Cranberry Chicken Salad – Recipes From A Pantry

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Cranberry chicken salad is a delightful combination of sweet cranberries, crunchy pecans, tender chicken, and creamy dressing that come together to make a scrumptious, colorful dish! Chicken salad with cranberries is bound to impress any guests or even your future self at lunch this week!

Suitable for gluten free diets. Post includes Weight Watchers points.

top down view of the finished cranberry chicken salad on a plate served with croissants


Inviting prep-ahead meals is my love language to myself. Being able to reach into the fridge and pull out a delicious lunch or dinner that doesn’t require copious amounts of executive functioning on an empty stomach makes my heart happy. Easy prep meals that make great use of leftovers are even better and this cranberry chicken salad recipe is one of the best

I love using leftovers to make chicken noodle soup or chicken fajitas for dinner. But for lunch, I like something I can easily grab on the go and don’t have to reheat. Enter cranberry chicken salad to save your (and my) sanity! It’s a beautiful combination of sweet red cranberries, earthy brown pecans, tender shredded chicken, and a slightly tangy dressing.

Who doesn’t love a ready-made meal? Life is so wonderfully full, and as a mom, I love for my refrigerator to be full, too, but making meals every. single. night. gets to be a lot. Even making lunch for myself feels too much some days so it’s incredibly helpful to have something ready to go that requires minimal thought.

the completed cranberry chicken salad recipe served on a white plate

This classic chicken salad recipe is casual enough to be great for weekdays or weeknights but is fancy enough to be served at holiday gatherings, church potlucks, or office parties.

In fact, my cranberry chicken salad recipe is so versatile, that you can enjoy it as a side, a main course, or even tucked into a sandwich for a hearty lunch. Croissants elevate any sandwich, and especially a cold salad like chicken cranberry pecan salad. Everything is better on croissants!

Why Make This Cranberry Chicken Salad Recipe

  • It’s a colorful crowd-pleaser – Whether you’re serving it at a family gathering, a holiday party, or a picnic, cranberry pecan chicken salad is often a crowd-pleaser. It adds a pop of color to your table and appeals to a wide range of tastes and dietary preferences. 
  • It transforms your leftovers – If you have leftover chicken or turkey from holiday dinners, chicken salad with cranberries is a fantastic way to repurpose those leftovers, reducing food waste and creating a new meal that feels special.
  • It’s portable and meal prepfriendly – Pack it in a lunchbox or take it on a picnic – it’s excellent for meal prep, allowing you to enjoy a homemade, satisfying meal even on the go.

Check out these delicious lunch recipe ideas to elevate your mid-day meal to a higher level.

cranberry chicken salad croissant sandwiches cut in half

Ingredient Notes

  • Shredded Chicken – You can use cooked chicken breasts or thighs. If you want a vegetarian version, consider using chickpeas or tofu as a substitute.
  • Celery – Crunchy celery provides a nice texture. You can substitute it with cucumber or bell peppers for a similar crunch and elevated flavor.
  • Green Onions – These provide texture and flavor. If you don’t have green onions, you can use finely chopped, regular onions or chives for a milder flavor.
  • Pecans – Pecans add a nutty flavor. You can substitute them with walnuts or almonds.
  • Dried Cranberries: Dried cranberries add color and sweetness. If you don’t have dried cranberries, you can use raisins, currants, or chopped dried apricots for a sweet element.
  • Lettuce – Lettuce adds freshness and crispness, but you can use other greens like spinach, arugula, or mixed salad greens.
  • Mayonnaise – Mayo is the base for the dressing. You can use store-bought or make your own mayonnaise at home. Greek yogurt or sour cream can be substituted for a lighter option.
  • Sea Salt – Salt enhances the other flavors. Regular table salt can be used instead of sea salt, or a salt replacement can be used. Adjust to taste, but don’t leave out.
  • Ground Black Pepper – Ground black pepper adds depth. Freshly ground is best, but pre-ground pepper works as well.
  • Dried Mustard Powder – Mustard adds spice to the dressing. If you don’t have dried mustard powder, you can use regular mustard or Dijon mustard. 
  • Lemon Juice – Lemon juice provides acidity. Freshly squeezed lemon juice is recommended, but you can use bottled lemon juice if that’s what you have on hand.
the ingredients needed to make this cranberry chicken salad recipe

Handy Tip: Use Good Kitchen Tools!

For the best tools to help make your recipe even easier and more successful, check out my collection of the Best Kitchen Tools on Amazon.

How To Make Cranberry Chicken Salad

Get complete ingredients list and instructions from the recipe card further below.

  1. In a large bowl, combine the shredded chicken, celery, green onions, pecans, dried cranberries and red onion.
  2. In a small bowl, prepare the dressing. Stir together mayonnaise, salt, pepper, mustard, and lemon juice until blended.
  3. Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture and toss to combine. 
  4. In a salad bowl or a large plate, arrange lettuce at the bottom and add the chicken salad on top. Serve cranberry chicken salad sandwiches on croissants or bread.
image collage showing the steps for making cranberry chicken salad

Chicken Salad with Cranberries Expert Tips

  • Whenever possible, use fresh ingredients. Fresh ingredients will contribute to better flavor and texture.
  • Season your chicken before cooking it. You can marinate it with your favorite seasonings or herbs for extra flavor. Roasting or grilling the chicken can also add a nice smoky note to the salad.
  • Cook the chicken just until it’s done to avoid dryness. Overcooked chicken can result in a less appetizing salad. Use an instant pot or crock pot for hands-off cooking.
  • Toasted pecans have a richer flavor. You can toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat or in the oven until they become fragrant and slightly browned. Be careful not to burn them.
  • Taste your mayonnaise dressing before adding it to the salad. Adjust the seasoning as needed, and consider adding a touch of sweetness (like honey) or tanginess (more lemon juice) to balance out the flavors.
  • Combine the shredded chicken, diced celery, green onions, pecans, and dried cranberries in a large bowl. Add the dressing gradually and toss gently. This prevents overdressing and helps distribute the flavors evenly.
  • Let the salad chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together, making it even more delicious.
  • Chicken salad with cranberries can be served in various ways. You can serve it on a bed of fresh greens, in sandwiches, as a wrap, or even in lettuce cups for a low-carb option. Offer additional toppings like avocado slices, crumbled feta cheese, or extra dressing on the side.
two cranberry chicken salad croissant sandwiches on a white plate

Delicious Variations 

  • Greek-Inspired Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad – Add diced cucumbers, Kalamata olives, and crumbled feta cheese for a Mediterranean twist. Use Greek yogurt mixed with a little olive oil and lemon juice as a dressing.
  • Cranberry Pecan Waldorf Chicken Salad – Add diced apples, grapes, and celery for a Waldorf-inspired salad. Use a combination of mayonnaise and Greek yogurt for a creamy dressing.
  • Nut-Free Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad – Substitute pecans with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or roasted chickpeas for a nut-free option. 
  • Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad with Bacon – Crumble crispy bacon and mix it into the salad for a savory, smoky element. Use a bacon ranch dressing for a rich and indulgent flavor.

Prep And Storage

  • Prep Ahead – Combine all ingredients and let the flavors meld for an hour before serving for best flavor. You can also mix and serve immediately or even the next day. 
  • Store – Store any leftover salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It’s best consumed within 2-3 days for optimal freshness.
  • Freeze – It’s not recommended to freeze chicken salad, as mayonnaise-based dressings can separate and become watery upon thawing, affecting the salad’s texture.
  • Reheat – This particular cranberry chicken salad recipe is best served cold.
a folk removing a portion of cranberry chicken salad from a plate

FAQs 

Can I use turkey instead of chicken in this salad?

Absolutely! You can substitute turkey for chicken in this salad, especially if you have leftover turkey from a holiday dinner. It works just as well and can be equally delicious.

