Super easy and tasty pecan chicken salad with fresh herbs

Chicken salad with pecans (from our tree!) and garden-fresh herbs was a hit at a family gathering recently.

This pecan chicken salad is something I whip up pretty regularly. Like most things I make, I follow a general template to throw it together. The recipe changes with the wind and my mood for the day. Oh – and also with whatever we have on hand.

Chicken salad is a versatile dish

It’s super easy to make and very versatile. Depending on how much time you have, you can buy already made and chopped ingredients and just throw it together. Or you can make all the ingredients fresh – either way, it won’t disappoint and the crowd will go wild.

Last weekend, we had a family get-together at the bungalow for my mom’s birthday. I was aiming for a springtime, garden party vibe and knew that everything on the menu needed to be fresh-from-the-garden.

Our herb garden is looking pretty robust these days. I mean, hello, I had no idea dill could get so big! It’s more like a dill forest at this point.

Everything in this pic except for the grapes and chicken came from our yard!

Quite literally the freshest ingredients – from our yard!

I’m totally surprised by it and loving it. There’s nothing more gratifying than going outside as you’re cooking to snip your own garden-fresh herbs. It’s life-changing and led me to create my own homemade garden-fresh ranch.

Another point-of-pride with this chicken salad – it has Tom’s famous buttered pecans in it! We have a big ol’ pecan tree at our house and it’s been an adventure to say the least. We have been figuring out how to manage all the pecans it gave us this fall. That’s for another post though! Back to this chicken salad.

After bringing home chicken salad from the deli a few times, I started to take note of the ingredients. “I bet I can totally make this myself,” I thought. And of course, I did!

The easiest semi-homemade or totally homemade chicken salad

I’ll share how I made it this weekend, but like I said before, it’s very versatile. Add or subtract ingredients, swap things out, use what you have on hand. Using pre-shredded chicken meat would make this dish the fastest, but I’ll share how I cook my chicken in case you have some on-hand.

When I want to cook chicken breasts to shred and use for a recipe, my go-to is usually the instant pot. I take the breasts out of the packaging, pat them dry and season with salt. I let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes to allow the salt to do its thing (tenderize).

I’m no expert on cooking chicken in the instant pot, it depends on the size and weight. But I do always cook it in chicken broth or atleast fairly salted water. Once its done, I shred it in the pot and turn it on saute mode to let it simmer for a bit. This gets the chicken nice and juicy which is never a bad thing. If making ahead, I’ll store it in the fridge in some of the juices.

Of course, you’ll want to drain it the best you can before using in the chicken salad recipe.

Pecan chicken salad with garden-fresh herbs

To make the chicken salad you’ll need:

  • Shredded chicken meat
  • Red grapes
  • Roasted pecans
  • Celery
  • Mayonnaise
  • Fresh herbs
  • Green onion
  • Salt and pepper

First, you’ll want to prep your ingredients. Shred the chicken meat, cut the grapes in at least half, chop your pecans, celery, herbs and green onion. For fresh herbs, I used dill and parsley.

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, add mayo to your liking and salt to taste. The amount of mayo you use depends on how much meat you start with, so I’m not prescribing actual amounts here. Just use your best judgement.

If making ahead, cover and let it sit in the fridge until you’re ready to use. Scoop onto a big crunchy lettuce leaf or eat it on a croissant. Whatever vehicle you choose to eat it with, it will be delicious. Let me know if you make it and how it turns out!

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