Adding warmth to a dish typically served cold is the key to Dawn Waters’ hot chicken salad.

Waters has been making the dish since the 1970s when friend and fellow Clanton First Baptist Church member Grace Golden shared it and other recipes with her.

Although Golden passed away years ago, Waters continues to make her hot chicken salad from the handwritten recipe card Golden gave to her more than 30 years ago.

Dawn Waters' hot chicken salad is proof that adding heat to a typically cold dish can end well.
Dawn Waters’ hot chicken salad is proof that adding heat to a typically cold dish can end well.

She and her two daughters, Ginger Head and Nanette Easterling, prepare it for Wednesday night suppers at the church in the summertime.

“Every time I take this to something at church, everybody wants the recipe,” Waters said. “People really seem to enjoy it.”

Waters said she sometimes substitutes pecans for almonds, and the lemon juice is her favorite element of the dish.

“I like chicken salad anyway, and this is just a different version of it,” she said and added that the crushed potato chips on top give it “a different flair.”



2 cups cubed chicken (cooked)

2 cups chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped almonds

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons chopped onion

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons chopped pimento

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 can cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup grated American cheese

3 cups crushed potato chips

Cook celery and onion in water or chicken broth until tender. Combine all ingredients except cheese and potato chips. Toss lightly and spoon into a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Spread cheese on top and sprinkle potato chips on top of cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. You can make ahead and freeze for later. Makes 8-10 servings.

-Emily Beckett