You may think that with a name like Christmas Chicken Salad, you can only make and serve this delicious chicken salad for the holidays. Not so. You'll want to serve it any time of the year. It's THAT good!!
The wonderful tastes and colors of Christmas shine in this festive chicken salad. Red dried cranberries. Green pistachios. Along with the dynamic flavors of orange and tarragon, make this beautiful and easy-to-make chicken salad a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.
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CHICKEN - Any chopped or shredded cooked chicken will work in this recipe. Leftovers are a great option, as is store-bought rotisserie chicken. You'll need approximately 3 cups.
SHALLOTS - Shallots have a very mild onion and garlicy flavor. Mince them finely so they'll be relatively undetectable (as far as texture), but the flavor will be present but not overpowering.
DRIED CRANBERRIES - Always a holiday staple in both sweet and savory foods, dried cranberries add that little touch of sweetness and chewy texture to this deliciously festive chicken salad.
PISTACHIOS - The small but mighty pistachio gives crunch, color, and flavor. If you're a real pistachio fan (like me), add more to this chicken salad than is called for in the ingredient measurements. It's your call.
MAYONNAISE - I like a creamy chicken salad, so I used ½ cup. Feel free to use a little less or a little more, depending on your preferences. If you'd like to cut the mayo out entirely and are looking for different options, please see below under "add-ins and substitution suggestions."
TARRAGON - For me, tarragon is a necessary ingredient when making a chicken salad of any kind. The mild anise flavor brightens and elevates the flavor of any chicken salad, and this one is no exception.
ORANGE ZEST - This ingredient goes a long way in bringing the festive flavors of Christmas to this Christmas chicken salad. It's the oil in the orange rind that really pumps up the orange flavor. *Note - Always zest citrus fruit before juicing.
ORANGE JUICE - Adding the orange juice will supply even more orange flavor to the chicken salad and also thin the creamy sauce ever so slightly.
GRATED NUTMEG - I love to use freshly grated nutmeg whenever possible. The slightly spicy, earthy flavor gives the finishing touch. A little pinch of fresh nutmeg goes a long way to enhance the flavor of this holiday chicken salad, so use a light touch and taste as you go. You can always add more if you feel the need to.
Naturally, you can serve it on bread as a sandwich. I'd choose a croissant with butter lettuce for extra crunch and color.
But you can also serve it as an appetizer with your favorite crackers, cocktail bread slices, or even carrot or celery sticks.
Or, how about a nice, big scoop (or two) on top of your favorite salad greens and serve it as a light dinner or even as a starter course? Yum. I don't mind if I do.
Lastly, even though this sounds weird, why not heat it with a bit of chicken broth or stock and serve it over noodles, rice, or even mashed potatoes?
Add-in and substitution suggestions:
Substitute any nut you like for the pistachios, or add them along with them. The more nuts, the merrier. That's what I always say.
Not a fan of dried cranberries? What about dried blueberries, cherries, or raisins?
Not a fan of dried fruit at all? How about swapping out some finely diced apple or pear for that fresh, fruity taste? But to make sure the fruit holds its color without oxidizing, soak the diced fruit in lemon-lime soda and drain and dry it well before adding it to the chicken salad.
To substitute the mayonnaise, whisk together a half-and-half mixture of softened cream cheese and Greek yogurt (approximately 2 ounces each). The flavor won't be the same as using mayonnaise, but it will still be yummy and creamy.
As a substitute for fresh tarragon, fresh basil is always a winning option and, in many cases, more accessible to find than fresh tarragon.
How to store chicken salad:
Store the chicken salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Stir well after refrigeration (if needed) and serve.
Can this chicken salad be frozen?
Yes, but be aware that the consistency, once thawed, may turn thin and runny. I don't recommend freezing it. If freezing, store it in an airtight freezer container for no more than four weeks and stir well once thawed.
What does tarragon taste like?
Tarragon has a slight anise or licorice flavor. Fresh tarragon is much milder in flavor than dried tarragon, which has a considerably stronger flavor. If you use dried tarragon, please only use half of the amount called for in this recipe.
Renee's top tips for success:
- For best flavor, allow the chicken salad to chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving.
- Fresh tarragon and grating whole nutmeg will bring the best and brightest flavor to this Christmas chicken salad.
- Before serving, top the salad with additional fresh tarragon and dried cranberries.
Additional chicken salad recipes:
Tzatziki Chicken Salad is the Greek-inspired homemade chicken salad recipe you've been waiting for, and it can be ready in no time flat with store-bought rotisserie chicken!
Treat yourself to a taste of the tropics with this Hawaiian Chicken Salad. It's quick to make and completely delicious, with plenty of meaty chicken, dried pineapple, chopped macadamia nuts, and toasted coconut flakes.
Orange Cashew Chicken Salad uses rotisserie chicken, roasted cashews, pecans, and a touch of orange zest and juice. It's simply the best chicken salad ever!
Additional Christmas recipes:
Looking for a holiday dessert that you can make in 20 minutes or less, is no bake, is charming and festive, and one that you know everyone will love? This Rice Krispies Christmas Wreath ticks all the boxes!
This delicious Peppermint Schnapps Ice Cream is fast and easy to make. It's a no-churn recipe that's smooth, creamy, and loaded with big, bold peppermint flavor.
This festive Pork Roast with Cranberry Relish Glaze is unique enough to serve your family and friends over the holidays, but you'll never have to tell your guests just how easy it was to make. That can be our little secret!
This festive and easy Shrimp Cocktail Appetizer Bites recipe takes only minutes to make, but they look like you worked for hours. Plus, they're cheap and cheerful, which makes them perfect for this (or any) holiday gathering.
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Printable Recipe Card
Christmas Chicken Salad
- 3 cups shredded or chopped chicken (rotisserie chicken works great)
- ¼ cup finely minced shallots
- ¾ cup chopped pistachios
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup mayonnaise (or to consistency preference)
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
- ⅛ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- Place all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir well to combine.
- For best flavor, cover and refrigerate for 4 hours before serving.
I sincerely hope you've enjoyed today's deliciously sweet and savory chicken salad recipe as much as I've enjoyed bringing it to you.
Thank you so much for visiting me today in my Kudos Kitchen. I hope you found something you'll love and that you'll come back and visit me often. There is always room for you around my table!
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Until we eat again, I hope you have a delicious day!!