Sonoma Chicken Salad is studded with toasted pecans and dried cranberries in a lightened-up dressing including Greek yogurt & honey for scrumptious sandwiches!
I love chicken salad. L-O-V-E. And of all the chicken salads I've ever tried, the nutty, fruity, honey-kissed Sonoma version is my favorite.❤️
This recipe is actually a result of my attempts to recreate the oh-so-tasty Costco Chicken Salad. That chicken salad was a staple when my group of friends was in the wedding-shower-and-then-baby-shower phase of life, and I ate boatloads of it back then. I later discovered that they have a similar chicken salad at Whole Foods, which I also grew to love. So between the two, I eventually devised my own copycat version, making a few changes to suit my family's tastes.
So what do you need to make this delectable version of Sonoma Chicken Salad?
- Mayonnaise + Greek yogurt. Way back when I first started making chicken salad, I always used mayonnaise as the sole base of my dressing. In recent years, however -- as I've become more health conscious and cognizant of what I feed my family -- I've started swapping out half of that mayonnaise (or even more) with Greek yogurt. I do think you need to use at least a little bit of mayo for depth of flavor, but the Greek yogurt definitely lightens things up.
- Honey. Your dressing should be sweet, but not cloyingly so. Everyone has different preferences, though, so feel free to increase or decrease the amount of honey in this recipe to your liking.
- Apple cider vinegar. To balance the sweetness of the honey.
- Salt + pepper. It's important to add enough salt to the dressing to help the other flavors pop. I mix in ¼-teaspoon at a time, to taste.
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Cooked, cooled, and diced or shredded. I typically poach a few chicken breasts any time I want to make chicken salad, but alternatively, you could choose to bake them, cook them in the slow cooker or pressure cooker, or use leftover/rotisserie chicken.
- Pecans. Chopped...and I highly recommend toasting them.
- Dried cranberries. Again, I like to chop the dried cranberries for more even distribution through the chicken salad.
Many versions of Sonoma Chicken Salad include celery, which I omitted in this recipe since I personally find crunching into raw celery to be a negative textural experience. 😉
I also left out the poppy seeds, since the kiddos in my house are sometimes suspicious of black specks in their food.
But you can certainly add those ingredients back if they appeal to you!
Other versions of this recipe feature halved red or green grapes instead of dried cranberries. Feel free to swap out the types of fruit and nuts you use in this recipe to make it your own!
Grapes and walnuts? Yum.
Dried cherries and almonds? Delish.
Apples and cashews? Strawberries and pecans? I've actually already done those for ya. 😉
How to Make Sonoma Chicken Salad
When I make Sonoma Chicken Salad, I actually whisk together the dressing ingredients first, in a bowl big enough to later hold all of the other ingredients.
I cover the bowl of dressing with some plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge, where it hangs out while I toast my pecans and poach (then cool...then dice...) my chicken.
By the time I'm ready to combine everything, the flavors in the dressing have had time to meld.
Ways to Enjoy It
Whether served on a croissant, sandwich bread, or scooped up with crackers, Sonoma Chicken Salad is always a hit at our house!
Seriously, y'all, my kids cheeeer when I say we're having chicken salad for lunch or dinner. In fact, I typically make a double batch to keep up with the demand!
Sonoma Chicken Salad is equally perfect at a picnic, a luncheon, a bridal or baby shower, or as a meal to gift a friend or neighbor.
I truly hope this recipe brings happiness (and yumminess!) to your special (and everyday!) occasions, as it has to ours.
Helpful Tips, Tricks, & Equipment
- While it's not required to toast the pecans, I highly recommend doing so. Toasting gives nuts a deepened, distinctive flavor while helping them maintain their crunch. Keep in mind that chopped nuts will toast quicker than whole nuts. Watch them carefully once they're almost done, as they can quickly go from perfect to burned.
- You may use plain yogurt if you don't have Greek yogurt on hand. However, keep in mind that your dressing will turn out slightly runnier.
- Or, as mentioned above, you can make this chicken salad with all mayonnaise and no yogurt.
More Yummy Salads
- P.F. Chang's "Chicken Lettuce Wraps" Salad
- Greek Chicken Pasta Salad
- Cucumber Tomato Feta Salad
- Summer Couscous Salad
Sonoma Chicken Salad
For the Dressing:
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup plain Greek
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup honey
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Chicken Salad:
- 1 cup pecan halves, chopped
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked, cooled, & diced (3 to 4 chicken breasts, depending on size)
- ¾ cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
- In a large bowl, stir together all of the dressing ingredients until thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, for up to two days.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread out the chopped pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until fragrant and light golden brown, watching carefully. Allow to cool.
- To the bowl of dressing, add the diced chicken, toasted pecans, and cranberries. Stir to combine until all ingredients are evenly coated with dressing, and refrigerate for at least an hour to chill.
- Remember that chopped nuts will toast quicker than whole nuts. Watch them carefully once they're almost done, as they can quickly go from perfect to burned.
- You may swap regular yogurt for the Greek yogurt, but your dressing will turn out thinner/runnier.
- You may omit the yogurt and use all mayonnaise in the dressing, if you prefer.
- Feel free to substitute your favorite fruits/dried fruits and nuts in this recipe.
Post originally published on June 5, 2013,
the week that FiveHeartHome.com first began!
↓↓↓The original photo from that post↓↓↓