Creamy Crunchy Chicken Salad

Cooking for a Crowd, Recipes, Weekend Cooking, Worknight Dinners
chicken salad
chicken salad

Photo: Leigh Loftus

Last week, my friend Rachel and I were chatting over IM during work and we decided that we needed to take advantage of the worldly culture that the great city of Chicago has to offer by bringing a picnic to a free international jazz concert in Millennium Park. It took a little bit of convincing (and the promise of a few bottles of wine) to convince her husband that a multicultural concert in the park was exactly how he wanted to spend his Thursday night, but he relented and the menu planning begun.

chicken salad

Photo: Leigh Loftus

We had a lot of grand plans for a sun-dried tomato dip, pasta salad and cheese and crackers but we also decided that we needed some form of a main course – heartier than cheese, but easy enough to transport and eat on paper plates in the park. I had chicken in my fridge and immediately knew I wanted to make chicken salad.

Because the outing was impromptu and I needed to shower, cook and finish my work (and not in that order), I didn’t want to use anything that wasn’t already in my fridge or pantry. Celery is a perfect way to add bulk and crunch to chicken salad to offset the creaminess of the dressing and the tangy cranberries add a touch of sweetness.

Serve this on whole grain bread as a sandwich, over spinach or greens as a salad or even on top of crackers for a quick lunch or light dinner.

chicken salad

Photo; Leigh Loftus

Creamy Chicken Salad with Cranberries and Almonds
Recipe type: Weeknight Cooking, Weekend Cooking, Cooking for a Crowd
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • ½ cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup chopped celery
  • ⅓ cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup (about 2 ounces) coarsely chopped roasted almonds
  1. Poach chicken: Fill a Dutch oven two-thirds full of water; bring to a boil.
  2. Wrap each chicken breast half completely and tightly in heavy-duty plastic wrap. Add the chicken to boiling water. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165°. Remove from pan, and let stand for 5 minutes. Unwrap chicken and shred; refrigerate for 30 minutes or until cold.
  3. Combine mayonnaise and the next 7 ingredients (through black pepper) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until combined. Add chicken, ⅓ cup celery, cranberries, and almonds; toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve over salad greens.

(Visited 1,931 times, 1 visits today)
Previous Story
Next Story

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    How To Cook Perfect Roast Chicken Cooking Tips
    October 24, 2016 at 12:06 am

    […] dinner that if you’re cooking for one or two two people, will yield you leftovers for chicken salad,  avgolemono chicken soup, or other quick meals all week long. It’s also hard to go wrong with […]

  • Reply
    Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Pumpkin Snack Recipes
    September 14, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    […] the fun things you did as a kid, but with a more sophisticated twist. Picnics in the park can mean sandwiches, but also fancy cheeses and your favorite sparkling wine. Movie and pizza nights mean fresh fig, […]

  • Reply
    February 20, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Aaand I’m hungry! 😀 I’m looking at your salad and craving it – too bad I have no chicken in the fridge at the moment, because I would make it right now 🙂

  • Reply
    February 20, 2016 at 10:22 am

    Yum – I love a chicken salad with salty and sweet components. That is my favorite, and I love how packed that sandwich is with filling. I LOVE it. And I totally wish it was the summer right now because I’d love to have a picnic outside 🙂

  • Reply
    Allison Jones
    February 20, 2016 at 8:45 am

    I love chicken salad. It’s so good on top of Ritz crackers. This looks delicious!


  • Reply
    Patricia @ Grab a Plate
    February 19, 2016 at 10:57 pm

    Sounds like a great Thursday night! I looooove chicken salad, and yours looks so good. I know I’m going to crave this until I make it, so I’m pinning it now 🙂

  • Reply
    February 19, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    This looks delicious! Chicken salad is always a winner.

