Easy Poppy Seed Chicken Salad with Cranberries and Greek Yogurt

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Sneak Preview: This Easy Poppy Seed Chicken Salad is a slightly fancy chicken salad recipe with poppy seeds, dried cranberries, and Greek yogurt. It’s suitable for a weekend brunch, ladies’ luncheon, or a weeknight supper.

Poppy Seed Chicken Salad  with Greek Yogurt in croissants

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How many recipes for chicken salad do you have? If you are a chicken salad lover like me, I bet you have several.

If you want a chicken salad recipe that goes together quickly and doesn’t require ingredients that will send you to the store (no fresh fruit), add this one to your collection. The crunchy textures will provide a tongue-tingling contrast to a soft bun without making the bread soggy.

Although I only have one chicken salad recipe listed in my index on this website, I have several other chicken recipes I like. One is an everyday mix-in-two-minutes-and-spread-on-white-bread recipe. Another is a curried chicken affair. (I make it when I don’t want my husband to eat it.) The third is this Easy Poppy Seed Chicken Salad—my all-time favorite.

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Recipe inspiration:

I found the original recipe buried in a notebook of company recipes for a pizza chain. I used to work for Pizza Inn in research and development.

First, I set about revising the amounts to make them domestically appropriate. Then, I made it fancy with ingredients like toasted almonds and dried cranberries. Finally, I lightened it with homemade yogurt and a touch of lemon juice.

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Ingredients and substitutions:

  • CHICKEN: This is an opportunity to use up leftover cooked chicken. I buy the rotisserie chicken at Costco.

    My Alabama sister says she makes her chicken salad with boneless skinless chicken breasts and never uses dark chicken meat. Something to consider.

    White turkey meat is the only substitute I would consider.
  • GREEK YOGURT: Unflavored Greek yogurt is the best in this recipe. If you only have regular yogurt on hand, you could strain some of the whey off to make it thicker. (Pour it into a paper coffee filter placed inside of a cheap strainer or colander and let it sit for an hour until thick.)

    You can substitute mayonnaise for the yogurt but it is rather cloying. The yogurt adds freshness. Suit yourself.
  • POPPY SEEDS: A reader told me she accidentally used chia seeds instead of poppy seeds and nobody could tell the difference. Try that at your own risk.

    One tip about poppy seeds: Store them in the refrigerator. They go rancid quickly.
  • CELERY: Celery adds a crisp texture that makes this recipe more interesting. Peeled and chopped apples would do the same thing.
  • DRIED CRANBERRIES: Dried cranberries could be optional if you don’t have them, but they add sweetness and color. Substitute dried cherries if you prefer.
  • ALMONDS: I like the almonds to be sliced (as opposed to slivered)—with or without the skin on. I also like to lightly toast the almonds in the microwave before adding. Toasted pecans are a fabulous substitute.
  • LEMON JUICE: No fresh lemons in the house? My next choice is apple vinegar. You don’t need much.
Poppy Seed Chicken Salad served with crackers

3 ways to serve Poppy Seed Chicken Salad

1. I love this Greek yogurt Chicken Salad with poppy seeds served with homemade rolls of almost any kind. My current favorites are the sweet potato rolls (pictured at the top) made into crescents or “butter horns” (as my mom used to call them) shapes. Other possibilities include crescent rolls out of a can or using croissants.

2. Make sweet potato chips and eat them with a spoonful of chicken salad on top. That’s how I serve ham salad and it is so tasty. Low-carb never tasted so good.

3. What I do most often is serve it over a huge salad (vacuum-sealed). Add a little olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese and toasted pecans. I guarantee eating this for lunch will improve the rest of your day.


FAQ

Can I use store-bought poppy seed dressing in this recipe?

Commercial poppy seed dressing has a lot more sugar in it than I want in my chicken salad. It’s also a thinner consistency compared to mayonnaise and Greek yogurt.

Can I freeze this chicken salad?

No. I don’t recommend it. The texture will change when it thaws.

How long can I store it?

Store covered in the fridge for up to 4 days. This recipe stays fresh longer than a chicken salad with fresh fruit such as strawberries or grapes added.


Parting thoughts: These bread machine recipes make good sliders to hold your chicken salad. Or go for a full-size bun recipe with these Potato Buns.


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If you have questions or suggestions, email me privately to Paula at saladinajar.com. Hope to see you again soon! Paula

Poppy Seed Chicken Salad in croissants

Easy Poppy Seed Chicken Salad with Cranberries and Greek Yogurt

You will love this chicken salad full of white chicken, celery, almonds, poppy seeds, and dried cranberries. Greek yogurt and mayo hold it together. It's a great way to recycle leftover rotisserie chicken.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Chill Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Salads
Servings 5 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked chicken - cubed
  • ½ cup slivered almonds - toasted
  • ¼ cup celery - finely chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt - unflavored
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt

Instructions
 

  • Stir all ingredients together in a bowl until combined.
  • Chill.

