About This Recipe
Apple Pecan Chicken Cranberry Salad is a wonderful recipe that bridges the seasons of summer and fall. It’s a cold main dish salad perfect for hot summer days, but the apples, pecans, and cranberries evoke feelings of fall and cool weather. It reminds me of my Salmon Apple Pasta Salad, but there is no pasta in this recipe and the salad is simpler.
I like using Granny Smith apples in any salad, for several reasons. One, they are always available and always delicious and crisp. Two, they do not brown as quickly as other apple varieties, so they will still look fresh and delicious even after a few days in a salad. And three, they are quite tart and add interest to any recipe. You can, of course, use your favorite apple varieties in this salad. Just be sure you coat the apple pieces in lemon juice so they don’t turn brown.
These ingredients call out for a mustard salad dressing that is creamy and light. Honey mustard is the best choice here. The apples and cranberries are quite tart, so you need some sweetness for balance.
And as always, use rotisserie chickens instead of making them yourself. Rotisserie chickens are always perfectly cooked, safe, and delicious with tender and juicy meat.
How to make the best Apple Pecan Chicken Cranberry Salad
- Make the dressing before you start doing anything else. Make the dressing in the bowl you plan to keep the salad in. Then you can just add ingredients as you work.
- The chicken should be broken down while it is still hot, and the meat cubed and added to the dressing as soon as possible. That way the meat absorbs the dressing and stays juicy and tender.
- You can toast the pecans if you’d like, for about 5 to 8 minutes in a 350°F oven for more flavor and crunch, but you don’t have to.
- It’s a good idea to make extra dressing then just keep it in the fridge. That way you can add more to the salad as needed over the next few days.
Why this recipe works
- The combination of textures and flavors in this fresh salad is delicious. It’s sweet, tart, savory, crunchy, tender, and creamy.
In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, salad dressing, honey mustard, and lemon juice and whisk to combine. You
Add the chicken while it is still warm. Stir in the apples, pecans, and cranberries and mix to coat.
Cover and chill for 2 to 4 hours before serving. Store covered in the refrigerator.