Lately I’ve been eating a lot of chicken salad. I’m home with my son and as much as a hot bowl of pasta sounds good, a 6 month old just isn’t all that patient when it comes to getting lunch on the table. Chicken salad I can prep easily in a large batch on Monday and eat it for a few days. Plus, I can throw it on some bread or serve it with crackers for a quick lunch that actually still tastes good. It’s also a great vehicle for additional flavors, fruit, nuts, seeds.
This Apple Pecan Chicken Salad is by far my favorite flavor combo lately. With the crisp bite of a tart apple, the buttery toasted crunch of pecans, and a creamy sauce holding it together, this is the chicken salad you’ve been looking for.
I’m not here to claim this is the healthiest chicken salad in the world. If you’ve visited me here at The Flour Handprint before you know I believe in balance, and so a little bit of mayo isn’t the end of the world. My primary goal, as always, is getting it to taste just right. So basically, I think you should make this apple pecan chicken salad simply because it’s damn delicious.
- 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. If you’re feeling up to it, check out my Red Pepper Aioli for a quick guide on homemade mayo.
- 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
I feel almost silly for writing this, making chicken salad is about as simple as it gets. All the same, here are a few tips to make your pecan chicken salad as tasty as it can be.
Either shred your chicken, or open those cans and drain the chicken well. Toss it into a bowl. Chop up your apples and pecans next, I like to dice my apples into thin squares, and the pecans no bigger than a pea. Every bite will have a good balance of ingredients, and the nuts and apples will be coated with just the right amount of dressing.
Just throw all the chopped nuts and apples, the seasonings, mayo, lemon juice and zest in with the chicken and mix gently. Two considerations for you:
- 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.
Like I said earlier, this is often a meal prep for me, and the amount in this recipe makes 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!
- 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!
Curious about the bread I’m using? It’s a homemade (of course) Oatmeal Walnut loaf from Parsley Sage Sweet, I substituted pecans due to my walnut allergy, but it’s definitely delicious!