Notes

Substitutions:
  1. Replace the almonds with pecans. Absolutely divine!
  2. Substitute sour cream or more mayonnaise for the yogurt.
  3. Vinegar is a good replacement for lemon juice.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Easy Poppy Seed Chicken Salad with Cranberries and Greek Yogurt
Serving Size
 
1
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
349
Calories from Fat 243
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
27
g
42
%
Saturated Fat
 
4
g
25
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
13
g
Cholesterol
 
52
mg
17
%
Sodium
 
658
mg
29
%
Carbohydrates
 
10
g
3
%
Fiber
 
2
g
8
%
Sugar
 
7
g
8
%
Protein
 
18
g
36
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Author: Paula Rhodes
Course: Salads
Cuisine: American
Keywords: chicken salad sandwich filling, chicken salad with Greek yogurt, Poppy Seed Chicken Salad
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21 Comments

  1. Debbie Lindsey says:

    This is a great salad, delicious! Was fortunate to receive some and I would definitely make it myself. The yogurt gives it a different texture/taste. Thanks Paula!

  2. I love chicken salad, your recipe looks so good! =)
    Thanks!

  3. This sounds like a wonderful recipe and those sandwiches look so appetizing!

  4. Jen @ Jen's Favorite Cookies says:

    I have a favorite chicken salad recipe, too, but I’m always on the lookout for new ideas. Love this one!

  5. The Café Sucré Farine says:

    Hi Paula, love your chicken salad, it sounds wonderful. I think poppy seeds make everything a bit more special.

  6. Already made this & packed in lunch for work! Yum! And so easy to throw together! What type of bread/crackers do you recommend to go with this for maximum satisfaction of my taste buds?

    1. Hey Susie,
      I forgot to tell you that Special K Crackers in the Multi-Grain variety are really good with this salad. Actually. They’re just really good. Period. Similar to wheat thins. That’s what you see in the top picture of this post.

  7. Ok never mind. I didn’t see the entire post on iPad mini until after clicking submit. You already answered my question.

  8. I always like chicken salad and this one looks yummy. I did make your sweet potato dinner rolls and we all enjoyed them for our Christmas dinner.

    Happy New Year, Paula : )

    1. Hi Lorraine,
      I guess you and I were eating the same kind of dinner rolls at our Christmas dinner. Hope your new year is going well.

  9. Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie) says:

    Oh, yum. I don’t use poppyseeds nearly enough.

  10. Which of your bread recipes is the best to use with chicken-salad sandwiches?

    1. That question is like asking who is my favorite child!!

      Current favorite would be the sweet potato rolls followed by My favorite dinner rolls or brioche. If you want regular bread– the Sweet Milk White Bread would be fabulous.

  11. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef says:

    This sandwich looks gorgeous. I can only imagine how it would taste on brioche. I’m going to give it a try.

  12. This sounds great! To make you laugh, I made poppy seed muffins the other day and accidently used CHIA seeds! I had bought them (because they are supposed to be so good for you) and put them in a jar just like the one that my poppy seeds were stored in. I didn’t tell anyone, and no one was the wiser. Still giggling about that…

    1. You made me laugh Piper. So just what was your plan for the CHIA seeds? That’s a territory I have yet to explore.

  13. A dear friend sent a link to me, which led me to your youtube.com salad-in-a-jar video, and I’m so glad that she sent it! After viewing that video, I just had to do a search in order to find your blog, Paula. Who could resist?

    Well, you grabbed my attention right away with your yummy sounding chicken salad recipe. I know what I’ll be putting together tomorrow! I’m off to my kitchen just now to prepare dinner, but I’ll be right back to take a better peek at your site.

  14. Made this salad and loved it! I am adding it to my list of fav Chicken Salads. Thanks for sharing!

  15. 3petitsprinces says:

    Paula, I made this chicken salad for my son’s 9th birthday party. He wanted a cricket themed party (the sport-my husband is South African) so I wanted something a little elegant for the adults. We had beautiful weather and I made & assembled the sandwiches on homemade buns (yes! I used my bread machine! I used a sour cream dough, however.) with a piece of romaine lettuce and a toothpick through the center to keep it all together. I received many, many compliments! Thank you for sharing your fabulous recipe & helping to make my son’s party special!
    L

  16. I made this for dinner tonight and it was a huge hit! It is so easy to put together, yet tastes special because of the almonds and cranberries. I used shredded chicken (canned) which really cut down on the prep time. This is definitely going into my recipe file. Thank you, Paula.

    1. Thanks Jocelyn,
      I haven’t used canned chicken much but maybe I should try it. 🙂