This is the BEST chicken salad recipe. It could not be easier or more delicious. With chicken, cranberries, apples, and pecans, it’s full of wonderful flavors and textures.
Enjoy a scoop on its own as a low carb option or serve it as a sandwich on a croissant or soft dinner rolls. Or enjoy these ingredients as an appetizer with our Chicken Salad Pinwheels!
Best Chicken Salad Recipe
I want to be that person who invented egg salad and chicken salad. I mean, that person deserves a gold medal. Yummy, versatile, classic.
Even though this particular chicken salad has been floating around for ages, I was only introduced to it a few years ago by a friend. I was practically mesmerized by all the ingredients she was mixing together. Dried cranberries, apples, and pecans? It all seemed so odd…and yet wonderful. I knew immediately how much I would love it.
I’ve been making it this way ever since and everyone I serve it to begs for the recipe.
Is Chicken Salad Healthy?
Depending on the ingredients (and how much!), chicken salad can definitely be healthy and a great choice for lunch or dinner. The biggest culprit of making it unhealthy is the mayonnaise and how much you use, since it is high in fats and calories.
How many calories in chicken salad? This particular recipe uses a combination of mayo and plain Greek yogurt and is 411 calories per serving.
How many carbs in chicken salad? This recipe weighs in at only 9 carbs per serving.
What Goes in Chicken Salad?
Chicken salad is very versatile, a lot of times using what you have on hand. I always used to make mine with chicken, mayo, celery, and some seasonings. But I realized I had been missing out. Try it with the following ingredients, you’ll be glad you did!
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for all the measurements and details.)
- Chicken: Seasoned baked chicken breast or rotisserie chicken that’s completely cooled and chopped.
- Dressing: Mayonnaise, plain Greek yogurt, and mustard.
- Seasonings: Onion powder, kosher salt, and pepper.
- Mix-ins: Dried cranberries, chopped pecans, and diced apple.
- Chicken Salad Sandwich: Simply put the mixture on a croissant or soft dinner rolls with some fresh baby spinach or lettuce, if serving as a sandwich.
There are a ton of variations on this recipe, of course. I love my ingredient combination that I don’t ever mess with it, but feel free to experiment!
- Chicken – Baked or roasted chicken is best, but if you’re in a pinch, we’ve made this with canned chicken and it’s still delicious.
- Sour cream – Replace the Greek yogurt with sour cream.
- Add grapes – Chicken salad with grapes is so good! Halve them and sub in for the dried cranberries.
- Try a different nut – Try sliced almonds instead of pecans.
- Add spice – A dash of curry powder gives it a different flavor.
- Celery – Toss in a little diced up celery for added crunch.
- Got leftover turkey from Thanksgiving? That would be great in this recipe, too!
How To Make Chicken Salad
Put together this easy chicken salad in just 10 minutes with only a few simple ingredients.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for all the measurements and details.)
- Make the dressing. In a large bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients.
- Prep the chicken. Chop cooked and cooled chicken and place into the bowl with the dressing.
- Add the other ingredients. Gently fold in the cranberries, pecans, and apple.
- Serve on its own or piled high on dinner rolls or a croissant. Or enjoy on a sliced tomato and bed of lettuce.
How to Store
- How long does chicken salad last? Chicken salad should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and will keep up to 3 days. Give it a gentle stir to reincorporate the dressing and ingredients.
- Can you freeze chicken salad? Unfortunately, chicken salad does not freeze well because of the mayonnaise and Greek yogurt. For meal prep, just make the chicken ahead of time and then you’ve got lunch in minutes.
More Classic Salad Recipes:
I hope you love this delicious and simple recipe – be sure to give it a review below! Also don’t forget to follow Belly Full on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube!
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 4 cups (about 2 pounds) cooked, chopped chicken breast (homemade seasoned and baked, or rotisserie)
- 3/4 cup small diced Granny Smith apple
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
- In a large bowl, whisk together the mayo, yogurt, mustard, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
- Make sure your chicken is completely cool. Chop it up and add it to the bowl.
