Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad

Midwestern HomeLife
by Midwestern HomeLife
6 servings
20 min

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.

cranberry pecan chicken salad in a white bowl

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.

More Easy Salad Recipes

Why You're Going to Love This Recipe

Terrific recipe for leftover chicken or leftover turkey

Easy chicken salad recipe with simple ingredients

Chicken salad with apples and pecans makes a killer chicken salad sandwich

Wonderful salad for a special luncheon, baby shower, or bridal shower

cranberry pecan chicken salad ingredients

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.

Recipe Variations

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.

cranberry pecan chicken salad dressing in a white bowl

3. Assemble the salad.

To the dressing mixture, add the cooked chicken, halved grapes, cranberries, chopped apple, green onions, and pecans.

cranberry pecan chicken salad ingredients in a white bowl

Gently fold the chicken mixture into the dressing until everything is combined and coated in the dressing.

cranberry pecan chicken salad in a white bowl

4. Serve and enjoy.

Serve chicken salad with cranberries on a bed of lettuce or fresh spinach, in a sandwich, or with crackers.

cranberry pecan chicken salad on a croissant with bowl of salad and plate of croissants in background

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.

Success Tips

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.


What can I add to chicken cranberry salad to give it more flavor?

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.

What is the best way to serve chicken salad?

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.

Is it better to toast pecans in the oven or on the stove?

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.

spoonful of cranberry pecan chicken salad with bowl of salad in background
Get the Stuff I Use

A Lodge cast iron skillet will last longer than you do. It's also perfect for making toasted pecans.

This OXO balloon whisk is perfect for mixing up salad dressings.

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Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad
Recipe details
  • 6  servings
  • Prep time: 20 Minutes Cook time: 0 Minutes Total time: 20 min
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For the Dressing
  • ▢ 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • ▢ 1/2 cup sour cream
  • ▢ 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ▢ 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ▢ 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • ▢ 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • ▢ 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
For the Salad
  • ▢ 2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
  • ▢ 1 cup halved grapes
  • ▢ 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • ▢ 1/2 cup toasted pecans
  • ▢ 1 cup chopped Granny Smith apple
  • ▢ 1/4 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.
  • If making ahead of time, stir in the toasted pecans right before serving to keep them nice and crunchy.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for  3-4 days.
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  • Marian Marian on Jun 03, 2023

    This was my pregnancy craving salad minus the green onions, and I was supposed to eat them, but I added jalapeño peppers to mine even though it was a no no and that was 27 years ago and I still eat my salad like that today!!! Very delicious 😋

  • Royanne Boyer Royanne Boyer on Jun 03, 2023

    Makes my mouth water with desire!