Delicious Sunshine Chicken Salad Recipe for Your Summer Days

Welcome to Leslie Rafferty’s Sunshine Chicken Salad Recipe! If you’re looking for a dish that can radiate happiness on an everyday bright and sunshiny day, then this recipe is perfect for you. With a harmonious combination of fresh and savory ingredients, this chicken salad is the ultimate summer staple that will make your taste buds dance with joy.

The recipe was created by Leslie Rafferty, the mastermind behind Rafferty restaurants in Louisville, Kentucky, known for serving delicious homemade meals. She wanted to create a dish that was not only easy to make but would also impress her guests when they came over. And that’s how the Sunshine Chicken Salad came to life.

Using fresh ingredients such as red grapes, celery, and a homemade sweet orange dressing, the Rafferty Sunshine Chicken Salad has become a crowd favorite on the menu. I have had the pleasure of tasting it myself, and I must say, it left me wanting more.

But don’t take my word for it; try it out yourself! With this recipe article’s help, you too can make chicken salad like a pro. Not only will you have a delicious meal to devour with friends and family members, but you’ll also have an exciting recipe to add to your repertoire. So let’s dive in and give this recipe a try!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Leslie's Rafferty's  Sunshine Chicken Salad
Leslie’s Rafferty’s Sunshine Chicken Salad

Looking for a recipe that’s perfect for a sunny day? Look no further than Leslie Rafferty’s Sunshine Chicken Salad Recipe! As someone who loves throwing parties, I can confidently say that this recipe is one of my favorites.

Firstly, the combination of sweet and tangy flavors in this salad is simply irresistible. The dressing mix of sweet orange, citrusy lemon juice, and tangy cider vinegar creates a perfect harmony on the taste buds. And the addition of sugar and salt will take it to another level of heavenly taste.

Another reason why you’ll love this recipe is its versatility. Whether you’re looking for a quick lunch for yourself, or an addition to your party menu, this salad will have everyone coming back for more. Its colorful combination of red grapes, celery, and chicken is easy on the eyes and pleasing on the palate.

And if you’re someone who loves experimenting with different ingredients, then you’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty of substitutions and variations possible with this recipe! You can always swap out ingredients based on your personal preferences or dietary restrictions.

Overall, Leslie Rafferty’s Sunshine Chicken Salad Recipe is just what you need to brighten up your day – whether it’s a sunny day outside or not!

Ingredient List

Certainly, here are 11 unique photo captions for Leslie's Rafferty's Sunshine Chicken Salad:
Certainly, here are 11 unique photo captions for Leslie’s Rafferty’s Sunshine Chicken Salad:

Before we start creating this Sunshine Chicken Salad Recipe, let’s gather all the necessary ingredients to achieve the perfect balance of flavors you love. Here are the ingredients needed to make this creamy and tangy salad recipe:

Dressing Mix Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup of cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley

Salad Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken (homemade chicken salad works great)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1 cup halved red grapes
  • 2 cups cubed sweet orange
  • Freshly squeezed juice from one large orange
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Garnish options:
– Candied pecans served on top for a crunchier texture
– Fresh cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and strawberries topped with homemade sweet orange dressing

With these ingredients, you’ll have the perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess that will make your everyday bright and sunshiny like you’re eating at Rafferty Restaurants.

The Recipe How-To

After assembling your ingredients, you are ready to start cooking. Below are the step-by-step instructions for making Leslie’s Rafferty’s Sunshine Chicken Salad:

Step 1: Prepare the Dressing

For dressing mix, in a small bowl whisk together 1 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cover and chill.

Step 2: Prepare the Salad Ingredients

In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups cubed cooked chicken, 1 cup thinly sliced celery, and 1 cup halved red grapes.

Step 3: Combine the Salad

Pour the dressing over chicken mixture; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Step 4: Garnish and Serve

Serve salad sweet enough to be dessert. Enjoy it topped with candied pecans and fresh melon such as cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and strawberries topped with homemade sweet orange dressing w/ nuts.

And that’s it – your delicious Sunshine Chicken Salad is ready! You can even serve it topped with fresh fruit such as strawberries, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon for an extra touch of freshness.

Substitutions and Variations

 A bed of lettuce, plump yellow grapes & grilled chicken make the perfect sunshine combo!
A bed of lettuce, plump yellow grapes & grilled chicken make the perfect sunshine combo!

When it comes to making Leslie’s Rafferty’s Sunshine Chicken Salad Recipe, there are a number of potential substitutions and variations that you can make to tailor the recipe to your personal preferences or dietary restrictions. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

– Swap out the chicken: While the recipe calls for cubed cooked chicken, you could use leftover rotisserie chicken or even grilled chicken drumsticks instead. For a plant-based option, consider using shredded jackfruit or chickpeas instead of chicken.