- Gently fold in the apple, cranberries, and pecans.
- Eat as is or place on dinner rolls, sliced croissants, or on top of sliced tomato and lettuce.
Reader Questions and Reviews
This chicken salad is very, very tasty. I used the base recipe with a few additions/substitutions. I used Mexican Crema instead of greek yogurt. I added 1/4 fresh minced Vidalia onion instead of the onion powder. I used a specialty brown mustard with brown sugar and bourbon. I added poppy seed and about 1/2 tsp of Curry. I did use a bit more than 1/4 cup of dried cranberries. Served on Butter Croissants. Super delicious!!!
I love this recipe!
I have made it twice and I’m addicted!
This is the chicken salad i have waited for! Yummy happiness.
So easy and so good!
I Love this chicken salad. I used the sour cream instead of yogurt and I also used chick Fila sauce in place of the mustard and seasoned to taste. I added grapes and apples and a little sweet relish! Very yummy!
This is the BEST chicken salad I’ve ever made and eaten!!! Don’t usually have pecans on hand, but I always have walnuts and they were perfect. Other than that, I made the recipe as written. Thank you… YUM!!!
Yum, yum. I had my high school friends over for lunch and made this. It was a huge success. Just made it again for the family. I made two additions. I added chopped onions and celery. All I can say is yum!
I love all the flavors in this recipe. I used low fat mayo and non-fat greek yogurt. My girlfriends and I just loved it
Or was excellent . Al the ingredients go together so wel
Delicious Chicken Salad!!! Thanks, Amy!!
This was really good. Made it exactly as written
Best chicken salad recipe I’ve ever come across. Everyone who has tried it comes back for more! Delicious!
This truly is THE BEST chicken salad ever! Wouldn’t change a single thing.
I just made this for tomorrow’s lunch. Of course I had to give it a try…..it’s amazing!! I’ll do this again,
Best chicken salad recipe EVER!!
Can’t wait to try this. Do you think I can make it a day ahead (with the apples and nuts) or should I wait until the day of?
This recipe was a big hit for my guests ,I substituted sour cream for Greek yogurt.
This is, indeed, the best chicken salad recipe I have made.
I rarely leave a review. A recipe has to be ridiculously good in order for me to do that and this one is. We don’t remember the last time we tried a new recipe that was this delicious!
This is a great chicken salad recipe. Will definitely make again.
Never really been a fan of mayo, so I used all greek yogurt. Loved it.
Anyone know if this recipe freezes well? I have extra from a party and wanted to save some…
I doubled the recipe plus added one extra tablespoon of miracle whip. Substituted yogurt with sour cream and put an extra tablespoon of that in. Delicious!!
The combination of sweet cranberries, tart granny smith apple pieces, and crunchy pecans, spice of the Dijon mustard.. this recipe was just heaven in my mouth! Thanks for the recipe, I will be making this again and again!
Perfect! I added a drizzle of honey and lemon juice as well. Great recipe!
This was really good. I used leftover smoked chicken breast, and walnuts since I had them on hand. Increased the dijon a bit. Very tasty.
I love this recipe! Delicious exactly as is but also very adaptable and versatile. I added dried cherries instead of cranberries and sour cream instead of yogurt once and it was delish. The hank you for this lovely base recipe to play with.
YUM! This is so good. I used red grapes instead of cranberries and an Envy apple to give little sweetness. I thought it would be dry but it wasn’t. This will be my new go to recipe for chicken salad! I highly recommend!!
Made it for luncheon with family today. Everyone raved! Didn’t have cranberries on hand so used red grapes. The additional of plain Greek yogart and tespoon of mustard made the dressing perfect, not so sweet as when using only mayo. My husband requested it for his lunch instead of his everyday ham and cheese. Had several request for recipe. I used canned white chicken and was the best chicken salad ever.
This is the best most amazing chicken salad I have ever eaten. I have made this several time. Its great all by its self or on bread or even a dirty flip flop!!!
My mom introduced me to this recipe several years ago and it’s such a good sandwich! It’s been a frequent go-to for a quick/easy/healthy lunch lately!
I have made this recipe numerous time. My girls love it And always asking for more. We eat it with crackers, slice cucumbers and celery sticks. It’s definitely the most belly full salad. We love it . Thank you
Does the nutritional info account for the dinner rolls? Thanks.
No, since it’s optional.
Delicious! New great go to and I love the fact it is quick to make.
I made this last Christmas break and it was absolutely great! By the time I got out of school again I lost the link and ended up making a different recipe. It was not at all what I wanted. Luckily I stumbled on this again. Cannot stress enough how much my family and I love this!! Thank you for sharing!!
It’s on par with chicken salad chick! I would pay for this!
That sounds really good with apples and cranberries. My recipe calls for celery, green onions, water chestnuts and slivered almonds. It’s very good too.
I make mine with celery, grapes, cranberries, slivered almonds, mayo, lemon juice and orange marmalade. I usually use rotisserie chicken. I also serve it on a croissant.
Had similar at a winery last weekend but it had pineapple instead of cranberries and slivered almonds instead of pecans. It may have had grapes too. Also a real twist. Provolone cheese was broiled onto the top of the croissant.
How much marmalade do you use?
Do you use pineapple chunks? For the recipe.
And how much pineapple do you use
Karen, that sounds delicious, am going to have to try it your way. Thank you!
This was GREAT! I used red grapes and walnuts – everything else the same.
I make this salad and have for years. Sometimes I’ll add celery. Big crowd pleaser….lots of compliments.
Do you think it would taste ok with some other kind of nut? We don’t like pecans or walnuts… was thinking either toasted almonds or filberts… maybe even cashews.
Hi Mindy – almonds would be good!
Mine has chicken, red onion, celery, pecans, dried cranberries, and grapes, and the dressing is mayo, sugar ( or Splenda) and vinegar. So delicious!
I have had canned chicken twice in my life and both times became violently ill, so no canned chicken for me!
This is wonderful .thanks
Sure, I use sunflower kernels
I use toasted, slivered almonds. You can buy them already toasted and slivered at Walmart. I also use the apples and cranberries, plus chopped onion and thinly sliced celery. Salt and pepper, and mayonnaise. I either buy rotisserie chickens or stew my own; I don’t care for canned chicken.
I make it kind of like you do but I also put sour cream, celery and a little lemon juice
That sounds amazing with almonds or cashews!
Cashews sound great, might even use salted and omit other salt! Yum!
Try sliced almonds. They are delicious in it.
I’ve made mine like this for years but also add diced red onion, celery. Instead of mayo and yogurt I use miracle whip. I like using rotessierre chicken instead of canned, tho drained canned will work!
I add cashews and Mandarin Orange slices! It’s to die for!!!
Cashews would be great! Good idea! They’re good in Cashew Chicken, so should be good in this too.
This recipe is perfection – no changes needed!
Sounds spectacular !!
Does the calorie count include the croissants, or is it just the salad.
Just the salad.
Just made this today. I accidentally got regular plain yogurt instead of Greek yogurt and it still turned out great! Love the crunch of the apples and the pecans!
Delicious, first time I made it! I prefer to make it with less apples and more cranberries.
This is so good chilled with a slice of provolone.
Can anyone tell me how far ahead I can make up these sandwiches? I need something to hold up 6-7 hours before serving. Thank you.
Hi Colleen – you could definitely make the chicken salad the night before, although the apples will discolor a bit. I wouldn’t make it much more in advance of that, though, because it could start to break down and get watery.
Dip the apples in lemon juice this should keep them from turning brown
I found storage containers with a drainage plate on Amazon.
i dip my apple bits in lemon juice and drain. they won’t discolor
If you butter both pieces of the roll Or whichever bread you’re using, and, Or, place lettuce on both pieces and fill with the chicken salad, Then roll them tight in saran wrap and keep cold, you won’t have any problem keeping them yummy and fresh for several hours, though your pecans will soften somewhat, and unless you add a teaspoon or 2 of lemon juice to apples before adding to mixture, they may darken somewhat.
I made ahead, but don’t add dressing til right before serving to prevent it from getting runny
Do the nutrition facts also include the croissant?
No, because that is optional.
This was absolutely delicious!
Do you think I could make it the night before my event? Or does it taste better made the same day? If ok to make a day ahead should I add the apples right before serving to avoid them browning?
You CAN make this the night before, but I recommend making and serving it the same day so the pecans don’t soften and the mayo mixture doesn’t loosen.
Add the chopped pecans and apple on serving day. Oh, try lightly toasting the pecans to enhance their flavor as well.
Made this with lemon yogurt instead of plain. Makes a nice, light tasting dressing.
I make hubby’s lunch everyday and this was the latest – he loved it!
Made this with leftover rotisserie chicken – loved it!
Chicken quesadilla’s are always a big hit with us. Also chicken chili with corn muffins…totally yummy!
My husband absolutely loves this recipe!!!
This recipe is delicious – will make again and again.
I substituted dried packaged cherries for the cranberries and used sour cream and Greek yogurt instead of mayo. Delicious !!
Did you use all the ingredients above as well?
This was amazing! I subbed in pears instead of apples due to an allergy.
Well, obviously it will be a completely different flavor, but I can’t see why not. Try it!
What can I use in place of the yogurt??
You could substitute grapes, pears or even omit. I love playing with recipes and making them my own. In this particular one which I’ve made for years, I’ve used different kinds of dried cranberries , I’ve used red onion and celery. Rotesserie chicken and I use miracle whip as my dressing. I add and omit to this recipe. It’s very forgiving! Also I add dressing right before serving to prevent from becoming runny
I have been trying to adventure with different chicken salads lately because I got bored with my usual celery with grapes style. I saw this recipe and was excited to try it! It was everything I thought it would be! This is my second time making it and it is my familys new favorite! I use a rotisserie chicken and double the ingredients becaue we go through it so fast!
The only change I make to this recipe is swapping out the craisins for raisins. LOVE IT!
I love trying different recipes for chicken salad & also tuna salad. Unless the recipe contains something I don’t like, I follow the directions as written. If I like the taste, I’ll continue to use that recipe. If not, I’ll tweak it to suit my preference, such as adding curry powder & loved this recipe – no changes!
I just fixed this chicken salad recipe. Buying a whole rotisserie chicken @ Sam’s for $4.99 is a real deal. A purchased chicken salad sandwich (even blah) costs that much or more. Now after using the breast meat from rotisserie….who will tell me what to do that will taste GOOD with remains of that rotisserie chicken, I really LOVE SOUPS.
I love rotisserie chicken. I like to boil the bones and then use the stock for either chicken noodle or chicken vegetable soup. I usually pick the rest of chicken and then add it back to the soup. It makes very tasty stock.
A pot pie, of course chicken soup, chicken casserole with rice or noodles, chicken and dumplings are just a few suggestions.
I make homemade chicken pot pies; two meals out of a rotisserie chicken!
I really like so many of your recipes and this was no exception. Delicious!
I use softened cream cheese
How much cream cheese did you use and what did you replace the cream cheese for? I can’t eat mayonnaise and I was wondering if you could use the cream cheese in the place of the mayonnaise.
I don’t like yogurt or sour cream either but would use extra mayo & add 2 tsp lemon juice. Think that would work….
I have used mayo with ranch dressing and we like that.
I use miracle whip
Simply wonderful! I omitted the nuts and added a hard boiled egg.
mix mayo, vinegar and a little sugar to make your dressing.it will stay thick and never be runny.
I added some poppy seeds and cut up strawberries. I replaced chicken with tuna. It was delish!
