Make classic chicken salad extra delightful with the bright flavors of this cranberry chicken salad.
This unique twist on the classic incorporates the vibrant tanginess of cranberry. It makes the familiar flavors of creamy chicken salad extraordinary.
Each bite bursts with a festival of flavors and textures. It has crunchy pecans, chewy cranberries, crunchy green onions, and tender chicken. And it’s all slathered in creamy mayo.
Ready? Keep reading and whip up this delicious salad in under 15 minutes!
Cranberry Chicken Salad
Cranberry chicken salad is a delightful medley of contrasting flavors and textures.
It features tender, juicy chunks of chicken coated in creamy mayo dressing. The sweet, tangy dried cranberries cut through the richness.
And every bite is rounded out with crunchy pecans.
Zingy lime juice and a sprinkle of dill add complexity to this delicious salad. It is like a party in your mouth!
It’s a refreshing, well-balanced dish you can enjoy on its own. But it also pairs well in sandwiches, wraps, or atop salad greens.
This recipe is always my go-to when packing lunch or preparing for picnics. It’s an easy, delicious way to make lunchtime extra delicious.
- Chicken – The primary source of protein in the salad. You can grill, roast, or boil the chicken. Then cool and chop it into bite-sized pieces.
- Mayonnaise – Adds creaminess to the salad and serves as the base of the dressing. You can adjust the quantity based on your preference for creaminess.
- Green Onions – For a bit of crunch. They also add a mild onion flavor and sharpness that balances the salad.
- Sweetened Dried Cranberries – Cranberries add a sweet and tangy flavor that complements the savory elements of the salad. They also provide a chewy texture.
- Chopped pecans – For a nutty flavor and crunchy texture. You could also toast them to enhance their flavor.
- Lime juice – Provides acidity to balance out the richness of the mayonnaise and sweet cranberries.
- Dried dill weed – Adds a slightly bitter, refreshing flavor that complements the creamy, sweet, and savory elements.
- Salt and pepper – Essential for enhancing all the other flavors in the salad. You can adjust the quantities to your personal taste.
How to Make Cranberry Chicken Salad
1. Prepare your ingredients.
- Ensure your chicken is cooked and cooled, then chop it into bite-sized pieces.
- Also, chop your green onions and pecans.
2. Mix chicken and mayo.
- In a bowl, combine the chopped chicken and mayonnaise. Stir until the chicken is evenly coated.
3. Combine everything.
- Add green onions, dried cranberries, apples, pecans, lime juice, dill weed, salt, and pepper. Stir until all the ingredients are well-distributed.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate the salad for at least an hour before serving for best results.
5. Serve and enjoy.
- Enjoy your cranberry chicken salad as is. Or serve it in one of the many suggested ways – sandwiches, wraps, or a dip.
Tips for the Best Chicken Salad
- Allow the chicken to cool before chopping and mixing it into your salad. This enhances flavor absorption and prevents the mayo from melting.
- Don’t forget to season your salad well. Salt, pepper, and a hint of acidity can elevate the flavors.
- Let your salad rest in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together for a more delicious salad.
- Adjust the ingredients to your liking. If you want more tanginess, add more lime juice.
- More creaminess? Add more mayo. The salad should cater to your preference.
Make this cranberry chicken salad your own with these delicious variations. Have a different idea? Go for it!
- Cheese it up: Adding cheese can bring a new level of flavor and creaminess. Feta or goat cheese would blend well with the existing ingredients. And cheddar is always classic.
- Spice things up: Add a dash of cayenne pepper or diced jalapenos if you enjoy a little heat.
- Fresh Herbs: Mix fresh herbs like parsley, basil, or cilantro for a delicious flavor.
- Add Fresh Fruit: Add chopped apples, grapes, or even slices of orange to add a fresh twist.
- Different Protein: Substitute the chicken with turkey if you have leftovers.
How to Serve Chicken Salad
- Sandwiches or Wraps: This classic serving idea never fails. Serve the chicken salad as a sandwich, wrap, or even in croissants or bagels. (Psst… croissants are BEST.)
- Stuffed Tomatoes or Avocados: Hollow out large tomatoes or avocados and stuff them with your chicken salad. It’s the perfect nutritious, low-carb option.
- Salad Greens: Serve your chicken salad on a bed of mixed greens, baby spinach, or arugula. It can be a hearty topping that adds protein to your green salad.
- Endive or Lettuce Cups: Use endive leaves or lettuce to make little “cups.” Spoon your salad into these for a fun, bite-sized appetizer.
- With Crackers: Serve it as a dip or spread with your favorite crackers or pita chips.
- Inside a Pita: Stuff your chicken salad in a pita pocket for a filling lunch.
How to Store
This is the best way to store your cranberry chicken salad:
- Store the chicken salad in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Plastic containers with tight-sealing lids work great, as do glass containers. It’ll prevent your salad from drying out.
- A gallon-sized, zip-top plastic bag will do in a pinch.
- Chicken salad can only sit at room temperature for 2 hours. Any more, and you risk bacteria that cause food poisoning. Promptly refrigerate it to preserve its freshness.
Consume your stored cranberry chicken salad within 3 days for the best quality. The fresh ingredients will not last much longer, even when stored properly.
I do NOT recommend freezing this salad. Mayonnaise doesn’t hold up well in the freezer. And the salad texture could become unappetizing once thawed.
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