This Cranberry Chicken Salad is the divine and tangy combination of seasoned chicken breast, creamy mayonnaise, ranch dressing, and a delightful mix of celery, cranberries and nuts, ready in just minutes!
We love great lunch and potluck recipes around here like our Supreme Chicken Nachos, Punch Bowl Cake, and Ham Sliders. However, I have to admit that I am not a big fan of the classic southern chicken salad with a heavy mayonnaise base. That is, until I once tried a tangy, flavorful recipe that a friend brought to a girl’s luncheon. It was divine and just that little change lit up my taste buds like “This is the PERFECT chicken salad I didn’t know I needed.”
Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad
Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad is the perfect thing to serve for lunch, on a lightly toasted croissant roll or as a salad. Made with grilled chicken, crisp celery, tart dried cranberries, red onions and crunchy nuts, this Chicken Salad with Cranberries recipe really is a great dish to bring to a picnic or get-together. This is also a great recipe to make-ahead for grab-and-go lunches. It is one of my go-to lunches when we have a busy schedule.
If you are working on your new year’s diet, this recipe can also be KETO friendly if served on a bed of greens. Use sour cream instead of greek yogurt. Or cut calories by swapping greek yogurt for the mayo.
Variations for this Chicken Salad Recipe
The dish is very flavorful on its own. However, you can add some ingredients depending on your tastes. Here are a few suggestions that I’ve tried and liked before. It just depends on my mood.
- Changing the walnuts to pecans or almonds
- Celery Seed
How Does this Chicken Salad Recipe Taste?
I said earlier that this chicken salad recipe isn’t exactly like a classic chicken salad…it’s way better. My friend used to make Ingles grocery store chicken salad and her recipe is scaled down from that. Of course, we added cranberries and nuts to it for a bit of sweetness. The ranch dressing and red onions are probably the secret to making it taste perfect. Although I couldn’t pick either as an ingredient by taste. I would describe it as fresh, intriguing and a bit peppery tasting.
It really is a wonderful flavor that you should try! It has always been a hit even with those that don’t care for chicken salad. One friend described it as “I don’t even like chicken salad, but I’d eat that”.
Tips for Making Cranberry Chicken Salad
- Although I generally just chop the chicken, you can throw it in a stand mixer with a paddle or an electic mixer to easily shred it.
- Add grapes, raisins, apples, or nuts to add a sweet or savory flavor to suit your tastes.
- This recipe calls for walnuts but pecan chicken salad is one of my favorites or you can add almonds or cashews.
- Greek Yogurt and Sour Cream are interchangeable. You can also cut calories by using Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise.
- This recipe takes a total time of 5 minutes to throw together if the items are prepped, but I like to refrigerate it for at least an hour or two to give the flavors a chance to come together. It is a great recipe to make ahead.
- To make this recipe faster, you can use a rotisserie chicken. Simply remove the skin and chop into pieces. You can also grill or saute the chicken. While you can boil the chicken or use canned, I find that the recipe isn’t as flavorful.
- If you like a spicy kick, this salad is also really good with a bit of cayenne pepper mixed in.
Frequently asked questions:
This chicken salad recipe will last for 3-4 days if refrigerated. Wrap tightly or store in an appropriate sized container. Of course, don’t leave it out in the sun or at room temperature for more than two hours.
I don’t recommend freezing chicken salad because the dressing ingredients will separate. You can freeze the cooked chicken, then defrost it in the refrigerator the day before you make the salad. The celery and onions can also be diced before.
Serve chicken salad as a sandwich on croissant rolls or hearty bread. I top the sandwiches with tomatoes and greens. It also makes a great salad on top of a bed of greens with a few tomatoes. One of my favorite ways to serve is as an afternoon snack with crackers, or serve with cut up celery and bell peppers. The chicken salad itself is Keto friendly, but I would swap the Greek yogurt for sour cream.
Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad Video
Cranberry Chicken Salad
- 4 cups cooked, diced chicken breast grilled, sauteed, or rotisserie are great
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup walnuts pecans, almonds, or cashews are also good
- ¼ cup greek yogurt
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup ranch dressing
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup red onion, diced
- In a large bowl, put all ingredients together. Stir to combine.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refridgerate for 2 hours. Serve on bed of lettuce or croissant rolls.
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