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Cranberry Walnut Vegan ‘Chicken’ Salad

Vegan Chicken Salad is a flavorful, quick, and easy salad made with mashed chickpeas, cranberries, and walnuts tossed with a creamy dressing for a healthy, WFPB wrap or sandwich filler!

head on view of healthy vegan chicken salad sandwich on a plate with items surrounding.

Chickpeas are just about the most versatile bean I’ve ever come across. They pair well with so many flavors, making them the ultimate bean in my book.

No wonder they are loved by so many. And this Cranberry Walnut Vegan ‘Chicken’ Salad is another terrific use of this versatile bean!

Why We Love This Recipe!

It’s full of fiber, protein and uses just 8 ingredients (plus salt + pepper), creating the most wonderful faux chicken salad that will rival its predecessor.

It has the same mouthfeel and satisfies your craving for a chunky, sweet, peppery, and crunchy style sandwich.

Who will love this Vegan ‘Chicken’ Salad? Those who are looking for an alternative to the chicken salad you might see at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

top down view of ingredients used to make the best vegan chicken salad with cranberries, chickpeas and walnuts.

Ingredient Notes

Here is everything you will need, plus suggestions for substituting when possible. You can find the full measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  • Chickpeas – We used canned, but freshly cooked garbanzo beans are great too.
  • Cranberries – When buying cranberries, use organic whenever possible (I like the ones from Trader Joe’s, they’re so brightly colored, too!). You can also use fresh chopped cranberries or chopped dried cherries!
  • Celery – Cool and crunchy, the celery can be omitted if you’re not a fan.
  • Walnuts – Feel free to change it up with pecans.
  • Green onions – Sub with 1/4 cup finely diced red onions.
  • Vegan mayo or tahini – Use store-bought or this homemade Easy Vegan Mayo or Homemade Tahini.
  • Apple cider vinegar – In place of ACV, use white wine vinegar or TJ’s Orange Muscat Vinegar.
  • Pure maple syrup – Coconut nectar or date syrup works great as a substitute.
  • Salt + pepper – I’m partial to pink salt and fresh cracked pepper, but use your preferred type.
top down view showing the process of mashing chickpeas in a bowl with items surrounding.

How To Make Vegan ‘Chicken’ Salad

(Note – The full printable recipe is at the bottom of this post)

  • Prep veggies and nuts. Slice your celery, feel free to add in some celery leaves if you can. For the scallions, when slicing use both the green and white parts. Roughly chop your walnuts.
  • Mash chickpeas. Roughly mash your chickpeas using the back of a sturdy fork. A potato masher or pastry blender will do the job too.
top down view showing the process of making vegan chicken salad.
  • Make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo or tahini, apple cider vinegar, pure maple syrup. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed to thin.
  • Assemble. Add to the mashed chickpeas the celery, onions, cranberries, and walnuts, top with dressing, and mix to combine (shown below).

And now you’re ready to devour this crave-worthy salad!

side angle view of the best vegan chicken salad with chickpea, cranberries and walnuts.

How To Store + Meal Prep

  • Refrigerator: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 – 6 days in a covered container.
  • Meal prep: This recipe is great for meal prep, using any of the suggestions below, and can be stored in serving size portions in multi-use containers (affiliate link) for a grab-n-go meal or snack.

Serving Suggestions

Versatile and delicious, here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy this recipe.

  • Sandwich: Serve with homemade Artisan Bread as a traditional or open-faced sandwich.
  • Wraps: Make fresh lettuce wraps using romaine, bibb, butter, chard, collards, or other large leafy greens. Alternatively, this salad would be great in tortilla wraps.
  • Salad: Scoop on top of a bed of chopped-up leafy greens such as romaine. Or use packaged spinach, spring mix, or baby kale as a bed.
  • As is: You may even find that you love the salad all by itself without any accompaniment! I can easily eat this straight from the bowl all day long. :)
  • Fruit: It pairs great with a side of fresh fruit, such as grapes, cantaloupe, sliced apples, etc.

More Mashed Chickpea Recipes

head on view of vegan chicken salad sandwich cut in half and stacked.

If you try this healthy salad recipe, please let us know! Leave a comment and rate it below. I love to hear what you think, or any changes you make.

Print

Vegan ‘Chicken’ Salad

The chickpea strikes again, making for another great salad that will knock your socks off! This vegan ‘chicken’ salad is delicious as a sandwich filler, topped on a bed of leafy greens or make into lettuce wraps. Any way you serve this healthy salad is delicious!

  • Author: Julie | The Simple Veganista
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Total Time: 15 min
  • Yield: Serves 6
  • Category: Entree, Salad
  • Method: mash, mix
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 cups cooked or 2 cans (15 oz) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup organic dried cranberries (chopped fresh would be great too)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup scallions (green onions), thinly sliced, white & green parts
  • mineral salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon each)

Dressing

  • 6 tablespoons (1/3 cup) tahini or vegan mayo
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) champagne, white wine or cider vinegar (I used Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons water (as needed if using tahini)
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

To serve

  • leafy lettuce of choice
  • bread of choice

Instructions

Dressing: Start by mixing your dressing. In a small bowl combine tahini/mayo, vinegar, water and maple syrup. Set aside so the flavors come together. This can be made a day or two ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Add a tad more water, or vinegar if you’re a vinegar lover, to thin out dressing as desired. If using vegan mayo, you may like to add 2 more tablespoons.

Mash chickpeas: In a medium to large bowl, add your garbanzo beans and roughly mash with a strong fork or potato masher. Mash at least 3/4 of the chickpeas so it binds well.

Assemble: Add in celery, cranberries, nuts, scallions, salt, pepper and dressing, mix well. Serve at room temp or let chill in the refrigerator for an hour before serving.

Serve: Serve on your favorite bread as a closed or open faced sandwich, or on a bed of leafy greens. You may even opt to simply enjoy the salad as is.

Serves 6

Store: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 – 6 days, in a covered container.

Notes

Add extra of anything you like, and vice versa, if you’re not keen on an ingredient use less or omit! One particular ingredient may be the vinegar. I’m not much of a vinegar fan but I loved the orange muscat champagne vinegar and found I used quite a bit and loved it!

Change up the walnuts, using pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds, etc. If using sunflower seeds, use half the amount called for.

For the dressing, I have only made this using tahini since I do not use any kind of store bought vegan mayos. If using vegan mayo, adjust accordingly adding more mayo as needed, maybe 1/2 cup instead of 1/3. I do recommend trying this recipe with tahini, it is seriously so good that you would never know and it is much better/cleaner for you than the store bought mayos!

Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclosure here.

Updated: Vegan ‘Chicken’ Salad was originally published in November 2013. It has been retested and updated with new photos and helpful tips in June 2020. The only change made was to the name, it was originally titled ‘Cranberry Walnut Chickpea Salad’.

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164 Comments

  1. We love to serve this in lettuce wraps, and it never fails to amaze! Thank you for the delicious vegan recipe. :)

  2. Delicious! I used pecans and added 1/2 of a chopped gala apple and 3/4 tsp of celery seeds.

  3. This is so good! I made it with vegan Mayo (to entice my meat eater)and a wonderful white wine vinegar. I do have a spouse who dislikes vinegar, so I was trying to keep it mild…I might try plum vinegar next time. When I tasted the dressing I was a little bit worried, but after adding it to the salad, the vinegar taste disappeared. Perfect.

    I served it in whole wheat pita. Wonderful.

    Next time, tahini! And there will be a next time. Thank you!

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