Although you can't magically remove excess salt from an overly salty chicken salad, you can reduce its effect by adding other ingredients. The same principles you use to improve the taste of the chicken salad work equally as well for egg, tuna, rice or noodle salads.
Precooked chicken, either from the deli case or the frozen section of the grocery store, is already salty. If you're using this type of chicken, make your recipe without any of the salt on the ingredients list, and taste the salad before adding any salt.
Balance the Saltiness
Ingredients with different flavor profiles from salt distract your taste buds, making the salad taste less salty. Add 1 tablespoon of an acid, such as lemon juice, cider vinegar or white wine vinegar, allowing the sourness of those liquids to counteract the salt.
Fat does the same trick, so trying adding 1/2 to 1 cup of cubed avocado or toasted pecans or walnuts.
Dilute the Salt
Adding more ingredients or adding some new ingredients helps to reduce the amount of salt in each bite of salad. You can make an entire second batch of the recipe to add to the salty batch, or add half a batch.
Additional ingredients dilute the salt by adding more bulk to the salad. Some of these ingredients, such as the grapes, pair best just for chicken salad, and others work for any type of salad. Add 1/2 to 1 1/2 cups of:
- Chopped scallions or red onion
- Red or green grapes sliced in half
- Shredded red or green cabbage
- Whole grains, such as rice, quinoa or barley, for a Greek chicken salad
Whenever you cook, whether you are adjusting an overly salty recipe or cooking a dish you've made a hundred times, taste as you go. Taste a teaspoon of the salad repeatedly as you try to counteract the salt, so that you achieve just the right balance of ingredients.