– Adjust the mayonnaise: If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to traditional mayonnaise, swap it out for Greek yogurt or mashed avocado. Alternatively, if you prefer a creamier consistency to your salad, use sour cream in place of half of the mayonnaise.

– Switch up the fruit: While red grapes are a staple ingredient in this recipe, feel free to mix things up by trying different types of grapes or using sliced strawberries, diced apple, or even mandarin oranges instead.

– Add some extra crunch: To give your salad an extra layer of texture and flavor, add in some chopped nuts like pecans or walnuts. Alternatively, top your salad with crumbled bacon bits or even crispy fried onions for a savory twist.

– Change up the dressing: Though the sweet orange dressing fits perfectly with this bright and sunny dish, try different types of dressings like honey mustard, Caesar dressing, or poppy seed dressing to explore new flavor combinations.

Overall, don’t be afraid to get creative with Leslie’s Rafferty’s Sunshine Chicken Salad Recipe. The ingredients are flexible enough to allow for a wide range of substitutions and variations that can help you make this dish your own.

Serving and Pairing

 Adding a pop of color is always a great idea, especially when it's edible!
Adding a pop of color is always a great idea, especially when it’s edible!

When it comes to serving and pairing Leslie’s Rafferty’s Sunshine Chicken Salad, I always aim to create a bright and colorful spread that perfectly complements the sunshiny flavors of this dish. Here are my top recommendations for how to serve and pair this salad:

First and foremost, I love to serve this chicken salad on a bed of fresh greens, such as arugula or mixed baby greens. The crispness of the lettuce provides a nice contrast to the creaminess of the salad, and adds a pop of green color to the dish.

Next, I like to add some additional fruit to the spread to really emphasize the sweet and tangy flavors in this recipe. My go-to choices are fresh sliced strawberries and chunks of sweet cantaloupe and honeydew melon. Not only do these fruits taste great with the chicken salad, but they also add a colorful touch that makes the whole spread look even more appetizing.

For nuts, I recommend serving candied pecans on the side – they provide an extra crunch that pairs perfectly with the creamy texture of the salad. And if you’re looking for a more savory addition to your spread, consider offering up some slices of Leslie’s Rafferty’s tomato basil soup, another classic dish from her menu.

As for drinks, I always suggest serving something light and refreshing alongside this salad – think citrus-infused water or even a homemade iced tea with lemon slices. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any overly heavy or rich beverages that might weigh down your guests’ palates.

Finally – don’t forget the presentation! This dish is all about bright colors and sunny flavors, so take advantage of that by arranging everything in a way that feels both inviting and aesthetically pleasing. With a vibrant spread like this, you can bring a little bit of everyday brightness to any gathering.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Anyone else love a good salad with a touch of sweet and savory?
Anyone else love a good salad with a touch of sweet and savory?

It’s always a good idea to have some food prepared in advance when you’re hosting a party or gathering. Luckily, Leslie’s Rafferty’s Sunshine Chicken Salad recipe is perfect for making ahead of time. You can make the salad up to two days ahead of your event and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.

To store the salad, simply transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. Before serving, give it a good stir and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

If you have any leftovers, they can easily be stored in the fridge for up to three days. Keep in mind that the dressing may cause the salad to become watery over time, but this can easily be fixed by draining off any excess liquid and giving the salad a good stir.

When it comes to reheating the chicken salad, it’s best to do so gently over low heat. You don’t want to overcook or dry out the chicken, so it’s best to reheat it slowly and gently. One idea is to take portions of the salad out of the refrigerator about an hour before serving them so they can come up to room temperature.

Overall, this chicken salad recipe is ideal for having on hand during those special occasions when you want something that is easy to prepare in advance and that will impress your guests with its bright and sunny flavors.

Tips for Perfect Results

 This colorful salad is perfect for any day that needs an extra dash of sunshine.
This colorful salad is perfect for any day that needs an extra dash of sunshine.

If you want to achieve that perfect blend of flavors and crispiness with Leslie’s Rafferty’s Sunshine Chicken Salad Recipe, then follow these handy tips.

Firstly, it’s important to use freshly roasted chicken for the salad. While leftover chicken may save time, the salad always tastes better with freshly made chicken. Ideally, you should make chicken a day before so it can marinate well in the dressing mix.

Secondly, don’t overcook the chicken as it can lose its juiciness and become dry. Cook chicken until it is just cooked through and juiced before cubing it up.

