Divine and tangy, This Cranberry Chicken Salad is filled with seasoned chicken breast, and a delightful mix of celery, cranberries and nuts. The easy, creamy dressing blends together with all the ingredients in one bowl and under 5 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 used to not be a big fan of the classic southern chicken salad. That is, until I once tried a tangy, flavorful recipe that a friend brought to a girl’s get away 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.”
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.
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 recipe really is a great dish to bring to a picnic or make ahead for grab an go lunches. I’ve been making this recipe for years now, and it’s one of my favorite things to have for lunch on a summer afternoon.
Ingredients and Notes
Here is an overview of what you will need:
Diced Chicken: Rotisserie (plain), canned, or freshly grilled/sautéed chicken works great for this recipe. I find that boiled chicken is a bit too wet and not as flavorful.
Veggies: I tend to dice or petite dice all of the veggies in this salad so to get a good mix.
Ranch: Hidden valley packets are best but store-bought works good too.
Greek Yogurt: I use plain Greek yogurt since it cuts calories and doesn’t overwhelm the flavor. You can substitute sour cream, but the flavor will be slightly different.
Variations and Fun Additions
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 pecans to walnuts or almonds
- Celery Seed
If you are working on your new diet, this recipe can also be KETO friendly if served on a bed of greens or with a side of sliced apples. Use sour cream instead of Greek yogurt. Or cut calories by swapping Greek yogurt for the mayo.
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 electric 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 pecans but you can add almonds, cashews or walnuts.
- Sour Cream can be substituted for Greek yogurt, although I do find it alters the taste just slightly. 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. Or simply grill or sauté the chicken. While you can boil the chicken, 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.
WATCH THE RECIPE VIDEO
I have also taped myself preparing this recipe in the video below. The written instructions are in the recipe card further down the page.
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 an hour or two.
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 ahead of time.
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.
I hope you’re going to give this a try to make your mornings extra special – especially for those busy on-the-go days like ours.
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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 Chopped pecans
- ¼ cup Plain 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 in together. Stir and fold to combine.
- It can be served immediately but it is best to cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours to allow flavors to meld and cool.
- Serve on bed of lettuce, or on croissant rolls.
- Rotisserie (plain), canned, or freshly grilled/sautéed chicken works great for this recipe. I find that boiled chicken is a bit too wet and not as flavorful.
- Sour Cream can be substituted for Greek Yogurt, although I do find it alters the taste just slightly. You can also cut calories by using Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise.