Cranberry walnut chicken salad is a delicious blend of tender chicken, sweet cranberries, crunchy celery and walnuts, all wrapped in the love of a creamy dressing.
This cranberry walnut chicken salad is served in lettuce leaves or in a sandwich - your choice!
Are you looking for a quick and easy chicken salad recipe that is both healthy and delicious?
Look no further than this cranberry walnut chicken salad. It only takes minutes to put together and is perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. Plus, the added walnuts give it a crunchy texture that everyone will love.
Cranberry Chicken Salad
I have been loving all things meal prep lately.
There are so many decisions, big and small, to make in life right now. The last thing I want to do if feel tormented by what I want to eat.
So I make meals ahead of time and save myself the meal decision drama. Almost every week, I make a whole chicken in my Instant Pot or slow cooker and use it as part of my meal prep.
I can use cooked chicken in one or two recipes a week so you can only imagine what a game changer that is!
This also means a no cook meal like this chicken walnut salad is easy to make on the weekend and pack in lunches for the week.
Cranberries are considered the "birthday cranberry" because cranberries are harvested in late fall or early winter when they are at their peak flavor.
Cranberries contain antioxidants which help to prevent infections as well as contain flavonoids which can help to lower total cholesterol and LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Now, I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on tv, but this sounds pretty darn good to me.
Walnuts have omega fatty acids which is not often found in other nuts.
Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad Ingredients
Alrighty, let's talk ingredients that you'll need from the grocery store.
I have several variations of chicken salad recipes I love. This particular yummy sandwich spread incorporates a bunch of ingredients I always have in my pantry, fridge or freezer.
- Chicken Breast - you can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or if you prefer dark meat, use chicken thighs. Leftover rotisserie chicken also works.
- Tangy Cranberries - these are in the dried fruit section at the store. Sometimes you'll see them labeled as craisins. You can use the leftovers in my broccoli salad with craisins.
- Walnuts - I keep these stored in my freezer so they last longer. You can add toasted walnuts if you like, though I rarely have the patience for that. #honestyfirst
- I have an easy workaround I'll share in just a sec.
- Celery - crunchy celery makes this recipe! Use the leaves from the celery stalk as well; they add a lot of flavor and some color.
- Red onion - this breaks up some of the richness and I love it!
- Creamy dressing - we're using mayo, Greek yogurt, a little Dijon mustard and a touch of garlic powder.
How to make cranberry walnut chicken salad
Back in the day, I would have swung by to pick up cranberry walnut chicken salad from Costco, but these days, the nearest store is a 45 minute drive.
Plus, whenever I go to Costco, I leave with an entire case of vitamins or a small appliance I had no intention of purchasing. Let's just say it's safer to make my own cranberry walnut salad!
You don’t have to go to Costo, you don’t have to go to the corner sandwich shop (assuming your town has one - we don’t). You can stay nice and cozy in your own kitchen and make this chicken salad anyway you want to.
And hey, if you don’t have time to cook a whole chicken, run through your Costco or grocery deli and grab a rotisserie chicken. Your results will be equally delicious and you’ll probably leave with a new vacuum, too!
So basically, we're coming cooked and shredded chicken with our add ins, then mixing in a dressing.
How to easily toast walnuts
If you’re having one of those days and toasting walnuts on the stove top simply seems too much, I have a fix for you!
You can microwave the walnuts on a plate for 30 seconds. Stop, stir and sniff. Really. If you can smell the toasted walnuts, they’re done. You may need to microwave them for another 15-20 seconds.
Don’t over toast them or you’ll have to toss them and start over.
I'm sure this walnut hack is 100% not approved by Martha Stewart or Julia Child. But it works here in the Frieders household so we're gonna roll with it.
Chicken Salad Variations
- There are so many swaps to make Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad a fabulous addition to your meal plan.
- Swap out more of the mayo for Greek yogurt to make a healthier version of chicken salad
- Or, serve it wrapped in a lettuce cup to keep it low carb, or omit the dried cranberries to reduce the sugar.
- For the creamy dressing: Greek yogurt, mayo or sour cream all work well interchangeably.
- Use leftover turkey instead of chicken
It’s seriously so good, friends!
How to serve chicken salad
Serve on croissants, slices of bread
How to store leftover chicken salad
This chicken salad is one of those recipes that tastes just as great - or better - the next day! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge
What can you serve with chicken salad for dinner?
I'd go with a simple side salad or some grilled sweet potato wedges. Yum!
This is a great way to use up leftover chicken, even if you hadn't planned on making cranberry chicken salad.
Other cold sandwich recipes
If you make my Cranberry-Walnut Chicken Salad, let me know in the comments section below! I love to hear from you AND it helps me know what type of recipes you’ll love.
Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad
- 3 cups cooked shredded chicken
- ⅓ cup toasted walnuts chopped
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup chopped celery
- 2 Tablespoons minced red onion
For the chicken salad dressing:
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- In a large bowl, add shredded chicken, walnuts, cranberries, celery and red onions.
- In a smaller bowl, combine the salad dressing ingredients. Stir to combine.
- Add the salad dressing to the chicken salad and use a spatula to incorporate. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Serve on bread, croissant or in lettuce wraps