Chicken salad lettuce wraps are a healthy lunch or dinner option with a bold and smoky flavor. Greek yogurt is an easy swap that makes this chicken salad a better-for-you meal.
I love the whole concept of lettuce wraps because they're a healthier, delicious choice to order when out that are usually filled with a wonderfully savory mixture, but if that mixture is even the slightest bit too liquid-y? That's not good. Soon I'm asking for extra napkins and trying my hardest to keep the sauce from running up my sleeves.
Not exactly the basis of a relaxing meal, right? Thankfully you won't be running for emergency napkins with these chicken salad lettuce wraps. Based on my very favorite curry chicken salad recipe, this smoky, tangy version is even more lightened up with wiggle room for you to make it your own.
Reasons To Love This Recipe
- This smoky chicken salad has a great texture. It's not too gloopy as many chicken salads can be, but has just enough of the binding ingredients to hold everything together well without excess moisture.
- This recipe has plenty of room for customization. Freshly cooked, leftover, OR rotisserie chicken works perfectly, the spices and mix-ins can be tweaked, dairy-free mayo/yogurt can be subbed in, etc.
- Because these lettuce wraps can be served hot, warm, or cold, this recipe makes a great choice for a healthier meal prep dish.
- Chicken: To keep things easy, you can use the meat from one whole rotisserie chicken (there's wiggle room), which usually yields somewhere between four and five cups of meat.
- Mayo: Lite mayo cuts the calories by half when compared to regular mayonnaise, and combines 1:1 with Greek yogurt for a better-for-you creamy "sauce", if you will, for chicken salad.
- Yogurt: With all the bold flavors here to mask the tang, Greek yogurt blends right in to act as a stealthy and healthier ingredient substitution. Be sure to use plain yogurt, with either Greek or regular varieties working well.
- Pecans: Pecans are pictured here, but walnuts, cashews, or even sliced almonds make great options. Of course, you don't have to include nuts at all, either.
- Lettuce: Either butter or bibb lettuce works well for these lettuce wraps as both varieties have wide, flexible leaves that can handle being wrapped around filling.
- Spices: The smokiness here comes from the addition of smoked paprika, which is an easy spice to add that brings the flavor in a big way.
- If starting with raw chicken, cook it and let it cool slightly to be handled before shredding it into bite-sized pieces to set aside. Then add the binding ingredients and spices to a mixing bowl: Greek yogurt, lite mayo, apple cider vinegar, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, curry powder, garlic powder, and ground mustard.
- Whisk well to combine everything. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Add the cooked and shredded chicken, onion, celery, and pecans (if using) to the bowl.
- Using a spatula or a spoon, stir the chicken salad up until the chicken is coated evenly by the yogurt/mayo mixture. If you prefer more of a sauce, feel free to add addition mayo or yogurt as you like at this point.
- Scoop portions of the smoky chicken salad into the center of the butter or Bibb lettuce leaves. Take care to leave sufficient margins around the outside of the leaves and not overstuff them so that you can fold and hold the wraps without chicken salad spilling out.
- If you have raw chicken breasts and would like to cook your own in the Instant Pot, you can see those instructions in my healthy buffalo chicken dip post.
- I recommend storing the chicken salad separately from the lettuce leaves and assembling just prior to eating. This keeps the lettuce crisp.
Butter and Bibb lettuce varieties are top-notch for lettuce wraps as they have broad leaves that can withstand bending and folding. Green or red leaf lettuce varieties can also work well.
This smoky chicken salad should stay for 3-4 days in the refrigerator, but as always, if something looks or smells off beforehand, it's best to err on the side of caution and toss it.
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating in the recipe card and/or a comment review below!
Healthy Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps
- 4-5 cups cooked shredded chicken or amount from one rotisserie chicken
- ½ cup chopped celery about 2 ribs
- ¼ cup chopped onion about half a small onion
- ¼ cup pecan halves chopped (or walnuts or cashews)
- ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt
- ⅓ cup light mayonnaise
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon curry powder
- ⅛ teaspoon ground mustard
- Butter, bibb, or green leaf lettuce leaves
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, curry powder, and ground mustard.
- Shred chicken and add it to the bowl with the yogurt/mayo. Add the celery, onion, and pecans.
- Stir everything up until it's coated evenly, then scoop chicken salad into lettuce leaves for serving. Top with additional pecans and smoked paprika if you like.
- A quick way to shred cooked chicken is to put it in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed just until it breaks up. Take care if the chicken is still hot from cooking and cover the bowl with a clean dish towel so you don't get too close to the steam or any hot pieces.
- Store chicken salad in the refrigerator separately from the lettuce leaves if you have leftover portions, assembling just prior to serving. The lettuce will stay crisper that way.
- This smoky chicken salad can be served hot, warm, or straight-from-the-fridge cold.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer