At my local Trader Joe’s, I found three different types of chicken salad–Wine Country Chicken Salad, Curried White Chicken Deli Salad, and White Meat Chicken Salad.
However, Trader Joe’s has also been known to carry a Chinese Inspired Chicken Salad as well as a Chicken Caesar Salad.
Despite some rumors of discontinuation, Trader Joe’s Chinese Chicken Salad has been spotted back in stock at several stores after temporarily disappearing from shelves. Check your local TJ’s for current availability.
Unfortunately, Trader Joe’s Caesar Salad has faced some problems in recent months after it was discovered in summer 2022 that the popular packaged salad contained “undeclared egg,” a known food allergen for many people.
To rectify the situation, Trader Joe’s recalled the product immediately, and it’s unclear whether it has returned to shelves since. Here in Washington State, TJ’s has yet to re-release their Chicken Caesar Salad.
In addition to these ready made chicken salads, Trader Joe’s also carries a premade Tarragon Chicken Salad Wrap, which has been called one of the best prepared food items available at TJ’s.
When in stock, all of TJ’s Chicken Salads and Chicken Salad Wraps can be found in the prepared “grab-and-go” food section, usually located near the front of the store just past the plant section.
All three chicken salads available at my local TJ’s are currently priced at $5.49. They all come in containers of roughly the same size, ranging from 10.5 ounces to 12 ounces.
Ingredients & Nutrition
Whenever I buy prepared foods, I always pay close attention to the ingredients list. I’m allergic to corn (which tends to be in everything), and I also try to limit the amount of soy and added sugars in my diet, which rules out a lot of things.
Let’s find out what’s in each of Trader Joe’s Chicken Salad offerings…
Chinese Chicken Salad
Trader Joe’s popular Chinese Chicken Salad contains grilled white chicken (chicken breast with rib meat, water, potato starch, sea salt), romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, green cabbage, carrots, red cabbage, snow peas, and crispy fried noodles (unbleached enriched wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, water, expeller pressed canola oil, salt).
The salad also comes with a dressing that contains water, cane sugar, soy sauce (water, soybeans, salt, alcohol), rice vinegar, ginger, cornstarch, canola oil, sesame seeds, xanthan gum, sesame oil, dried garlic, and dried onion.
In each container of this salad (including the dressing), you’ll be consuming 270 calories from 6 grams of fat, 45 mg of cholesterol, 880 mg of sodium, 430 mg of potassium, 34 grams of carbs, 4 grams of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 20 grams of protein. You’ll also be getting more than your daily value of Vitamin A, plus more than half of your DV of Vitamin C and a decent amount of calcium and iron.
Because of its inclusion of so many vegetables and very few additives and fillers, this salad is by far the healthiest chicken salad offering available at Trader Joe’s.
Unfortunately, it is not gluten free.
White Meat Chicken Salad
Trader Joe’s White Meat Chicken Salad contains cooked white meat chicken (chicken breast with rib meat, water, canola oil, modified food starch, salt, sugar, lemon juice concentrate, granulated garlic, black pepper), mayonnaise (expeller pressed canola oil, whole eggs, apple cider vinegar, water, egg yolks, salt, white mustard (distilled white vinegar, water, mustard seed, salt), lemon juice concentrate, carrots, celery, green onion, black pepper, and sugar.
Each ½ cup serving contains 250 calories from 19 grams of fat, 65 mg of cholesterol, 320 mg of sodium, 10 grams of carbs, 20 grams of protein, as well as an impressive 21% of your daily value of Vitamin A.
I’d say this salad is great if you’re looking for an easy meal that’s high in protein and low in carbs with zero sugar content. That said, if you’re trying to avoid excess fats, cholesterol, or sodium, it’s probably not your best bet.
Unfortunately, while it might not seem on first glance like this salad contains gluten, it’s worth looking closer at the “modified food starch” listing on the label.
According to BeyondCeliac.org, modified food starch is typically made from corn or potatoes, but it may also contain wheat. If you’re strict about your gluten-free diet, it might be best to err on the side of caution by avoiding the White Meat Chicken Salad and Curried Chicken Deli Salad. Luckily, Trader Joe’s Wine Country Chicken Salad is 100% gluten free.
Trader Joe’s White Meat Chicken Salad is an updated version of their Reduced Guilt Chicken Salad, which was discontinued in 2019.
Curried White Chicken Deli Salad
Trader Joe’s Curried White Chicken Deli Salad contains chicken breast, mayonnaise (soybean oil, eggs, cider vinegar, water, distilled vinegar, salt, spice, lemon juice, natural flavor), carrots, raisins, scallions, honey, toasted cashews, curry powder (turmeric, mustard flour, garlic powder), cane sugar, ewe juice from concentrate, ginger powder, turmeric (color and flavor), salt, and black pepper.
In each ½ cup serving, you’ll be eating 250 calories from 15 grams of fat, 30 mg of cholesterol, 220 mg of sodium, 20 grams of carbs, 13 grams of sugar (including 6.5 grams of added sugar), and 8 grams of protein. You’ll also get 86% of your daily value of Vitamin A, as well as some Vitamin C, calcium, and iron.
