Walnut Chicken Salad

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This tasty walnut chicken salad combines crisp greens with sweet cherries, crunchy nuts, and creamy gorgonzola cheese, tossed with juicy chicken pieces in a light and tangy vinaigrette.

I love recipes like this walnut and cherry chicken salad or my mango chicken salad as easy meals. They’re also great paired with soup or a sandwich for a bistro-style lunch or dinner!

Two hands using wooden salad tongs to toss the chicken salad with the dressing.


Inspiration for this salad came years ago when a relative brought over a classic creamy chicken salad studded with cherries and walnuts. Fast forward, and I’m forever obsessed with my green, leafy version of a cherry and walnut chicken salad. It’s quick and easy to make like any good salad should be. The juicy chicken chunks make it perfect to tuck into as a light lunch or hearty side dish. If you have leftover chicken in your fridge, it’s a sign. Make this salad ASAP!

Why I Love This Walnut Chicken Salad Recipe

The flavors are delicious. I love the contrast of crunchy walnuts and sweet dried cherries with sharp blue cheese and a fresh vinaigrette. It’s so satisfying.

It’s ready in minutes. If you already have your chicken cooked and ready, the salad comes together in 10 minutes or less. It’s easy to meal prep, too, and take to-go during the week.

It’s super versatile. For lunch, dinner, or a side dish, this chicken salad does it all. Any season, all the time! It’s even great rolled up inside lavash bread as a chicken salad wrap.

Ingredients for cherry and walnut chicken salad with text labels overlaying each ingredient.

Ingredients You’ll Need

The beauty of this salad is that the ingredients keep it simple, but there’s loads of flavor to go around. Check out some notes here, and scroll down to the recipe card for a printable list of ingredients and recipe directions.

  • Chicken – I like to use cooked boneless skinless chicken breast as it’s easy to dice up. I’ll often make this salad whenever I have leftover baked chicken breast or a whole roast chicken to get through.
  • Greens – Choose any combination of your favorite salad leaves. I like a blend of baby lettuce and spinach, or I’ll pick up a bag of spring mix from the store.
  • Gorgonzola Cheese – Firm, crumbly gorgonzola is a kind of blue cheese from Italy. I love it paired with walnuts in recipes like this chicken salad and my orzo salad. If you aren’t a fan, crumbled feta or goat cheese makes a good substitute.
  • Cherries – Dried cherries taste great any time of the year. When fresh cherries are in season, I’ll remove the pits and chop them up to use instead. 
  • Walnuts – This recipe uses chopped raw walnuts. Pecans are another good option.
  • Dressing – I include how to make an easy Dijon vinaigrette, but you can dress your walnut chicken salad with any salad dressing you like. 
Overhead view of walnut chicken salad ingredients assembled in a large blue salad bowl, next to a jar of dressing and smaller bowls of toppings.

How to Make a Walnut Chicken Salad

My cherry chicken salad with walnuts comes together just like any other salad. First, arrange the greens in a bowl. Then, it’s a matter of nestling the chicken over top and adding the rest of the toppings. In this case, crumbled gorgonzola, dried cherries, and walnuts for crunch. Whisk together the dressing, drizzle it over the salad, and toss! It’s as easy as that.

The Best Chicken Salad Dressing

The light Dijon vinaigrette that I use for this walnut chicken salad is one of my all-time favorites. It’s ridiculously simple. To make it, combine oil and vinegar with Dijon, salt, and pepper and give it a good whisk or a shake in a tight-lidded jar to emulsify. 

Feel free to adjust the ingredients to taste. The recipe is actually inspired by the dressing used in the famous La Scala chopped salad. If you’d like, go ahead and include freshly grated parmesan like the original!

Walnut and cherry chicken salad in a large blue salad bowl.

More Add-In Ideas

A walnut chicken salad is a great one to customize depending on which ingredients are in season. As always, I’d love to hear your ideas! In the meantime, here are some of mine:

  • Spring and Summer: Fresh cherries and fresh berries, like strawberries or blackberries, make a nice add-on to this salad when they’re in season. In grilling weather, it’s delicious with grilled chicken, or I’ll swap chicken for steak for a version of a steak salad.
  • Fall: Sliced apples, pears, and toasted pumpkin seeds or pecans are a tasty way to transition this salad recipe into the fall. I also like to add roasted butternut squash.
  • Winter: Try add-ins like cabbage, kale, or other winter greens, like Brussels sprouts. Dried cranberries also work great in place of cherries. 

