Anyone else out there grow up eating chicken salad as a kid?
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.
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.
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.
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, healthier lunch idea.
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
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.
- 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
- In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, orange juice, mustard, parsley, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- 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.
- Cover and refrigerate to let the flavors meld together for at least 1 hour. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Divide greens between four plates. Divide chicken salad evenly between the plates and serve.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- 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.
Core and dice one medium Fuji apple.
Peel and dice half a medium red onion. You should have about 1/2 cup total.
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 whatever leftovers you have, like grilled or roasted chicken breast and thigh meat, or whatever you have from a recipe like our Crock-Pot Whole Chicken.
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.
Stir to combine.
Step 3 – Make Salad
Add the cabbage, apple, onion, and chicken to a large bowl.
Pour the dressing over the top and toss to combine.
Add nuts, cherries, and sesame seeds.
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.
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.
For more chicken salad ideas, check out these recipes:
- Curried Chicken Salad
- Homemade Chicken Waldorf Salad Wraps
- Grilled Chicken Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette
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 Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on November 18, 2010. Last updated: September 10, 2023 at 7:47 am. 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.
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.