Harvest Chicken Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

This Harvest Chicken Salad just screams fall! Warm chicken breasts, poached in fresh apple cider, combine with apples, cranberries and fresh greens for a seasonal explosion of flavor. Top with fragrant, easy to make, rosemary pecans and toss with a light apple cider vinaigrette. The perfect lunch or dinner side for cool fall days.

Harvest Chicken Salad in white bowl with apples and gourds in background.

Fall Chicken Salad Recipe

I love fall! The cooler weather, the changing leaves and the delicious fresh produce that arrives on store shelves. And salads always seem like the best way to enjoy all of that freshness. Like with my Pomegranate Orange Salad or Pear Walnut Gorgonzola Salad, this Harvest Chicken Salad gives you all those fresh autumn flavors in one bowl. Full of fresh crunchy apples, sweet apple cider, tart cranberries and toasted pecans, this salad just jumps out at you and screams fall!

Fall Salad over greens in white bowl closeup.

I’m always looking for something delicious but healthy when lunch time rolls around. I usually do most of my recipe development and baking in the morning so when it’s time for lunch, the last thing I feel like doing is cooking something more. (and if you saw my kitchen after one of my marathon sessions you would understand why) Enter the make ahead apple chicken salad that tastes just as good the next day as it does the day you make it.

Pouring apple cider vinaigrette over apple chicken salad.

Frequently Asked Questions About Apple Chicken Salad

Can I use rotisserie chicken instead of poaching the chicken?

Of course! If you’re short on time, use any precooked chicken. Then just boil cider down and add a few sprigs of thyme and sugar or honey to make the vinaigrette.

You can also use leftover turkey after the holidays and add a touch of time for some real flavor.

Do I have to use pecans?

No, walnuts are a great substitute for the pecans. Don’t feel like flavoring them with rosemary? Just roast them coated with a little butter for the same length of time.

How can I change this salad up for variety?

Any fall fruit, vegetable or potatoes can be subbed in. I like to use the apples with the apple cider but pears will work too. You can also add roasted sweet potatoes, red grapes, green onion, pomegranate arils and pepitas.

How to Make Harvest Chicken Salad

Rosemary Pecans

Steps to make Rosemary Pecans.

  1. Place pecans in large bowl.
  2. Sprinkle with chopped rosemary and salt.

Pecans and rosemary are sprinkled on a large cookie sheet.

  1. Sprinkle on rimmed cookie sheet that butter has been melted on. Stir and bake.

Closeup of roasted rosemary pecans on cookie sheet.

Believe me, these rosemary pecans are dangerous! I made them the first time and ate most of them before I had even finished cooking the chicken. Note to self – make double or triple the amount next time. The nuts are savory with a fresh rosemary flavor, buttery and salty. Just the right combination for nibbling and the highlight of this lunch time salad. I’m even making them for a snack for Thanksgiving. Yep, they’re that good!

Poached Apple Cider Chicken

Steps to make poached apple cider chicken salad.

  1. While nuts are roasting, brown chicken in skillet. Add thyme in last 2 minutes. (photo 1)
  2. Pour in apple cider. Simmer 20 minutes. (photo 2)
  3. Remove chicken and boil down cider by half. (photo 3)
  4. In the meantime, shred chicken. (photo 4)
  5. Stir in honey or sugar. Let cool. (photo 5)
  6. Assemble salad ingredients in a large bowl – greens, shredded chicken, chopped apple, chopped celery, cranberries and cooked bacon. (photo 6) 

Harvest Chicken Salad bite | 2 Cookin Mamas

A deliciously easy autumn salad that’s super adaptable and filled with fresh seasonal ingredients. Use just the rosemary pecans as garnish or add a little bacon to the top too. Then dig in to the best fall salad you’ve ever had. It also packs well for lunches and is filling enough for a light dinner too served with a few fresh zucchini muffins or a warm pumpkin soup. Enjoy!

