Easy Autumn Chicken Salad

Fifteen minutes are all you need to make this simple, healthy Autumn Chicken Salad, loaded up with fresh fall flavors like apple, fennel, and dried cherries for a pop of sweetness. Read on, or jump straight to the recipe HERE.

Autumn Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is one of those meals I just can’t help but love. All you need are a handful of ingredients and about fifteen minutes to make enough for delicious lunches/dinners all week long. This one has become my go-to, because no matter how many times I make it, I never get tired of the sweet, crunchy combo of fennel, apples, and tart Michigan cherries. (Yum!)

People often think that because I’m a food blogger, I eat fancy and elaborate food all the time. That’s a lovely illusion, but the reality is, there are plenty of days when I don’t have the time or energy (or desire) to make a production out of it. Let’s be real here, I’m human. This chicken salad, though? I always have time for. Even when I catch myself reaching for the take-out menu or a frozen pizza, I can usually stop and take a few minutes to cook some chicken (ahem — or grab a store bought rotisserie chicken, because hey, why not) and make this.

Yep. If you were looking for permission NOT to cook, there you go. As much as I may love roasting chickens in my own oven (totally not as hard as it sounds, totally worth the time it takes) sometimes I just don’t have that time. Rotisserie chickens are one shortcut that saves time without sacrificing too much on quality or flavor. So buy that bird with pride, and then, you know. Make this chicken salad.

Autumn Chicken Salad

My favorite way to eat this autumn chicken salad is as a sandwich (because bread — duh), but you could just as easily pile it up on a bed of lettuce, roll it into a wrap, or just eat it straight out of the fridge with a spoon. If there’s a wrong way to do it, I haven’t found it yet.

What’s your favorite fast, EASY recipe? Hit me with your go-to in the comments below!

Autumn Chicken Salad
Cook time
Total time
This autumn chicken salad comes together in minutes, and is one of my favorite lunches towards the end of summer and beginning of fall. Of course, you can make it any time of year, but to me, the apples, fennel, and dried cherries just say autumn.
Recipe type: Gluten-Free (make sure the bread is gluten free if you want it as a sandwich, of course)
Serves: 8-10, recipe easily halved
  • 2 lbs cooked chicken, chopped or shredded (you can use white or dark meat, whichever you prefer, cooked however you like: pan-seared, roasted, grilled, or poached... my favorites are grilled thighs, or breast meat when I roasted a whole bird. I've also been known to grab a store bought rotisserie chicken when I'm in a rush -- they work just as well for this recipe, and are a great way to save time)
  • 1 red apple, cored and diced (I like to use a sweet eating variety, like fuji or honeycrisp)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 bulb fennel, cored and diced
  • 3-4 TBSP fennel fronds, chopped
  • ½-3/4 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped (or you can use dried cranberries)
  • ¾-1 cup real mayonnaise, to taste (depending on how creamy you like it -- I find that white meat needs a bit more, while dark meat is good with less)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: ½-3/4 cup walnuts or pecan, roughly chopped
  1. Gently mix everything except the mayonnaise, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add about ½-3/4 cup mayonnaise, and mix to combine. Add more mayonnaise as needed to coat everything evenly. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.
  2. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving. Salad stores well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
  3. This salad is delicious on its own, over a bed of lettuce, or as a sandwich or wrap. Soft sandwich bread is great, and brings back memories of my childhood, but I'm also a big fan of rustic french or italian bread. Just add some greens, a few slices of red onion if you like, and you're good to go!
I love to make a big batch of this chicken salad and keep it in the fridge for quick, healthy lunches throughout the week. Even for just the two of us, a full recipe never seems like too much. It's also great for taking to a potluck or sharing with friends. If you'd prefer to make a smaller batch, though, simply halve all the ingredients.


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6 Responses to Easy Autumn Chicken Salad

  1. movita beaucoup September 15, 2016 at 4:49 pm #

    Why haven’t I been putting fennel in my chicken salad? WHY?! My mother always makes chicken salad with some onion, celery, mayonnaise, and curry powder – and it’s delightful. But fennel? I MUST!

    • Willow Arlen September 16, 2016 at 11:31 am #

      I know, right!? Fennel flies under my radar all the time, but then one day I had some in the fridge with no plan for it, and into the chicken salad it went. I haven’t looked back since. Curry powder, now that’s something I’ve never tried putting in my chicken salad, and now I have to! I bet that little bit of warmth would be really nice in all the creaminess.

  2. Tori//Gringalicious September 15, 2016 at 9:11 pm #

    This sandwich looks amazing! I’m all for it!

  3. Jeff Bannow September 16, 2016 at 11:24 am #

    Mmm … that looks delicious. Wish I was having that for lunch right now ….

    • Willow Arlen September 16, 2016 at 11:29 am #

      You totally could be! This is why we need to live closer together. I do cook for friends, you know. ;)

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