How to Make Dolly Parton’s Favorite Pecan Chicken Salad

You betcha we're bringing Dolly's favorite pecan chicken salad to the table this holiday season.

When the Queen of Country tells us to jump, we say how high! So when we heard that Dolly Parton has a favorite holiday season chicken salad, we knew we just had to try it. Like Dolly’s other favorite southern recipes, her pecan chicken salad is rich and flavorful. It’s also as easy as butterscotch pie to make, and it’s sure to bring some southern charm to the table.

How to Make Dolly Parton’s Pecan Chicken Salad

Dolly Parton's Chicken SaladGetty Images, Risa Lichtman for Taste of Home


Dolly Parton's Chicken SaladRisa Lichtman for Taste of Home

  • 3 cups diced cooked chicken
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 small onion
  • 3/4 cup pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Watercress or greens for plating


Step 1: Chop the vegetables

Dolly Parton's Chicken Salad vegetablesRisa Lichtman for Taste of Home

Dice the celery stalks and small onion. Add to a large bowl.

Step 2: Combine ingredients

Dolly Parton's Chicken SaladRisa Lichtman for Taste of Home

Add the following ingredients to the celery and onions: diced chicken, pecans, mayonnaise and mustard. Mix well with a spatula, then use two forks to shred the chicken a bit.

As you’re shredding it, the chicken will incorporate the mayonnaise and mustard better. The more it’s shredded, the less chance of a dry bite.

Step 3: Season and serve

Dolly Parton's Chicken SaladRisa Lichtman for Taste of Home

Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or store for later. It will be good for up to one week. If you’re looking for more famous recipes, learn how to make Jennifer Aniston’s salad.

How to Serve This Chicken Salad

Dolly Parton's Chicken SaladRisa Lichtman for Taste of Home

Dolly’s preferred way to serve her favorite chicken salad is on a bed of watercress, which gives 1970s vibes that still work today. I personally love this classic deli scoop plating, so I used an ice cream scoop to get a round scoop of chicken salad.

For a slightly updated version, I used microgreens. These might be more readily available at your local co-op or grocery store than watercress. Either way, make sure to pair the greens and chicken salad with your favorite bread or crackers for a little something extra.

Here’s What I Thought

Dolly Parton's Chicken SaladRisa Lichtman for Taste of Home

I love a good chicken salad, and this did not disappoint. It’s very simple, but the pecans give it a lovely crunch and slight sweetness that rounds it all out. I added extra mayo (about double the recipe) because I like a wetter chicken salad and also a splash of vinegar to give it a little kick.

If you prefer more goodies in your chicken salad, you could add any of your favorites to this. It would be delicious with grapes or dried cranberries. You could also change it up and add spices to make a curried chicken salad.

Try These Other Chicken Salad Recipes
1 / 10

Risa Lichtman
Risa Lichtman is a chef and writer living in Portland, Oregon. In addition to writing and developing recipes for Taste of Home, she's the chef/owner of Lepage Food & Drinks, a small food company featuring Jewish seasonal fare, providing takeaway all around Portland and running a soup group—like a CSA but for soup! Risa weaves her passion for local, sustainable and ethically sourced food into her writing. She lives with her wife, Jamie, their dogs, Cannoli and Reuben, their cat, Sylvia, and four chickens.