Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad

We make this almost every week in the spring, eating it on sandwiches or on top of salad greens. It’s fresh-tasting with a little sweetness…delicious.

bowl of finished chicken salad with cranberries, pecans and red onion.

❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Quick and easy to make. Prepping the chicken is the hardest part, but if you can boil water, you can poach chicken!
  • The perfect balance of sweetness and crunch. Red onion, celery, pecans, and cranberries might seem like an odd combo, but they are perfection in this recipe.
  • Makes a great lunch or snack option. Lots of protein makes this a great way to fuel a busy day, whether it’s served on its own, in sandwiches/wraps, or atop salad greens.

This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.

chicken salad ingredients on wooden counter.

Here’s what you’ll need to make this yummy, make-ahead lunch

  • cooked, chopped, plain chicken
  • mayonnaise (we use full fat, but light works fine too)
  • celery
  • red onion
  • honey
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • dried cranberries (like Craisins)
  • chopped pecans


Step One: prep chicken

raw chicken breast in large saucepan.

If you’re poaching your chicken, it’s fine to do it immediately before making the salad. It will cool down quickly once you chop it.

Step Two

mixing bowl with all ingredients.

Get a bowl. Put all of the ingredients inside it. Stir them together until they are mixed. Pretty simple!

Step three: cool

scoop of chicken salad after mixing.

Refrigerate for two hours to allow the flavors to mix. Serve on its own or as part of a sandwich.

🥫 Storage instructions

Store any leftovers in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to five days.

This does not freeze well.

🔍 FAQs

What’s the best way to cook chicken for chicken salad?

Poaching! This is super easy. You’ll be cooking the chicken in a few inches of water. Simmer until cooked through, about 20 minutes on the stovetop or 9 minutes in a pressure cooker. It will not brown but will cook through to be soft and plain. Gross for eating plain, but perfect for this recipe.

Can I substitute different ingredients?

You can try other nuts, or try raisins instead of cranberries. You can also add herbs like dill or parsley if you’d like.

👩🏻‍🍳 Expert tips

  • Use plain, cooked chicken for the best flavor and texture.
  • Refrigerate for at least two hours to allow flavors to mix together.
  • If you’re serving this at a party, garnish the top with chopped parsley and extra cranberries and pecans.

📘 Related Recipes

🍽 Serve it with

chicken salad on top of lettuce.

📖 Here’s the recipe

close up view of chicken salad.

Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad

With just the right amount of sweetness and crunch, this chicken salad recipe is perfect for spring parties or showers… or just to keep in your fridge all the time for a delicious lunch!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Serving Size 10 people


  • Large mixing bowl


  • 2 cups cooked chicken chopped
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 stalk celery chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion minced
  • ¾ tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans


  • Mix. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  • Cool. Chill 2 hours to allow flavors to blend. Serve plain or in sandwiches.


I always use poached chicken breast for this recipe.  Simply cook chicken in a few inches of water on the stovetop until it is cooked through, or in a pressure cooker/ instant pot for 9 minutes.  2-3 breasts is enough.  
Nutrition facts are for 1/10th of the recipe, approximately 2 ounces or 1/4 of a cup.
This is especially nice served on a croissant.  
Serving: 2ounces | Calories: 184kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 261mg | Potassium: 145mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 40IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 0.3mg
Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad
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