| | | | |

Easy Apple Pecan Chicken Salad with Tarragon

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclosure policy.

Classic Apple Pecan Chicken salad will become one of your favorite go-to chicken salad recipes. Loaded with must-have crunchies like apples, buttery pecans, shallots, and celery; then lightly dressed in a bright lemon, tarragon mayonnaise dressing.

I have been making this recipe for years, an irresistible recipe perfect for bridal and baby showers, or simply for meal prep during the week, but read on for many more ways to use chicken salad.

In my opinion you cannot have too many chicken salad recipes, this Sherried Chicken salad with grapes, classic Southern Tuna Salad, and this Blackberry Grilled Chicken Salad while more of a traditional salad, is still the bomb!

Pecan apple chicken salad on bed of lettuce with croissants behind.

Why we love this Apple Pecan Chicken Salad

  • FRESH | This Chicken Tarragon Salad is beyond fresh, incorporating veggies and fruit available year round, and the fresh tarragon takes it over the top!
  • EASY | Simple recipes are my favorite, with just a few ingredients and about 15 minutes, you will have tarragon chicken salad at your fingertips.
  • MEAL PREP | I adore recipes you can prep once but enjoy all week, line individual containers with a piece of lettuce (I love butter lettuce) and a scoop of chicken salad with tarragon; lunch ready when you are!
Bowl filled with apple pecan chicken salad with tarragon, croissants behind.

I started making this recipe for chicken salad with tarragon about 20 years ago, I think it might have been from a Silver Palate cookbook, these are awesome cookbooks!

Then Whole Foods started making Tarragon Chicken Salad, it’s a match made in heaven! Save a lot of money and make your own homemade chicken tarragon salad. And of course you have Wendy’s and Arby’s also making this Apple Pecan Chicken Salad, this is better, promise!

Simple Ingredients & Substitutions

Ingredients, directions and nutritional information in the printable recipe card at the end of the post.

Image of ingredients for Chicken Tarragon Salad L-R Cooked chicken breast, choped, Mayo, Lemon juice and zest, shallot, fresh tarragon, chopped celery, chopped apples and chopped buttered pecans.
  • COOKED CHICKEN BREAST | I used rotisserie chicken, makes it so much quicker and easier! But, also try this Instant Pot Chicken Breasts (fresh or frozen) from my friend Nikki.
  • CHOPPED PECANS | In this salad in particular I love pecans, but you might also try slivered almonds, cashews, pistachios and even sunflower seeds.
  • APPLE | I used Honeycrisp apples here; but also try Pink Lady (aka Cripps Pink), Gala, Fuji and Granny Smith, all will hold up beautifully in a chicken salad.
  • CELERY | I am not a huge celery fan, but when chopped nice and small it provides a delicious crunch. Don’t like celery, check out my substitute for celery in chicken salad!
  • SHALLOT | Also try red onion, chopped or minced tiny! Both are excellent flavor additions.
  • MAYO | Use a good quality mayonnaise here, because the flavor shines through. I love Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Mayo – heart healthy, gluten free and dairy free mayo and delicious!
  • LEMON | You will use the zest and the juice from the lemon, adds a citrus note which brightens the salad tremendously! Only have bottled lemon juice? It won’t be quite as bright and fresh, but will still work.
  • FRESH TARRAGON | Fresh is amazing, but I have also used dried tarragon and it works great too! Remember though, the 3:1 rule when substituting dried for fresh herbs.

Let’s Make Tarragon Chicken Salad with Apple and Pecans

Step 1 | Toasting Pecans

Start by melting butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add chopped pecans and stir around until toasted and fragrant, don’t walk away they can burn fast. Will take 4-5 minutes.

Set aside and allow to cool while assembling the rest of the chicken salad with tarragon.

Step 2 | Making Mayo Dressing

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice, tarragon until smooth.

Toss in chopped apples and chopped celery.

Step 3 | Assemble Chicken Salad

Add chopped or shredded chicken (if just baked, cool for 10-15 minutes until just warm to touch), and 1/2 cup of the pecans (reserving the balance for serving).

Stir in shallots with chicken mixing all ingredients until combined. Want to take the “bite” out of raw onions, check out this simple hack.

Cover and chill a few hours before serving — though I have certainly rushed this and eaten it straight out of the bowl! The flavors have time to marry when you let it chill together.


How long does chicken salad last in the fridge?

Chicken Tarragon Salad is a great meal prep recipe, as it stores and lasts well in the fridge.

Keep in a large sealed container, or split into portion sized containers. Lasts up to 5-7 days refrigerated.

Serve chicken salad on bed of lettuce with crackers or croissants.

How to Freeze Chicken Salad

Typically, recipes with mayonnaise don’t freeze great, as you will get some curdling or separation when thawed. But I have successfully frozen apple pecan chicken salad.

Freeze in an airtight container or freezer baggie (be sure to squeeze out as much air as possible), freeze up to 2 months, thaw overnight in fridge, stir well, adding a touch more mayonnaise if needed to rehydrate.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you prepare fresh tarragon

Tarragon while more of a tender leaf than rosemary has a tough stem that you don’t want. Using your fingers, pull backwards on the leaves from the stem, stripping them off. Simply chop with a sharp knife into small pieces.

What does tarragon taste like?

