Chicken Salad with Apples and Pecans
Chicken Salad with Apples and Pecans is a delicious twist on traditional chicken salad. Apples lend their bright, crisp flavor, while pecans bring a little crunch to the creamy sauce. Apple Chicken Salad is the perfect way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken or Thanksgiving turkey!
I don’t care what anyone says, the best part of Thanksgiving isn’t the oven roasted turkey, the gravy, the creamy mashed potatoes, or the pies. It’s the day-after-Thanksgiving leftovers.
It’s turkey sandwiches stacked high on homemade rolls with a fat slice of Swiss and a smear of Miracle Whip (<<don’t judge me!). It’s stuffing fried in butter on the stove top and finished with a warm, dippy egg. It’s mashed potato cakes with a dollop of sour cream, and cranberry sauce on a Waffled Turkey Sandwich.
In the barrage of Thanksgiving leftovers, I often forget about one of the best and easiest ways to transform poultry into a completely different dish– chicken (or turkey!) salad.
Whether you’ve got leftover rotisserie chicken waiting to be used or a fridge packed full of Thanksgiving turkey, this Chicken Salad with Apples is my favorite way to transform boring leftovers into something we’re excited about eating again.
Tips for Making Apple Chicken Salad
- I don’t know about you, but I like my chicken (or turkey) salad to be more meat and less sauce. If the mayo gets out of hand, I get weird and politely excuse myself from the table. This recipe uses just enough mayo to hold everything together.
- I also prefer that my chicken salad have lots of add-ins, flavor, and crunch. I feel this way about almost everything. Why get one frozen yogurt topping when I could get nine? In some things, less isn’t more, and I believe chicken salad is one of those things.
- Use great bread! Apple Chicken Salad needs a dang delicious vehicle. I love using these make ahead butterhorns, but simple Amish white bread, croissants, or a hearty multigrain sandwich bread are also great options.
How to Make Chicken Salad with Apples
First, let’s talk ingredients. You will need:
- Cooked chicken or turkey, obviously.
- A combination of mayo, sour cream or Greek yogurt, and apple cider vinegar for the sauce
- Apples– I prefer a tart, crisp apple like Pink Lady, Empire, or Cortland
- Dried Cranberries
- Salt and Pepper
This combo has lots of harvesty vibes and strikes the perfect balance of creaminess, crunch, sweetness, and a little bit of tang.
To make apple chicken salad, chop the chicken into bite size pieces and dice the apples, celery, and pecans. Mix together the sauce ingredients and season to taste with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar if desired. Toss everything together and refrigerate until ready to serve!
Can Chicken Salad Be Made Ahead of Time?
Chicken Salad with Apples is an excellent make ahead dish, perfect for toting along to picnics or family gatherings. Keep the chicken salad refrigerated until you’re ready to serve. I recommend choosing a very crisp apple, and serving the salad within 48 hours of preparing it.
I hope you enjoy this fall-inspired take on chicken salad, and don’t forget– turkey makes a great “chicken” salad too! Want more chicken salad recipes? Try my Parmesan Basil Chicken Salad and Cranberry and Pistachio Chicken Salad.
Chicken Salad with Apples
Creamy chicken salad with apples, pecans, and dried cranberries is packed with flavor and a delightful crunch.
- 3 cups leftover chicken or turkey (I used a mix of white and dark), chopped
- 1 tart apple, cored and chopped
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 1/2 cup olive oil mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Pinch salt
- Pinch sugar
- Pinch black pepper
- Bread or rolls for serving
Nutrition Information:Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 563Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 124mgSodium: 396mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 3gSugar: 19gProtein: 29g
Please note nutritional information for my recipes is calculated by a third party service and provided as a courtesy to my readers. For the most accurate calculation, I always recommend running the numbers yourself with the specific products you use.
This sounds amazing but I have a question. My son is severely allergic to apples. Could I substitute pears instead?
Absolutely. You could also use halved grapes or dried cranberries or omit the apples completely.
It’s not Thanksgiving (May 20), and there are no leftovers, but this is our dinner tonight, and you get an extra star because you use Miracle Whip and so do I! I love Waldorf salad and my multi-ingredient chicken salad, but I never combined the two. I will now! And stuffing fried in butter? We can have stuffing in May, right? This really speaks to me. Thanks! I’ll be back…..
I am 100% on board with having this chicken salad and buttery fried stuffing year round! So glad you enjoyed the recipe Barbara!
Chicken (turkey!) salad is one of my favorite things to eat. I would love this!
I love this kind of salad! I’d throw a few grapes in there too! yum!
Yes! I love grapes in chicken salad!
This is so much like one my grandma used to make with almonds! Pecans would be such a luxurious twist
Leftovers are the best! I love a good chicken/turkey salad!
Hope you have a happy Thanksgiving!
Hehe–I’m so glad I’m not the only person who just dreams about leftovers. It really is a crazy blessing! I’m suuuuuch a fan of apple and pecan salad. Yes, please!
I love that you used those rolls in the this leftover sandwich. I made them for our Thanksgiving this weekend (we always celebrate the weekend before with my in-laws), and have plenty leftover, I totally need to make a turkey salad sandwich out of it!
Oh awesome! I hope you all enjoyed the rolls. 🙂 And now I hope you enjoy some turkey salad!
Soooo many goodies going on in the salad! I love it!!
Ohhhh I think everybody agrees about the leftovers being the best part. It makes you wonder why we don’t all make dinner on Wednesday, pack it up and refrigerate it, then reheat it on Thursday 🙂
I love all the flavors and textures. Chicken/turkey salad has to be fun and creative! I also love tons of fro yo toppings, too 😉
I am so with you – the best part of Thanksgiving is the leftovers — and this sandwich proves it. Absolutely gorgeous!
I can’t wait to make this with my leftover turkey!
What a beautiful sandwich!! My family has been making turkey salad with Thanksgiving leftovers for years, it’s such a great idea
I am in love with this, what a fabulous looking sandwich!!
What a terrific sandwich! Why have I never made turkey salad???? I have everything on hand to make this next Friday!
Oh yeah – you have all the delicious food, and none of the work on the day after! 🙂
This is one delicious transformation. I can’t wait to make this salad with my leftovers. Pinned.
My standard response when someone asks what I like best about Thanksgiving is the leftovers. It didn’t take long – just one year of cooking dinner, to know why my mother refused to go anywhere on Thanksgiving. She wasn’t going to give up the leftovers. Your sandwiches are perfect. It’s summer here and that’s terrific picnic food.