This Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad recipe is easy, delicious and has layers of flavors and textures. Creamy dressing, tangy cranberries and the crunch of walnuts served in a perfect avocado. Low-carb lunch doesn’t get any better than this!
There are many recipes for chicken salad – you have the classic recipe which is very simply prepared and then you have loaded recipes with different flavors and textures ranging from sweet to savory. I tend to go with loaded – I love all the extra flavors and variations you can make depending on the season and what’s in your fridge.
Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad: Copycat Recipe Of My Favorite Local Deli Salad
This recipe is one that I experimented with after having some incredibly delicious chicken salad from a local grocery store deli. Paying over $12 per pound I was determined to come up with my own variation that resembled all those delicious flavors.
I started with a mayonnaise base and added a bit of sour cream to give it a little tang and make the dressing extra creamy. Fresh lemon juice and a touch of Dijon mustard add a nice burst of flavor and adding celery, red onion or a milder shallot gives layers of crunch. To make this the best chicken salad ever – add dried cranberries and toasted walnuts for a taste of fall you can enjoy anytime. Now, let’s take this to the next level and find a perfectly ripe and creamy avocado to use as our bowl. OMG Yummmm!
For The Chicken:
I prefer making chicken salad with poached chicken breasts. They’re tender and juicy and packed with flavor. Adding celery, peppercorns, chicken bouillon, garlic and onion while poaching loads additional layers of flavor to the chicken that will help make a delicious chicken salad recipe. You can poach your chicken ahead of time and have it ready in the refrigerator for a few days before making your salad. This is a bonus for food prep, making this quick and delicious.
You can also make this recipe using store-bought rotisserie chicken, or leftover oven-roasted chicken. One thing to note with store-bought rotisserie chicken is it tends to have more sodium. I suggest you only salt to taste so you don’t over-do it.
I think chicken salad texture – meaty chunks of chicken or shredded chicken is a personal preference. I fall somewhere between nice-sized, meaty chunks of chicken and shredded. I tend to cut my chicken into about a 1/2 to 3/4 inch diced pieces. Then I shred a little and dice some down a bit more. It’s a mix of everything. Chop and go with your preference here.
Serving Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad:
I love to serve this chunky chicken salad with low-carb options. Avocados are the perfect pairing if you’re doing a keto-diet. Avocados are loaded with healthy-fats and help satisfy your macro’s. Lettuce cups, low-carb wraps, Italian peppers, zucchini and cucumber boats make great options as well. Or you can just dig in with a fork and enjoy!
Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad
This Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad recipe is easy, delicious and has layers of flavors and textures. Creamy dressing, tangy cranberries and the crunch of walnuts served in a perfect avocado. Low-carb lunch doesn’t get any better than this! For convenience, you can poach the chicken breasts ahead of time or use leftover rotisserie chicken as well.
- 2 1/2 cups chicken breasts (a mix of cubed and shredded)
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 1/2 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/3 cup chopped celery
- 1/4 cup shallots
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Stir in celery, shallots, cranberries, walnuts, and parsley. Fold in cubed chicken. Season with salt & pepper.
Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour for the flavors to meld. Serve with your favorite bread, lettuce cups, or stuffed avocado. Enjoy!
To Poach Chicken Breasts:
- Place 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a pot in a single layer. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.
- Add about 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns, 1-2 garlic cloves, a few sprigs of fresh herbs like parsley, dill, and thyme, and a dried bay leaf.
- Add enough water to cover the chicken by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to maintain a simmer.
- Simmer until the chicken breasts register 165 degrees F at the thickest portion. This will take anywhere from 5-14 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.