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Apple Cranberry Chicken Salad

This apple cranberry chicken salad recipe is full of crunchy apples and sweet tart dried cranberries. It makes a great lunch, perfect on a sandwich or on lettuce for a lower carb option. This is the chicken salad for people who like tons of flavor and texture. It has plenty of crunch from celery and apples, pecan and almonds, and flavor from the scallions (green onions), parsley and dill. The chicken is cooked in a slow cooker, so you can get on with your day.

I’ll give you variations and substitutions where I can, plus helpful tips and tricks for success. Read on for this info as well as the recipe. If you’d like to skip straight to the recipe, use the jump to recipe button at the top of the post.

You may also be interested in my sweet and spicy slow cooker chicken and my apple bourbon pulled pork recipes. For ease of browsing, you can find all of my slow cooker recipes in one place.

Apple cranberry chicken salad sandwich on black plate.
Healthy apple cranberry chicken salad with lots of crunch & flavor

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Why you should make this recipe

  • Make ahead – You can make this apple cranberry chicken salad on Sunday for the week ahead.
  • Easy – The chicken is cooked in the slow cooker and the rest is just a bit of chopping.
  • Great for gatherings – This recipe can be scaled up to feed a big crowd.

Apple Cranberry Chicken Salad

I have been making this version of my chicken salad recipe for almost two decades. A chicken salad sandwich is one of my favorite lunches and a batch will keep in the fridge all week, making lunchtime a breeze.

Apple cranberry chicken salad sandwich on plate with strawberries.

I use chicken thighs for my chicken salad, because that’s what I prefer. I find they have more flavor than boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and they don’t dry out.


Ingredients for chicken salad on white marble background.
  • Chicken – Boneless, skinless chicken thighs cooked in the Crock Pot.
  • Celery – Celery gives it great crunch and freshness.
  • Apple – Apple gives the chicken salad sweetness and crunch.
  • Parsley, scallions, dill – Fresh herbs make a huge difference, please don’t skip them.
  • Mayo and sour cream – This combination makes the chicken salad creamy, with a little tang.
  • Almonds and pecans – Toast the nuts to bring out their “nuttiness” and flavor.
  • Lemon – If you like a little extra zing, a squeeze of lemon is great.
  • Dried cranberries – Sweetened dried cranberries add chewiness and sweetness.
Chicken salad on croissant on black plate.

How to make

Here’s a quick summary of how to make apple cranberry chicken salad. Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full recipe. 

I prefer to use shredded chicken instead of diced for my chicken salad. I like the way thigh meat shreds, so that’s another win for dark meat. You can absolutely shred chicken breasts, if that is your preference, but honestly, I don’t recommend it.

Add ins for chicken salad in bowl.

Kitchen tip: meat shreds more easily when it’s warm than when it’s cold.

  1. First, place the chicken in the slow cooker and cook until it’s done. The timing will depend on your slow cooker and whether you use the high or low setting.
  2. Once the chicken is done, set it aside to cool enough to handle. Then shred the meat with clean hands or with forks and set aside to cool completely.
  3. Cut up the apple and celery, herbs and anything else you want to add to your chicken salad.
  4. Make the dressing and combine everything in a large bowl. Stir and fold until it is well combined.
Chicken salad mixed together in a bowl.

That’s the great thing about cooking, you can do whatever you want to (within reason). Like most of the recipes on this blog, this apple cranberry chicken salad recipe is totally customizable to your personal preferences.

Cranberry chicken salad wraps

If you like the Whataburger apple and cranberry chicken salad, you’ll like these wraps.

Chicken salad wraps on white plate.

I make a fairly big batch of this recipe for chicken salad with apples and then use it for the week ahead. It’s great to have it made already when you need a quick bite. This is a staple in our house and I’m sure once you make it, you’ll be hooked too.

Apple cranberry chicken salad FAQ’s

How long does this last?

This chicken salad will last 5 – 7 days in the fridge, stored in an airtight container.

Can I freeze this chicken salad?

I do not recommend freezing it. The mayonnaise and sour cream dressing will turn grainy and watery, as will the celery and apples.
You can freeze the cooked chicken, then thaw it and make the chicken salad when you’re ready.

Can I cook the chicken in the oven?

Absolutely. Place seasoned chicken in an ovenproof dish and bake at 350°F / 180°C for 40 minutes, then shred when cool enough to handle.

Apple cranberry chicken salad on croissant with drink in background.

Helpful tools and equipment

  • Slow cooker – This is the same one I own and love.
  • Heavy duty rubber spatula – My go-to tool for mixing anything and everything.
  • Chef’s knife – This is the same knife I’ve owned for over 20 years. Invest in a decent knife and you’ll never buy another one.

Variations and substitutions

As stated above, you can make this in the oven if you prefer, and you can use chicken breasts instead of thighs if you really don’t like dark meat.

You can swap out the herbs I’ve used for others like thyme, tarragon, marjoram, or basil for a completely different taste. One add-in that I sometimes use is halved grapes. They make a fantastic addition.

Croissant sandwich on black plate with strawberries.

More sandwich ideas

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Apple Cranberry Chicken Salad

Cheryl Bennett
Apple cranberry chicken salad makes a delicious sandwich and it is filled with tons of flavor!
4.93 from 26 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 15 minutes
Course Slow Cooker
Cuisine American
Servings 12 people
Calories 327 kcal


  • 2 – 3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs // .9 – 1.3 kilograms
  • 1 tablespoon granulated onion
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 stalks celery diced
  • 3 scallions green onions, diced
  • 1 small apple diced
  • 1/3 cup cranberries dried, sweetened (craisins) // 80ml
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds toasted // 60ml *see notes
  • 1/4 cup pecans toasted and chopped // 60ml *see notes
  • 1 bunch parsley washed, dried and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill chopped
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise // 160ml
  • 1/3 cup sour cream //80ml
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice fresh (optional)


  • Sprinkle 2 – 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs with the granulated garlic and onion, 1 teaspoon salt and half teaspoon of pepper.
  • Cook on low in a slow cooker for 6 hours, or on high for 3 hours.
  • Remove chicken from crock pot, cool slightly and shred. Set aside.
  • Mix mayo and sour cream together. Add lemon juice, if using.
  • Add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more mayo, if needed.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5 – 7 days.



To toast almonds and pecans: Place nut on a baking sheet in a preheated oven (350°F/180°C) for 5 – 7 minutes, or until starting to lightly brown and they small fragrant.
I make extra chicken in the crock pot for other uses. I figure if I'm making chicken anyway, I'm going to cook a little more than I need. If you find you have more chicken than you need, freeze the rest for another batch of chicken salad when you don't have time to make the chicken. Or, you can add it to soups, casseroles, etc.
If you are really in a pinch, buy a rotisserie chicken. We've all been there.
Sometimes, I add a spoonful of whole grain or Dijon mustard to this chicken salad. It adds a nice tangy bite.


Serving: 1gCalories: 327kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 56gFat: 31gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 285mgSodium: 622mgFiber: 2gSugar: 6g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Thanks for stopping by! Have a delicious day 🙂


Questions? Send me an email, I’m happy to help. I’d love to send you weekly tips and recipes, so you can get updates about what’s happening in the kitchen!

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Originally published 3/19/18.


  1. These look so delicious Cheryl. I totally crave chicken salad in the summer so will definitely be trying your recipe!

  2. Loved this recipe, Cheryl! And yes, I liked the shredded chicken too. I am a big fan of healthy chicken recipes.

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