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Pecan and Cranberry Chicken Salad

This cranberry chicken salad with pecans is super easy and delicious! The quickest way to make chicken salad is to use a rotisserie chicken or leftover chicken breast. Or, you can roach, roast, or grill fresh chicken breast for the salad. Dried cranberries, pecans, lemon juice, and herbs make this cranberry pecan chicken salad full of texture and flavor. It’s not at all boring!

A chicken salad sandwich with cranberries and pecans on a croissant.

I love using dried cranberries (craisins) to add color, flavor, and texture to dishes. They look like shiny little gems with a sweet, tart pop! They work with sweet and savory foods. And they can magically make just about anything feel festive during the fall and winter. 

I love adding craisins to deli-style salads! They show up in my crunchy broccoli salad and shaved Brussels sprouts salad. They also make a great addition to chicken salad!

You can make this cranberry pecan chicken salad any time of year. But it makes a nice make-ahead lunch during fall and winter. You can prep this once and enjoy it all week! 

Ingredients

  • Cooked chicken breast is the base of this cranberry chicken salad. The nice thing is that you can use whatever chicken you prefer. Using a rotisserie chicken makes this chicken salad quick and easy. You can bake, poach, or grill chicken to use fresh. You can also use shredded chicken from the crockpot or instant pot. Super versatile! 
  • Dried cranberries or craisins are sweet, tart, and chewy. They’re a perfect contrast to the chicken and creamy dressing. 
  • Toasted pecans add a nutty, buttery flavor to this cranberry chicken salad. Lightly toasting them before adding to the salad really deepens the flavor. It’s totally worth the extra step.
  • Celery adds that much-needed crunch to this cranberry pecan chicken salad. I like to use 3 stalks to ensure a crisp and fresh taste in every bite. You can use 1 or 2 stalks for less crunch. For me, celery is non-negotiable! 
  • Fresh herbs give the dressing lots of flavor and color. I like using green onions (scallions) and parsley.
  • An easy homemade dressing made with mayonnaise and sour cream. It is creamy, tangy, and delicious.
  • Fresh lemon juice adds a bright citrus punch. It makes the chicken salad much more flavorful than adding plain mayo!
  • A spoonful of honey adds a hint of sweetness that balances the flavors. 
  • Salt and pepper tie everything together and help all the flavors shine! 

Variations

  • Use other nuts: This salad is good with chopped walnuts or sliced almonds. Toast them the same way you would pecans.
  • Make it dairy-free: I love the tanginess that sour cream adds to this salad. If you’re avoiding dairy, you can use more mayo instead of the sour cream.
  • Make turkey cranberry salad: Are you looking for a way to use leftover Thanksgiving turkey? The cranberries and pecans in this salad also go well with leftover turkey! Just use turkey instead of chicken in this cranberry pecan salad. 

How to make pecan and cranberry chicken salad

Detailed and printable instructions are always in the recipe card below!

Chopped herbs and celery on a cutting board.

Always prep your ingredients first to make things easier. Start with cooked chicken breast that’s been shredded or diced. Chop up your fresh veggies to get them ready.

Go ahead and toast your pecan pieces. Cook them in a dry, heavy-bottomed skillet, over medium-high heat. Stir them until they become fragrant dump them into a plate. This will only take about 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn them! Let them cool while you make the dressing.

Parsley, scallions, lemon juice, mayonnaise, sour cream, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl.

Now, add all the dressing ingredients to a large mixing bowl.

Whisking a tangy sour cream dressing for chicken salad.

Whisk them until a smooth and creamy dressing forms.

A glass bowl with chopped chicken breast, dried cranberries, celery, pecan pieces, and tangy herb dressing.

Add the rest of the ingredients straight into the bowl.

A bowl of chicken salad with herb dressing, celery, craisins, and pecans.

Stir it up good and you’re done!

Make ahead and storage tips

Store this cranberry pecan chicken salad in the fridge in a covered container for 3-5 days. It makes a perfect make-ahead lunch for meal prep. The flavors improve after refrigerating it for a couple of hours. 

How to serve pecan and cranberry chicken salad

  • Make a chicken salad sandwich with cranberries: Use a fresh croissant for hearty whole-grain sliced bread to make a sandwich. I like crisp lettuce on mine! You can add a little Dijon or honey mustard if that’s your thing. I love serving a chicken salad sandwich with a side of simple citrus salad.
  • Make cranberry chicken salad lettuce wraps: Add a scoop of the salad to whole lettuce leaves to make lower-carb wraps.
  • Enjoy it with crackers or apple slices.
  • Add a scoop to a bed of fresh greens.
A chicken salad lettuce wrap with pecans and dried craisins.

More deli-style salad recipes

Did you make this cranberry pecan chicken salad? Let me know in the comments!

Print

Pecan Cranberry Chicken Salad

Cranberry pecan chicken salad on lettuce.

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5 from 1 review

This bright and tangy cranberry chicken salad with pecans is easy and full of crunch. Use baked, grilled, poached, or rotisserie chicken.

  • Author: Mandi
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • plus time to cook the chicken:
  • Cook Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 13 minutes
  • Yield: about 6 cups 1x
  • Category: Deli Salad
  • Method: Stir
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Units Scale

Toasted pecans

  • 3/4 cup pecan pieces

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Other salad ingredients

  • 1 pound cooked chicken breast, diced or shredded*
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries (craisins)
  • 3 stalks celery, diced

Instructions

  1. First, toast the pecans: Toast the pecan pieces in a dry, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir until they’re fragrant. This will only take about 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Then, pour pecan pieces on a plate and wait for them to cool to room temperature.  
  2. Meanwhile, make the dressing: Add all the dressing ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Whisk until a creamy dressing forms.
  3. Make the cranberry chicken salad: Add the cooked chicken, cranberries, diced celery, and toasted pecans to the bowl of dressing. Stir to combine and coat all the ingredients.

Notes

What kind of chicken to use: The chicken to use in this cranberry chicken salad is very versatile. You can use shredded rotisserie chicken or leftover cooked chicken breast for a quick and easy salad. If you want to make it using freshly cooked chicken breast, you can poach, bake, slow cook, or grill chicken.

How to store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for 3-5 days. 

Variations: 

  • Use other nuts: This salad is good with chopped walnuts or sliced almonds. Toast them the same way you would pecans.
  • Make it dairy-free: I love the tanginess that using half-sour cream adds to this salad. If you’re avoiding dairy, you can use more mayo instead of the sour cream.
  • Make turkey cranberry salad: Looking for a way to use leftover Thanksgiving turkey? The cranberries and pecans in this salad also go well with leftover turkey! Make this cranberry pecan salad with turkey instead of chicken!

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 233
  • Sugar: 9.8 g
  • Sodium: 204.1 mg
  • Fat: 14.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 13.4 g
  • Fiber: 1.6 g
  • Protein: 13.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 39.3 mg

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