Cherry Chicken Salad with Almonds will Refresh Your Lunch Routine

Anyone else out there grow up eating chicken salad as a kid?

Vertical oblique overhead image of two white plates of chicken salad on a bed of greens, with folded orange striped cloth napkins, a fork, and a glass of white wine, printed with orange and white text at the midpoint and the bottom of the frame.

For my mom, it was the easiest recipe in the world to make for me to take to school for lunch. After all, all you have to do is mix up the ingredients in a big bowl and keep it refrigerated until you are ready to pack it up.

I absolutely loved the kind that my mom would make. She always made sure to use a ton of ingredients that were both crunchy and soft, making it texturally exciting and different every time.

The mixture would get thrown between two slices of bread and when I dug into it for lunch, it was always an experience of pure happiness at the cafeteria table.

As an adult, I am still partial to an epic recipe that mimics the one that my mother used to make.

Vertical image of two white plates of salad greens topped with chicken salad, with a striped folded cloth napkin and a fork, and two glasses of white wine, on a gray surface with a mottled blue background.

Honestly, beyond school age, I feel like chicken salad is easy to overlook – unless it’s livened up with a few unconventional ingredients. It can get kind of boring if you have been making the same recipe for years.

I know this was the case for my husband. Whenever I used to bring up the idea of making a chicken salad, he kind of grimaced.

All he could remember was the standard-issue version his mom used to make – a recipe that had not been tinkered with since her mother before her used to make it, back in the day.

I completely understand that feeling, though. It’s one of those classic memories linked with a recipe that past generations don’t like to mess with.

Overhead vertical image of a white plate of salad greens and chicken salad with another identical plate at the top left corner of the frame, two folded orange striped cloth napkins with fringe with a fork on top, and a glass of white wine, on a gray background.

Nowadays, those “blah” recipes are far from the only ones out there. There are so many options, just begging to be tested, adapted, and enjoyed. It’s time to open a new chapter on this recipe!

Instead of replicating the tried and true old-school version, you can load your salad up with uncommon, creative ingredients like toasted almonds, dried cherries, sesame seeds, shredded cabbage, and so much more.

This particular recipe utilizes a simple and fresh dressing combination that really brings everything together in a unique way. The brightness of the fresh orange juice with plain yogurt is the ideal base to bring out both the savory and the sweet notes in the salad.

Overhead image of two white plates of chicken salad with fresh and dried fruit and nuts on a bed of mixed greens, with folded striped multicolored cloth napkins, a fork, and a glass of white wine, on a gray surface.

With a small addition of Dijon mustard and fresh parsley, you get a little more tang and herbaceousness. Though the ingredients here may sound simple, this dressing will help to set your salad apart from the others on the buffet table at your next potluck.

Instead of sandwiching this salad between two slices of bread, I think this fresh and bright recipe is best served over a bed of greens for a lighter lunch.

If you are planning to pack this up and take it with you to work, pack your mixed greens separately so they won’t wilt before you’re ready to chow down.

Print
Horizontal image of chicken salad on top of a bed of mixed greens on a white plate, with a folded striped orange cloth napkin and a fork to the left, and another plate and a wine glass with another napkin just barely in the frame in the background, on a gray surface.

Cherry Chicken Salad with Almonds


  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

This cherry chicken salad with almonds is just the refreshing meal that your lunch routine has been missing. You’re going to love this twist on a classic.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • Juice of 1 large orange
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded green cabbage
  • 1 Fuji apple, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion (about 1/2 medium)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped leftover cooked chicken
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted and unsalted almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 cups packed mixed greens

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, orange juice, mustard, parsley, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Combine the cabbage, apple, onion, and chicken in a large bowl. Pour dressing over salad and toss well. Add nuts, cherries, and sesame seeds and give everything a final toss.
  3. Cover and refrigerate to let the flavors meld together for at least 1 hour. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Divide greens between four plates. Divide chicken salad evenly between the plates and serve.

  • Category: Chicken Salad
  • Method: No-cook
  • Cuisine: Lunch

Keywords: chicken salad, dried cherries, almonds

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients

Juice one large orange.

