Creamy, filling, easy to make and delicious cranberry chicken salad has a nice crunch from pecans and slight sweetness and tang from dried cranberries. Make it with simple ingredients in under 10 minutes (gluten-free).
About This Recipe
An easy salad can make your day and when it is filled with protein, it is even better. This cranberry chicken salad is one such salad, which is creamy, protein-rich, and extremely delicious.
Deli-style cranberry and chicken salad is a delicious combination of cooked chicken, cranberries, pecans, celery, and onions. To enhance the flavor, a delicious dressing is used which is made of mayonnaise, dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Easy and yum, right?
This salad is a great fridge staple as it stays good in the fridge for 3-4 days. Serve it as a side with meals, use it as a sandwich filling or bring it over for potlucks or picnics. Since it doesn’t need to be served warm, it is great to pack for lunch too.
This Deli Style Salad Recipe is,
- Paleo Friendly
- Protein Rich
Chicken – I always use my instant pot chicken breast recipe to cook the chicken. It is super easy, hands-free, and turns out great every time. Do try!
You can also use leftover oven-roasted chicken or store-bought rotisserie chicken.
Cranberries – Cranberries add a nice sweet-tart hint, which is one thing that I love most about this salad. The taste of cranberries also perfectly blends with the dressing. You can use craisins in place of cranberries.
Celery & Onion – Onion and celery add a nice crunch. You can also add broccoli or sweetcorn.
Dressing – To enhance the overall flavor, I have added a delicious, creamy, and simple dressing which is made with a combination of mayonnaise, dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Dijon mustard and lemon juice are the two ingredients that are a must to brighten the flavor of this salad.
Pecans – Add some chopped toasted pecans for a nice crunch at the end. If you do not have pecans, you can use walnuts, pinenuts, or almonds instead.
How to make Cranberry Chicken Salad?
Start by preparing the ingredients. You can broil the chicken, poach it, cook it in a slow cooker or in an instant pot as I did. The advantage of cooking the chicken in an instant pot is that turns out tender, juicy and flavorful without putting any effort.
Once the chicken is cooked, either shred it like I did or cut it into ½-3/4 inch cubes. I got 2 cups of shredded chicken from 1 lb of raw boneless chicken breast.
If you are short on time, you can also use store-bought rotisserie chicken or oven-roasted chicken from last night’s dinner.
Chop 1 celery stalk, thinly slice ½ onion and toast and chop the pecans.
In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of cooked and shredded chicken, ½ cup dried cranberries, chopped celery stalk, and sliced onion.
In a small bowl, whisk to combine ½ cup mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well to coat.
Refrigerate the salad for an hour or two hours before serving. It will help the flavors to gel well together. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and sprinkle ½ cup of chopped toasted pecans just before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can add in some chopped apples for extra sweetness or Jalapeno for that spicy kick. You can also add a variety of nuts other than pecans, such as walnuts, almonds, pistachios, raisins, etc.
I sometimes like to add a pinch of ground cinnamon for some extra flavor to this salad.
To make the salad lighter, you can replace some of the mayonnaise with sour cream. To make it healthy, replace the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt.
There are many ways to cook chicken for this salad. I like to use my Instant Pot Chicken Breast to make this salad. But you can simply boil or poach and use it. Make sure you do not overcook the chicken, as it might get chewy.
To cook it in the oven, apply some olive oil to the chicken breast, place it in an oven-safe dish, and cover it with a foil. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes at 350 Degree F. Keep an eye after 20 minutes of baking because the baking time depends on the thickness of the chicken.
You can also use canned chicken or rotisserie chicken.
Once the chicken is cooked, you can either cut it into ½-3/4 inch cubes or shred it using a fork.
Pro Tips By Neha
Make sure to refrigerate this salad for at least 30 minutes before serving. This way it tastes the best.
You can cook the chicken and refrigerate it in an air-tight container for 2-3 days.
For a healthy twist, you can also use greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise. It will add a nice creaminess to your salad.
Serve cranberry and chicken salad chilled. It’s a great meal prep recipe too.
You can serve this creamy and yummy salad on its own for your meals, as it is filling and wholesome. Serve it along with some simple open toast, bruschetta, or flavored toasted bread.
It is great for picnics, potlucks, or packed lunches.
You can serve it as a snack with some chips, crackers, or even top it over baked sweet potatoes.
Make lettuce wraps or can even fill it inside a flour wrap for a filling lunch.
I sometimes use this salad to make my sandwich. Just place lettuce on toasted bread, add in some of the chicken cranberry salad and top it with another toasted bread.
You can stuff it inside a bagel or croissant too. The best way to use the leftover salad, I will say!
This salad stays good in the refrigerator for about 3 to 5 days. Store it in an airtight container.
I do not recommend freezing this salad. We have used celery in the salad, which is not advisable to freeze. Also, the mayonnaise will be separated when you defrost the salad.
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Cranberry Chicken Salad Recipe
- 2 cups cooked shredded or chopped chicken
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1 celery stalk (chopped)
- ½ onion (sliced)
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt & pepper
- ½ cup chopped toasted pecans
- In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of cooked and shredded chicken, ½ cup dried cranberries, chopped celery stalk, and sliced onion.
- In a small bowl, whisk to combine ½ cup mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well to coat.
- Refrigerate the salad for an hour or two hours before serving. It will help the flavors to gel well together. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and sprinkle ½ cup of chopped toasted pecans just before serving.