OH–I also used white pepper instead of black. Very yummy!
Served this as lettuce wraps. AWESOME.
The apple addition is wonderful. Love this recipe.
This is funny for me as it is almost the way I have been making mine for years. I don’t put onion powder or mustard in mine and I use miracle whip light instead of mayo (diet restriction). Sometimes I add a pinch of curry powder. I have also added diced dill pickle. I may have to try the mustard add in. It is a delicious recipe and one can change or add ingredients to personal preference. Like if you don’t like pecans use slivered or sliced almonds. Don’t like Dijon mustard. Try yellow or if you can find it cranberry mustard. Like celery (I can’t eat because of the strings) throw that in. I think at times I have added diced onion, I know I do in my tuna for one of my recipes. I have also made tuna with the recipe above. (As you can tell I play around with it) I have also served it on pretzel buns and the sandwich thins.
Try adding a few green or dark grapes cut in half.
Scrumptious! I always use mayo and Greek yogurt, too! Your add ins are delish!!
Served on a bed of baby spinach leaves, helps get more greens in the family diet. Offered options to add to the spinach, sliced radish, jicama sicks and seeded cucumber sticks. I added to the dressing a bit of celery and chia seeds, (a plant based protein source), and halved dk red grapes. I made extra dressing just in case the add ons needed more. Mini croissants served on the side from Winco bakery dept. Used a store roasted chicken with little salt added to it for the breast meat.
Sounds & looks yummy. Am going to try it
Need to make enough for 40 sandwiches/people. Do you know how much of each I’ll need?
Hi Melissa – since this serves 4, I guess I would just multiply all the ingredients by 10.
So yummy! Had leftover baked chicken, made this for the hubby for dinner. Loved it!
This was GREAT!
Love this recipe. I made it the first time as the recipe suggests and the second time added a bit of crunchy celery (and the celery leaf.) FAB-ulous both ways. Thanks for sharing!
OMG! Best chicken salad ever . Making it for a bridal shower. Thank You for sharing.
Haha! That’s how I felt the first time I made it – love this salad so much. So happy to hear you do too, Pat!
This is so good !!! My Husband loves Chicken Salad and I had left over Baked Chicken from last night so made this. We loved it!!
Awesome chicken salad
this is so yummy. Made it 2 days ago. How long do you think it will last in the fridge?
3 days. Glad you liked it!
This chicken salad sandwich was so good, I recently ordered one at Harris Ranch on a road trip. Although Harris Ranch is well-known for their beef, I thought I couldn’t go wrong with this sandwich, too. How disappointed I was when it didn’t compare to this recipe. It was missing the mustard, cranberries and pecans, which turned out to really made a difference. They used red grapes but not enough of them and chopped the apple so small you didn’t really taste or get their crunch. Now I can’t wait to make this again.
Oh, I totally agree! I haven’t had this at Harris Ranch, but I’ve bought it from the grocery store before and it’s always so bland. I do love the idea of grapes!
I finished it off with a few toasted, sliced almonds. Not a lot, just a few. Gives it a little extra crunch. Loved this recipe.
This was the best chicken salad I’ve ever had – thank you!
I absolutely love adding fruit and nuts to chicken salad! It’s a really easy way to make it a little more interesting and WAY less boring. Love this recipe!
I haven’t always been a huge fan of chicken salad sandwiches until recently. And there is not better way to serve them than on a crescent roll! YUM!
I feel like there is so much about chicken salad that is made better by serving it on a croissant. I like your style.
I crave chicken salad. It was something I had as a child only once a year.
This is such a wonderful variation—-truly. I pinned it. Thank you!
This sandwich is right up my alley. I love this combination and can’t wait to have it for lunch.
My grandma always made chicken salad from the leftover fried chicken from their restaurant. I love it and especially love that you leave out the celery!
This looks so, so good! I wish I would have had that for breakfast this morning, yum!
That looks great! Love how you put it on a croissant, anything would taste good on one of those! :)