There are an endless number of ways to make chicken salad, however as with most classic recipes the simplest preparations are often the best. Aside from cooked chicken, all you need to make delicious chicken salad is high quality mayonnaise, lots of crunchy celery, a few scallions, and some seasonings. Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad veers only slightly from this classic preparation. It calls for avocado mayonnaise instead of mayonnaise made with vegetable oil or olive oil, and contains cranberries, walnuts, and orange zest – 3 foods that, on their own provide incredible flavor harmony, but when combined with the other ingredients is this dish make for a chicken salad symphony!
You have two choices for prepping the chicken meat for Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad. You can either cut it into cubes or shred it. I like shredding because it makes for a more tender chicken salad but if you’re short on time cutting the meat into cubes will save you a few minutes. To shred the meat, remove the skin and bones from each cooked chicken breast, cut in half crosswise, then pull the chicken apart with your fingers following the grain of the meat.
One serving of Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad (approximately 6 ounces) fits neatly into a pint size mason jar making it a great on-the-go lunch.
Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad can be made ahead and is perfect for any type of luncheon, whether casual or more formal. For an elegant presentation use a food mold or an empty can with the bottom removed to shape a serving of Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad into a tower, then garnish with some orange zest.
- 3 bone-in, skin on, chicken breasts – about 3 to 3¼ lbs. total
- 1 T. olive oil or avocado oil
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup (4 ounces) dried cranberries
- 1 cup (3 ounces) walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
- 3 celery stalks chopped, about 4 ½ ounces
- 4 scallions chopped, white and light green parts
- ¼ cup chopped, fresh, flat-leaf parsley
- Zest of 1 orange
- ½ cup olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 egg (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken breasts on a half sheet pan. Brush all over with olive oil or avocado oil, and then sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Place pan on the bottom rack of oven and roast for 40 minutes.
- While the chicken is roasting make the mayonnaise. Put the egg, avocado oil, salt and pepper into the beaker that came with your immersion blender, the carafe of a blender, or the work bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture is emulsified and is the consistency of mayonnaise. Set the mayonnaise aside in the refrigerator.
- When the chicken is done remove it from the oven and immediately cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Let the chicken rest like this for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours. Once the chicken is completely cooled, cut each breast in half crosswise, remove the skin and bones, and pull the chicken apart with your fingers into bite size pieces following the grain of the meat. Alternatively, you can cut the chicken into ½ inch cubes. Combine the chicken meat, cranberries, walnuts, celery, scallions, parsley, orange zest and avocado mayonnaise and mix until well combined.
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