first, it becomes dry. For this recipe, I did not say to brine it and that is because I feel that the addition of mayonnaise kind of eliminates the dryness. In any other scenario, I would say to brine the chicken. Feel free to brine it! It will only make it better! I simply am very lazy at times and lack foresight which is why I don’t think to brine before I make it.
Enjoy it on an Amoroso’s kaiser roll, or on top of greens or all by itself, it’s that good!