Less than 10 ingredients come together to make this healthy, creamy Cranberry Chicken Salad! Along with the dried cranberries, it’s complete with toasted pecans, crisp bacon, diced apple, fresh rosemary, and creamy mayo. This pecan chicken salad takes leftover chicken to the next level, hands down! It’s incredibly delicious, makes for a satisfying lunch, and is perfect for weekend meal preps.
This post was created in partnership with Primal Kitchen.
Cranberry Chicken Salad with Apples and Pecans is a mix of sweet and savory and oh, so satisfying.
Chicken salads are one of our favorite lunch type recipes! They’re quick and easy to make (even more so if you have pre-cooked chicken on hand), they make for a tasty way to use up leftover chicken, and they include a quality source of protein and healthy fats – the two macronutrients that help with satiety (feeling of fullness).
You’re going to love the sweet and savory components of this Whole30-friendly Cranberry Chicken Salad. The sweet coming from the apples and dried cranberries, and the savory coming from the crisp bacon, tender chicken, and creamy mayo. Top that off with fresh rosemary, crunchy celery, and red onion to make for one incredibly scrumptious chicken salad that will have you mmm’ing at every bite. And with Thanksgiving just around the corner, this salad also makes for a great way to use up leftover turkey!
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Ingredients for Cranberry Chicken Salad with Apples
- Chicken – cubed or shredded. You can use leftover chicken or Instant Pot Shredded Chicken. We show you how to make the perfect chicken breast in this post. A store-bought, rotisserie chicken works great, too! Substitute the chicken with turkey if you wish.
- Bacon – cooked to a crisp and crumbled or roughly chopped. If making this recipe Whole30, you’ll want to use a no added sugar bacon such as Applegate.
- Small apple – any variety of apple will work.
- Celery – adds a nice crunch to the chicken salad.
- Red onion – may substitute yellow onion.
- Pecans – toasted pecans really make this recipe extra delicious, however, if you’d like to substitute walnuts or sunflower seeds (for nut-free) that is an option. Below you’ll find how to toast pecans.
- Dried cranberries – may substitute dried cherries or raisins. For Whole30, you’ll want to use a dried fruit that has no added sugars such as Made In Nature dried fruits.
- Fresh rosemary – may substitute dried rosemary.
- Mayonnaise – creamy, delicious avocado mayo! We have been longtime fans of Primal Kitchen mayo – made with avocado oil and real food ingredients. We share more below about this kitchen staple.
- Salt & pepper
Confused about poultry labeling? Check this post out to learn all about how to choose the best chicken in the grocery store.
How to make Cranberry Chicken Salad
After a few minutes of prepping the ingredients, cooking the bacon, etc. this chicken salad comes together in a matter of minutes. Here’s how it’s done.
- Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove from heat and place on a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
- To toast the pecans: see below.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir to combine.
- Serve however you wish and garnish with additional toasted chopped pecans, rosemary, sliced green onion, and/or black pepper if desired. Below you’ll find serving suggestions.
How to store Cranberry Chicken Salad
Store Cranberry Chicken Salad in a glass container for up to 4-5 days in the fridge. It makes for an easy grab-and-go lunch since no reheating is necessary. Simply serve however you please.
The bigger the better when it comes to the healthiest mayo!
Primal Kitchen Mayo is now available in two sizes! A 24-ounce jar and 12-ounce jar. So if you’re one who likes to make creamy delicious salads on the regular such as this Cranberry Chicken Salad or our popular Waldorf Chicken Salad or you like to make your favorite mayo-based homemade dressings each week to have on hand, like our paleo ranch, you’ll want to get your hands on the 24 oz. jar.
Not only will it laster longer, but you’ll also save money (almost 15% less per ounce) plus add our REALFOODRDS 10% off coupon code at checkout for an even a greater discount.
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How do you toast pecans?
You’ll be happy to hear that toasting pecans is easy to do and 100% worth the 5-7 minutes that it takes. Toasting nuts releases the natural oils that are in the nuts and as a result, adds a more nutty flavor to whatever it is that you’re adding them to. Toasting also gives the nut an extra crunch.
How to toast pecans: Place the pecans in a small pan over medium-low heat. Toss the nuts every minute or so. After about 5-6 minutes you’ll notice the nuts will start to give off a beautiful, nutty aroma. This is a good indicator that they are done. Remove them from the heat and let them cool for a few minutes before adding to the recipe.
How to serve Cranberry Chicken Salad with Apples
There are several delicious ways you can serve Cranberry Chicken Salad. Here are some of our favorite ways to serve it:
- As a salad over a bed of greens.
- Sandwiched between two slices of your favorite bread because sometimes you just need a sandwich.
- Wrapped in your favorite tortilla.
- Tucked in lettuce leaves.
- Served on top of cucumber slices and/or crackers – perfect for snacking or serving as an appetizer.
Looking for guidance with meal planning? Check out Real Plans, a highly customizable online meal planning service that includes over 300 of our very own recipes.
Other healthy chicken salad recipes you’ll love:
- 2 cups cooked chicken breast or thighs, cubed or shredded
- 3–4 strips bacon, cooked to a crisp and roughly chopped
- 1 small apple, diced (about 3/4 cup)
- ⅓ cup diced celery (~1 stalk)
- ¼ cup diced red onion
- 3 Tbsp. chopped pecans, toasted
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries (may substitute dried cherries or raisin)
- 2 tsp. fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
- ½–⅔ cup mayo (such as Primal Kitchen mayo)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove from the heat and place on a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
- To toast the pecans: add to a skillet over medium-low heat and stir every minute or so, cooking until pecans give off a toasted aroma, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Prep the remaining ingredients.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir to combine.
- Serve over a bed of greens and garnish with additional toasted chopped pecans, rosemary, sliced green onion, and/or black pepper if desired.
- Serving Size: 1/4th recipe
- Calories: 400
- Sugar: 10g
- Sodium: 535mg
- Fat: 29g
- Saturated Fat: 4g
- Carbohydrates: 13g
- Fiber: 2g
- Protein: 23g
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Photo Credit: The photos in this blog post were taken by Jess of Plays Well with Butter.
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About Stacie Hassing
Stacie is a Licensed and Registered Dietitian from rural southern Minnesota where she, her husband and daughter reside with their two pups. She’s a co-founder of The Real Food RDs and content creator of simple and wholesome recipes. She loves all kinds of fitness and has a passion to inspire as many as she can live a healthier and happier life both in and out of the kitchen – the driving force behind the co-development of the The Real Food RDs brand.