This Cranberry Chicken Salad is incredibly flavorful, made with simple ingredients and tastes heavenly delicious! It can be made in advance and is perfect for picnics, potlucks, grab-and-go lunches and easy dinners. This creamy chicken salad is savory, sweet and guaranteed to get rave reviews from even the pickiest eaters!
Optional for Serving: Sandwich bread, Rolls or Croissants; Bibb Lettuce, Thinly Sliced Apples
Poach the chicken (optional): Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a large saucepan. Add any of the optional aromatics on top. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add enough cold water to cover the chicken by about an inch. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 9-12 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and and instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove chicken with a pair on tongs and transfer to a clean work surface to cool. Once cool, cut the chicken into ½’’ cubes.
While the chicken is cooking, make the mayonnaise dressing: In a medium-sized bowl, add the mayonnaise, yogurt, honey, lemon juice, ground ginger, thyme, 1 teaspoon of salt and a scant ½ teaspoon ground pepper. Whisk to thoroughly combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt, pepper, lemon or honey.
Prepare the chicken salad: In a large bowl, add the cooled, cubed chicken, nuts, cranberries, celery and scallions. Toss to combine. Add enough dressing to coat. Gently stir to combine. Taste and add more mayonnaise dressing, salt and pepper if desired.
Serve or store: The cranberry chicken salad can be enjoyed immediately or stored in the refrigerator, in an air-tight container, for 2-3 days.
You can use any type of cooked chicken to make this chicken salad. Poaching your own chicken will produce an incredibly flavorful, moist chicken salad. However, you can substitute 4 cups of cooked chicken instead. If using rotisserie chicken, make sure you remove and discard the skin, then chop the chicken meat into bite sized pieces. While you can use canned chicken, I would either use leftover cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken to ensure the best texture and flavor.
Make sure you use toasted nuts! Toasting nuts really enhances their flavor and makes the chicken salad shine! To toast nuts - add nuts to a small, dry skillet (do not add butter or oil). Place skillet over medium heat and toast, stirring frequently, until nuts are golden and fragrant. Make sure you stir frequently and watch carefully as the nuts can go from toasted to burned very quickly!
Full fat mayonnaise will yield the best tasting chicken salad. Lower fat mayonnaise is thinner and will result in a more watery chicken salad. If you are looking for a healthier option, try using Avocado Oil mayonnaise.