  • Reply
    Nine Creative Office Lunches | Career Girl NetworkCareer Girl Network
    July 30, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    […] Creamy Crunchy Chicken Salad: When you order chicken salad out, it’s almost always full of hidden fat and calories. Make your own and pack it full of celery, grapes or dried cranberries and chopped almonds. Eat it over lettuce or on a pretzel roll.  Get the recipe. […]

  • Reply
    Summer Picnic Potluck in the Park – In Good Taste
    April 16, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    […] Creamy Chicken Salad with Cranberries & Almonds […]

  • Reply
    Betty @ scrambled hen fruit
    July 25, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    What a fun way to spend an evening! This chicken salad looks like a good choice too- I love cranberries and almonds in mine! 🙂

  • Reply
    Pudding Pie Lane
    July 20, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    I love the flavours going into this, a great mix!

  • Reply
    Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen
    July 20, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    This is my kind of sandwich. I would pile it high and not look back!

  • Reply
    July 19, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    MMMMMMMM. I love chicken salad esp. with almonds and cranberries!!!

  • Reply
    Heavenly Housewife
    July 19, 2011 at 9:58 am

    I just adore a nice chicken salad, and this one sounds amazing. I love how you’ve got sweet and savoury and crunchy all together. I can tell this would be delicious.
    *kisses* HH

  • Reply
    July 18, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Yum! It’s been awhile since I made chicken salad–I’m going to have to try this out!

  • Reply
    July 18, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    I love the sweet chewiness of the cranberries with the crunch of the almonds! I use lots of these same ingredients in my tuna salad so I know this is some good stuff!

  • Reply
    alyssa - fashion fitness foodie
    July 18, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    this reminds me of the chicken salad at trader joes! im in love with it 🙂

  • Reply
    The Harried Cook
    July 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I love all the ingredients in this salad! So yummy… Thanks for the recipe, Maris!

  • Reply
    Erin @ The Speckled Palate
    July 18, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    This chicken salad sounds perfect for any outdoorsy activity, and it sounds a lot lighter than a lot of other chicken salad recipes that I have found online recently. I’m going to have to give this a shot, as I’m a huge chicken salad fan. And I love not using a TON of mayo in it. Thanks, Maris!

  • Reply
    The Teenage Taste
    July 18, 2011 at 11:49 am

    This sandwich looks like the epitome of Summer! I love that you added cranberries. I bet they add the perfect amount of sweetness to the salad.

  • Reply
    July 18, 2011 at 10:57 am

    What a delicious and light chicken salad! And a perfect venue to enjoy it, I might add.

  • Reply
    Christina @ Sweet Pea's Kitchen
    July 18, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Such a delicious looking chicken salad! So simple and delicious! 😀

  • Reply
    Rachel W.
    July 18, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Would we call the Cuban group a jazz group? Haha.

  • Reply
    July 18, 2011 at 10:43 am

    I love a good chicken salad! The addition of the dried cranberries and almonds sounds delicious. We have those Jazz in the Park concerts downtown on Thursdays here also. Not as grand as Chicago’s I’m sure but fun to pack wine, food and chairs for a fun night of music and people watching 😉

  • Reply
    July 18, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Yummy! This looks so simple and delicious. I might just have to make this for lunch 🙂

  • Reply
    July 18, 2011 at 9:44 am

    love throwing something sweet like dried cranberries or cherries in chicken salad!!

  • Reply
    July 18, 2011 at 8:21 am

    I love adding celery to my creamy salads! This is a great way to change up chicken salad, looks great! I’m a little jealous of your Chicago culture 🙂 We don’t have an abundance of that in my little suburban town…or maybe I need to open my eyes a little more 🙂

  • Reply
    Kitchen Belleicious
    July 18, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Your killing me. I can’t keep up with you and your posts! I have missed like 3 since last friday? Anyway, I love love me some chicken salad. It is all I craved with my first son and it is all I am craving now while begin prego with this little one. Your version sounds perfect with the almonds and cranberries. I like a little crunch to my chicken salad too!

  • Reply
    July 18, 2011 at 6:46 am

    A very delicious combination of flavours. I love chicken salad..but never tried a creamy one…the addition of nuts and cranberries must have added so much more flavours and textures to the sandwich.

  • Reply
    July 18, 2011 at 6:36 am

    You just turned chicken salad from some boring thing that my mom used to make to something delicious and craveable!

  • Reply
    Blond Duck
    July 18, 2011 at 6:10 am

    This looks much better than the typical chicken salad!

