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Apple pecan chicken salad is an easy meal that packs big, satisfying flavor. With either leftover chicken or canned chicken you can easily mix up a delicious chicken salad with pecans, granny smith apples, and the right blend of seasoning. Crispy, crunchy, creamy, all in one bite!
As a stay at home mom, I’m always looking for satisfying quick lunch I can toss together while my son eats or plays. This apple pecan chicken salad recipe is one of my favorite go to meals. I can throw it together in minutes, and it keeps well so I have an easy meal for a few days. The combination of crisp, tart apple, buttery pecans, and a creamy light sauce is delicious and can be enjoyed on your favorite sandwich bread or a crisp cracker!
The ingredients for making this chicken salad with pecans are easy to get and very likely in your pantry already. While I recommend mayo for the best flavor, I also have an option to lighten it up should you wish.
- Chicken – Either drained, canned chicken or shredded chicken breast work well here.
- Mayo – A nice, olive oil based mayonnaise is perfect. If you’re wanting to cut back on fat and calories, feel free to substitute up to half with plain greek yogurt.
- Apples – Use a tart, crisp apple. I prefer granny smith, but pink lady apples will do in a pinch.
- Pecans – Buttery, crunchy, delicious. Chop up and throw in. Almonds are also delicious, and I use them just as often in this exact recipe, depending on what I have on hand.
- Garlic Powder – A little goes a long way in adding big flavor.
- Dried Thyme – One of my favorite fresh herbs, I always have dried on hand to use when I’m out of fresh. It holds up so well in the creamy sauce and no chopping required.
- Sugar – If this has you scratching your head, just trust me. It’s so incredible how just a little bit transforms the entire salad.
- Lemon Zest & Juice – The tang of the juice and the mellow citrus of the zest with the tart apples lift through the mayo.
- Salt & Pepper – The cornerstone seasonings for every dish, they’re just as essential here.
Mix your Apple Pecan Chicken Salad
Making chicken salad is about as simple as it gets. In a big bowl combine everything…then eat! In less than 20 minutes you can prep, mix, and be eating a very tasty apple pecan chicken sandwich!
- Shred your chicken, or drain the canned chicken you’re using well and place in a large bowl.
- Chop your pecans and apples. I prefer small squares for my apples, and pecan pieces no larger than a dime. This ensures even distribution of ingredients and a nice coating on everything in every bite. Add both to the chicken in the bowl.
- Zest and juice the lemon, and assemble your seasonings.
- Add the mayo (or your mayo/greek yogurt combo) and toss lightly just to start mixing.
- Sprinkle on the seasoning evenly across the top and add the lemon juice and zest.
- Mix well and enjoy!
- If you’re using canned chicken – It tends to be moist, and in large chunks. Break them as you mix so you don’t have large chunks of undressed chicken.
- If you’re using shredded chicken breasts – It tends to ‘drink’ up the mayo, mix gently so it doesn’t get mushy and be willing to add a bit more mayo if needed.
I’m no diet or health food expert. This salad does contain mayonnaise and a negligible amount of sugar, but as I said, you are welcome to replace up to half the mayo with non fat plain greek yogurt. Mayonnaise often contains omega 3 fatty acids, which are good for you, and I personally think this is a rather healthy lunch option, especially when added to whole grain bread or crackers.
No, thanks to the mixture you create and refrigeration of any extras, I’ve never had any issues with the apples browning in this.
Yes, you can use your preferred nuts. Walnuts are a nice alternative to pecans, but I prefer almonds when I need to make a substitution.
I don’t recommend that, no.
This salad can be made 3 days in advance for best quality.
This is often a meal prep recipe for me, and the amount it makes is enough for 4 days easily. It’s really great on fresh sliced bread, or even just a good quality cracker. I’m not gonna lie, there have been days I just sat there and ate it straight out of the bowl with a fork.
There are so many delicious ways to make chicken salad, but I really hope you enjoy this version of one. Apple pecan chicken salad is just my current favorite, and I’m fairly sure in a few months I’ll have a new one I’m dying to share. Until then, happy eating!
Other Recipes You May Enjoy
Try this Pecan Chicken Salad recipe on…
Also check out these other lunch sandwiches!
- Italian Tuna Salad Recipe
- Deviled Ham Salad
- Crispy Chicken Sandwiches
- Three Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
- 20 ounces shredded chicken canned or fresh*
- 1 medium granny smith apple, diced
- 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
- 1/2-3/4* cup mayonnaise
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tbs lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp white sugar
If using canned chicken, drain well. Add chicken to a bowl.
Chop pecans, and finely dice apples. Add to chicken.
Top with remaining ingredients and stir until well coated.
Serve on sliced bread, crackers, or just eat it!
Originally published 5/29/19, Updated 12/29/19