Lemon Poppy Chicken Salad (Paleo with an AIP option)

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As part of my healing journey, I’ve come to embrace the idea that I don’t need to constantly re-create old standbys. Like this chicken salad: while I surely enjoyed the mayo-filled versions as much as anybody, I’ve found that egg-free mayo just doesn’t do it for me. It doesn’t remind me of the egg-based ones, it doesn’t taste like that at all. So I figured, why not simply make something new? And equally delicious?

Enter lemon + poppy. Still a fairly classic American chicken salad dish, but much more amenable to AIP modifications.

You’ll begin by using shredded (or cubed if desired) chicken breast. I regularly make shredded chicken using my Instant Pot , and this is a fabulous way to dress up those breasts.

The shredded chicken will get a bite from green onions, and the celery offer a satisfying crunch. Add to that the bright tartness of lemon zest and you’re more than halfway done!

Here, the chicken is dressed in a buttermilk, creamy dressing that’s slightly sweet and thoroughly lemon-y. This AIP buttermilk comes together super fast – just mix coconut milk with lemon juice and let sit for ten minutes (see recipe for buttermilk below salad recipe).

I’ve included poppy seeds here as well as mustard powder; both are optional for those on the strict phase of the Autoimmune Protocol. (Poppy seeds, while interesting, will not be missed flavor-wise!)

I love chicken salads, and this totally makes me – and my mouth – happy. My 5 year old and hubby also thoroughly enjoyed this as well. Serve this alongside roasted veggies or over a simple salad. Take it to work, send your kids to school with some. It will also be great for summer BBQ’s.

However you enjoy this, hope it gives you another way to dress up your shredded chicken, easily.

What I Used to Make This Recipe: 

Enjoy friends!! Don’t forget to #letscreatethesweetlife if you make this recipe!

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Lemon Poppy Cihcken Salad

Lemon Poppy Chicken Salad (Paleo, with an AIP option)

This Lemon Poppy Chicken Salad is bright and refreshing, thanks to the dressing and plenty of lemon zest. Egg + nut free, this is a delicious mayo-less option! To make AIP, simply omit the poppy seeds.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Author Alyssa Reaves


  • 1/2 lb shredded chicken (~2 cups)
  • 2 scallions
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 heaping teaspoon lemon zest ~1 lemon

Lemon Poppy Dressing (Paleo with AIP option)

  • 1/2 cup avocado oil
  • 1/4 cup AIP buttermilk* (see recipe box below to make)
  • 1 Tablespoon palm shortening
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds* (*OMIT for AIP)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard* (*OMIT for AIP)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


  1. Make buttermilk by following steps below. 

  2. Place shredded chicken to medium glass bowl. 

  3. Chop celery and scallions. Zest lemon. Add celery scallions and lemon zest to bowl.

  4. To make dressing: use either an immersion blender (my preferred method) or a hand held blender to emulsify. My preference is to use a wide-mouth Mason jar - I insert my immersion blender, and, when finished, just use the jar for storing any remaining dressing. Either way you go, blend for ~30 seconds. Will be fairly thick and emulsified. Don't forget to add the buttermilk that you made at the start!

  5. Pour dressing over chicken salad and stir to incorporate. Enjoy!! Keeps well for 2-3 days in the fridge. 


AIP Buttermilk

Easy and fast recipe for making AIP-compliant buttermilk!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Author Alyssa Reaves


  • 1/4 cup AIP compliant coconut milk (I link to the one above)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice


  1. In a small bowl, mix coconut milk and lemon juice together. Allow to sit for ten minutes before using. Make your salad during this time. Once the ten minutes is up, it is ready to use in your dressing!

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