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Chicken Curry Salad {Road Trip: Mackinac Island}

curry chicken salad on lettuce

I’ve always loved a good chicken salad. I think the best ones have just the perfect amount of creamy dressing to cover the tender and plentiful chicken. And they’re loaded with flavor and a variety of textures. Fruit – fresh or dried – and some nuts to lend a salty crunch…these are all essential ingredients in my book.

This Chicken Curry Salad could be the spokesperson for chicken salad aspiration. The dressing steps away from the standard all-mayo base by incorporating Greek yogurt. I learned about this tasty (and healthier) combo from making my friend Amy’s delicious Rosemary Chicken Salad with Smoked Almonds. Thanks, Amy!

If you like your chicken salad with a bit of a kick, save this recipe right here and now. Thanks to a generous amount of sweet curry and a bit of cayenne, there is nothing bland about it. Add in some chewy golden raisins and pepitos (pumpkin seeds), and it’s everything chicken salad is supposed to be. Well, in my book anyway.

I enjoyed a fabulous chicken curry salad a few weeks ago while our family was on vacation to Mackinac Island, Michigan. That salad haunted me (in a good way…I really don’t like scary stuff) after we got home and gave me a hunger to try my hand at recreating it. Inspiration for the recipe in this post comes from the Seabiscuit Cafe. Read on after the recipe for photos and a bit about our visit to Mackinac Island, a simple, yet vibrant little piece of America that charmed every one of us.

michigan map
This chicken curry salad on lettuce is easy, healthy, and a delicious spin on traditional chicken salad.

Chicken Curry Salad

Yield: 6 -8 servings
prep time: 10 minutes
total time: 10 minutes
Chicken Curry Salad is a healthy lunch or dinner option, topped with a curry salad dressing that gives it a bit of a kick. If you love salads that are full of flavor, you won't be disappointed with this easy chicken salad!
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  • 1 large roasted chicken or 3 to 4 medium-sized roasted chicken breasts cut into 1” pieces
  • c. golden raisins plus more for sprinkling over the top
  • ¼ c. pepitos pumpkin seeds, plus more for sprinkling over the top
  • c. plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ c. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tsp. sweet curry plus more for sprinkling over the top (I LOVE the sweet curry from Penzeys!)
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper plus more for sprinkling on top


  • Gently fold the chicken, raisins, and pepitos in a large bowl. Combine the curry dressing ingredients and mix well. Add the dressing to the chicken mixture and gently fold to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Top the finished salad with a sprinkling of additional raisins, pepitos, a couple pinches of curry, and some freshly ground black pepper. Serve over a bed of fresh crunchy lettuce greens or in a tortilla wrap.


From a farmgirl‘s dabbles, inspired by a menu item at Seabiscuit Cafe on Mackinac Island, MI.

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1 Calories: 462kcal Carbohydrates: 11g Protein: 49g Fat: 24g Saturated Fat: 5g Polyunsaturated Fat: 18g Cholesterol: 130mg Sodium: 430mg Fiber: 1g Sugar: 7g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Spoonacular. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a comment below. And share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #afarmgirlsdabbles or tag @farmgirlsdabble!

Road Trip: Mackinac Island

Acting on nudgings from a co-worker/world-wide traveler, my family booked a few nights at the famous Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

First things first. If you’re not familiar with the pronunciation of this island, think of it as being spelled “Mackinaw”. Then you’ll be sure to say it like a local.

I didn’t do much pre-planning for this trip, which is so not me. I didn’t even have a good sense as to exactly where Mackinac Island sat on the map until just a few days before departure. So I thought I’d throw in a visual to get you acquainted.

Located in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula, this island sits just a few miles to the east of the Mackinac Bridge, in the waters of Lake Huron.

main street mackinac island

We arrived by ferry to this scene.

Mackinac Island is comprised of just under 4 square miles, with much of the island having undergone extensive historical preservation and restoration. The entire island is a National Historic Landmark, with only 600 year-round residents.

And 500 horses.

There are no cars. If you want to go somewhere, you hop on a bike, wait for a horse and carriage to amble your way, or simply hoof it on your own.

the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

Grand Hotel is the world’s largest summer hotel, with rich history evident wherever you wander. It was truly charming and begged us to unplug it all and relax. The tweeting, the facebooking, all the usual computering…it was flying below the radar as we took a few steps back to enjoy some down time with family.

two drinks on the side of a pool

We swam every day under the warm brilliant blue skies of Michigan, and noshed on more snow cones than I should probably admit. But, hey, when an old-fashioned make-your-own-snow-cone cart sits poolside, to enjoy at your every whim, ya just gotta do it!

dress code for the grand hotel

Besides the swimming, a big highlight for our girls was the evening meal in the Main Dining Room. Part of the experience in staying at Grand Hotel is getting all dolled up for their 5-course dinner. And, yes, we did see a man without a tie being turned away.

The front porch of the grand hotel

After dinner each evening, Blake and I relaxed with a cup of their evening ritual from the Parlor. I wasn’t familiar with demitasse service, which just means a very small cup of coffee, but it turned out to be one of my highlights! With tiny cups of aromatic warmth in our hands, we were drawn to the Grand Hotel’s Front Porch, the largest porch in the world at 660 feet long.

