5 from 7 votes
Overhead photo of Cranberry Chicken Salad garnished with sliced scallions and fresh thyme in a serving bowl with a spoon inserted into the salad and a ramekin of dried cranberries and a jar of dressing next to the bowl.
Cranberry Chicken Salad recipe
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

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!

Course: entree, Salad, Sandwich
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken, chicken salad, cranberry
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 302.33 kcal
Ingredients
For the Chicken (SEE NOTES)
  • 1 pound Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts or Thighs
  • Optional aromatics: 1 Shallot OR Small Yellow Onion (sliced in half & peeled), 2 cloves garlic (smashed & peeled), fresh herbs, 1 TBS lemon juice, 1 Cup Dry White Wine
For the salad:
  • 2/3 cup Toasted Nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios or pecans) – coarsely chopped (SEE NOTES)
  • 2/3 cup Dried Cranberries
  • 2/3 cup Celery – thinly sliced or small diced (about 2 medium stalks)
  • 1/3 cup Scallions – thinly sliced (about 3 scallions)
  • 2/3 Cup Mayonnaise (SEE NOTES)
  • ¼ Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 2 TBS Honey
  • 1 ½ - 2 tsp fresh squeezed Lemon Juice – to taste
  • ½ tsp EACH Ground Ginger & Dried Thyme (can use 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves)
  • Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper
Optional for Serving: Sandwich bread, Rolls or Croissants; Bibb Lettuce, Thinly Sliced Apples
Instructions
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

Recipe Notes
  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
Nutrition Facts
Cranberry Chicken Salad recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 302.33 Calories from Fat 146
% Daily Value*
Fat 16.22g25%
Saturated Fat 2.12g13%
Cholesterol 52.78mg18%
Sodium 286.96mg12%
Potassium 401.02mg11%
Carbohydrates 22.18g7%
Fiber 1.96g8%
Sugar 16.41g18%
Protein 19.19g38%
Vitamin A 145.88IU3%
Vitamin C 3.6mg4%
Calcium 34.18mg3%
Iron 0.85mg5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.