Are there any alternatives to mayonnaise for the dressing?

Yes, there are alternatives to mayonnaise for the dressing. You can use plain Greek yogurt, sour cream, or a combination of both as a lighter alternative. These options will give the dressing a tangy and creamy texture.

What kind of chicken is best for this salad?

You can use cooked chicken breast, thighs, or a combination of both. Rotisserie chicken or leftover roasted chicken works wonderfully. Ensure the chicken is shredded or diced to your preference.

Can I use pre-cooked or canned chicken?

Yes, you can use pre-cooked or canned chicken for convenience. However, freshly cooked chicken tends to have better flavor and texture.

What are some serving suggestions for Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad?

You can serve this salad on a bed of fresh lettuce or mixed greens. It’s also delicious as a croissant sandwich filling, in wraps, or stuffed into pita pockets. Additionally, you can enjoy it as a side dish or a light main course.

the completed cranberry chicken salad recipe

Similar Recipes

Serve With:

  • An awesome set of mixing bowls to easily combine your ingredients.
  • Good spices for seasoning your food.
  • For the best tools to help make your recipe even easier and more successful, check out my collection of the Best Kitchen Tools on Amazon.

Weight Watchers Points

There are 9 Blue Plan SmartPoints in one serving of this.

Be sure to try some of my other easy chicken recipes;

Thank you for reading my cranberry chicken salad recipe post. And please come visit again as I continue to slice, dice and dream up affordable Air Fryer recipes, Instant Pot recipes, Southern Recipes, and more. Thanks for supporting Recipes from a Pantry, food blog.

Get The Cranberry Chicken Salad Recipe

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Cranberry Chicken Salad

Sweet and creamy salad made with chicken that’s prefect for a quick lunch.

Prep Time5 minutes

Total Time5 minutes

Course: Lunch, Main, Salad

Cuisine: American

Diet: Gluten Free

Servings: 6

Calories: 316kcal

  • In a large bowl, combine the shredded chicken, celery, green onions, pecans, dried cranberries and red onion.

  • In a small bowl, prepare the dressing by stirring together mayonnaise, salt, pepper, mustard and lemon juice until combined

  • Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture and toss to combine.

  • In a salad bowl or a large plate, arrange lettuce at the bottom and add the chicken salad on top.

  • Whenever possible, use fresh ingredients. Fresh ingredients will contribute to better flavor and texture.
  • Season your chicken before cooking it. You can marinate it with your favorite seasonings or herbs for extra flavor. Roasting or grilling the chicken can also add a nice smoky note to the salad.
  • Cook the chicken just until it’s done to avoid dryness. Overcooked chicken can result in a less appetizing salad. Use an instant pot or crock pot for hands-off cooking.
  • Toasted pecans have a richer flavor. You can toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat or in the oven until they become fragrant and slightly browned. Be careful not to burn them.
  • Taste your mayonnaise dressing before adding it to the salad. Adjust the seasoning as needed, and consider adding a touch of sweetness (like honey) or tanginess (more lemon juice) to balance out the flavors.
  • Combine the shredded chicken, diced celery, green onions, pecans, and dried cranberries in a large bowl. Add the dressing gradually and toss gently. This prevents overdressing and helps distribute the flavors evenly.
  • Let the salad chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together, making it even more delicious.
  • Chicken salad with cranberries can be served in various ways. You can serve it on a bed of fresh greens, in sandwiches, as a wrap, or even in lettuce cups for a low-carb option. Offer additional toppings like avocado slices, crumbled feta cheese, or extra dressing on the side.
  • Storage – keep in an airtight container inside the fridge for 2-3 days.
  • There are 9 WW Blue Plan SmartPoints in one serving of this.

Calories: 316kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 55mg | Sodium: 328mg | Potassium: 357mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 327IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 2mg



#Cranberry #Chicken #Salad #Recipes #Pantry

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