If you need a quick and easy meal that delivers big on taste, this Cranberry Chicken Salad is a perfect lunchtime staple! The crunch from the pecans, onion, and celery is so satisfying, while the protein from the chicken gives you energy for hours. And I love the flavor twist you get from the cranberries. It only takes a few minutes to whip up, or you can make the recipe ahead of time, so it’s ready to go! (who doesn’t love having lunch meal-prepped for the week?)
Cranberry Chicken Salad is a Fun Twist on a Classic!
When my weekdays inevitably get busy, I love having easy lunchtime recipes that I can throw together in minutes.
This Cranberry Chicken Salad is one of my go-to options when I want something simple that’s full of crunch and flavor!
The dried cranberries are such a fun addition to this recipe. If you’ve been in a lunchtime rut, it’s a great way to shake up your routine.
You can also prep this dish ahead of time for an easy grab-and-go lunch or snack!
I like to enjoy mine as a Cranberry Chicken Salad sandwich, in a lettuce wrap, over lettuce leaves, or all on its own. There are so many ways to mix it up. Sometimes I add apple for a little extra sweetness.
If it’s a struggle to find time to make yourself a nutritious lunch (or you have to pack your lunch first thing in the morning), this Chicken Salad with dried cranberries is a life-saver.
I have a feeling you’re going to love this simple dish!
Ingredients for Making Cranberry Chicken Salad Recipe
- Mayonnaise — I like avocado oil based mayo.
- Greek yogurt — You could also use more mayonnaise instead.
- Mustard — I recommend Dijon for the best flavor.
- Lemon juice — A little bit of acid goes a long way. Fresh-squeezed is best, but bottled works too.
- Seasoning — Dried thyme, sea salt, and ground black pepper help enhance the natural flavors of the Chicken Salad recipe with cranberries and pecans.
- Chicken — You want 4 cups of pre-cooked and chopped chicken. You can use leftover chicken, a rotisserie chicken from the store, canned chicken, or anything you have on hand. Leftover turkey is also a fabulous option here.
- Dried cranberries — I prefer to use natural dried cranberries with no added sugar.
- Pecans — Chop into pieces and toast lightly in a pan or in the oven. Any type of nuts will work here.
- Red onion — This adds a punch of flavor. If you would prefer, green onions also work.
- Celery — Crunchy celery is a great way to add texture and a little extra bulk to the Cranberry Chicken Salad.
Tips & Tricks
- I love the flavor you get from red onion, but you can use yellow onion, sweet onion, or even shallots if you prefer.
- If you’re looking for a low-fat dish, substitute the mayonnaise for Greek yogurt instead for a lighter chicken salad with cranberries and pecans. This will significantly reduce saturated fat.
- Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces or smaller so you can get a nice mix of ingredients in every bite. This will also make it easier to mix up the chicken salad.
- Tender chicken works best for cubing your chicken. If your chicken is dry, shredding it is best.
Serving Your Chicken Salad
- This Quinoa Bread Recipe is perfect for whipping up a gluten-free Cranberry Chicken Salad Sandwich!
- For even more crunch, scoop up your chicken salad with healthy Quinoa Crackers.
- Add a sneaky serving of veggies with Healthy Zucchini Chips, made with naturally gluten-free breading!
Frequently Asked Questions
I like to use boneless skinless chicken breast because it’s easy to cook up and packs in a nice serving of protein. If you prefer dark meat for your Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad, that would work just fine.
While this is going to depend on your personal health goals and methods of eating, there are several ways to modify this recipe to make it ideal for you. Don’t be afraid to customize!
If your idea of a healthy Cranberry Chicken Salad recipe means lowering the fat, you can replace some or all of the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt.
Or, if you’re looking for a low-carb, sugar-free, or keto recipe, reduce the dried cranberries and use a sugar-free brand.
This Chicken Salad recipe with cranberries and pecans is technically safe to freeze, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
The mayonnaise won’t freeze very well, so the texture will be off, unfortunately.
You bet! Walnuts or even almonds would work great for this Cranberry Chicken Salad recipe. Just make sure you toast them first.
Yes, canned chicken will work for this recipe!
Tools Needed to Make Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad
- Medium and large bowls
- Wooden spoon or spatula
Chicken salad can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. I keep it in the coldest part of my refrigerator towards the back.
Chicken should always be eaten within four days of cooking, so if you use leftover chicken in this recipe, make sure to factor that in to the total time.
How to Make Cranberry Chicken Salad
Prepare the dressing by adding the mayonnaise, yogurt, dijon mustard, lemon juice, thyme, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir with a whisk until combined.
Place the chicken, cranberries, pecans, red onions, and celery in a large bowl.
Add the dressing to the large bowl and toss to combine until everything is well-coated.
You May Also Like These Easy Chicken Recipes
- For a fresh, crunchy salad that’s anything but boring, this Chicken Fattoush Salad recipe is such a satisfying meal!
- Perfectly seasoned chicken and vegetables between layers of cheese inside a crispy tortilla make Chicken Quesadillas a deliciously easy dinner.
- Greek Tacos with Tzatziki Sauce can be ready in less than 20 minutes!
- For a meal that never fails to delight and looks gorgeous on your table, try this Mediterranean Chicken Breast.
Cranberry Chicken Salad
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- ⅓ cup Greek yogurt or more mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 4 cups chopped cooked chicken
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup chopped toasted pecans
- ⅓ cup diced red onion
- 3 celery ribs diced
- Prepare the dressing by combining the mayonnaise, yogurt, dijon mustard, lemon juice, thyme, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.
- Place the chicken, cranberries, pecans, red onions, and celery in a large bowl.
- Add the dressing to the bowl and toss to combine.