Tarragon is a distinctive aromatic herb, along the lines of fennel and anise, though I do not believe quite as strong.

Is Chicken Tarragon Salad Gluten-Free?

Indeed it is! Just make sure your mayo and if using rotisserie chicken is also gluten free!

Is Lemon Tarragon Chicken Salad Keto and Low Carb?

With only 8 carbs, 31 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber, this fits well into a low carb diet.

Can I make chicken salad dairy-free?

As long as your mayo is dairy free and you omit the butter, or use a dairy free alternative in the pecans, this recipe is fully dairy free.

9 Unique Ways to Serve Chicken Salad

Chicken salad can be eaten in many ways, most traditional is on a bed of lettuce or as part of a sandwich. Read on for 9 unique ways to serve chicken salad! Whether you are serving as an appetizer or a meal, gluten-free, dairy-free, low-carb and Keto; there is an option for you below.

Chicken salad sandwich on brioche bread with lettuce.
  1. Luncheon Chicken Salad | Using a slice of green or red leaf lettuce, or butter lettuce, wash and pat dry, then scoop a few cookie sized scoops onto the lettuce. Serve with crackers, croissants, potato chips, grapes, veggies, you decide.
  2. Brioche Tarragon Chicken Salad Sandwich | Layer a slice of washed lettuce, scoop and slice in half. Brioche is a soft, delicious, rich egg bread amazing for sandwiches!
Apple pecan chicken salad on brioche sandwich bread on cutting board.
  1. Chicken Salad Croissant Recipe | Slice mini or regular sized croissants, layer a slice of butter or green leaf lettuce and scoop on desired amount of chicken salad.
  2. Pita Stuffed Chicken Tarragon Salad | Stuff into a pita pocket for an easy on the go sandwich.
  3. Chicken melts | You have heard of tuna melts, try tucking chicken salad onto a pre-toasted English muffin half, cover with cheese or keep plain. Place in middle of oven on broil for 2-3 minutes until warmed slightly.
  4. Appetizer | Using pre-baked phyllo shells, crostini, crackers, or baked wontons (like these Artichoke Wontons). Place spoonfuls of cold chicken salad, sprinkle with a few extra pecans and chopped chives or additional chopped tarragon.
  5. Lettuce Wrapped Chicken salad with apples and pecans | Using a sturdy piece of lettuce (rinsed and patted dry), I like using iceberg, romaine or green or red leaf lettuce, place scoop of chicken salad on; roll and eat! Great for low-carb and gluten-free!
  6. Cucumber or Zucchini Boats | Slice rounds of cucumbers or zucchini and place small spoonful of chicken salad on top, or scoop out seeds of half cucumber or zucchini and fill with chicken salad.
  7. Tea Sandwiches | Using a 2-3 inch round biscuit or cookie cutter, slice soft bread and top with chicken salad and second slice of bread, or use mini croissants. Or keep open faced.
Moist and tender, apple pecan chicken salad on bed of lettuce with croissants.

Substitute for Celery in Chicken Salad

I get it, it took me years to like celery. You can omit if you don’t like it at all, or if you want to replace that crunch try these below. 

  • Chop additional apples, or try firm pears too
  • Chopped carrots, radishes, zucchini or cucumbers
  • Dice bell peppers, mini peppers or tomatoes
  • Try dried fruit, like dates, raisins, figs, Craisins, or apricots chopped
  • Finally, add more nuts; like almonds, cashews, pistachios, sunflower seeds.
Bowl filled with butter lettuce and chunky, creamy tarragon chicken salad with croissants in background.

More great recipes

Apple pecan chicken salad in bowl with croissants behind, to pin.

I hope you loved this Apple Pecan Chicken Salad — if you did, would you share your creation on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest? And be sure to comment below!

Like this recipe?
Don’t forget to give it a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star rating and comment below the recipe!

Kathleen Pope, The Fresh Cooky.

About Kathleen Pope

Recipe Innovator | Food Photographer | Food Writer

Hi, I’m Kathleen Pope. Here at The Fresh Cooky you will find easy, mostly from-scratch, trusted recipes for all occasions. From speedy dinners to tasty desserts, with easy step-by-step instructions. I am here to help teach you how to make mouthwatering recipes without spending hours in the kitchen. Read more about Kathleen here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. 5 stars
    Tarragon is exceptional with chicken and I loved it in this chicken salad! Your recipe has a great variety of textures and tons of flavor. This was a hit at our luncheon. Thank you!

  2. 5 stars
    Yum! I toasted and chopped almonds (since I had them), and used fresh tarragon, which made allll the difference.
    Got lots of compliments!
    That said, I may double the amount of celery and halve the amount of shallots next time, to keep the crunch & dial down the onion bite, personalizing it. 💯 will make again.

  3. 5 stars
    Made this for myself for the week this past weekend, and I am officially obsessed with this zippy chicken salad! Will definitely be making it again and again because this is the BEST kind of lunch!

  4. 5 stars
    This is the best chicken salad that I’ve ever eaten. I just loved the fresh bright lemon juice and the tarragon was a great twist. It reminded me that I don’t use it enough!

  5. Oh my Kathleen! I cannot wait to make this one. Chicken salad is something I never tire of and I love the addition of fresh tarragon and butter pecans.