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Food and Friends: Grandma’s Chicken Salad (Recipe)

Food and Friends: Grandma’s Chicken Salad (Recipe)

Friends makes everything better. This is one of my (lighthearted) mantras in life. If I’m ever feeling blue, hurt, or in some other negative state of mind, I can pop on an episode of Friends and feel better immediately.

Say what you will about this method of self-medication: I figure it’s a healthier choice than a pint of Haagen-Dazs or a tumbler of Tanqueray (though in certain extreme circumstances, those would really do the trick).

I’ve seen every episode at least ten times. I’ve been known to identify the episode (and the season it aired during) from a single screenshot.

When you love Friends and also happen to love food, you naturally tend to take note of the latter while enjoying the former. Like the one where Rachel mixes up Thanksgiving recipes and makes a dish that’s half English trifle and half shepherd’s pie. Or when Joey eats all of his date’s chocolate dessert and doesn’t even regret it. Or this gem:

After a recent re-watching of that episode (Season 5, by the way, the one where Phoebe gives birth to her brother’s triplets), I figured it was time to make a chicken salad worthy of Joey’s double entendre.

Grandma's Chicken Salad -- rotisserie chicken.jpg

I’m not sure this is a chicken salad that my grandmother would’ve made (she was pretty traditional), but it’s darn tasty nonetheless. I learned a variation on this recipe when I was visiting my aunt in California during the summer after I graduated college. I’d never thought to add grapes to chicken, let alone walnuts or almond extract. But it’s a great combination, and in this version, I threw in some other goodies that bring all kinds of flavors to the dish.

Grandma's Chicken Salad -- Ingredients.jpg

Plus, it’s really easy.

You know, if you can fight off attacks from petite, carnivorous mammals…

Grandma's Chicken Salad -- feisty feline.jpg

…who eventually stop yelling at you and just stand there with their mouths open, hoping and praying for just a smidgeon of chicken to go rogue and jump off the counter into their waiting gullets.

Grandma's Chicken Salad -- feisty feline 2.jpg

If you can get past that, you end up with a chicken salad that’s, well, everything: sweet, savory, tart, crunchy, creamy, decadent, and easy.

Very Joey-worthy, if you ask me. (Especially the easy part, because let’s face it, Joey was a man-whore.)

You can go clean and light and serve it over salad greens. Or go rustic and use it to top a slice of toasted whole grain baguette. Or just grab a spoon and dig in.

Grandma's Chicken Salad -- closeup.jpg

Grandma’s Chicken Salad


  • Meat from one rotisserie chicken, shredded (about 4 cups)

  • 2 cups seedless red grapes, quartered

  • 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

  • ¾ cup mayonnaise

  • ¼ cup mustard (coarsely ground)

  • 2 Tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped

  • 1 tsp almond extract


1. Mix everything together in a big, big bowl.

2. Congratulate yourself for being so fancy with so little effort.

3. Go watch your favorite episode of Friends.

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