This walnut cranberry chicken salad is all the right things: creamy, crunchy, lightly sweet, and tangy.
It’s super easy to make, yet it packs tons of flavor. With walnuts, sweet-tart dried cranberries, and plenty of fresh herbs, this chicken salad recipe is totally crave-worthy!
Plus, if you’re a fellow not huge fan of mayo, you’ll like that there’s no mayo: it’s made with Greek yogurt instead.
This simple chicken salad recipe is the perfect easy lunch recipe, and it’s extra quick to make if you have cooked or rotisserie chicken on hand (which I highly recommend – see also: 11 Things to do with Leftover Rotisserie Chicken).
Walnut Chicken Salad with Dried Cranberries
I’m a huge fan of chicken salad and how versatile it is, but I don’t love how it’s traditionally made with tons and tons of mayonnaise.
My favorite version uses a combination of plain Greek yogurt and dijon mustard instead, which adds just the right amount of tangy flavor.
I love chicken salad that has a lot of crunch, herbs, and fruit, so this is definitely my ideal version of chicken salad! The sweet and savory flavors balance each other out so well.
This easy cranberry chicken salad is fabulous for lunch on its own, in a wrap, or in a sandwich, and really easy to prep ahead of time.
Plus, it only takes a few minutes to throw together if you use pre-cooked or rotisserie chicken. (Here’s how to carve a whole cooked chicken and easily shred it, with step-by-step instructions!)
To make this no mayo chicken salad, you’ll need:
- shredded or cubed cooked chicken (You can cook it yourself, or use a rotisserie chicken to save time!)
- plain Greek yogurt (Be sure to get plain, with no flavors or added sugars. Full-fat Greek yogurt is ideal for the best flavor and creamy texture! Plus, it’s more filling.)
- dried cranberries (I used regular sweetened dried cranberries here. I wouldn’t recommend unsweetened dried cranberries, as they may be too tart.)
- celery (For a refreshing crunch!)
- chopped walnuts (or pecans – for more crunch and some healthy fat)
- dijon mustard
- green onions
- fresh parsley
Plus, whatever you’d like to serve this cranberry chicken salad with: bread or pita (for sandwiches), a whole wheat tortilla (for wraps), seedy crackers, crunchy vegetables, etc.
How to Make Cranberry Chicken Salad
Start by cubing or shredding cooked chicken. Chop dried cranberries, celery, walnuts, and parsley. Thinly slice green onions.
Next, in a large bowl, whisk Greek yogurt, lemon juice, dijon mustard, parsley, green onions, and salt & pepper until smooth and combined.
Add chicken, dried cranberries, celery, and walnuts. Toss well to coat.
Top with more fresh parsley and sliced green onions if desired. Serve on toast, as a sandwich, in a wrap or pita, with crackers, with crunchy veggies, or on its own!
Feel free to add some baby spinach or arugula for extra veggie power, too.
This healthy chicken salad is a great meal prep recipe – simple store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
What type of dried cranberries should I use/buy?
Sweetened dried cranberries are perfect here, for a nice balance of sweet, tart, savory, and herby flavors.
Unsweetened dried cranberries are often tough to find and may be too tart in this recipe, but feel free to use them if you’d prefer.
I love the dense chewiness of dried cranberries in chicken salad, but if you want softer/juicier fruit in the mix, you can rehydrate the dried cranberries before mixing in.
Just place the dried cranberries in a heatproof bowl and cover with hot water. Let sit for 10 minutes, then drain and squeeze out excess liquid before mixing into the chicken salad!
Another option if you prefer fresh fruit is to make this recipe with sliced grapes instead of dried cranberries! I just recommend slicing them in small pieces so they more easily incorporate into the salad with the other ingredients.
What to Serve With Chicken Salad
Whether you’re enjoying this chicken salad for lunch or dinner, there are lots of side dishes that would pair deliciously! Here are some ideas:
- Seasoned Sweet Potato Fries (Baked)
- Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
- Lemony Quinoa Salad with Spinach
- Apple Cabbage Slaw with White Beans
- Sauteed String Beans with Garlic & Lemon
An array of crunchy vegetables like carrot sticks, bell pepper slices, and celery sticks would also make a tasty and nutritious accompaniment!
I love how easy, versatile, and flavorful this chicken salad recipe is – so great for meal prep lunches! You’ll find the full recipe at the bottom of this post.
What’s a quick and easy lunch you love? Let me know in the comments!
More healthy lunch recipes to try:
- Quinoa Taco Salad
- No Mayo Tuna Salad with Avocado
- No Mayo Egg Salad with Avocado
- Kale & Quinoa Salad with Soft Boiled Eggs
- 14 Cold Lunch Ideas (Quick & Healthy)
More easy dishes with rotisserie chicken:
- Shredded Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce
- Pulled Chicken Banh Mi Sandwich
- BBQ Chicken Sliders with Coleslaw
- Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers with Chicken
- Creamy White Chicken Chili
- 2/3 cup plain whole greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced (optional)
- 3 cups cooked, diced or shredded chicken (light and/or dark meat)*
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries**
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
- In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, dijon, salt, pepper, parsley, and green onions until combined.
- Add the chicken, celery, cranberries, and walnuts, and stir to coat in the dressing.
- Serve immediately or store in a covered container in the fridge for up to a week.
*I got 3 cups of diced chicken from a small/medium rotisserie chicken and used both the light and dark meat. Feel free to use any leftover skinless cooked chicken - light or dark meat or a mix of both.
**If you prefer fresh fruit, grapes are also a good choice here - just dice them relatively small so they incorporate easily into the salad.