Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad is the best chicken salad ever. Loaded with tender chicken, juicy grapes, dried cranberries, sweet apples, toasted pecans, and green onions in a flavorful dressing, it's delicious on croissants, a bed of lettuce, or crackers.
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This cranberry pecan chicken salad recipe is my favorite chicken salad recipe of all time.
Because it's filled with tons of stuff and pretty much every flavor and texture.
Soft chicken, creamy homemade dressing, crunchy pecans, tart cranberries, crisp apples, sweet grapes -- all stirred together into one simple, delicious chicken salad.
And it's such an easy recipe.
There's a little bit of chopping involved, but after that, you just stir everything together.
The only hard part is deciding your favorite way to eat chicken salad with cranberries. On a croissant? In lettuce wraps? Rolled in tortilla wraps? No wrong answers.
It's a great recipe for an easy lunch, a delicious snack, or a quick dinner.
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Why You're Going to Love This Recipe
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Diced chicken breast meat. You can use freshly poached boneless skinless chicken breasts or purchased rotisserie chicken.
Red grapes. Red grapes add sweet flavor and pretty color. You can also use green grapes.
Dried cranberries. Dried cranberries, or craisins, add a tart sweetness to the salad.
Granny smith apple. Granny smith is the perfect sweet-tart, crisp apple for this salad. Honeycrisp, Fuji, and Pink Lady are also great apples for salads.
Green onions. Green onions have just the right amount of mild onion flavor.
Fresh lemon juice. Fresh lemon juice brightens up the dressing.
Dried dill weed. You can use fresh dill -- you'll need about ½ tablespoon.
Seasoned salt. Seasoned salt adds great savory flavor -- it's made from salt, sugar, paprika, turmeric, onion, and garlic.
Try adding different flavors by swapping in your favorite things.
Add chopped celery for extra crunch.
Swap out the cranberries for dried cherries.
Instead of toasted pecans, try walnuts, almonds, or pistachios.
Shallots or red onion are both great substitutes for green onion.
Fresh herbs like chives, tarragon, rosemary, or thyme add fresh new flavors.
Plain Greek yogurt is a great replacement for sour cream.
Garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, curry powder, or Cajun seasoning could all work well in this salad.
How to Make Cranberry Chicken Salad
1. Toast the pecans.
Warm a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans.
Stir for 2-5 minutes until the pecans are fragrant and lightly toasted.
Immediately remove the pecans from the pan to keep them from toasting any further (or burning).
2. Make the creamy dressing.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, dill weed, black pepper, and seasoned salt.
3. Assemble the salad.
To the dressing mixture, add the cooked chicken, halved grapes, cranberries, chopped apple, green onions, and pecans.
Gently fold the chicken mixture into the dressing until everything is combined and coated in the dressing.
4. Serve and enjoy.
Serve chicken salad with cranberries on a bed of lettuce or fresh spinach, in a sandwich, or with crackers.
Store leftover cranberry pecan chicken salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
How to Serve Chicken Pecan Apple Salad for a Party
This is such a good chicken salad recipe for parties, holidays, and luncheons. And there are a ton of fun ways to serve it!
Lettuce wraps. Butter lettuce and romaine lettuce are great choices
Wonton cups. Bake wonton wrappers in a mini muffin pan, let them cool, and fill 'em up!
Sandwiches. Make chicken salad sandwiches with croissants, Hawaiian rolls, pita pockets, or tortilla wraps.
Phyllo shells or puff pastry shells. Stuff pre-made phyllo or puff pastry shells from the grocery store.
Veggies. Fill crunchy celery ribs, mini peppers, scooped out thick cucumber slices, or tomatoes.
Mini bread bowls. Hollow out round dinner rolls and fill with chicken cranberry salad
Charcuterie board. Place a bowl of chicken salad on a board surrounded by various breads, meats, cheeses, nuts, and crackers.
Stay close to the stove when toasting the pecans. They can go from not quite toasted to burned in seconds.
Taste the dressing before you add the rest of the chicken salad ingredients. This is the best time to adjust the seasoning.
If making the salad ahead of time, add the pecans right before serving to keep them crunchy.
Add extra tang to chicken salad with Dijon mustard, fresh or dried herbs, fresh lemon juice, favorite spice blends, onions and other aromatic, sweet fruits, and nuts. And don't forget the salt. Sometimes, that's all that's needed to turn chicken salad from bland to flavorful.
Chicken pecan salad with grapes and apples is delicious on a bed of lettuce, in a pita pocket or croissant, stuffed in a tomato, spread on crackers, or straight from a fork.
It depends on how much you need. The oven is the best way to toast a large quantity of pecans because you can spread them out onto one or more sheet pans. For a cup or less, the stovetop is the perfect way to toast pecans.
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Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad
For the Dressing
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon seasoned salt
For the Salad
- 2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
- 1 cup halved grapes
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup toasted pecans
- 1 cup chopped Granny Smith apple
- ¼ cup sliced green onions
- Toast the pecans. Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and stir for 2-5 minutes until fragrant and lightly toasted. Immediately remove the pecans from the pan to stop the cooking process and let them cool.
- Place the mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon, lemon juice, pepper, dill weed, and seasoned salt in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
- Add the chicken, grapes, cranberries, pecans, chopped apple, and green onion. Stir until everything is completely coated in the dressing.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.