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A classic recipe from my grandmother’s retro collection, Ethel’s Curry Chicken Salad is a fresh and easy lunch or dinner that’s ready in just 10 minutes!

Overhead shot of curry chicken salad in a white bowl with vegetables and radishes

This flavor packed curry chicken salad is made with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, peas, nuts (and more) plus the easiest, most delicious curry dressing.

It’s the perfect summer salad recipe and can easily be adapted, like most salads with what you have in your kitchen. I love to serve this as a busy weeknight meal or a lazy summer weekend lunch and it’s also great at barbecues.

Where This Curry Chicken Salad Came From

My grandmother passed away when I was a freshman in high school, so my food memories of her are somewhat limited. Every time I taste a slice of Brie cheese, I vividly recall the appetizer trays that she served with Carr’s Table Water Crackers (my mom still does the same).

At the holidays, I think of her Bourbon Balls or her shortbread spritz cookies with those bright red and green cherries in the middle. And let’s not forget the “secret” stash of miniature Mars bars that she kept hidden in her kitchen cabinet — at a perfect level for little ones to grab by the handful.

An overhead shot of a curry chicken salad in a white bowl with salad servers

Other than cheese and chocolate bars, I’m not sure that my grandmother was particularly well known for her culinary skills. She may not have been Julia Child, but she sure loved to host a good party!

So when Aunt Barbara recently handed me her mother’s collection of recipes, it was no surprise that the vast majority of the dishes were party foods like canapes and salmon mousse. I seriously think that I found about 6 to 8 different recipes just for salmon mousse!

What was really cool, however, were all of the handwritten notes and recipes that my grandmother had received from her friends. It was obvious that in the days before food blogs, email, and online recipe sharing sites, this is how housewives learned to cook.

Through the process of word of mouth, taste-and-tell, my grandmother amassed quite a collection of delicious (easy) recipes that I can’t wait to try.

A side shot of a curry chicken salad in a white bowl with peas, tomatoes and other veggies

Ethel’s Curry Chicken Salad is a perfect example of my attempt to breathe new life into one of my grandmother’s old favorites. I have no idea who “Ethel” was, but apparently she’s the author of this recipe.

I have since adapted Ethel’s handwritten notes to create my own, easier version of her original Curry Chicken Salad. As it was first shared, the salad was a layered party dish (a lot like my Southern Layered Cornbread Salad), which was finished with a top layer of mayonnaise-based curry dressing.

I thinned out her dressing a bit, swapped out a few of the ingredients (and added others), and tossed it all together. With help from a store-bought rotisserie chicken, leftover grilled chicken, or precooked chicken strips, it’s a warm-weather meal that comes together in about 10 minutes!

An overhead shot of a curry chicken salad with lots of vegetables in a white bowl

My updated version of Ethel’s Curry Chicken Salad is a more realistic depiction of what our lunch or dinner might look like on any given weeknight.

It’s not a fancy, layered party salad that my grandmother would have loved, but instead a simple and FAST meal that’s full of flavor and manageable amidst the hustle of our daily life. I think that my grandmother (and her friend Ethel) would approve!

Tips And Substitutions For This Curry Chicken Salad

  • You could use green beans/french beans instead of peas
  • Try using different colored tomatoes
  • Instead of almonds you could use pine nuts or walnuts
  • You could try adding some mozzarella or blue cheese
  • To make the dressing lighter use low fat mayo or a mix of mayo and yogurt
  • Use a rotisserie chicken to speed things up
  • You could also add bacon or ham in place of chicken

Close overhead shot of curried chicken salad in a white serving bowl with a creamy dressing on top

More easy chicken salad recipes that you might enjoy:

A curry chicken salad in a white bowl with gold forks at the side

Ethel's Curry Chicken Salad

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings 4 salads
Calories 365.2 kcal
A classic recipe from my grandmother's retro collection, Ethel's Curry Chicken Salad is a fresh and easy dinner that's ready in just 10 minutes!


For the Dressing:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons water plus more as necessary to reach desired thickness
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

For the Salad:

  • 4 cups shredded or chopped lettuce
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • ¼ cup thinly-sliced red onion
  • ½ seedless cucumber sliced
  • ¾ cup peas
  • ¼ cup toasted sliced almonds
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups cooked sliced chicken


  • In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients until completely combined and smooth. Add water (a teaspoon at a time) until the dressing reaches desired consistency. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Place lettuce in the bottom of a bowl. Top with tomatoes, onions, cucumber, peas, almonds, raisins, and chicken.
  • Pour dressing over top and serve.


Cooking Just for Two? This is a great recipe to divide in half for 2 servings.


Serving: 1/4 of recipeCalories: 365.2kcalCarbohydrates: 18.4gProtein: 20.1gFat: 24.1gSaturated Fat: 3.5gCholesterol: 46.6mgSodium: 220.6mgFiber: 3.8gSugar: 9.1g
Keyword: curried chicken, curry chicken salad
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Indian
Author: The Seasoned Mom



Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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  1. That’s so nice that you got your Grandma’s recipe collection! I have a few of my Grandma’s, but she cooked a lot from memory, so I wish I had more. I love the colors of this chicken salad, Blair! So pretty! And I love the curry flavor, too. Sounds perfect to jazz it up a bit!

    1. The recipe collection is GOLD for a food blogger, Gayle. 🙂 Plenty of ideas that I’ll never use, but also a lot of other great inspiration! I’m sorting through it all…

  2. can I just say i love your recipe names! Aunt Bee and Ethel are classics. LOVE that this is your grandmas recipes and love this curry chicken salad!

    1. Hi, Virginia! It’s a curry dressing that’s included in the recipe above. Simple and delicious! 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    I love that you got passed down all your Grandma’s recipes, that’s so amazing and this salad looks so delicious!