Sonoma Chicken Salad

by May 4, 2023

Sad fact: Whole Foods has changed their Sonoma Chicken Salad and at least what is available here at Bozeman (Whole Foods arrived earlier this year) is nothing like what I enjoyed a decade ago back in California.

Happy fact: I have a recipe for you and you can make it even better at home.

Sonoma Chicken Salad

Servings 4


  • 2 poached chicken breasts, well chilled; instructions below about 1–1½ pounds total
  • ¼ cup Best Foods mayonnaise or Just Mayo
  • ¼ cup sour cream Straus Family Creamery or Horizon
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 cup seedless grapes, red or black, halved

Optional add-ins: toasted pecans, dried cranberries, poppy seeds


  1. Shred or chop the cooled chicken breasts and put in a mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise and sour cream and stir with a spatula to combine. Stir in the chopped celery and grapes, and any of the optional goodies: pecans, cranberries, and poppy seeds. Chill until ready to plate with fresh salad greens, freshly ground black pepper, and perhaps a pinch of flaky salt.

Poached Chicken Breasts

  1. Up to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets, 4 quarts (16 cups) water, ¼ cup Kosher salt, 1 bay leaf, 1 lemon, cut in half

  2. Pound each chicken breast between a fold of plastic wrap or parchment paper to a uniform thickness, approximately ¾-inch. To a large stockpot add water, salt, and bay leaf, squeeze in both lemon halves, and add the rind as well. Set a steamer basket in the stockpot and place the pounded chicken breasts in a single layer on the steamer. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  3. Bring stockpot just barely to a boil (minimum temperature 175°F, higher is OK), cover the pot, turn off the heat, and let stand for 20 minutes, which will delicately cook the chicken. The internal temperature of the chicken should reach at least 160–165°F. Transfer chicken to a plate, let cool, then refrigerate until ready to use.

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