This chicken salad recipe with walnuts is one of my favorite sandwich toppings but it can also easily be eaten as a lunch or snack. It’s pretty versatile and very delicious!

chicken salad recipe

Chicken salad recipe with walnuts

This creamy chicken salad is super quick to make. It’s even quicker if you have already cooked chicken or leftover rotisserie chicken. Maybe something you have leftover after roasting a whole chicken, but if you’re not; it’s still quick. After Christmas or Thanksgiving it is also the perfect way to use up leftover turkey. Just saying!

I use chicken breasts for making this chicken salad, but if you prefer you can also use chicken thigh fillets. While I would normally prefer the thighs for this I actually prefer the slightly drier meat of the breasts. But that’s my personal preference. I just don’t like chicken thighs poached. And that is the method I use to cook the chicken, so my preference is with skinless chicken breast.

For the easy chicken salad recipe you need just a few ingredients. Not counting the dressing ingredients, it is only 4 ingredients (if you’re using the cranberries it is 5). But you can easily add or vary. More on that below.

Poaching the chicken

First of all I start by poaching (or cooking) the chicken for about 10 minutes or until cooked through. How long it takes depends on the size of your chicken breasts, so check the thickest cut and if necessary add it back into the water for a few more minutes. I find that generally 10 minutes is enough time.

Once the chicken is cooked and cooled I pull it apart with my hands or with two forks. The pulled chicken is placed in a large bowl and you combine chicken with the carrots, parsley and the chopped walnuts.


For the dressing I’ve used a simple mix of lemon juice, mayonnaise, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper. If you want to change things up you can replace part of the dressing with sour cream, plain greek yogurt or add a teaspoon or more of dijon mustard. 

After mixing the dressing you add this to the chicken mixture and you’re done! This healthy chicken salad recipe is super quick and delicious.

Variations and additions

Since this is such an easy recipe it is also very easy to make variations on the basic. You can add dried cranberries or red onion to the salad.The sweet cranberries are a great addition and work well with the crunchy walnuts. I also love adding some green onions. I’ve served this classic chicken salad on flax seed crackers but you can also use lettuce wrap for serving. The lettuce leaves are a perfect way to transport the chicken salad to your mouth. Of course it would also work really well on some slices of bread. 

Another good addition would be to add some red grapes. As mentioned this is perfect for using up leftover roast chicken. That will increase the flavor even more. For extra crunch you can add some honeycrisp apples or any other kind of apple you prefer.

The chicken salad keeps well in an airtight container and is a great way to start your meal prep for the week. I tend to use it on crackers or on a sandwich but I also use it as part of my dinner. In that case I add some additional greens such as lettuce or spinach. When serving it in lettuce cups I tend to use it for lunch instead.

chicken salad recipe

Chicken salad recipe with walnuts

5 from 1 vote

Serves four as a topping for bread or crackers. √Super easy salad
Decorative clock showing preparation time
Prep time 10 minutes
Cooking time 10 minutes
Total time 20 minutes

4 people


  • 250 gr chicken breast
  • 50 g walnuts chopped
  • 75 g grated carrots
  • 40 g dried cranberries optional
  • 20 g parsley finely chopped


  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • flax seed crackers for serving

  • Place the chicken breast in a pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Cook for about 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the water and leave to cool slightly.
  • Using your fingers or two forks, break the chicken apart and place in a bowl. Add the chopped walnuts, chopped parsley and grated carrot and mix well. If you're using the dried cranberries add them now too.
  • Make the dressing by combining the ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well.
  • The salad is delicious on its own, but can also be served on a flaxseed cracker, for example.

Nutrition Information per portion

Calories: 265kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 156mg | Potassium: 386mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 3686IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 1mg


The nutritional values above are calculated per portion. The details are based on standard nutritional tables and do not constitute a professional nutritional advice.

Did you make this recipe?Mention @insimoneskitchen_ or tag #insimoneskitchen!

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Simone van den Berg

Food blogger from the Netherlands. Loves good food. Likes to create healthy and easy recipes for daily use, but also loves the occasional sweet dish. Lives in the Netherlands with her two cats; Humphrey and Buffy. Profession: Food photographer, food blogger, recipe developer and nutritionist