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Celery seed (Recipe: chicken salad with mustard sauce and lovage)

Adapted in part from the archives, updated with a new recipe, photos and links.

Chicken salad with mustard sauce and lovage. If you don't have lovage in your garden, use celery leaves instead.

If it weren't for potato salad and pickles, my celery seed would be toast.

All winter, it sits on the spice rack, pushed farther and farther to the rear of the shelf.

In summer, when I'm ready to make pickles and potato salad (Why only in summer? I don't know.), I retrieve the celery seed, dust off the jar, use a few teaspoons here and there, and send it back to its place. Every other year or so, I throw out the mostly-full but decidedly less-zesty spice, buy a new jar, and start the cycle again.

Time to admit that maybe celery seed shouldn't be in The Perfect Pantry? Time to broaden my culinary repertoire?

Time to start drinking Bloody Marys?

What is celery seed?
The light-brown seed of Apium graveolens, a marsh plant called smallage or wild celery. It's not the seed of the celery stalk you get in a Bloody Mary, but it tastes like celery.

How/where to store:
In a dark part of the pantry, in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, for up to two years.

More facts about celery seed, and ingredient photos, in The Perfect Pantry:
Celery seed (Recipe: refrigerator zucchini pickles)

Picnic-perfect chicken salad with a tangy mustard sauce and lovage (or celery) leaves. We don't often use the leaves, but they are delicious! 

Chicken salad with mustard sauce and lovage  {gluten-free}

From the pantry you'll need: frozen chicken breasts, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, celery seed, fresh black pepper.

Start with a rotisserie chicken from the market to make this salad quick and easy, or use any leftover cooked chicken you have on hand. If you don't have lovage in your garden, you can use celery leaves. The salad tastes best if made at least 30 minutes ahead, but you can make it and refrigerate for several hours before serving. Serves 4.


2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cooked (roasted, poached, grilled, etc.)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp Country Dijon or other grainy Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp celery seed
2 Tbsp chopped lovage leaves (or celery leaves)
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper


Chop the chicken breasts into 1/2-inch cubes, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add the chicken, and toss well to combine.

Cover the bowl, and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, and up to several hours. Let it warm up for a few minutes before serving.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Clean the freezer chili
Bread and butter pickles
Countertop dill pickles

Other recipes that use celery seed:
Egg salad, from 101 Cookbooks
Mayonnaiseless coleslaw, from Use Real Butter
Celery seed vinaigrette, from Lottie + Doof
Chicken and shredded cabbage salad with mustard and celery seed, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Lemony creamy Brussels sprouts and celery, from A Veggie Venture

If you have lovage in your garden, use the leaves in this chicken salad with mustard sauce. If not, swap in some celery leaves. Great for picnics.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I've never used celery seed, but you make it look delicious in this salad. Yum!


I never have celery seed on hand -- and when I make pickles I usually just throw in a stalk or two of celery.

Have you written anything about lovage? I see it as a pantry special sometime soon. I have never cooked with it before.

Celery seed is great in coleslaw! I hadn't thought about using it in chicken salad but that sounds tasty. My mother makes chicken salad with marjoram, another spice bottle that spends years on the shelf!

I use celery seed in this type of salad and also in shrimp and macaroni salad. It isn't used often, but it makes a big difference in some dishes. Now I wish I had lovage so I could taste it!

celery seed is the same in my house - used mostly in mayo-based salads. I use it in tuna salad, coleslaw and potato and now - chicken salad!
but try it in meatloaf or meatballs - esp if using turkey instead of beef.
(I still haven't really figured out the lost meatball recipe from my father-in-law who used celery salt as his secret -or so we think...it is never as good when I make them!)

My family potato salad is just cut up boiled potatoes, chopped onion, Miracle Whip and celery seeds, salted or not as you prefer. It sounds plain, but people are always surprised at how wonderful it is. It gets even better the next day.

I used to buy 1-pound containers of celery seed to give to my father-in-law. He was famous for his roast beef. He started with a rump or round roast, coated the whole thing with celery seed, put it in a cooking bag and baked it for hours at 200-250 degrees. It came out delicious and versatile. He kept it in the refrigerator and the two of them ate on it every day. Very thinly sliced, it made a wonderful cold sandwich or a great hot roast beef sandwich. Cut in chunks, it made a nice beef salad with Miracle Whip, or a delicious barbecue beef with ketchup, India relish, Bennett's chili sauce and Worcestershire sauce. That could be served on a bun, or over rice, noodles, or mashed potatoes.

I'm not supposed to eat nuts or seeds now, but I can't do without my celery seed!

I always considered celery seed my mom's signature.
Love it in this kind of dish.

Definitely time to start drinking Bloody Marys. After all, it's noon somewhere! ;)

Glad you shared a chicken salad recipe. I recently enjoyed the best chicken salad sandwich of my life at Ophelia's in Independence, MO. Now I'm bent on recreating their recipe, and this looks like the perfect place to start!

you know i've never used celery seed in chicken salad. ha. i mean only in potato salad. there has to be more uses for it, right?

I rarely use celery seed, but this recipe looks lovely. I am sure I have some in my spice cabonet... way in the back!

Jenn, celery seed really kicks up the celery flavor of salads. It's got a bit more bite than celery stalks.

Julia, I generally don't feature vegetables as Pantry Specials; I save that category for things I occasionally store in the pantry, freezer or fridge. Lovage grows in my herb garden, so I lump it in with fresh herbs, which I write about every summer. It's truly delicious, more assertive than celery.

Heidi, I think I've got a five-year-old jar of marjoram on my spice rack! I tend to use fresh oregano from the garden, which is similar in flavor.

Kalyn, I've never used celery seed in shrimp salad, but it would be perfect.

Carol, celery seed in turkey meatballs? I'll have to try it!

Deb, first of all, I love anyone who loves Miracle Whip. And your dad's roast beef sounds amazing. I'm going to have to try this, too.

MyKitchen, celery seed is a bit old-fashioned, isn't it? My grandmother used to use it also, for pickles.

Sandie, isn't it fun to try to recreate something you loved in a restaurant? I find I have to do right after I eat there, or my taste buds start to forget what it was I liked about the dish.

Vanillasugar, try it in egg salad, too.

Katie, if you can't find any really old celery seed in your spice cabinet, you can check in mine. I have to admit my celery seed hasn't been replaced in the past couple of years, but it's still delicious.

This is the ultimate classic salad and what a beautiful version this is. That being said, I think drinking Bloody Marys is a very legitimate way to deal with your celery seed dilemma.

I barely use but when I feel like trying something crazy, I add it to whatever I am making. My foods meals to be a mild fusion of Indian and Latin, or Asian or Italian dish. I will often toss the seed into a curry for a twist.

PS, lovage is probably my favorite seasoning in my garden, after marigold leaves. Seriously, try it!

I love celery seed! It's a mysterious flavor that always sparks interest in a dish. It's a signature ingredient in my barbecue rib rub. Just a little dash will do.

Glad to find a recipe that uses lovage. We have it and it grows like a weed. The lovage volunteers in the hundreds the following summer if we let any flowers go to seed. The lovage doesn't usually die down completely in winter so I sometimes take a bit to use in soups. I use celery seed in coleslaw and potato salad, my jar is also dusty and too old. My mother always used the celery leaves in whatever she was making that called for celery. I try to do that also. I have to try to find more recipes using celery seed so every jar I buy doesn't end up only half used.

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