Rice salad with chicken is one of the easiest and most delicious simple salads.

Cooked rice with pickled Italian giardiniera gives this dish a fantastic twist. It is a fantastic dish that requires little or no time to assemble.

Rice Salad With Chicken

One of the many ways you can use your chicken, rice, and leftovers is by making this dish economical and pure bliss during busy school nights.

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As it contains protein and starch, a nice green salad or roasted vegetables will suffice for a healthy meal during the week.

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Why you will love this recipe

Easy: This recipe uses simple, high-quality ingredients that enhance the rice and chicken.

Flavor: The rice and chicken combined with the giardiniera are brought to a new level of rich, hearty flavor.

Great for parties: You can freely leave it outside as no ingredients will turn rancid.

Economical: A great way to use leftovers and have a new dinner for your family.

Versatile: This rice pairs well with various sides from Asparagus with Balsamic Vinaigrette to Rainbow Carrots and Broccolini making it perfect for any occasion.


Yes, you read correctly. I do, too, sometimes have leftovers.

I do not discuss much because there is never much to re-create a new meal. But this is different.

I love to roast chicken, but when time is pressing or it is too hot to have the oven on, our local grocery store has a great roasting chicken that only needs to be taken home and cut up into desired pieces.

Cooking the rice the night before saves time as well.

This recipe for rice salad has been in the family for as long as I can remember. My grandmother, as well as my mom, made it frequently during the summer months in Italy.

It can be served at room temperature or just out of the refrigerator.

Perfect for a quick lunch, dinner al fresco, BBQ, picnic, or potluck.

Stores can stay out with no need for refrigeration as well. No mayonnaise, thus no risk of turning on you. That is one of my favorite attributes of this salad.

Rice Salad With Chicken

What is Giardiniera?

Giardiniera is an assortment of Italian vinegar-preserved vegetables. Carrots, green beans, cauliflower, celery, bell peppers, and pepperoncini.

You will be able to find mild, my favorite, as well as hot. Readily available at your local grocery store.

What do you use giardiniera for?

A very versatile condiment that can be enjoyed in so many ways. Bruschetta, burgers, pasta salad, potato salad or insalata Russa , eggs, sandwiches, and more.

Rice Salad With Chicken

What type of rice shall I use?

The rice you use with this salad is essential. You want rice that maintains its shape when cooked. You want to taste all the rice as you are eating pasta.

And an additional attribute of the rice is that it must work well with dressing, meaning absorbing it.

I do also cook my rice the same way I will cook pasta. A large pot of salted boiling water, adding a handful of rice for each person I want to make the dish for.

Drain when done. It must still have a gentle bite to it.

I am a big fan of Uncle Ben’s long grain. It cooks well and preserves its shape.

Basmati and jasmine rice are also great alternatives.

Short on time? Pre-cooked rice works well too. Just follow the packaging instructions and then proceed with my recipe.

However, I will not suggest using Arborio, Carnaroli, or sticky rice. You will not get the same result, ending up in frustration.

Storage and reheating

This excellent chicken and rice dish is stored beautifully in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

The beauty of this dish is that you can eat it cold or at room temperature, so I will leave it up to you how you want to enjoy it.

Substitutions and Variations

If you want to mix things up a bit, here are a few suggestions and variations you can try:

Chicken: although the chicken is the star of this recipe, you could substitute it with leftover beef, pork tenderloin cut into small pieces, or even lamb roast. I also made this recipe using canned oil tuna instead of chicken, which was fantastic.

Herbs: You can add chopped parsley to it. Or, if you want to kick it up a notch, add a sliced jalapeno. I leave it up to you to remove the seeds as it will be pretty spicy hot if you leave them. You know I will remove all mine.

Rice Salad With Chicken

Here are a few suggestions in case you do not want to use chicken:

If you omit the chicken, you will have a great rice salad, and it can be enjoyed as a side with salsa verde with salmon or chicken.

Or go the vegetarian route by having grilled vegetables alongside.

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Rice salad with Chicken – Summer classic

5 from 10 votes
Rice Salad With Chicken
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4
Rice salad with chicken is one of the easiest and most delicious simple salads. Cooked rice with pickled Italian giardiniera gives this dish a fantastic twist


  • 1 whole roasted chicken
  • 2 cups rice, Uncle Ben's rice
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 16 ounces Giardiniera,


  • In a large pot with salted water cook the rice until still has a light bite when tasted.
  • Place in a small bowl the Giardiniera vegetables cut in small pieces.
  • Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and mix. Let it set for 10 minutes.
  • When the rice has cool down add the pieces of chicken, the Giardiniera and the olive oil. Blend well and add vinegar ½ teaspoons at a time and taste in between. It should not be overpowered by vinegar.
  • Chill before serving if time permitting.


Calories: 577kcal | Carbohydrates: 78g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 175mg | Potassium: 106mg | Fiber: 1g | Vitamin C: 0.7mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 0.9mg

Giangi’s Kitchen provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as a registered dietician does not calculate them.

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Originally published on July 17, 2012, updated on August 11, 2022

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