Next, balance the flavors of the salad dressing by not adding too much salt or sugar at once. Start with a small quantity and then taste as you go along. If you use apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in the dressing, then be careful not to add too much as they can make the dressing acidic.

Moreover, feel free to experiment with variations by adding some nuts like candied pecans or walnuts or some fresh produce like avocado or mango. You can also substitute mayonnaise for Greek yogurt or sour cream if you want to reduce calories.

Furthermore, always store the chicken and salad dressing separately to keep them fresh for long periods. You can then combine them when ready to serve.

Finally, serve this sunshine salad slightly chilled but not too cold. Arrange fresh cantaloupe, honeydew melon or strawberries topped with sweet orange dressing w/ nuts alongside it for a complete meal that evokes thoughts of everyday bright sunshiny day enjoyed at Rafferty Louisville on US 131 in Michigan where Leslie’s recipe is featured in their menu.

By following these tips, you will be able to create a garden-fresh chicken salad that is easy to prepare and refreshing to eat for your party guests!


As with any recipe, readers may have questions about Leslie’s Rafferty’s Sunshine Chicken Salad Recipe. The following FAQ section aims to address the most commonly asked queries and help you understand the recipe better. Whether you are a novice cook or an experienced home chef, these tips and insights will help you create a delightful sunshine chicken salad that will wow your guests on any occasion. So, let’s dive right in and get your questions answered!

How many calories are in Rafferty’s Sunshine chicken salad?

An evaluation of User’s experience with Rafferty’s sunshine chicken salad is available, including details about its calorie count, problematic ingredients, nutrition grade (not available), and additional information.

How does Gordon Ramsay make chicken salad?

To begin, let’s prepare the protein for our mouth-watering dish by slicing or shredding the meat from half of a roast chicken. As for the dressing, we want to create a perfect harmony of flavors. Therefore, we will mix the juice of half a lemon with six tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. For an extra kick of flavor, we will add any pan juices from the roast chicken, plus a dash of salt and pepper to taste. Once the dressing is ready, we can toss the chicken inside it, ensuring that every piece is coated. We will then wait patiently to add the watercress to the mix, right before serving, tossing it all delicately to blend the flavors. Get ready for a fantastic feast!

How does Ina Garten make chicken salad?

Let’s start by making the delicious dressing! To prepare it, we need to combine mayonnaise, sour cream, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper in a mixing bowl. We can add some flavor to the dressing by folding in half of the finely chopped tarragon leaves. After that, we can grab another bowl and place the diced chicken, pecans, walnuts, and grapes together. Once they’re all in the bowl, it’s time to pour the newly created dressing over the chicken mixture. Be sure to toss everything well to get an even coating of the dressing.

How much nutrition is in Rafferty’s chicken salad?

This delicious and filling Rafferty’s Chicken Fingers Salad recipe serves one and provides a balanced nutritional profile with 54g of total carbs, 44g of net carbs, 13g of fat, 44g of protein, and 458 total calories.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, the Sunshine Chicken Salad recipe by Leslie Rafferty is a must-try for anyone who loves a bright and flavorful dish that will wow guests at any party or impress family at home. With its blend of sweet and savory flavors, it’s the perfect way to brighten up your day, whether you’re looking to celebrate life’s everyday moments or host a special occasion.

This recipe is easy to make and can be customized to suit personal taste preferences, providing endless possibilities for creative variations. From the sweet orange dressing to the candied pecans served with fresh cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and strawberries, every bite of this dish will leave you wanting more.

So why not give this recipe a try and see how easy it is to make everyday bright and sunshiny with Leslie Rafferty’s Sunshine Chicken Salad? You won’t be disappointed!

Leslie's Rafferty's Sunshine Chicken Salad

Leslie’s Rafferty’s Sunshine Chicken Salad Recipe

One of my favorite chicken salads is at Rafferty's Restaurants in the southeastern United States. Here's my friend Leslie's take on this light delicious salad. Serve it up with some warm croissants and some fruit.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 335.4 kcal


  • 2 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1 cup halved red grapes
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 dash pepper
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds


  • Combine chicken, celery, parsley and grapes.
  • Combine rest of ingredients in separate bowl and mix well then pour over chicken.
  • Sprinkle with almond slivers.
  • Chill 1 hour before serving.
  • Time does not include cooking the chicken or chilling.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 168gCalories: 335.4kcalCarbohydrates: 17.4gProtein: 24.1gFat: 19.1gSaturated Fat: 3.3gCholesterol: 73.3mgSodium: 587.5mgFiber: 1.6gSugar: 9.5g
Keyword < 15 Mins, Brunch, Chicken, Chicken Breast, Lunch, Meat, Poultry, Sweet
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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