Better Than Leftovers #1 – Smoked Chicken Salad

I’m starting a new series of sorts… Leftovers that are Better Than Leftovers!

I’ll be gauging these leftovers by my own personal leftover scale, my wife.  She’s not big on leftovers, so, when I find some that she likes and says she’d have again, that will make it to my Better Than Leftovers list.

better than leftovers

Another aspect of Better Than Leftovers is they may actually be made as a first time meal, but from something made prior to making the dish.  Today’s Better Than Leftovers will clarify this.

To make smoked chicken salad, I first needed chicken.  Instead of having leftover chicken to start with, I had to smoke a chicken to have the meat to make the chicken salad (that’s the clarification I promised).  I got a couple of nice, organic chickens from the wonderful Dorothy Lane Market in Springboro, Ohio, to smoke as beer can chickens.  A lot of barbecuers only use barbecue rubs for chicken done this way, but I prefer a more traditional flavor for my chicken, especially when I’m planning on using the chicken in another dish. So I trimmed off some thyme, oregano and basil from our hanging herb garden, and chopped it all up to put under the skin of the chickens. I also added some salt and pepper, and I put a bit of olive oil on the skin.  My previous post shows how to make what I call “Any Can Chicken“.

I think we're done

I carved up one of the chickens, then diced up the meat from the breasts and thighs. To that, I added a bunch of seedless black grapes, about 1/4 cup of walnut pieces, and one chopped green onion. I added a bit of salt and pepper, then just enough mayonnaise to bind the whole thing together (about 1/2 cup). I think less mayo is better in this case.

Chicken Salad with Beer Can Chicken

The whole mess gets stirred up, and it’s ready! I will say, however, that chicken salad in general seems better after being in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. I think the flavors meld together a bit better over a bit of time.

Chicken Salad Sandwich

This chicken salad makes a great sandwich, or is great just with some wheat crackers.

So there you have it… Better Than Leftovers #1!

About Curt McAdams

I guess I'm a bit of a foodie, learning to cook from my mom, then getting obsessed with outdoor cooking, competition barbecue, bread baking and just about all things food. Lately, I've been trying to upgrade my photography skills a bit, though I still have a long way to go.


  1. I do love a good chicken salad. I only wish I could come by some smoked chicken – that sounds amazing.

  2. Kathy,

    You can do a decent version via a grill by adding packets of soaked wood chips. Keep the heat low, and you’ll have a nice, smoky flavor.

  3. I make chicken especially for chicken salad! I make mine with grapes and walnuts too. Some celery too if it is around, but not too much.

  4. t.k.

    It could be argued that chicken salad isn’t really leftovers, I guess, but I had a chicken leg first. I don’t mind some celery in mine, either.

  5. Ha! I made a chicken salad for dinner today! I poached?/boiled? my chicken breast last night with a bunch of herbs and today cut them up and mixed with red grapes, walnuts, red onion, dollop of mayo and fat free plain yogurt.

  6. Natalie,

    I’ve never poached chicken, though I remember my mom doing it, I think. I generally grill or smoke it, but your chicken salad sounds great to me!

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