Chop enough parsley leaves until you have 1 1/2 teaspoons total.

Shred enough green cabbage until you have 1 cup in total.

Overhead horizontal image of small square and round glass bowls of chopped herbs and spices, mustard, sesame seeds, almonds, dried cherries, yogurt, and chopped cooked chicken breast, an orange, a red apple, a purple onion, a plastic container of mixed salad greens, and a small head of green cabbage, on a gray surface.

Core and dice one medium Fuji apple.

Peel and dice half a medium red onion. You should have about 1/2 cup total.

Horizontal oblique overhead image of half of a green cabbage with more that has been sliced into ribbons beside a Japanese knife, on a green cutting board with a light brown wood frame, on a gray surface.

Chop enough leftover cooked chicken until you have 1 1/2 cups total. I personally like to use rotisserie chicken breast, but you can also use leftover grilled or roasted chicken breast and thigh meat, depending on what you have to work with.

If you’re starting from scratch with raw poultry, you’re free to use whatever parts and preparation method you prefer!

Measure out all remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list. Refrigerate greens until ready to serve.

Step 2 – Make Dressing

Add the yogurt, orange juice, mustard, parsley, salt, and pepper to a small bowl.

Horizontal overhead image of a stainless steel bowl of yogurt, orange juice, chopped green herbs, and spices, with a spoon for stirring, on a gray surface.

Stir to combine.

Horizontal overhead image of a small stainless steel bowl of a yogurt-based salad dressing with a spoon for stirring, on a gray background.

Set aside.

Step 3 – Make Salad

Horizontal overhead image of separate piles of shredded green cabbage, chopped purple onion, diced red apple, and chopped cooked chicken breast in a stainless steel bowl, on a gray surface.

Add the cabbage, apple, onion, and chicken to a large bowl.

Horizontal overhead image of a stainless steel bowl filled with separate piles of shredded green cabbage, chopped purple onion, diced apple with the peel on, and chopped cooked chicken breast, with a blob of yogurt dressing in the center.

Pour the dressing over the top and toss to combine.

Horizontal overhead image of a stainless steel bowl of almonds, dried cherries, and other chicken salad ingredients, on a gray surface.

Add nuts, cherries, and sesame seeds.

Horizontal image of chicken salad with cabbage and fruit in a stainless steel mixing bowl, on a gray surface.

Toss until everything is coated well.

Step 4 – Chill

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Step 5 – Serve

When ready to serve, divide greens between four plates. Divide chicken salad evenly between the plates.

Horizontal image of chicken breast with vegetables, fruit, and a yogurt dressing on top of a bed of mixed greens on a white plate, with a folded striped orange cloth napkin and a fork to the left, and another plate and a wine glass with another napkin just barely in the frame in the background, on a gray surface.

Serve immediately.

Does It Matter What Kind of Yogurt I Use?

The straightforward answer is, yes it does.

In my opinion, plain yogurt is the best kind to use for this particular recipe.

Since there is already a touch of tanginess from the orange juice in the dressing, you don’t want to use plain Greek yogurt in this situation because it will alter the flavor and the texture. Greek yogurt has less moisture content after being strained multiple times, with a more concentrated flavor.

Using it will result in a thicker texture, and just a touch too much of that tang which, if you ask me, would be too overpowering and you would lose a lot of the other flavors that make up this recipe.

Now, if you want to use low-fat versus full-fat plain yogurt, that option is also available to you. But keep in mind that some low-fat yogurts contain additional stabilizers to maintain their texture, as well as added sugar that may alter the flavor. For a creamy mouthfeel, go for the full fat version.

Horizontal head-on image of two white plates of mixed greens and chicken salad, with a folded orange striped cloth napkin and a fork to the left, and a glass of white wine to the right, on a gray surface with a mottled blue background.

For more chicken salad ideas, check out these recipes:

Did you grow up eating a more traditional version of this recipe as a kid? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to come back to rate the recipe after you’ve tried it.

Photos by Meghan Bassett, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on November 18, 2010. Last updated: July 2, 2019 at 15:09 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

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