Trader Joe’s Curried White Chicken Deli Salad is gluten free.
This Curried White Chicken Deli Salad is an updated version of TJ’s Curry Chicken Salad, which was discontinued and replaced in 2021.
Unfortunately, not everyone is happy about the update…
Wine Country Chicken Salad
Trader Joe’s Wine Country Chicken Salad contains the following ingredients:
As you can see, it’s quite high in fat, sodium, and sugar. In just ⅔ of a cup of this salad, you’ll be eating 320 calories from 23 grams of fat, 45 mg of cholesterol, 450 mg of sodium, 16 grams of carbs, 14 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein. You’ll also get some trace amounts of Vitamins A and C as well as calcium and iron.
Trader Joe’s Wine Country Chicken Salad is considered the least healthy chicken salad offering available at TJ’s. It is significantly higher in fat, cholesterol, and sodium than the other varieties, and it also has less protein.
Despite not being all that nutritious, it is 100% gluten free.
A Note For Pregnant Shoppers
While it might seem like a strange caveat, it’s important to note that anyone who is pregnant should avoid eating any variety of Trader Joe’s Chicken Salad.
In fact, according to PregnancyFoodChecker.com, those who are pregnant should avoid eating all premade deli salads, including chicken salad, regardless of where it is prepared. This is because of the high risk of listeria contamination in foods containing deli meats. Listeria is a bacterial illness that can be extremely detrimental to the health of anyone who is pregnant.
People over the age of 65 and people with weakened immune systems are also especially susceptible to listeria infection, so avoiding prepared deli foods containing meat is also a good idea for people in these categories.
Storing Your Chicken Salad
Each container of Trader Joe’s Chicken Salad contains about three servings, so you might end up wanting to save some for a future meal.
If so, you can easily store it in the fridge in its original container or in another container with a lid.
Foods containing dairy and meat should not be expected to last for longer than about five days in the refrigerator.
If you’d like to stock up on TJ’s Chicken Salad and store some in the freezer, don’t hold back. These chicken salads store well in the freezer and should maintain their freshness for about six weeks. Once thawed, they should be consumed within five days and should not be refrozen a second time as this could impact texture and flavor.
My Honest Review
Because the other chicken salad offerings at Trader Joe’s contain either soy or corn (neither of which I eat), I opted to try their Wine Country Chicken Salad despite it being less nutritious.
This salad contains both pecans and cranberries, which I was excited about as I love both of these as additions to salads.
The first thing I noticed about this salad is that the container it comes in is a bit strange. You have to peel off an outer ring of plastic around the top of the lid, leaving a very sharp plastic edge. Maybe it was just operator error, but I ended up cutting my hands multiple times while opening and closing the container. Not fun!
Once I got it open, I decided to just try it on its own since it’s meant to be eaten as a standalone meal or side dish.
On my first bite, I noticed two things right away. First, this salad is very heavy on the cream/sauce, and the flavor of the sauce is very sweet. Granted, this salad is marketed as “sweet and savory,” so that wasn’t a complete surprise. But for my taste, it’s a bit much.
The chicken itself was fine. It seemed like decent quality and had good chicken flavor. The pecans and cranberries were a nice addition, too. But I honestly couldn’t get past the sweet creaminess of the filler. This salad would be much better if there was less sauce and if the sauce contained less sugar.
After doing some additional research, it’s clear that I’m not the only one feeling disappointed by Trader Joe’s Chicken Salad offerings.
Upon trying TJ’s Wine Country Chicken Salad, this Reddit poster summed up their opinion with just two words–”do better.”
(Here, you can really see the excessive amount of creamy sauce that’s weighing down this chicken salad.)
Some other commenters weighed in with their opinions on the same thread…
Many commenters have even noted that the overall quality of Trader Joe’s prepared foods has plummeted in recent years:
Unfortunately, I found many examples of shoppers commenting about having gotten sick after eating something out of the Trader Joe’s prepared food section. And as much as I wish it wasn’t so, I count myself among those people.
Back in 2022, I bought a Spicy Lentil Wrap from the Trader Joe’s prepared food section, which I had eaten several times before and always loved. Unfortunately, as soon as I opened the package, I smelled something terrible. The lentils were clearly spoiled and I immediately took it back into the store and got my money back. I don’t doubt that I would have gotten sick if I had eaten it.
Instead of buying chicken salad at Trader Joe’s, some shoppers have opted for creating their own recipes inspired by TJ’s Chicken Salad.
Check out this copycat recipe for Trader Joe’s Wine Country Chicken Salad from Mashed. Luckily, it looks like it contains less mayo and sugar than the original.
If you’d rather try out something more savory than sweet, try this highly rated recipe for a curried chicken salad inspired by Trader Joe’s Curried White Chicken Salad from The Roasted Root.
Overall, the chicken salad from Trader Joe’s isn’t the greatest. The ingredients, nutrition, and recipes just aren’t up to par, and the flavor is totally lacking as well. It’s fine if you are looking for something quick and easy in a pinch.