Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten Uses 1 Easy Trick for Perfect Chicken Salad That’s Full of Flavor

Ina Garten has found the best ways to incorporate delicious flavors into her recipes over the years. One trick she uses for chicken salad is so easy but makes such a huge difference. The Barefoot Contessa star shares her simple tip so the chicken is moist and never bland.

Ina Garten smiles as she holds a spoon on the Today show in 2017
Ina Garten on the ‘Today’ show | Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten focuses on flavor

While promoting her book Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That in 2010, Garten spoke with Epicurious about cooking, entertaining, and her cookbook recipes.

When asked, “How has your approach to cooking and entertaining changed over the years?,” Garten explained that she started to focus more on getting the best flavors into her recipes.

“I think what interests me hasn’t changed at all, but my insistence on flavor has gotten more intense,” she explained. “When I make a recipe that I used to make in 1980, I’ll think it’s interesting, but it probably took longer than it needed to because I know how to do things simply now.”

“And it usually doesn’t have enough flavor,” Garten continued. “So, I think the ideas of my recipes haven’t changed at all. I think the quality of my recipes has gotten much, much more interesting.”

Ina Garten shared her trick for delicious chicken salad

Garten went on to explain how something as easy as roasting chicken for chicken salad instead of poaching it makes such a huge difference in the flavor.

“For example, one thing I’ve learned over the years: Instead of boiling chicken for chicken salad — which takes the flavor out of the chicken, and then you have to deal with all these big pots of boiling water — I’ve found if you roast chicken breasts with the skin on, and then take off the bones and the skin when it’s done, you end up with really delicious, well-flavored chicken for chicken salad,” Garten explained.

“It’s a much easier process and the chicken tastes better,” she added.

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Ina Garten’s chicken salad contessa recipe is full of flavor

Garten demonstrated how to make her chicken salad contessa recipe on her cooking show — and it’s so easy to make it in advance. “When I bought Barefoot Contessa in 1978, I had no idea how much chicken salad I’d be making,” she shared. “It’s chicken salad contessa, but it’s kind of like chicken salad with a waldorf salad.”

“Chicken salad is great for entertaining because you can make it in advance,” Garten explained. “Just serve it at room temperature.”

Garten’s chicken salad contessa recipe starts by roasting two bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (rubbed with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper) in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 35 minutes. “It keeps it really moist,” she explained about this method.

Once the chicken cooled, she removed the meat and diced the chicken into small pieces. Garten toasted pecans and walnuts in the oven for about 7 minutes and allowed them to cool while she assembled the dressing.

Garten whisked together mayonnaise, sour cream, salt, pepper, and fresh tarragon leaves and added the chicken to the bowl. She added the nuts and halved grapes then tossed everything together to thoroughly combine the ingredients.

You can find the full recipe on the Food Network website.