Fall is the perfect time for a hearty salad. This chicken salad with pecans and apples is full of flavor and nutrients that will keep you going all winter long! If you’re looking for an easy dish to make this fall, look no further than this Fall Chicken Salad with Pecans and Apples. The ingredients are simple, but they come together to make a delicious lunch or dinner that’s good any day of the year!
Shredded rotisserie chicken is tossed with fresh apples, pecans, celery, dried cranberries, Greek yogurt, mayo, and simple spices. This meal is quick and easy to make and produces a flavorful, gourmet chicken salad.
What is Chicken Salad?
Chicken salad is a dish consisting of chopped or diced, boiled chicken mixed with mayonnaise, and usually containing other ingredients such as celery, onion, pepper, salt and spices. Chicken salad can be served on bread or rolls as a sandwich filling (usually in the form of a club sandwich), in lettuce cups (as an alternative to tuna fish), atop crackers, or over a bed of greens.
The ingredients are very flexible, so you can change them up with your favorite flavors or what might be in your refrigerator at the time. Chicken, especially rotisserie style, is very accommodating to added spices, as well as sweet and savory add-ins!
Fall Chicken Salad Ingredients
- Chicken: For this recipe, we used pulled rotisserie chicken from Walmart. They sell a product that is already pulled and ready to use. We like it because of the convenience and added flavor. You can also pull a rotisserie chicken yourself which would be about $2 cheaper.
- Dressing: Typically, chicken salad is made with creamy mayonnaise. While this is still the case with this fall chicken salad, we cut the mayo in half by 50% and use Greek Nonfat yogurt to add more flavor and less calories. We also added a little acid to this recipe which was in the form of apple cider vinegar which added nice flavor.
- Spices: Since we used rotisserie chicken, we didn’t have to go too heavy on seasonings. I added a simple salt and pepper to mine. However, if you use plain chicken, celery salt, onion, and garlic powder are great options.
- Add-ins: For this fall chicken salad, we added fresh apple, pecan halves, dried cranberries, and celery. Finely diced onion, and grapes are other additional options we love to use. See our Chicken Salad with Grapes recipe for a slightly different variation.
Chicken Salad Variations
Chicken is one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen, so it’s no surprise that there are many ways to make a tasty chicken salad sandwich. It can be made sweet or savory depending on what you add into the mix-sweetness from honey, tanginess from sour cream or acidity from lemon juice and vinegar. You can also change up your favorite mayo by adding something unexpected like paprika for color and flavor!
- Chicken: You can use boiled chicken, canned chicken, leftover chicken, rotisserie chicken–pretty much any leftover chicken without the skin on.
- Nuts: I love pecans because they have a delicious flavor that is not bitter. You can however use cashews, almonds, or walnuts if that is what you have on hand.
- Dressing: You can use mayonnaise, Miracle Whip, sour cream, and on Non-fat Greek yogurt. Some people even use coleslaw or ranch dressing!
- Fruits: Raisins (traditional and golden), grapes, dried apricot, cranberry, apples, and mandarin oranges are tasty options.
- Flavor: Chicken salad can be made sweet or savory–maybe even both. Apple cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, or lemon juice can add a flavor balance. Paprika, cumin, or even cinnamon can add a new depth of flavor.
- Cheese: Sometimes I add little cubes of cheddar to my chicken salad which adds yummy texture, and flavor.
Making Chicken Salad Healthier
One of the best ways is by using less mayonnaise. First off, you can swap out the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt or light sour cream. The result will be a lighter chicken salad that is still just as creamy! Second, add veggies like celery and carrots for some color and crunchy texture. Fresh fruit like grapes, and apples add texture, and natural sugars. Lastly, top it off with fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro! You’ll still have that classic taste you know and love but it’ll be a lot better for you too :)
I stored my chicken salad in a clean, airtight, deli container for 3 days. It tasted yummy and fresh, but I would not store it past 4 days total! At this time, I am not sure if this can be frozen.
Yummy Chicken Salad Recipes
Want more chicken salad inspo for mealtime? Check out these recipes below!
- Double Ranch Wraps
- Chicken Bowtie Pasta Salad
- Grilled Sriracha Chicken Salad
- Chicken Salad Cucumber Cups
- Creamy Sweet Chicken Salad
Fall Chicken Salad with Pecans and Apples
- large mixing bowl
- cutting board & knife
- Measuring cups & spoons
- 16 ounces rotisserie chicken
- 1 cup pecan halves
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup celery chopped
- 1 large Granny Smith apple cored, diced
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup non-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Add all the ingredients to a large bowl, and mix to combine. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld. Serve on your choice of bread, or greens.
Donna H says
This is a staple at our house. We use the precooked chicken strips, and add some sugar or honey to the dressing.