I made a batch of this Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad for a recent bridal shower. Piled on mini croissants with a lettuce leaf, it was the perfect luncheon entree.

This is the Best Chicken Salad Recipe with a creamy dressing enhanced with sour cream, plus chewy Craisins, and crunchy pecans. It’s absolutely irresistible!

Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad for a Crowd on a croissant.

Why You Must Make

  • This simple chicken salad recipe is perfect for tailgates, grad parties, and baby or bridal showers.
  • Serving on mini croissants makes this more elegant than a typical chicken salad sandwich.
  • Cutting the mayonnaise dressing with sour cream and a splash of lemon juice makes a spectacular dressing.
  • Plus, the add-ins provide crunchy and chewy elements!

Ingredient Notes

  • Kitchen Staples – Salt, Freshly ground Black Pepper
  •  Mayonnaise – Hellmann’s and Duke’s brands preferred
  •  Sour Cream – Use full fat for the best flavor
  • Lemon Juice – Always use fresh, never bottled for the best flavor. I like storing extra lemon juice in the freezer when I don’t need all the juice from a lemon. The acid balances the richness of the salad dressing.
  • Celery – Diced
  • Apple – Chopped into small cubes. May leave the peel on for color if desired.
  • Craisins  – Dried cranberries. May use dried cherries instead. Add sweetness.
  • Pecans – Chopped. Toast first to bring out their essential oils, making them more flavorful. These provide crunch.
  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts – Cooked, cooled, and chopped. May use a couple of rotisserie chickens instead.
Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad for a Crowd in a serving bowl.

How to Make Chicken Salad

  • Chop the chicken, apples, and celery. Gather the rest of the ingredients.
  • Whisk together the dressing, then add in the other ingredients.
  • Taste for seasonings and add more salt or lemon juice if needed.
  • Chill for at least an hour or even overnight in a covered container.
  • Serve on croissants or bread of choice.

Recipe Tips

  • I grew up eating tuna salad sandwiches made simply with canned tuna, mayo, and diced celery. It was only decades later that I found that cutting the mayonnaise with some sour cream kicked my tuna up a couple of notches.
  • Plus I started adding capers, pickles, a little lemon juice, and even fresh dill. Next came chicken salad, which also benefited from some sour cream. Dried fruits, nuts, and diced Granny Smith apples provided some crunch, sweetness, and depth of flavor. No matter what you choose to add, I think you’ll become an instant fan of this chicken salad sandwich recipe!
  • Make sure everything is cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • You can also make mini sandwiches using Hawaiian buns. Or a regular sandwich with two slices of your favorite bread. But chicken salad croissants are always a hit!
  • PRO-Tip: Utilize your slow cooker and make Crockpot Chicken Breasts, a hands-off method of cooking the chicken for this recipe.
  • You can also use leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken. I don’t recommend using canned chicken.
  • Raisins or Craisins can be used instead of dried cherries.
Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad on a croissant served on a small white plate.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Store Chicken Salad?

As long as it hasn’t been left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, it’s safe to store your chicken salad in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Stir before using.

Can You Freeze Chicken Salad?

Unfortunately, chicken salad doesn’t freeze well. Many of the ingredients will get watery when defrosted, so the quality will suffer.

What Can You Add to Chicken Salad to Boost the Flavor?

Adding acid to the dressing provides a delicious punch of flavor and also balances the richness. This recipe uses lemon juice, but pickle juice is another option. Dried fruit and nuts will contribute flavor along with crunchy and chewy textures.

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Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad for a Crowd

Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad for a Crowd

Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Yield 16 servings

The best chicken salad recipe for entertaining.


  • 1 ½ cups mayonnaise
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 2-3 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ cup diced celery
  • ¾ cup chopped apple (I used Granny Smith)
  • 1 cup Craisins (dried cranberries)
  • ¾ cups chopped pecans (toast first for the best flavor)
  • 3- 3 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked, cooled, and chopped


  1. Whisk together, the mayonnaise, sour cream, salt, pepper, and lemon juice (use the smaller amount of salt and lemon juice to start).
  2. Stir in chicken, celery, apples, and Craisins.
  3. Taste for seasonings and add more salt and lemon juice if needed.
  4. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors meld.
  5. Serve as a salad over a crisp lettuce leaf or as a sandwich on a bun or croissant.


Servings depend on the size of your rolls or croissants and what else is being served at your brunch, picnic or luncheon.

May use raisins instead of Craisins or omit them. May use another nut like walnuts or omit them.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 396Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 99mgSodium: 611mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 1gSugar: 9gProtein: 32g


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