Table of Contents
  1. Why this recipe works.
  2. Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.
  3. Here’s how to make this recipe.
  4. These pro tips will make this recipe a success.
  5. Frequently asked questions about this recipe.
  6. You'll love these other sandwich recipes.
  7. Watch how to make this recipe.
  8. Have I convinced you to make this recipe?
  9. Pecan & Apple Chicken Salad Recipe

The perfect dish for transitioning from summer to fall, this take on chicken salad brings together the flavors of autumn while holding onto the best of the summer. Light, perfectly poached chicken gets tossed in a dressing with hints of Dijon mustard and maple syrup. Roasted pecans, apples, and dried cranberries provide the texture and fall flavoring. This fall chicken salad will become a new favorite with its versatility for any meal.

Why this recipe works.

When I was growing up, chicken salad was big. By big, I mean it was… everywhere. There were recipes for classic chicken salads, curry chicken salads, and everything in between. This was for good reason: chicken salad always satisfies.

The idea is simple. Chicken, something crunchy, a good sauce, and done. Sounds easy, but it can quickly go wrong. The chicken is often dry and tasteless, the sauce can be overwhelming, and the extra add-ins get lost.

The answer to the perfect chicken salad is in this recipe. It all begins with good chicken and one that has both flavor and moisture. A quick court-boullion, we just call it stock, will both flavor and keep the natural moisture inside the meat. The dressing balances tangy and sweet with a bit of maple for an autumnal spin. Apples give crunch with candied pecans and dried cranberries. This is chicken salad not just for fall but anytime you can the perfect chicken salad.

White plate with apple chicken salad sandwich sitting on top with more chicken salad in background.

Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.

  • Chicken is a good lean protein and the main ingredient in this recipe. For the most flavor, choose chicken breast that was raised well and is organic.
  • Apple provides a sweet-tart crunch to the salad that takes the place of celery by adding more flavor.
  • Pecans are candied with a glaze that will toast the nuts while providing a sweet and salty finish.
  • Mayonnaise, like the traditional recipe, is still the main sauce ingredient but is balanced with other ingredients, so it is creamy, sweet, and tangy. Out of mayonnaise? Make sure to check out my recipe for homemade mayonnaise.
White marble surface filled with all ingredients needed to make chicken salad including raw chicken breasts, pecans, spices, mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, and more.

Here’s how to make this recipe.

  1. Poach the chicken. Fill a medium saucepan with 2 quarts of water. Chop the carrot and celery into thirds and add to the water. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze it into the pot along with the lemon halves. Chop an onion in half and place in the pot. Add in sprigs of parsley and thyme, and the bay leaves. Season with the peppercorns and kosher salt. Add in the chicken and place over medium heat. Let simmer gently for 12 to 18 minutes, until the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 160°F. Remove the chicken and set aside to cool. The residual heat will raise the temperature of the chicken to 165°F, which is considered fully cooked.
  1. Toast the pecans. In a medium pan, melt butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add in the pecans, maple syrup, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic powder, onion powder, and kosher salt. Toss and cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until the pecans are glazed. Once cooked, place them on parchment paper to cool.
  1. Create the dressing. In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, black pepper, and salt. Mix until everything is fully combined.
  1. Assemble the salad. Dice the apple and chicken into small pieces. Add into the bowl with the dressing. Add in the pecans, dried cranberries, and mix together. Serve however desired, whether on bread or alone.

These pro tips will make this recipe a success.

  • While poaching the chicken, it should only be brought to a gentle simmer, with bubbles coming up to the surface slowly. This way, it will not get overcooked, and it can absorb the full flavor and retain moisture.
  • Freeze the poaching liquid from the chicken to be used later. It holds great flavor and can be used for things like soup in the future.
  • The longer the salad sits, the more it will marinate, and the elements will absorb the flavoring of the dressing.
  • If making the chicken salad ahead of serving, reserve the candied pecans. As the pecans sit in the mayonnaise dressing, they will tend to become soggy. So add the pecans right before you’re ready to eat the chicken salad.
Pieces of chopped chicken tossed with pieces of apple, dried cranberries, and candied pecans.

Frequently asked questions about this recipe.

Can this be made ahead of time?

Yes, just be sure to wait to add the pecans until right before serving. Otherwise, the pecans can become soggy. The chicken can also be prepared a day before and kept in the refrigerator.

