Chicken Salad with Dried Cherries & Toasted Nuts

One of my favorite chicken salads (and I have several, just follow the tag chicken salad at the bottom of the page) is this one with dried cherries & pecans. Served over a salad in the winter, it’s festive; the dark cherries pop against the green, and it’s always fantastic in a sandwich.

chicken salad dried cherries
Chicken Salad with Dried Cherries & Pecans

This salad is nothing “new” – I used to bring this along on winter picnics – and yes, we do have winter picnics here in Minnesota! Well, maybe not ME so much any longer, but think about packing this along for some good energy if you’re cross-country or down hill skiing, ice fishing, snow shoeing, etc.

Bring it to the cabin if you’re snowmobiling. Take it to a buffet or potluck, or think about it while you’re snug and toasty at home, perhaps in front of the fire, while you’re catching up on movies & *thinking* about shoveling.

chicken salad dried cherries
Chicken Salad with Dried Cherries & Pecans

Years ago, I made this with all mayonnaise, now I often sub some Greek yogurt for all or part and maybe a little sour cream for a gorgeous dressing that holds up well. The dressing has little sweetness so making it a bit ahead lets the sweetness of the cherries mingle.

As for the chicken, left over chicken (or turkey) works very well, here. If you’re having chicken earlier in the week, cook a couple of extra pieces and save them for this salad. If not, a simple roasted or poached chicken is perfect. If dried cherries are too pricey (and they can be) consider dried cranberries or craisins.

chicken salad dried cherries
Chicken Salad with Dried Cherries & Pecans

Chicken Salad with Dried Cherries & Pecans

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 4 six-ounce boneless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (about 4 cups cooked)
  • 2 celery ribs, about a cup, diced, leaves included, if desired
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 cup dried cherries, chopped (dried cranberries work well, too)
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped, almonds or walnuts work well
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar; other vinegar works, too, but go by taste
  • about 3/4 to a cup mayonnaise, Greek yogurt or a mixture. A small amount of sour cream may be used in the mixture, if desired
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon, marjoram in a lesser amount is good, too
  • Honey or sugar, to taste, if desired
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (do not use if chicken is brined)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Mix up dressing ingredients: the vinegar, mayo/yogurt, herbs and salt and pepper. Taste, and if desired add a bit of honey or sugar. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl, add dressing and toss. Make a bit ahead for the best flavor, but be aware some nuts may become a bit soggy over time.

Serve over greens or in sandwiches.

from the kitchen of

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read Strategies Applied for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.


Per serving, a scant cup, made with mayo: Calories 402, tot fat 29g, sat fat 4g; mono 11g; poly, 13g, trans 0, chol 57mg; sod 354mg; pot 331mg; carb 15g; fib 2g; sugar 10g; prot 22g; vit a 15%, vit c 3%; calc 4%; Iron 7%

Per serving, a scant cup, made with yogurt: Calories 283, tot fat 14g, sat fat 2g; mono 7g; poly, 4g, trans 0, chol 51mg; sod 228mg; pot 331mg; carb 16g; fib 2g; sugar 11g; prot 24g; vit a 15%, vit c 3%; calc 6%; Iron 7%

Put Your own Spin on it:

This recipe is quite a bit like my Fruited Chicken Salad, although that has a lighter, sweeter taste and a honey/mustard type of taste. It goes to show how versatile a chicken salad can be, though.

  • Serve the chicken shredded – it has a lot of nooks and crannies for the sauce, or diced – it looks a bit more elegant.
  • Feel free to vary all ingredients – almost any nut can be used, fruit can be fresh (apples, grapes, pears, etc.) or dried (cranberries, apricots, cherries) and almost any nut of your choice adds a welcome crunch.
  • Vinegar, especially flavored, can vary the taste and any herbs of your choice can be added.
  • A good cheese, cubed in a salad or sliced for a sandwich, will add a ton of flavor, but carefully choose something to reflect the flavor profile.  For instance, a little Gouda pairs well with pears, a sturdy aged cheddar with apple.