Cranberry Chicken Salad with Walnuts on whole grain bread

Cranberry Chicken Salad with Walnuts

This creamy, crunchy chicken salad adds sweet-tart dried cranberries and toasted walnuts to a classic recipe for a delicious fall lunch. For convenience, you can poach the chicken breasts ahead or use leftover rotisserie chicken as well!
Course Lunch, Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken salad recipe, fall chicken salad, how to make chicken salad
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 274kcal
Author Amanda Biddle


  • 2-1/2 cups cubed poached or rotisserie chicken breast , chilled (see cooking notes below)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (to taste, depending on how tart you like it)
  • 1/3 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion or shallot
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley , chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper


  • In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Stir in celery, red onion, cranberries, walnuts, and parsley. Fold in cubed chicken. 
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour for the flavors to meld. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper before serving. 
  • We like this chicken salad best on 4-grain bread, lightly-toasted farmhouse white, or croissants.



To Poach Chicken Breasts:

  1. Place 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a pot in a single layer. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.
  2. Add about 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns and some aromatics to the pot, such as 1-2 garlic cloves, a few sprigs of fresh herbs like parsley, dill, and thyme, and a dried bay leaf.
  3. Add enough water to cover the chicken by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to maintain a simmer. You may see a white foamy substance in the pot as the chicken breasts cook; this is normal, you can either skim it away or leave it alone.
  4. 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.
  5. Store poached chicken breasts, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.


This chicken salad can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days from when the chicken was cooked. The chicken will absorb some of the dressing as the salad sits overnight. I like to make a little extra dressing to hold on the side and toss with the chicken salad, as needed, if I'm serving it the next day.


Calories: 274kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 307mg | Potassium: 290mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 290IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 0.6mg