More Recipes to Welcome Fall

Instant Pot Greek Beef Stew from 2CM (yours truly)

Crockpot White Chicken Chili from 2CM

Pork Tenderloin with Apples in Cream Sauce from Supergolden Bakes

Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte from 2CM

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HARVEST CHICKEN SALAD with APPLE CIDER VINAIGRETTE & ROSEMARY PECANS
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
34 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 
Harvest Chicken Salad screams fall! Chicken cooked in apple cider, tossed with apples, cranberries & pecans then drizzled with apple cider vinaigrette.
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keywords: apple chicken salad, fall chicken salad, harvest chicken salad
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 653 kcal
Author: Linda Warren
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs, chopped
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar or honey
  • 2-3 apples, cored & chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 6 cups Fresh greens
  • Bacon, cooked & chopped (optional)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using a large cookie sheet, set butter on pan and place in oven. Let butter melt as oven preheats.
  3. Take cookie sheet out of oven and stir in nuts & rosemary. Sprinkle with salt.
  4. Bake 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven, stir and set aside. This makes about 8 servings of nuts so you will have some left over. 

  5. While nuts are baking, heat oil in a large skillet. Season chicken breasts and place in hot pan, searing about 5-6 minutes per side. You want it the outside to be golden brown.
  6. Add thyme sprigs and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
  7. Pour in apple cider and bring to boil. Turn down heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until chicken breasts are cooked through.
  8. Remove chicken to plate and cover with foil.
  9. Turn the heat back to medium high and boil cider until it is reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Stir in sugar or honey. Set aside and let cool.
  10. To assemble salad:
  11. Shred chicken and mix with chopped apples, celery, cranberries, rosemary and greens. Season with salt and pepper.
  12. Toss with half of the apple cider mixture. Top with some of the rosemary pecans and chopped bacon, if desired.
  13. Serve with remaining apple cider vinaigrette on side.
Recipe Notes

Note: Salad will be less caloric if not using all of the rosemary pecans.

Frequently Asked Questions About Apple Chicken Salad

Can I use rotisserie chicken instead of poaching the chicken?

Of course! If you’re short on time, use any precooked chicken. Then just boil cider down and add a few sprigs of thyme and sugar or honey to make the vinaigrette.

You can also use leftover turkey after the holidays and add a touch of time for some real flavor.

Do I have to use pecans?

No, walnuts are a great substitute for the pecans. Don’t feel like flavoring them with rosemary? Just roast them coated with a little butter for the same length of time.

How can I change this salad up for variety?

Any fall fruit, vegetable or potatoes can be subbed in. I like to use the apples with the apple cider but pears will work too. You can also add roasted sweet potatoes, red grapes, green onion, pomegranate arils and pepitas.

Nutrition Facts
HARVEST CHICKEN SALAD with APPLE CIDER VINAIGRETTE & ROSEMARY PECANS
Amount Per Serving
Calories 653 Calories from Fat 270
% Daily Value*
Fat 30g46%
Saturated Fat 5g25%
Cholesterol 152mg51%
Sodium 1202mg50%
Potassium 1298mg37%
Carbohydrates 48g16%
Fiber 6g24%
Sugar 36g40%
Protein 51g102%
Vitamin A 1062IU21%
Vitamin C 24mg29%
Calcium 61mg6%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This post has been updated with new photos and how-tos. It was first published on November 15, 2017.
Healthy and Free Cookbook

This Harvest Chicken Salad just screams fall! Warm chicken breasts, poached in fresh apple cider, combine with apples, cranberries and fresh greens for a seasonal explosion of flavor. Top with fragrant, easy to make, rosemary pecans and toss with a light apple cider vinaigrette. The perfect lunch or dinner side for cool fall days. #salad #fall #lunch #recipe #applecider #chicken #apples #healthy #rosemary #pecans #cranberries

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Jessica Formicola
    10/07/2019 at 4:01 pm

    5 stars
    I love everything about this salad! So perfect for a fall afternoon, and I can’t wait to try it again!

  • Reply
    Shadi Hasanzadenemati
    10/07/2019 at 1:49 pm

    5 stars
    This is absolutely delicious! I love that it’s such a crowd pleaser for the whole family

  • Reply
    Rebecca Hubbell
    09/27/2018 at 2:22 pm

    5 stars
    I had been craving a good chicken salad and this hit the spot, I love how fresh and flavorful it is compared to some others I’ve tried!

  • Reply
    Wilhelmina Wessel
    09/27/2018 at 2:11 pm

    5 stars
    I love everything about this salad!

  • Leave a Reply

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