This cranberry chicken salad is a sweet and tangy twist on your classic chicken salad! Shredded chicken breast, dried cranberries, celery and red onion are tossed in a mayo dressing flavored with lemon.
Chicken salad is a versatile and easy to make dish that you can serve in so many ways: on a bed of leafy greens, in a wrap or sandwich, or with crackers for a quick snack. If you love chicken salad like me but want to up your chicken salad game, this recipe for cranberry chicken salad is just what you need!
This chicken salad starts with shredded chicken breast, lots of dried sweetened cranberries, plus celery and red onion for crunch. Then, the salad ingredients are tossed with a creamy mayo-based dressing that also includes a hint of grainy mustard and a splash of lemon to brighten the flavors.
This chicken salad can be mixed up in only about 10 minutes, as long as you have your chicken prepped ahead. (And, this recipe is perfect if you have leftover dried cranberries - perhaps from making my recipe for brussels sprouts salad with cranberries?)
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- Cooked chicken breast: this can be chicken you prepared just for this recipe, leftover chicken, or even rotisserie chicken. I talk more about chicken options and suggestions for cooking the chicken in the Recipe FAQs section below!
- Mayo: this makes up the base for the salad so I suggest using a brand you really like the flavor of. I used Duke's mayo!
- Red onion: I like the color and flavor of red onions for dishes where the onion is used raw. But, if you don't have red onion, feel free to substitute another type such as white onion.
Step by step photos
1. First, prep the veggies. Finely chop the onion and parsley. Thinly slice the celery. Set the veggies aside for now.
2. Next, shred the cooked chicken breast. Or, if you prefer, chop the chicken into about ½ inch cubes.
3. Now make the dressing. In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, kosher salt, black pepper, lemon, and mayo.
I love using this adjustable measuring cup (affiliate link) for thick foods like mayo (also great for peanut butter!). You can see if there are any air pockets in the side and it's easy to push the mayo out of the cup without having to scrape any off the sides.
4. Finally, add in the shredded chicken, cranberries, onion, celery and parsley. Stir everything together to combine evenly with the dressing. Taste the salad and adjust the seasoning if needed.
You can serve the salad right away or chill for at least 1 hour for the best flavor!
Tips and tricks
- Check over the dried cranberries before adding them to the salad; if you see any cranberries that have formed large clumps, break them apart before adding them to the salad. The cranberries are sticky and don't break apart easily once mixed in with the salad.
- Be sure to taste the salad after mixing; if you think it needs it, you can add a bit more lemon, mustard, salt and/or pepper to suit your tastes!
- Have some leftover Thanksgiving turkey? Shred or chop it up and use it in place of the chicken breast!
- For extra crunch, toss in a handful of roasted almonds, pecans, or cashews!
As I mentioned in the Recipe ingredients section above, you can use chicken breast that you have prepared just for this salad, or, you can use leftover chicken or even store-bought rotisserie chicken.
If you want to prepare the chicken just for this recipe, I like poaching the chicken, although you can cook the chicken in any way you prefer. I just find that poaching keeps the chicken very tender and juicy in the salad (as long as it's not overcooked!). I recommend this poached chicken tutorial!
If you want to use leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken, just be mindful of the level of seasoning going on in the chicken. If it's already very well seasoned, pull back on the salt in the dressing and add more as needed to avoid making the chicken salad too salty.
Yes you can definitely make this cranberry chicken salad ahead of time! In fact, I think it tastes best after an overnight in the fridge (or a minimum of 1 hour if you're in a hurry). Just make sure to cover it tightly so it doesn't get dried out.
This chicken salad will keep in the fridge for 3 - 4 days. After 1 - 2 days the cranberries will lose a bit of their chew as they absorb liquid from the salad, but it will still taste delicious!
As I mentioned in the intro, chicken salad is very versatile and can be served many ways. This makes it great for meal prepping too because you won't get bored! Serve it atop a green salad, in wraps, sandwiches, or on crackers.
Because of the cranberries, this chicken salad also has a festive autumn/winter vibe, so you could even serve this chicken salad inside little tart shells for an easy holiday appetizer!
If you’ve tried this recipe, please leave a star rating and/or review in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. And sign up for my weekly newsletter to get recipes delivered straight to you!Print
Cranberry Chicken Salad
This cranberry chicken salad is a tangy and sweet twist on the classic chicken salad.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: main course, entree
- Method: mix
- Cuisine: American
- 1 ½ pounds (680 g) cooked chicken breast, chilled (about 5 cups shredded, see note 1)
- 1 cup (113 g) dried sweetened cranberries
- 1 rib celery
- ½ cup (66 g) finely chopped red onion (from about ¼ medium red onion)
- ¼ cup (8 g) finely chopped parsley
- ¾ cup (107 g) mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste (see notes 2 - 3)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- Finely chop the red onion and parsley. Thinly slice the celery. Set vegetables aside.
- Shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces (or, cut the chicken into ½ inch cubes). Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the mayonnaise, grainy mustard, lemon juice, kosher salt and black pepper. Whisk to combine.
- Add the chicken, dried sweetened cranberries, celery, onion, and parsley to the bowl. Stir to combine the dressing with the salad ingredients.
- Taste the salad and add more salt, pepper, and/or lemon if needed. Serve immediately, or, for the best flavor, cover the salad and chill for at least one hour or overnight.
This recipe is a great use for leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken. If cooking the chicken fresh, I recommend poaching it. Here is an easy tutorial on poaching chicken breast.
If using chicken that is already well seasoned, such as store-bought rotisserie chicken, season the dressing with salt sparingly at first and add more as needed.
This recipe uses kosher salt, which is coarse grained. If substituting with fine grain salt, start with ¾ teaspoon salt instead of the 1 teaspoon called for, and add more if needed.
The nutrition information below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator, and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical, health, or nutritional advice. See our full nutrition disclosure policy.
- Serving Size: ⅛ recipe
- Calories: 253
- Sugar: 3.7 g
- Sodium: 432 mg
- Fat: 17.3 g
- Saturated Fat: 2.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 5.3 g
- Fiber: .6 g
- Protein: 18.2 g
- Cholesterol: 62 mg
Keywords: cranberry chicken salad, chicken salad