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This cranberry walnut chicken salad is an irresistible combination of savory and sweet flavors. Also called Cape Cod chicken salad, it features tender chicken, dried cranberries, walnuts, and celery in a creamy dressing.
Chicken salad is one of the easiest comfort food meals you can make. It’s delicious for lunch or dinner, and it’s a popular dish when you’re feeding a crowd.
This cranberry walnut chicken salad is such a flavorful make-ahead meal. It’s a sweet and savory dish with lots of crunch and a creamy dressing. The honey and apple cider vinegar give it the best flavor.
Also called Cape Cod chicken salad, this dish highlights dried cranberries. These berries are our state fruit here in Massachusetts, and we enjoy them year-round in their dried form. I like to serve this chicken salad with cranberries and walnuts on rolls or lettuce wraps for a light meal.
Step by Step Instructions for this Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad
Step One: Prepare the Chicken
Chop the cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces. Alternately, the chicken can be shredded with two forks after cooking.
Step Two: Prepare the Other Ingredients
In a large bowl, place the chicken, dried cranberries, walnuts, celery, and scallions. Stir to combine.
Step Three: Stir the Dressing into the Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad
Mix together the dressing ingredients, then pour the dressing over the chicken mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to coat.
Cape Cod Chicken Salad Tips & Frequently Asked Questions
You can use leftover cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken for this recipe if you have some on hand. If not, poach chicken breasts in a gentle simmer for about 8 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Alternately, you can cook chicken breasts quickly in the Instant Pot. The chicken can be chopped or shredded to make this cranberry walnut chicken salad. I prefer to chop it into bite sized pieces.
It’s best to dress this salad while the chicken is still warm. However, you should let the chicken cool for several minutes before cutting it so you don’t burn your fingers.
Feel free to substitute almonds or pecans for the walnuts if you’d prefer. Cape Cod chicken salad often uses pecans instead of walnuts. The flavor is delicious either way. You can also add a little red onion, dijon mustard, fresh herbs, lemon juice, or garlic powder to adapt the flavor. Some people like to use plain Greek yogurt in place of the mayonnaise. This recipe is very flexible.
This salad tastes great the next day, and it can be stored for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Try my chicken salad with grapes and almonds for another variation on this delicious recipe.
Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad
- 2 lbs chicken breast
- 2/3 cup organic mayonnaise
- 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbs honey
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup walnuts diced
- 2 stalks of celery diced
- 2 scallions diced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place the chicken in a large pot in a single layer. Pour water over the chicken to cover by an inch (about 6 cups). Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low, and let the chicken simmer gently for 8 minutes. Then use a meat thermometer to see if the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees. If it hasn’t reached this temperature, keep cooking it on medium low heat and check every minute or so. Once the chicken has reached 165 degrees, carefully remove it from the pot to a cutting board.
- While the chicken cools a bit, prepare the dressing. In a medium bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, and honey. Set aside.
- When it’s cool enough to handle, chop or shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
- In a large bowl, place the chicken, dried cranberries, walnuts, celery, and scallions. Stir to combine, then pour the dressing over the chicken mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer the chicken salad to the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Approximate Nutrition Info
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Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad Price Breakdown
This recipe costs a total of $9.76 to make, or $.81 per serving. Try this gluten-free recipe for a delicious meal any time of year.
Note: This post was originally published in 2019, and it was updated in 2022.