Cranberry Chicken Salad with Pecans is savory and sweet, creamy with a textural, nutty crunch, and it’s the ultimate chicken salad recipe to serve for lunch or even a hot summer’s dinner! The creaminess along with the fresh flavors are always a hit, just like my popular Creamy Cucumber Tomato Salad recipe. They both use simple ingredients, but when combined together they hit every flavor point you crave.
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Why we Love this Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad Recipe
There are so many reasons why this is a favorite chicken salad recipe, but here are a few:
- It’s a delicious way to use leftover chicken or as I used for today’s recipe, leftover rotisserie chicken.
- This simple recipe is really mostly assembly so even the most novice cook can make it.
- Its versatility is amazing. With a few tweaks and switch-ups, this great recipe can be uniquely yours.
- Chicken – It’s up to you where you get the chicken for the recipe. I’ve used poached chicken breast, leftover rotisserie chicken, and even leftover cold pulled chicken.
- Cranberries – Use dried cranberries, not fresh. Fresh is too tart and will not go well with the other ingredients. You can use sweetened or unsweetened for this easy recipe.
- Apple – I prefer to use a sweet apple like Gala, Ambrosia, and Red Delicious. However, you should use your favorite apple or what you have on hand but I don’t recommend using Granny smith as they are too tart.
- Pecans – Toasted and lightly salted are the ones you want to use. It doesn’t matter what size you get as they will be chopped for the recipe.
- Celery – Because I LOVE celery, I tend to use more than what others probably would like, so use how much you desire. Just be sure it’s crisp and fresh!
- Red Onion – I like it for color as well as for the flavor but sweet onion or even green onions will be great as well.
- Dill – Fresh or dried.
- Sour cream – A higher fat sour cream makes this simple salad dressing outstanding.
- Mayonnaise – Be sure not to use salad dressing type mayonnaise. Real Mayonnaise is what you want. It has a richer flavor than something like miracle whip and won’t add extra sweetness to the dressing. If you’re up to it, you can try this simple recipe on how to make your own mayo.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – White vinegar will work in a pinch.
- Seedy Dijon Mustard – Sometimes also called Old Fashioned Dijon. The seeds help add extra texture and have a wonderful flavor.
- Salt and Pepper.
***You’ll find exact ingredient amounts and extra helpful notes in the recipe card below.
How to Make Chicken Salad with Pecans
Basically, this homemade chicken salad recipe comes together by chopping the ingredients and then assembly. Putting all the ingredients into a bowl, and then in another smaller bowl, mix together the dressing ingredients.
It’s always a smart idea to give the dressing a taste just to gauge your flavor preferences. Needs more vinegar? Add a splash. Like it more peppery? Add a dash. Just taste the tangy dressing and adjust it so it’s perfect and it will make a great chicken salad.
Substitutions and Variations for the Recipe
- The options are endless here.
- If you want to save some calories, try substituting light mayonnaise or plain, greek yogurt for the regular mayonnaise.
- For extra sweetness and tang, replace the old fashioned mustard for a sweet honey mustard.
- Red grapes are fantastic in place of the cranberries. Not as sweet (if you use the sweetened variety of cranberries), but just as delicious.
- If you want the dressing a bit tangier, then give it a squeeze of lemon juice.
- You could switch up the nuts by using walnuts or even chopped almonds.
- Adding a bit more dill if you love the herb, or, if you don’t, try using fresh parsley instead.
Serving the Salad.
Traditionally, chicken salad is served on two pieces of bread. However, you can use buttery croissants, bagels, tortilla wraps, pita bread, soft hoagie or torpedo buns, or even some delicious Wasa Crispbread.
If you wanted to keep a low-carb option, switch the bread options to a lettuce wrap or spoon the salad over a bed of lettuce greens.
As for serving the salad alongside other items, this Roasted Tomato Soup recipe would be a super delicious flavor combination! You could also serve some potato chips or for a healthier option, try some cut veggies and dip.
Absolutely. Chicken and turkey have very similar flavor profiles so turkey would be a perfect stand-in for chicken.
In some recipes, yes. However, because there are sweet elements to this simple salad, I would leave the eggs out for a different salad recipe.
How long will this delicious recipe last?
The best way to keep chicken salad (or, any salad for that matter) is in an air-tight container in the fridge. It should be good for up to 4 days.
Can I Freeze It?
I really wouldn’t recommend freezing the salad. The dressing would become very watery and the textural elements in the recipe like the celery and apples would be soft and mushy. This salad is best eaten fresh.
Have you tried this recipe? I’d love to hear if you changed it up and what you thought of it! Please leave a comment and a ***Star Rating*** below in the recipe card! Any questions or concerns? Connect with me at Joanne@thesaltypot.com. Have a fantastic day!
- 1 cup chicken, cooked - I used seasoned rotisserie chicken breast
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup pecans, chopped
- ¼ cup apple, diced
- 2-3 tablespoons red onion
- 1 tablespoon dill
- 2-3 tablespoons sour cream
- 2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon seedy dijon mustard
- Salt & pepper to taste
In a small bowl whisk dressing ingredients together until well combined, and set aside.
Add all salad ingredients into a large bowl
Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
To make this salad ahead of time, assemble all the salad ingredients, cover and chill. In a smaller bowl, mix together the dressing, cover and chill. Mix the two together shortly before serving.
Check the body of the post for substitutions and variations for this chicken salad recipe.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 588Total Fat: 42gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 30gCholesterol: 125mgSodium: 718mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 4gSugar: 19gProtein: 31g
All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.