Mackinac bridge

From those white rocking chairs, we breathed in the cooler air of the evening, as we unwound even further with sunset views of the Mackinac Bridge.

horse drawn carriage tour

Our youngest is enamored with horses, so this island was her equestrian paradise. She wasn’t old enough to ride at the stables, so we opted for a horse-drawn carriage tour. This mode of transportation turned out to be a very relaxing way to take in the island.

a collage of homes on mackinac island

Mackinac Island is very wooded, with miles of narrow tree canopied lanes that afford a peek into the lives of its residents. The homes and the land they sit on have been lovingly tended to. Homes such as these were on the cozier modest side…

mansions on mackinac island

while larger homes like these might be considered mansions. I found myself wishing I could step inside those front doors. To acquaint myself with Mackinac life a bit more deeply, to experience an intimacy within the walls of its long-ago inhabitants.

mackinac island coastline

The island’s homes and storefronts are nestled in a beautiful natural setting. More than 80% of the island is preserved as Mackinac Island State Park. Its interior is mostly shaded with mature trees and the perimeter is lined with bluffs that open up to the shoreline below. A spectacular sparkling shoreline of pure gorgeousness. This island is magical, in a historical and nature-centered sort of way. It’s the kind of place my family talks about with a very soft fondness, hoping we can return some day.

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29 comments on “Chicken Curry Salad {Road Trip: Mackinac Island}”

  1. This is ubiquitous here in the UK – Coronation Chicken Salad. Add some mango chutney for authenticity. :)

    Delicious on a roll too.

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  3. Oh how I love Mackinac Island!!! Haven’t been since I was like 13! It looks just as lovely today as it was then. So charming. Thanks for sharing! I simply MUST go back!

  4. See that little town about an hour South East of Mackinac…Rogers City! I was born and raised there, and spend many-a-summers day on the island. Especially every 4th of July we’d always spend the whole day up there and it never grew old. I’ve always dreamed of staying at the Grand Hotel. What a treat! So glad that you got to enjoy my favorite little piece of the world!

    1. So fun to hear about your memories, Elizabeth. I can only imagine how magical that place is over the 4th of July. You’ve just planted a seed in my brain for a future visit – thank you!

  5. The pictures are lovely, Brenda. I’ve wanted to go there for as long as I can remember. One of these days, I imagine, we’ll take it all in, but for now, I’ll gaze at your photos and dream.

  6. I’m from Michigan (near Grand Rapids) and I used to go to Mackinac Island every summer with my boyfriend (at the time) and his family. It was fantastic. His whole family would rent one of the large houses. I love the island! So happy you enjoyed it too!

  7. Your chicken curry salad looks and sounds delicious and I learned something new…that pepitos are pumpkin seeds!

    I really enjoy the way you write. Your intro to this salad was wonderful and the remainder of your post on Mackinac Island (incl. photos) truly has me dreaming of making the trip to visit such a timeless and beautiful place one day.

  8. Robyn | Add a Pinch

    Brenda!!! Mackinac Island is my very most favorite place in the whole wide world besides home!!! It is where we honeymooned and love to go every few years.

  9. Andrea @ Simple Organized Living

    I’ve been waiting for you to write a post about your travels to MI — so glad you guys had a fun trip! And I’m still bummed that we couldn’t work out a time to meet as you passed through!

    Since I’ve lived in MI my entire life, I often take all that beauty for granted… thanks for showcasing how wonderful our state is!

    1. I thought several times about re-routing our return trip home, so I could try to meet up with you, Andrea. You truly live in a state filled with amazing natural beauty.

  10. SnoWhite @ Finding Joy in My Kitchen

    I used to live in Michigan… and there is nothing quite like the beautiful waters of Lake MI and Huron. Truly, one of God’s most beautiful creations. I’m so glad you took some time to go to Mackinac — the photos are stunning, but as you know, just don’t do it justice!

    The history of the making of the Mighty Mac Bridge is pretty nifty too — amazing to drive over that thing!

  11. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen

    What a charming place! Although I’m not sure about the no slacks for women part, I live in pants!

  12. We took a day trip to Mackinac Island when I was young, and the things I remembered most were the horse drawn carriages and the fudge shops. You’re lucky to have been able to stay in that fabulous hotel, it looks so impressive.

    Your curry chicken salad sounds lovely, just right to bring for work lunches. Thanks for the shout out about the rosemary chicken salad!

  13. Salad looks scrumptious!!!

    My mom was from Michigan and once a year we would go visit her family. Two or three times we went to Mackinac Island but all I did was moan and complain. I sure wish I could go there as an adult now and appreciate all the beauty.

    Your pictures really brought it to life for me – gorgeous!

    1. Thanks, Amanda. It did take me a bit to let go, relax, and embrace it all. But once I did, it was hard to leave. I really miss the clip-clop-clip-clop of the horses and the beautiful blue waters and skies. Michigan has so much beauty.

  14. Love Mackinac, try a bike ride around island next time you go. My kids loved it, it is long but a mostly flat ride all the way around. Didn’t make it up this summer, but managed to get some fudge from family members who went. Yum!

    1. I would have loved to have rented bikes for an afternoon, but chose to spend more time at the pool & such. We would all like to go back, when our youngest is just a bit older, and do the bike thing. I couldn’t believe all the bikes on that island!