This warm chicken salad is a fun twist on the original chicken dish. Baked in the oven with sour cream, cheese and sliced almonds for crunch, this hot appetizer dip will be a crowd favorite. The crunchy crisp topping of buttery crackers on this baked chicken salad is so delicious! Serve this with crackers for dipping, or crunchy raw vegetables for scooping.

Casserole dish with baked chicken and crunchy topping.

Warm Chicken Salad

In a place where everyone makes chili for Halloween, my family makes this warm chicken salad. It’s not that we’re not chili people–we love a small batch of beef chili. Or, my white bean chicken chili over on my other website is what I make when I want to serve a crowd of people. Chili is great, but my kids don’t have the patience to eat a big bowl of anything on Halloween because they just want to run outside and go trick-or-treating! This chicken salad is perfect for them, because they can scoop it up on crackers or carrot chips and eat quickly.

I happen to love this version of chicken salad, because it’s so much creamier than the standard cold one served on bread. When you bake chicken salad, you get to add sour cream and cheese to it, which makes this casserole so cozy and delicious. If I have to pick a favorite part, it’s going to be the crunchy buttery cracker topping. You don’t get a crisp crust with regular cold chicken salad, so this is the real treat of a warm chicken salad.

However, this recipe is very similar to my cold cranberry chicken salad because it contains celery, sliced almonds, and mayonnaise. We’re going to mix it together just like regular chicken salad, but it has a few additional ingredients since we’re baking it. We’re adding sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and a cracker crust on top before baking. Melted butter gets poured on top of cracker crumbs before baking, ensuring a delicious savory crust. You might never want cold chicken salad again! Save the cold dishes for instant pot potato salad, if you like!

Ingredients:

  • Cooked Chicken. We need 2 cups of chopped cooked chicken. That can be 2 small breasts, poached and then chopped, or canned chicken meat, whatever you prefer. I like to poach two small chicken breasts in chicken stock until 165-degrees F and then let cool before dicing. 
  • Celery. Just one-half cup of small-diced fresh celery.
  • Onion Powder. Two full teaspoons of dried onion powder. If you’re using onion flakes, double it. A lot of recipes for warm chicken salad require you to cook the celery and onion before adding it to the casserole. I don’t like to dirty up another dish, so I use finely diced celery and onion powder in my chicken salad instead.
  • Sour Cream. I always recommend regular, full-fat sour cream, because the low-fat version can do strange things when heated.
  • Mayonnaise. Regular full-fat mayonnaise or olive oil mayonnaise is best. Do not substitute Greek yogurt, because we’re already using sour cream in this recipe.
  • Sliced Almonds
  • Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese.
  • Butter Crackers. You know the ones I’m talking about–Ritz crackers, or any equivalent.
  • Butter. We’re melting the butter for pouring on top of the casserole before baking.

How to Make Warm Chicken Salad:

  1. First, gather all ingredients, and preheat the oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit. Have ready an 8″ square dish for baking.
    Ingredients for baked chicken salad.
  2. Combine all ingredients except for the crackers and butter: the chicken, finely diced celery, onion powder, sour cream, mayonnaise, sliced almonds and grated Cheddar cheese into a bowl.
    Chicken, mayo, cheese, and celery in a white bowl.
  3. Stir everything together very well, and then spread the mixture in the baking dish. Press it until it’s mostly flat on top.
    Chicken salad in a baking dish.
  4. Next, place the crackers in a bag or small food processor, and crush until finely ground. Spread the cracker crumbs on top of the chicken salad, and then drizzle the melted butter evenly over the surface.
    Melted butter drizzled over casserole in dish.
  5. Bake the chicken casserole for 25 minutes, or until bubbling around the edges and warm throughout. Serve it with extra crackers for dipping, bread slices, or veggies for dipping. 

Warm chicken salad scooped onto crackers on plate.

What to serve with hot chicken salad:

  • Ritz crackers for dipping
  • Carrot sticks or carrot coins for dipping
  • Celery sticks for dunking
  • Sliced bread that has been toasted, also known as crostini

If you’re looking for something to serve on the side of the plate, I highly recommend Brussels sprout slaw. It’s nice to serve something light and fresh with a warm creamy casserole.

Can you freeze hot chicken salad?

Friends, I have a love-hate relationship with my freezer. Typically, I make small-batch recipes so that I don’t have enough leftovers to freeze. This recipe makes an 8″ square baking dish of warm chicken salad. If you happen to have leftovers, yes, you may freeze it, but be aware that sometimes sour cream separates slightly when thawed and reheated. I recommend freezing it after baking, not before.

Can I double this recipe?

Yes, you may double this recipe and bake it in a 9x 13-inch baking dish.

Yield: 6

Warm Chicken Salad

Casserole dish with baked chicken and crunchy topping.

Hot chicken salad baked in a dish. So comforting and creamy!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1/2 cup small-diced celery
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/2 sleeve of Ritz crackers (about 14 crackers)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Instructions

    1. Gather all ingredients, and preheat the oven to 350. Ingredients for baked chicken salad.
    2. In a bowl, combine all ingredients except for the crackers and butter. Ingredients for hot chicken salad in a bowl.
    3. Mix everything together very well, and then pour the mixture into an 8x8” baking dish, and spread it flat on top. Chicken salad in a baking dish.
    4. Crush the Ritz crackers in a food processor (or a zip top bag), and spread the crumbs on top of the chicken mixture. Melt the butter, and drizzle it evenly on top. Hot chicken salad before baking with crust on top.
      PHOTO
    5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbling around the edges. Serve with extra ritz crackers for dipping or veggies, or just serve on warm toasted bread or on its own like a casserole!

Notes

Cooked Chicken: This can be 2 small breasts, poached and chopped, or canned chicken meat.
Onion Powder: Two teaspoons of dried onion powder; iIf you're using dehydrated onion flakes, use 1/4 cup.
Sour Cream: When baking, I always recommend regular, full-fat sour cream. Low-fat sour cream can separate when heated.
Mayonnaise: Regularmayonnaise or olive oil mayonnaise both work here Do not substitute Greek yogurt.
Butter Crackers: Ritz crackers, or an equivalent butter cracker.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 446Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 100mgSodium: 464mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 17g

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