Serving Suggestions

This chicken walnut salad is a great light lunch. I like to pair it with a cozy bowl of soup, like this cream of zucchini soup, or a grilled cheese sandwich. If I’m planning a date night dinner at home, this salad makes a pretty starter leading into cheesy crock pot French onion soup and our favorite chardonnay, with chocolate mousse for dessert. 

Year-round, I’ll serve this salad as a fancy-without-even-trying side dish. It goes with pasta when we entertain, or I’ll take it along to our neighborhood picnics and potlucks!

Overhead photo of walnut chicken salad served in a stoneware bowl.

Can I Meal Prep This Salad?

Absolutely. Back in my big-city-office days, I used to make a to-go version of this walnut and cherry chicken salad the night before to take to work in the morning. It makes a great mason jar salad, or you can store it in an airtight container. 

To prep this salad in advance, start by adding a few spoonfuls of dressing to the container. Then, layer the rest of the salad in this order: walnuts, cherries, chicken, and blue cheese, ending with the salad greens—do not toss it or mix it together. Seal the container, keep the salad in the fridge, and shake it before serving.

Storing Leftovers

Unfortunately, once dressed, this chicken salad won’t stay fresh for long as the leaves tend to wilt and become soggy after a day or two in the fridge. If you know you’ll have leftovers, do your best to store the salad without the dressing (see my meal prep tips above). Enjoy!

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4 from 3 votes

Walnut Chicken Salad

This cherry and walnut chicken salad with gorgonzola cheese and tangy vinaigrette is a meal on its own! Or, serve it with soup for a bistro-style lunch or dinner.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings


For the Salad

  • ¾ pound chicken breasts, cooked and cut into cubes
  • 4 cups mixed greens
  • 8 to 10 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 5 ounces dried cherries, you can use fresh cherries, if you prefer
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

For the Dressing

  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
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  • Assemble the salad. Place mixed greens and spinach in a large salad bowl. Top with chicken, cheese, cherries, and walnuts.
  • Make the dressing. Combine oil, vinegar, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl and whisk until well incorporated. Taste and adjust for vinegar, salt, and pepper.
  • Combine. Add the dressing to the salad and toss to combine.


  • Chicken options. Use this easy baked chicken breasts recipe to cook your chicken. If you’d like to use thighs, grab this recipe for stovetop chicken thighs.
  • Fruit options. If fresh cherries are in season, you can use those if you like. But if you can’t get any type of cherries, use dried cranberries or fresh berries. 


Calories: 457kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 350mg | Potassium: 658mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 5738IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 194mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

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  1. Kathe says:

    Needed a more flavorful dressing. I toasted the walnuts and marinated the chicken tenders. I always leave out the cheese but I think it would be great that way.

  2. Nina Lovelace says:

    Made this last night for dinner and it was delicious!! My son is allergy to nuts, any recommendations for a substitute that gives it that crunch?

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      Hi Nina!! Very happy you all enjoyed it! Thank you! 😀
      How about something like pine nuts or sunflower seeds for that crunch? Or is he allergic to seeds, too?
      Bacon bits always work! 😉

  3. Tanya says:

    I made the cherry walnut salad and man was it good for lunch!

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      SO happy you enjoyed it!! Thank you, Tanya! 😀

  4. Kathy Polivka says:

    I can never never print out a recipe on Pinterest and it is so irritating. Please tell me how to do it. I logged in but that did not help.

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      Hi Kathy! I don’t think there’s a way to print out a recipe via Pinterest. You have to click on the Pin which will then bring you to the website where the recipe is located. Once you locate the recipe, you should find a button near the recipe that says “Print”. If you scroll down to the recipe on my website, the “PRINT” button is found under the picture that is located within the recipe box. Please see the image. If you need anything else, just let me know. Thank YOU! Recipe Box

      1. Kathy Lauer says:

        Thank you so much, I’m new to this and I’m having a hard time trying to find things out…where to go, how to get the recipes! but I really think I will love this salad !

    2. Ellen says:

      Either you can copy and paste it to your word processing program (Pages on a Mac, or Word on a PC), or you can download Yumprint. It’s terrific – it’s for saving recipes all in one place. I love it. Give it a try. Very easy to save your recipes and organize them. You can go back to them whenever, and not try to remember where you saved it. You can print easily from there also.

      1. Katerina Petrovska says:

        Thanks so much for that info, Ellen!! I had no idea about Yumprint. I will definitely check it out!

  5. Sarah Walker Caron (Sarah's Cucina Bella) says:

    Single serving olive oil and vinegar packs? OMG. I need those. And this salad looks delicious. My kids and I take salads for lunch often and I am always seeking ways to do ’em better.