The Secret Ingredient That Will Change Your Chicken Salad Forever

From macaroni salad to potato salad, many American so-called "salads" that are often enjoyed at barbecues and picnics share one very important ingredient: mayonnaise. Chicken salad is no different, even with the many varieties of the dish that exist. Some people add walnuts and others opt for hard-boiled eggs, but according to Ree Drummond, it's actually the addition of brown sugar that elevates the flavors in a chicken salad.

In a recipe shared by The Pioneer Woman, the celebrity chef explained that a chicken salad could be customized with any sort of mix-ins as long as you start with a solid base. In addition to the standard combo of mayonnaise, yogurt, and lemon juice, Drummond also sweetens the dressing she makes for her chicken salad with brown sugar.

Putting the recipe to the test, The Kitchn confirmed that brown sugar adds just the right amount of sweetness to balance out the flavors of the rest of the ingredients.

How much brown sugar should you put in your chicken salad?

Consider your mix-ins before adding any brown sugar to your chicken salad because a little goes a long way. The recipe from The Pioneer Woman uses celery, grapes, green onions, and almonds, but everyone has their preferences. So, if you're planning to use ingredients that are more on the sweet side, like apples, raisins, or relish, you may want to be conservative with the amount of brown sugar you add.

Drummond's recipe calls for 1 to 2 tablespoons of brown sugar mixed in with ½ cup of mayo, ½ cup of yogurt, and the juice of a lemon. And unless you're going for sweet rather than a balance of sweet and savory, she advises against going over the recommended 2 tablespoons. Of course, the same applies to any other chicken salad recipe, as The Kitchn shared that a ratio of 1 tablespoon of brown sugar to 1 cup of dressing works best.