What can this be served with?

This is perfect paired with your favorite slices of bread. Also, try a scoop of chicken salad on top of a lettuce salad, with roasted vegetables, or with crackers for a snack.

Can I add white wine to poach the chicken?

Yes, traditionally, court-boullion has white wine, and it does add a great flavor and acidity. Add up to ½ cup to the court-boullion.

How long does this recipe keep after preparing?

Once prepared, store the salad in the refrigerator, and it will last for 7 to 10 days.

Sliced sandwich with apple chicken salad in the middle with lettuce and more chicken salad in the background.

Watch how to make this recipe.

More fall recipes

Have I convinced you to make this recipe?

I hope you make this recipe and put some food on your table. Leave a comment and share a star rating so you can let others know how much you love this recipe. This helps show others that this is a recipe they, too, can make, enjoy, and love!

Large white bowl filled with pecan and apple chicken salad tossed with a creamy dressing along with dried cranberries.

Pecan & Apple Chicken Salad

5 from 2 votes
The perfect dish for transitioning from summer to fall, this take on chicken salad brings together the flavors of autumn while holding onto the best of the summer. Light, perfectly poached chicken gets tossed in a dressing with hints of Dijon mustard and maple syrup. Roasted pecans, apples, and dried cranberries provide the texture and fall flavoring. This fall chicken salad will become a new favorite with its versatility for any meal.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

For the chicken

  • 2 qt water
  • 1 stalk celery roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot roughly chopped
  • 1 whole lemon
  • 1 whole onion cut in half
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 lb chicken breasts (about 2 breasts)

For the candied pecans

  • ½ tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup pecan halves
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt

For the chicken salad

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 apple cored and diced
  • ½ cup dried cranberries

Instructions
 

For the chicken

  • In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the water, celery, carrot, lemon (sliced, squeezed, with both halves added), onion, thyme, parsley, bay leaves, peppercorns, kosher salt, and chicken breasts. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook until the chicken registers 160°F, 12-18 minutes. Remove the chicken and set it aside to cool. The residual heat will raise the temperature of the chicken to 165°F, which is considered fully cooked.
    2 qt water, 1 stalk celery, 1 carrot, 1 whole lemon, 1 whole onion, 1 sprig fresh thyme, 1 bunch fresh parsley, 3 bay leaves, 1 tsp black peppercorns, 1 tbsp kosher salt, 1 lb chicken breasts (about 2 breasts)

For the pecans

  • In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the pecans, maple syrup, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic powder, onion powder, and kosher salt. Stir the ingredients together and cook over medium heat until the pecans are toasted and glazed, 6-8 minutes.
    ½ tbsp unsalted butter, ¾ cup pecan halves, 1 tbsp maple syrup, ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp turmeric, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp onion powder, ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • Remove from the heat and pour the pecans onto parchment paper to cool.

For the chicken salad

  • In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, black pepper, kosher salt, diced apple, and dried cranberries. Mix until everything is well combined.
    ½ cup mayonnaise, 3 tbsp Greek yogurt, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 2 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp maple syrup, ½ tsp black pepper, ½ tsp kosher salt, 1 apple, ½ cup dried cranberries
  • Dice the cooked and cooled chicken into ½-inch pieces and add them to the bowl. Break the cooled glazed pecans in half and add them to the bowl as well. If making the salad ahead, wait to add pecans until serving. Mix everything together to combine. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • While poaching the chicken, it should only be brought to a gentle simmer, with bubbles coming up to the surface slowly. This way, it will not get overcooked, and it can absorb the full flavor and retain moisture.
  • Freeze the poaching liquid from the chicken to be used later. It holds great flavor and can be used for things like soup in the future.
  • The longer the salad sits, the more it will marinate, and the elements will absorb the flavoring of the dressing.
  • If making the chicken salad ahead of serving, reserve the candied pecans. As the pecans sit in the mayonnaise dressing, they will tend to become soggy. So add the pecans right before you’re ready to eat the chicken salad.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving (no bread)Calories: 320kcal
Course Lunch
Cuisine American
Difficulty Easy
Method Cooking

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Kaleb

I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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1 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Tried this the day after I saw it posted and it was delicious! We had it on croissants with a side salad. Definitely making it again.