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How to make Michigan Cherry Chicken Salad recipe

Cherry Chicken Salad is easy and deliciously a fun twist the ordinary chicken salad recipe. You will want to put this at the front of your recipe box! Dried cherries, nuts and a deliciously fresh dressing, make this Cherry Chicken Salad stand out among all the rest.  

chicken salad croissant on white plate
  • chicken breast
  • dried cherries
  • apple, such as honeycrisp, fuji or any other slightly tart eating apple
  • red onion, or any sweeter variety
  • celery
  • nuts, you can choose pecans, walnuts, or slivered almonds
  • mayonnaise
  • greek yogurt or sour cream
  • juice of one lemon
  • sugar
  • dried dill
  • salt and black pepper

Chicken salad is not a new recipe but with the addition of a few simple ingredients like dried cherries, nuts, and a fresh homemade greek yogurt based dressing, this old stand will become a fan favorite.  

The very first time I had this salad was in Glen Arbor, Michigan. Glen Arbor is the most delightful little lakefront town, north west of Traverse City, in the pinky area of the Mitten. If you know, you know! This area of Michigan is a hidden gem. As was this salad when we found it on the menu of the lakeside restaurant we had lunch in. (The restaurant is no longer there, but has since been replaced by the restaurant Blu.). All that to say I remember thinking cherries in chicken salad, is a fun twist! I also thought they would be fresh halved cherries, so when my plate came and I didn’t see chunks of cherry sticking out of my salad I was a bit disappointed! But not for the long, the first bite was perfection, and shattered all my preconceived notions of boring mayonnaise laden chicken salad. Mind you this was even before cell phones, so I ended up scribbling on a napkin what I thought might be in this salad, went home, and went to work trying to replicate it. This was also before dried fruit was easily found. (Am I dating myself here??) But I live in the land of Michigan Cherries so it didn’t take too much work. Now you can find dried berries of all sorts just about anywhere.

  1. Bake chicken on a baking sheet in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool before cutting into small chunks.
  2. Toast 1 cup of nuts in 350 degree oven for 5 minutes. Rough chop.
  3. Combine chicken with the chopped onion, celery, apple and cherries in a large bowl.
  4. Make your salad dressing for the salad by whisking together mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, dill, sugar, and salt and pepper.
  5. Pour dressing over chicken mixture, stir to combine. Add nuts and stir to make sure they are distributed through out.
  • cutting board
  • sharp knife for chopping ingredients
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • whisk or fork for combining dressing ingredients
  • large mixing bowl and an airtight container for storage
  • baking sheet for baking chicken and toasting nuts
  • The Fruit: you could use dried cranberries, or blueberries. I also love to use fresh fruit, such as Michigan apples (of course!) cut and diced. Halved grapes are also delicious.
  • The Nuts: I personally like chopped pecans, or slivered almonds, but walnuts, pistachios, or even cashews are delicious. You do not have to toast them, if you want to skip this step it is quite alright!
  • The Dressing: can also be played with. Not a fan of dill? Use fresh parsley or thyme. Or if all you have is salt and black pepper then just use that. One of my favorite seasoning blends is Mortons Nature Seasoning salt blend, if you have this I highly recommend using it to replace the salt.
  • The Chicken: the recipe calls for baking chicken breasts, however we all know how easy and tasty rotisserie chicken from the grocery store is, making it the perfect alternative. Poached chicken, or chicken cooked in a slow cooker or insta pot works as well, cool and shred before.

The area I live in is actually known as the salad bowl of Michigan! So that makes this the perfect Michigan salad, using all the Michigan things!

  • Serve Michigan Cherry Chicken Salad on croissants. The buttery croissant loaded with this flavorful salad is the perfect combination! Serve on whole wheat bread with lettuce leaves and sliced tomato. You will be the envy of the lunchroom!
  • Now if you happen to be cutting the carbs and are going for a fresher more veggie laden meal, by all means make yourself a salad! Serve a generous scoop on top of a bed of greens or spring greens.
  • If you are anything at all like yours truly you might just stand in the kitchen holding the bowl in one hand, fork in the other and serve yourself directly from the serving bowl in to your piehole. Why dirty any more dishes?
  • Storage: If you are not going to use this salad immediately after making it, you will need to store it in an airtight container in your refrigerator. It can be stored 3-4 days. This makes it a great make ahead menu item for a baby shower, bridal shower, or any type of luncheon. It actually tastes better the next day!
chicken salad with cherrys nuts and dill in bowl

Michigan Cherry Chicken Salad

A fresh take on the traditional chicken salad recipe. Full of lots of crunchy nuts and vegetables as well as the sweet addition of dried cherries.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings


  • 1 cutting board
  • sharp knife
  • storage and or mixing bowl
  • measuring cups and spoons


  • 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts thighs, or dark meat works as well, or a rotisserie chicken, you want to have 6 full cups of chicken after cooking, dicing/shredding
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper for seasoning chicken before baking
  • 1 cup dried cherries chopped
  • 1 cup finely, chopped onion I prefer, sweet, red, or Vidalia onion for this recipe.
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted walnuts, slivered almonds, or whatever your preference is work as well


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 whole lemon, juiced 2-3 tablespoons approximately
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp dried dill if using fresh dill use 1/4 cup chopped dill
  • 1 tsp salt more to your taste preference
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper more to your taste preference


preheat oven to 400°

  • Place chicken breasts on baking pan, drizzle olive oil over chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper, bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool, cut into small pieces. Or shred with forks.
  • Chop cherries, onion, and celery add to bowl with chopped chicken, toss.

Toasting nuts: after removing chicken from oven. place nuts on a clean baking sheet or pan and place them in the oven for 5 minutes. no longer. remove and chop.


    • Whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, dill, sugar, salt, pepper, and the juice of 1 lemon.
    • Pour dressing over chopped ingredients and fold together.
    • Add toasted and chopped nuts to salad. Place in refrigerator for up to one hour before serving.


    Place chicken salad in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving. Best if made a day before serving. Serve with croissants or buttery rolls. Also makes pretty mini sandwiches if you are doing sandwich trays.
    Store Chicken salad in an airtight container in refrigerator for 3-4 days. 
    Keyword cherry, chicken, salad
    Tried this recipe?Mention @eat2gather or tag #eat2gather!

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    Recipe Rating


    1. Cherry Republic- yes! I think cherries in salad are a very Michigan thing— loved the Square Dance salad at Food Dance in Kalamazoo with dried cherries. Around here, I settle for Costco dried cherries, use them in salad often. You are right about the starving-hungry-while-nursing-babies phenomenon, I remember that well. Scrounging around the house for anything…….

    2. My hubby's parents are coming for a visit TOMORROW! I am sick and haven't begun to meal plan/make grocery list/shop. This recipe sounds like a super great lunch/es! So thanks!!!! I'd love you to join Saturday Swap with some of your great recipes. You have a super start to your weekend Friend!!

    3. I always go the extra mile to search out dried cherries for our turkey stuffing and I will do the same for this recipe. YUM! This recipe is not only bookmark worthy, but also print worthy. Yes, I totally printed it with photo (don't tell my husband, he says I'm an ink waster) and I'm going to make is soon. Thanks!