overhead image of chicken salad in a metal bowl with croissants and a cutting board with chopped celery in the background

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Why I love this chicken salad recipe

I originally got the ingredients list for this deli-style cranberry chicken salad recipe – based on one of our favorite sandwiches at a cute little cafe in Green Bay – from my friend, Erin.

The list had no measurements, so we tinkered around with it for a while and eventually started selling the stuff at my parents’ deli where we both worked.

The best part about this little story is that Erin can’t remember how to make it. She calls me every time she wants to make it, and somehow she still manages to mess it up. This post is dedicated to Erin in hopes that she will never again forget how to make it.

I’ve been making this recipe for years now, and it’s one of my favorite things to have for lunch on a hot day.

More chicken salad recipes: chicken salad with grapes / Sriracha cilantro chicken salad / curry chicken salad / banh mi chicken salad 

chicken salad with cranberries in a metal bowl

Here’s what you’ll need to make this chicken salad recipe:

cranberry chicken salad sandwich on a croissant

How do you prepare chicken for chicken salad?

Cook the chicken. To cook the chicken for cranberry chicken salad, I usually top the chicken breasts with olive oil and salt & pepper and cover the pan with foil. Then I bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes. You can also boil the chicken until it’s fully cooked.

Chop the salad ingredients. Slice the celery. Chop the green onion and the chicken. Toast the pine nuts (if you want to, it’s not 100% necessary).

Mix the chicken salad. Combine the chopped ingredients in a mixing bowl with the chicken. Add the rest of the salad ingredients, and stir to combine. Before serving, adjust seasoning with salt & pepper, as needed.

overhead image of cranberry chicken salad on a croissant

How to serve cranberry chicken salad:

For the longest time, I served my cranberry chicken salad on a croissant. I love the flaky, buttery texture, but since we are now dairy free, we usually opt for wheat bread or a nice, crusty roll.

If you have the choice of using a croissant, I highly suggest it. If not, even a bed of lettuce will be satisfying.

cranberry chicken salad croissant sandwich on a blue plate

FAQs and tips for making the best chicken salad recipe

Can you freeze chicken salad with mayo?

No. I wouldn’t recommend freezing chicken salad with mayo. The mayonnaise doesn’t freeze well and the texture won’t be appetizing when it’s thawed.

How long will homemade chicken salad last?

Homemade chicken salad will last for 3 – 5 days in the refrigerator, depending on the freshness of the ingredients used.

Can you eat chicken salad left out overnight?

You should not leave chicken salad out overnight. Both chicken and mayonnaise need to be kept at food safe temperatures. If you leave chicken salad out overnight, please do not consume it. I recommend throwing it away.

Can I eat cold chicken salad?

Yes. Chicken salad with mayonnaise dressing is meant to be eaten cold. Keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve and don’t leave it out on the counter for too long (see answer above).

More chicken recipes to love:

More dairy free lunch recipes:


Cranberry Chicken Salad

This easy cranberry chicken salad recipe is filled with sweet cranberries, crunchy celery and toasted pine nuts – swap pecans or almonds if that’s what you have. It can be served on a croissant or bread for a sandwich, or on apple slices for a low carb option.

  • Author: Melissa Belanger
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Salads
  • Method: Mixing
  • Cuisine: American


  • 4 cups diced, cooked chicken breast
  • 1 large celery stalk, diced
  • 12 green onions, sliced
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/41/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder (or 12 teaspoons Dijon mustard)
  • Salt & pepper, to taste


  1. Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl, and stir with a fork to combine.
  2. If necessary, add one tablespoon of extra mayonnaise at a time until you reach the right consistency. Adjust seasonings if needed.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to blend.


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 518
  • Sugar: 14.8 g
  • Sodium: 580.7 mg
  • Fat: 39.1 g
  • Saturated Fat: 6.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 24.4 g
  • Fiber: 5.3 g
  • Protein: 21.7 g
  • Cholesterol: 62.9 mg

Keywords: dairy free, chicken salad, chicken, sandwich, cranberry

Last Updated on December 2, 2021 by Melissa Belanger

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  1. This is such an awesome recipe! I cant wait to make it to bring to my next barbecue!! Thanks for the recipe!

  2. I loved the Sparkly Strawberry cake served at T’s shower and plan to serve it at Libbi’s baby shower! Enjoy your time here and have a Merry Christmas!

  3. This looks yummy! I just left a comment on the Mexican quinoa recipe and checked this one out…I live just south of you…in Appleton. I’ve probably been to the same café, and your parents deli! Thanks again for sharing!

  4. Looks….DELICIOUS!! I’m a big sucker for Chicken Salad sandwichs. Would I be able to replace the mayo for greek yogurt instead for a healthier alternative?

    1. I haven’t done it myself, but you definitely could. It may change the flavor a bit since the yogurt is a little tangier than mayonnaise. You could also substitute half of the mayo for Greek yogurt if you’re worried about the flavor changing. If you do substitute the yogurt, I would LOVE to hear how it turns out 🙂

      1. I’ve made this a few times now and always use plain non-fat greek yogurt and it’s delicious. I also have used orange-cranberries and the orange gives it a nice kick.

  5. I made this twice. The first time used half mayo and half plain greek yogurt. Very tasty! I did add in some bacon for good measure 🙂 The second time I completely subbed out the mayo for Chobani Greek Yogurt (with black cherries at the bottom) and it was SCRUMPTIOUS! Thank you so much for posting the recipe. Now if only I could get the freshly made croissants! Cheers!

    1. That was a great idea to use a flavored yogurt! The fruit must have given it a ton of extra flavor 🙂

  6. i love to make this and put it on apple slices for a refreshing lunch at work. I have made it a couple of times now and I absolutely love it!

  7. It is 110* right now in SW WA and this went well over a bed of mixed garden greens for dinner. Left overs for lunch will be in a lettuce wrap. Very cool and refreshing. Thx