An easy and healthy chicken salad with cranberries and pecans that's delicious served over lettuce, as a wrap, or as a sandwich. Use freshly shredded chicken or canned, either way it's a WHOLE LOTTA YUM!
Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad
We're obsessed with chicken salad, not only is it healthy, but it's hearty too. We had dried cranberries and pecans on hand in the pantry and the balance of the sweet and salty plus the crunch of celery seriously made this the BEST chicken salad recipe! Depending on the season we sometimes substitute the cranberries and pecans for grapes and walnuts or almond slices. It's very easy to adapt.
The chicken salad with cranberries can be served on rolls, bread, or as a wrap or you can serve it over a bed of greens depending on the vibe you're going for.
The chicken salad with cranberries and pecans starts with pre-cooked chicken, we prefer to use either boneless skinless chicken breast meat or chicken tenders. Our favorite way of cooking the chicken is to either boil chicken breasts or cook Instant Pot frozen chicken tenders.
You of course can also use a store-bought rotisserie chicken, but it will be saltier than just boiled chicken so adjust seasonings accordingly.
- precooked chicken, shredded or chopped
- mayonnaise - our favorite brand is Best Foods, we love the Trader Joes mayo too.
- Dijon mustard
- chives - green onions work well too
- dried cranberries - Craisins is the popular brand but any brand will work.
- roasted pecans - raw pecans can be used instead of dry roasted
- salt and black pepper
** Please see the recipe card at the bottom of the post for the exact quantities **
Other fruits- Instead of dried cranberries, use fresh grapes, dried raisins, fresh berries or dried berries.
Other nuts - One of our favorite protein additions is to use oil-based canned tuna for lemon caper tuna pasta. It's an inexpensive way to add seafood without the cost. Adding cooked shrimp, scallops, lobster, and clams are also delicious when you're feeling a little fancy.
The chicken salad with dried cranberries is gluten-free and dairy-free as written. To adapt the recipe to a variety of health concerns, here are some easy swaps:
- Whole30/Paleo- use fresh fruit such as grapes instead of dried cranberries since cranberries have a touch of sugar added. Be sure the mayo you're using is compliant and doesn't have added sugar either.
- Keto/Low carb- Skip the dried cranberries or use unsweetened dried blueberries instead. Make sure your mayo doesn't have sugar.
Step by Step Instructions
If you already have pre-cooked chicken on hand, our chicken salad with cranberries and pecans recipe is as simple as dumping all of the ingredients in a bowl and mixing them together. How easy is that?
- In a small bowl, combine the shredded chicken, mayo, mustard, celery, chives, fresh parsley, cranberries, and pecans.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve as a salad over a bed of lettuce or use ½ cup per person in a wrap or on a sandwich.
- To quickly cook the chicken: bring boneless chicken breasts or tenders to a boil in a large pot with cold water or chicken broth. Simmer for 5-8 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 165 F. The cooking time will vary depending on how thick the chicken pieces are, frozen chicken will take 2-3 minutes longer.
- You can also use rotisserie chicken in the recipe but omit the salt since rotisserie chicken has a lot of sodium.
- The recipe as written makes enough chicken salad for 3-4 sandwiches, to make as much as our photos show you'll want to triple the recipe.
A chicken salad with mayo is served cold and often eaten as a sandwich filling. Make sure not to leave the salad out for longer than 2 hours. There are of course of types of chicken salad that are served warm, but the classic shredded chicken salad recipe with mayo and fillers such as celery, fruit, and nuts are served cold.
The chicken salad with dried cranberries will keep 3-4 days in the fridge.
Chicken salad can be frozen for up to 3 months in an air-tight container.