This Walnut Cranberry Chicken Salad hits the spot: creamy, crunchy, slightly sweet and tangy.
It’s super easy to make, but has tons of flavor. With walnuts, sweet and tart dried cranberries and lots of fresh herbs, this chicken salad recipe is absolutely craving!
Also, if you’re not a big mayo fan, you’ll love that there’s no mayo: it’s made with Greek yogurt instead.
The perfect light lunch recipe, this easy chicken salad recipe is extra quick to make if you have boiled or fried chicken on hand (which I highly recommend – see also: 11 Things to Do With Leftover Fried Chicken).
Walnut chicken salad with dried cranberries
I’m a huge fan of chicken salad and how versatile it is, but I don’t like 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 with lots of crunch, herbs and fruit, so this is definitely my go-to chicken salad! The sweet and savory flavors balance so well.
This easy Cranberry Chicken Salad is great for lunch, in a wrap, or in a sandwich and is really easy to make ahead of time.
Plus, throwing it together only takes a few minutes if you’re using pre-cooked or rotisserie chicken. (Here’s how to carve and easily shred a whole cooked chicken, with step-by-step instructions!)
(Check out my other similar lunch favorites too: No Avocado Mayo Tuna Salad and No Mayo Egg Salad!).
For this Mayo-Free Chicken Salad you will need:
- shredded or diced cooked chicken (You can make it yourself or use a rotisserie chicken to save time!)
- plain Greek yogurt (Make sure it’s plain, with no flavors or added sugars. Full-fat Greek yogurt is great for the best flavor and creamy texture! It’s also more filling.)
- dried cranberries (I used regular sweetened dried cranberries here. I wouldn’t recommend unsweetened dried cranberries as they can 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 want to serve with this cranberry chicken salad: bread or pita (for sandwiches), a whole wheat tortilla (for wraps), shabby crackers, crunchy veggies, etc.
How to Make Cranberry Chicken Salad
Start by dicing or shredding cooked chicken. Chop dried cranberries, celery, walnuts and parsley. Cut the spring onions into thin slices.
Next, in a large bowl, stir together the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, parsley, scallions, and salt and pepper until smooth and combine.
Add chicken, dried cranberries, celery and walnuts. Roll well to coat.
Garnish with more fresh parsley and chopped spring onions, if you like. Serve on toast, in a sandwich, in a wrap or pita, with crackers, with crunchy vegetables or on its own!
Feel free to add some baby spinach or arugula for extra veggie power.
This healthy chicken salad is a great meal prep recipe – simply refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Which dried cranberries should I use/buy?
Sweetened dried cranberries are perfect here for a nice balance of sweet, tart, savory and herbal flavors.
Unsweetened dried cranberries are often hard to find and can be too tart in this recipe, but feel free to use them if you prefer.
I love the dense chewing of dried cranberries in chicken salad, but if you want softer/juicier fruit in the mix, you can rehydrate the dried cranberries before mixing.
Simply 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 tossing into the chicken salad!
If you prefer fresh fruit, you can also make this recipe with sliced grapes instead of dried cranberries! I just recommend cutting them into small pieces so they’re easier to 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 plenty of side dishes that go deliciously with it! Here are a few ideas:
A selection of crunchy veggies like carrot sticks, sliced peppers and celery sticks would also make a tasty and nutritious side dish!
I love how easy, versatile, and flavorful this chicken salad recipe is – so great for lunch meal prep! You can find the full recipe at the end of this post.
What’s a quick and easy lunch you love? Let me know in the comments!
More healthy lunch recipes to try:
Easier Roast Chicken Dishes:
approx. 4 cups (~8 servings)
2/3 cup plain 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 spring onions, thinly sliced (optional)
3 cups cooked, diced, or shredded chicken (white and/or dark meat)*
3 sticks of 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 spring onions until combined.
- Add the chicken, celery, cranberries, and walnuts and stir to coat the dressing.
- Serve immediately or store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
*I got 3 cups of diced chicken from a small/medium fried chicken and used both the light and dark meat. Feel free to use leftover cooked skinless chicken – light or dark meat, or a mix of both.
**If you prefer fresh fruit, grapes are also a good choice here – just dice relatively small so that they can be easily incorporated into the salad.