Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad for a Crowd
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!
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!
- 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.
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.
- 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
Unfortunately, chicken salad doesn’t freeze well. Many of the ingredients will get watery when defrosted, so the quality will suffer.
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.
You May Also Like:
- Cuban Sandwiches (Cubanos) from The Food Charlatan
- Reuben Sandwich Sliders from Spend with Pennies
- Fruity Chicken Salad with grapes and dried cherries
- Tuna Cranberry Pecan Salad Sandwich
- Pressed Brick Sandwich
- Cuban Sandwich
- Plus, if you’re adventurous, try your hand with this recipe for Homemade Croissants!
- More of the Best Entree Recipes
Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad for a Crowd
The best chicken salad recipe for entertaining.
- 1½ 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
- Whisk together, the mayonnaise, sour cream, salt, pepper, and lemon juice (use the smaller amount of salt and lemon juice to start).
- Stir in chicken, celery, apples, and Craisins.
- Taste for seasonings and add more salt and lemon juice if needed.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors meld.
- 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.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 396Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 99mgSodium: 611mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 1gSugar: 9gProtein: 32g
20 Comments on “Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad for a Crowd”
I love everything about this chicken salad! The creamy sauce and crunchy apples and pecans and the sweetness of the dried cranberries, SO GOOD!
So easy to make! We love to make this for lunch! It’s a favorite!
This is such a delicious lunch!! My family really loved it!
I made this for church, and got so much positive feed back on it. It was delicious!
Oh, you made my day, Elisabeth! I’m so glad it was a hit 🙂
This chicken salad looks amazing, love the addition of pecans and cranberries!
My picky family would turn their noses up at the nuts and fruits. No worries though I will gladly take their portions!
Coming to your blog makes me hungry!! 🙂
This is a great chicken salad sandwich! I make it for lunch for us, but have never thought of serving it to a crowd. Great idea and such a nice presentation!
How many cups of rotisserie chicken would be the equivalent in this recipe?
My quick calculations puts the measurement at about 8 cups of shredded/cubed rotisserie chicken. I think you’d be safe with 3 rotisserie chickens. Hope that helps!
3/4 lb of chicken yields about 2 cups of cooked, chopped meat / 1 1/2 lb = 4 cups / 3 pounds = 8 cups and you should get up to 3 cups from a 2 lb chicken.
Thanks so much for the prompt reply! I have so recipes on my Pinterest boards from you – keep the great ideas coming!
This looks like a lunch I could eat all week, and totally will. Love a good chunky chicken salad, especially on a nice croissant!
I love chicken salad and serving it on a croissant is a must! This looks wonderful!
This chicken salad looks like a way better version than the one I grew up eating! I love that you served it on mini croissants. How delightful!
Chicken salad is one of my favorites! Love this simple recipe – it always seems so perfect for a luncheon or party!
The sour cream tip is good one. Heck this whole recipe is good — who doesn’t like chicken salad? And you’ve added a ton of flavor to yours. Thanks!
I love your trick of blending in some sour cream – I bet that does send this beautiful salad over the top. Yummy!
apples and craisins? WOW now that one heck of a great chicken salad. I have a ton of leftover from the 4th chicken breast I bet it will be an awesome addition to the grilled flavor! thanks Liz!
Who wouldn’t love a croissant sandwich! This looks droolworthy, Liz.