Apple Walnut Chicken Salad is a delicious twist to classic chicken salad. Chunks of chicken, apple, walnuts, green onion, and celery in a slightly sweet & creamy dressing with fresh lemon juice! Serve this chicken salad inside croissants with some green leaf lettuce as a chicken salad sandwich. It makes for a delicious lunch or easy weeknight dinner.
Apple Walnut Chicken Salad Recipe
I just love chicken salad! There is something about that creamy dressing filled with chicken, crunch from celery and walnuts, and then some sweeter ingredients like chunks of apple and brown sugar. My family loves this apple walnut chicken salad recipe. My daughter even requests that I make a batch so she can take it for her school lunch all week long.
Chicken salad is easy to make with healthier ingredients. Store it in the fridge for several days so you can have lunch all week long!
Ingredients You Need
The ingredient list may look long for this chicken salad but it comes together quickly and most of the dressing ingredients you probably already have.
- Creamy Dressing
- Mayonnaise - For the best flavor use full-fat, regular mayo.
- Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Brown Sugar - Adds some sweetness. Don't leave it out as it rounds out the flavors perfectly.
- Garlic Powder
- Salt & Pepper - I use kosher salt.
- Apple Walnut Chicken Salad
- Cooked Chicken - This can be chopped or shredded. I love to use a Rotisserie chicken when I make chicken salad. It's easy and they're already seasoned.
- Apple - I peel about half the skin off the apple before chopping it up. You can peel all the skin off or leave it all on, whatever you prefer. I use Gala apple but any apple can be used here.
- Green Onion
How To Make Chicken Salad with Apples & Walnuts
With only two easy steps needed, plus some preparation & chopping, this chicken salad with apples and walnuts is simple to make.
- Preparation : Make sure the cooked chicken is chopped or shredded. Get out a cutting board and knife and thinly slice the celery and green onion. Chop the apple into small bits.
- Creamy Dressing : Combine all the creamy dressing ingredients into a small mixing bowl and stir with a wire whisk until combined, smooth, and creamy.
- Chicken Salad : Add the chicken, apples, walnuts, green onion, and celery into a large sized mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over it and mix until it's combined well.
- Serving : You can eat the chicken salad right away or let it refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving. I prefer the chicken salad cold so I always refrigerate it for best flavor.
Tips For Success
Here are a few of my tips to help make this recipe a success in your own kitchen!
- Mayonnaise : For best taste and flavor use the real stuff! Full-fat mayo. I would recommend not substituting with miracle whip. Miracle whip has a much different flavor and it will affect the final taste of the salad.
- Apples : You can peel the apple, leave the peel on, or you can do half & half. I peel off random parts of the apple skin before chopping into small bites. I use Gala apples but any apple can be used here. I would stay away from the really tart apples like Granny Smith.
- Refrigeration : For the best taste I suggest refrigerating the chicken salad for 1-2 hours before serving. Thanks to the acid in the creamy dressing, the apples will not turn brown. Even eating the chicken salad on day 3 the apples were not browned.
- Chop Everything Same Size : Make sure to chop everything in similar sizes so the chicken salad is uniform and you don't end up with big chunks of celery or something. If you like a really chunky chicken salad then leave the chicken, apples, and celery in larger sized pieces. I prefer a small chopped chicken salad so I chop my stuff pretty small.
Variation & Substitution Ideas
There are several ways that you can switch up this chicken salad recipe and make it your own or adapt to your preferences.
- Nuts : Feel free to sub the walnuts with anything you like. Sliced almonds are a great choice or even chopped pecans work well. Cashews are also a great nut to use in chicken salad.
- Apple : This can be substituted with dried cranberries (like Craisins) instead. You can also use whatever apple you prefer. I think Gala or Fuji are great apples to use in this recipe.
- Make it Healthier : I only mention this because it is an option but it will significantly change the taste of this chicken salad. I have never done it, but you can substitute all of, or half of, the mayo with plain Greek yogurt.
Chicken Salad Recipe FAQ's
- How to Store Leftovers
- Leftover chicken salad can be stored in an air-tight container, in the fridge, for 3-4 days.
- Thanks to the acid in the dressing, the apples will actually not go browned during those 3-4 days!
- Can I Make Chicken Salad Ahead of Time?
- Yes you can make chicken salad ahead of time.
- I would suggest not making it the day before, but you can make it several hours before you need it. The chicken salad is much creamier the day it's made, rather than after days of it being in the fridge.
- I refrigerate the chicken salad 1-3 hours before serving it, which still makes the chicken salad creamy, while allowing the flavors to develop.
- How to Serve Chicken Salad
- There are several delicious ways to serve this apple walnut chicken salad recipe.
- Our favorite way is to serve it inside croissants with green leaf lettuce.
- You can eat it with a spoon or use crackers to scoop it up.
- Eat it over a bed of lettuce or inside lettuce for a chicken salad lettuce wrap.
- You can also serve it inside any roll you like.
More Chicken Salad & Sandwich Recipes to Try
- Hot Chicken Salad French Bread Sandwiches
- Baked Ham & Cheese Sandwiches
- Chicken Caesar Wraps
- Poppyseed Chicken Pasta Salad
- Fruity Cashew Chicken Pasta Salad
Apple Walnut Chicken Salad
- 1¼ cups mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Apple Walnut Chicken Salad
- 4 cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken
- 1½ cups small chopped Gala apple
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- ½ cup thinly sliced green onion
- ½ cup thinly sliced celery
- Combine all creamy dressing ingredients into a small mixing bowl. Stir with a wire whisk until combined, creamy, and smooth. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the chicken, apple, walnuts, green onion, and celery. Pour the creamy dressing over it and mix well until everything is combined and coated in the dressing.
- This chicken salad can be served right away, but for best results and flavor let it refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving.Serve chicken salad inside croissants with green leaf lettuce. You can also serve inside sandwich bread or rolls.
- Leftovers keep well, in an air-tight container, in the fridge for 3-4 days. Thanks to the acid in the dressing, the apples actually don't brown!