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Harvest chicken salad with pecans, apples and dried cranberries is a delicious, crunchy, fresh fall twist on the classic! It’s great served as a sandwich, wrap or with crackers or greens.
Earlier this week I finally shared my healthy chicken salad recipe, a classic that has been my go-to for years. (It’s originally my mom’s recipe that I grew up with.)
Oh, and my healthy curry chicken salad, which is a serious weakness of mine!
And today it’s my harvest chicken salad with apples, pecans and dried cranberries. It’s a fall favorite! 🍁
It’s got tender pieces of chicken, crunchy sweet apples, nutty pecans and tart dried cranberries, plus the perfect amount of creaminess.
This is lunchtime perfection my friends and may be your new very favorite way to enjoy chicken salad, no matter the time of year!
I definitely find myself craving it all year long and it’s a must-make once fall rolls around, apples are in season and the weather cools off. ❤️
It’s perfect to have on hand for a healthy lunch — and there’s lots of ways to enjoy it! (Keep reading for serving suggestions.)
Now, I’ve got some notes, tips and substitutions coming up below on how to make harvest chicken salad. Just tryin’ to be helpful.
(And you know I love helping you make a recipe your very own. 😊)
If you want to jump on down to the recipe, simply scroll right on through the rest of the text. The recipe card is near the bottom of the page, above the comments section.
Notes on making harvest chicken salad:
- The chicken for this recipe needs to be cooked and cooled, so please plan accordingly. (Instructions are included, but I just want you to be aware of the wait time involved in the chicken cooling.)
- You can use all mayonnaise for this recipe (either regular or a light mayo) or you can use half mayo and half Greek yogurt, as written in the recipe card below. Go with whatever your preference is.
- Also, start with the 1/2 cup total called for of mayo and Greek yogurt and then add extra mayo or Greek yogurt as needed, to get the salad to your desired creaminess and consistency. (It depends on your tastes but also on how much chicken you have.)
- I use a firm, sweet apple like Gala or Fuji for this recipe.
- The recipe calls for pecans but walnuts would work well here too.
You’ll notice I have some chopped fresh spinach mixed into mine. I love the green color it adds – and the extra veggie boost – but it’s entirely optional. This salad is still delicious without it.
Also, I wanted to address the actual chicken part of this autumn chicken salad.
What kind of chicken should I use for chicken salad?
You’ll need about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of cooked, chopped chicken.
I typically cook my own chicken breasts to use for chicken salad. It’s what my mom always did and that’s how I grew up eating this.
I simply take 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts and place them in a pot of boiling water on the stove. Once I’ve put them in, I lower the heat slightly and leave it a boil. (A rolling boil is fine as long as you’re not going to spill over.)
They’ll take 25-35 minutes to cook through. Then use some tongs to remove the cooked chicken breasts from the pot of water and set them aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, chop the chicken into small pieces, let cool completely and then you’re ready to go.
Also, you can chop your chicken as chunky or as finely as you like.
It’s really your personal preference whether you want big meaty pieces of chicken or if you want them diced small so everything is more uniform and smooth.
(Though it also depends a bit on how you’re going to serve it. The size of your cut chicken won’t matter if you’re making sandwiches or wraps, but if you’re serving this as an appetizer or with small crackers, you’re going to want a smaller dice on the chicken and apples. So consider that part too.)
However, you can absolutely substitute a rotisserie chicken if you prefer for this recipe. Or even use some leftover baked or grilled chicken.
OK, and now let’s get to the eating part!
Serving ideas for harvest chicken salad:
– Chicken salad can be scooped and served on salad greens as an actual salad.
– Serve it with crackers for scooping and eating. I love some sliced cheddar cheese to go with it too.
– Make a chicken salad sandwich with some whole grain bread and extra mayo, or mustard, on it. Baby spinach or fresh greens are yummy on it as well.
– Or make an open-faced sandwich of sorts with some toasted baguette slices and the chicken salad piled on top.
– Use this chicken salad with apples for a wrap with whole wheat, spinach or regular tortillas. Or use a lettuce wrap for a low-carb option.
– Spoon the chicken salad into mini phyllo cups or wonton cups for serving as a fun appetizer.
Finally, if you are using this to meal prep or have extras on hand for lunches in the week ahead, I wanted to let you know how to store leftover chicken salad.
How long does chicken salad keep?
- Chicken salad will keep, covered, in the fridge for 4-5 days. The apples and the nuts will soften after a few days but still retain a good crunch.
- You can store it in a plastic container with a lid or in a bowl with a top or covered in plastic wrap. You can also store it in a ziptop bag.
- I do not recommend freezing chicken salad.
I hope you’ll welcome fall with this fun twist on a traditional chicken salad. I think you’ll love the crunch and freshness!
P.S. Check out all of my other healthy lunch recipes with chicken for more ideas and inspiration!
- 2 chicken breasts, boil and chop or use rotisserie (about 2 1/2-3 cups chopped)
- 1 cup fresh baby spinach, chopped (optional)
- 1/2 cup diced apple (such as Fuji or Gala)
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise (regular or light)
- 1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the chicken breasts and reduce the heat slightly, to maintain a steady boil. Cook the chicken for 25-35 minutes, until cooked through.
- Use tongs to remove the cooked chicken from the water and place on a cutting board to let cool for 10 minutes.
- Chop the chicken into 1/2-inch cubes - or smaller for a smaller dice for the salad. Let cool completely.
- In a large bowl, combine the chicken, spinach (if using), apple, pecans, dried cranberries, mayo and Greek yogurt, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Season to taste with extra salt and pepper and add an extra tablespoon of mayo or Greek yogurt, if needed, to get to your desired level of creaminess.
- Serve on a salad, as a sandwich or wrap or with crackers and cheese. Enjoy!
The chicken for this recipe needs to be cooked and cooled, so please plan accordingly. (You can also substitute rotisserie chicken or leftover grilled or baked chicken.)
You can use all mayonnaise for this recipe (either regular or a light mayo) or you can use half mayo and half Greek yogurt, as written in the recipe card.
Also, start with the 1/2 cup total called for and add extra mayo or Greek yogurt as needed, to get the salad to your desired consistency. (It depends on your tastes but also on how much chicken you have.)
I use a firm, sweet apple like Gala or Fuji.
I used pecans but walnuts would work well here as well.
You’ll notice I have some chopped fresh spinach mixed into mine. I love the green color it adds - and the extra veggie boost - but it’s entirely optional. This is still delicious without it.
Chicken salad will keep in the fridge, in a covered container, for up to 4-5 days.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 202 Total Fat: 13g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 10g Cholesterol: 38mg Sodium: 184mg Carbohydrates: 8g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 6g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 14g