  • Reply
    Aimee @ clever muffin
    July 18, 2011 at 3:18 am

    This looks so mouth watering! I’m hungry for lunch now and it’s only 9am…what have you done …. 🙂

  • Reply
    July 18, 2011 at 1:46 am

    An outdoor picnic with multicultural notes?! That’s exactly how I would LOVE to spend a Thursday night! It sounds so perfect.

  • Reply
    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    July 18, 2011 at 12:58 am

    Maris, you’re reading my mind! I have lots of turkey and cranberries and was wondering what to do with them 🙂

  • Reply
    July 18, 2011 at 12:56 am

    This would be a dream picnic for me. Music, wine and sandwich with friends in the park. I like the addition of cranberries in the sandwich .. it will add that refreshing sweet taste in every bite.

  • Reply
    Little Inbox
    July 17, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    You have so much goodies sandwiched in between. 🙂

  • Reply
    Ali Grace
    July 17, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    I’m a chicken salad freak! Seriously a freak… I love all kinds. I just made some with cranberries and almonds for the 4th of July, but I’ve never thought to use white wine vinegar. Great idea! Also – I’ve never cooked my chicken that way but I’m definitely going to give it a try. Thanks so much!

  • Reply
    Maria @ Scandifoodie
    July 17, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    Oh I love those flavours and this could easily be made into a full veggie meal as well!

  • Reply
    Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray
    July 17, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Sounds like a great Thursday night! I hope the concert was good–I have only been to Chicago once, but Millennium Park was one of my favorite stops (along with deep dish pizza and the art museum, haha). 🙂

  • Reply
    July 17, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Sounds great to me, I love the punch the cranberries add. Hope you had a nice weekend.

  • Reply
    July 17, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    I have been craving chicken salad lately so this post is quite timely. I really love the idea of using dried cranberries and almonds to make the chicken salad different. I know what I’m making tomorrow.

  • Reply
    Junia @ Mis Pensamientos
    July 17, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    ahh i love picnics in the park! chicken salad is a fabulous choice to bring. i am having a picnic with the ladies from my church and we are calling it “bring the ultimate picnic salad”! 😀

  • Reply
    July 17, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    What a wonderfully gourmet twist on the usual mayo central chicken salad! I love dried cranberries and almonds in everything; looking forward to all Chicago offers when I visit in August!

  • Reply
    Daryl (Mom)
    July 17, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Wish I had this (and you!) in front of me right this very minute.

  • Reply
    July 17, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Just wanna say YUM!

  • Reply
    July 17, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    This could very well replace my favorite sandwich of all time. Yum!

  • Reply
    Lynne @ 365 Days of Baking
    July 17, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    I’m not waiting for a picnic, this needs to be made now!

  • Reply
    Shari @ Chicago Cuisine Critique
    July 17, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Looks delicious! 🙂

  • Reply
    Divya Yadava
    July 17, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Neat idea – would never have thought of adding cranberries and almonds!

  • Reply
    July 17, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    This looks really delicious! I may substitute the cranberries for green grapes, just to see if it tastes like the stuff in the grocery stores!

  • Reply
    July 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Chicken salad sandwich is one of my favorites! Love the addition of cranberries AND roasted almonds. That sounds fantastic together.

  • Reply
    July 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Wow, creative and very interesting, salted nuts and dried fruits is an awesome combination, even on its own as a snack. I wonder how well celery fitted in?

  • Reply
    July 17, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    one of my favorites, yum! i haven’t made it at home though!

  • Reply
    July 17, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    wonderful chicken salad recipe and what a cool city to be in especially in the summer

  • Reply
    Lisa of Lisa's Yarns
    July 17, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    This sounds delicious. I have been eating the same things for lunch week after week, I should mix it up and make this!!

  • Reply
    Laura @ SweetSavoryPlanet
    July 17, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Chicken salad on crackers in a park with music and wine! Why would anyone have to be convinced? This is one of my favorite things about summer is music festivals/events and picnics in the park. Great picnic menu.

  • Reply
    Simply Life
    July 17, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    looks like the perfect sandwich for an outdoor picnic!

  • Leave a Reply

    Rate this recipe:  

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.