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Sonoma Chickpea ‘Chicken’ Salad

Sonoma Chickpea ‘Chicken’ Salad features protein-rich chickpeas, juicy grapes, celery, and pecans tossed with a healthy maple-tahini poppy seed dressing – it’s customizable, easy to make, and delicious!

side angle view of Sonoma chickpea chicken sandwich on a plate.

A new chickpea salad flavor sensation is coming your way!

You may already be familiar with the Mashed Chickpea Salad Sandwich, Curried Chickpea Salad, Cranberry Walnut Vegan ‘Chicken’ Salad, and ‘Chickpea of the Sea’ Tuna Salad Sandwich. All of which are healthy and satisfyingly delicious!

Why We Love This Recipe!

For starters, because it’s so quick, easy, and healthy. And you can never have too many chickpea salads in your recipe box!

I wanted to create a vegan copycat version of Trader Joe’s classic Sonoma Chicken Salad. Chickpeas work great as a replacement for chicken in this recipe – you won’t miss a thing, trust me!

It makes a great sandwich or wraps filling, or if you prefer, simply serve over the top a bed of leafy greens. However you choose, it’s flavorful, filling, and tastes AMAZING!

top down view of ingredients used to make healthy chickpea chicken salad recipe.

Ingredient Notes

The salad itself is very simple, with only four ingredients, and the dressing is just as simple. Feel free to use more or less of any ingredients to suit your taste.

Here is everything you will need, including ingredient variations:

  • Chickpeas – I used canned garbanzo beans for ease, but fresh cooked is great too.
  • Grapes – Feel free to add more grapes for extra juiciness. They are delicious here!
  • Celery – Adds crunch and coolness but can be omitted if you’re not a fan.
  • Pecans -Because of their rich flavor profile I highly recommend using the pecans here, but walnuts are great too.
  • Tahini or vegan mayo – They work great, so use your preferred.
  • Apple cider vinegar – I used ACV, but you can substitute with white wine vinegar or TJ’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar.
  • Pure maple syrup – Coconut nectar is a great sub for maple syrup.
  • Dijon – Can be optional – I’ve made this without and it’s still delish!
  • Poppy seeds – These can be optional as well.
  • Salt + pepper – As always, use to taste.
side by side photos of making poppy seed dressing and mashing chickpeas in a bowl.

How To Make Chickpea ‘Chicken’ Salad

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

  • Make the creamy poppy seed dressing. In a small bowl, combine the tahini or vegan mayo, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, dijon, garlic & onion powder, and poppy seeds (above left). If you find the dressing is too thick, add 2 – 3 tablespoons of water to thin.
  • Slice the celery and grapes. Use as much, or little, as you like.
  • Chop the pecans. Roughly chop the pecans.
  • Mash the chickpeas. When making these types of chickpea salads, I like to roughly mash 1/2 – 3/4 of the chickpeas using the back of a sturdy fork (shown above right), potato masher, or pastry blender. This can be optional.
top down view of dressing poured over salad ingredients.
  • Assemble the salad. Once your ingredients are prepped, add them to the chickpeas, grapes, celery, and pecans. Pour the dressing over top and mix to combine.

And now you’re ready to enjoy this amazing salad!

Top Tips

  • To mash or not to mash. Depending on how you will serve this chickpea chicken salad will depend on whether you should mash the chickpeas or not. If making for a sandwich filler, it’s a good idea to mash them so they hold together better.
  • Make it creamier. If you prefer a very creamy salad, make a little extra dressing.
  • The recipe can easily be cut in half. Feel free to cut this recipe in half, but I think you’ll be more than happy to have some leftovers (unless you’re like me and finish it within the day).

side angle view of freshly made sonoma chickpea chicken salad in a bowl with spoon.

How To Store + Meal Prep

  • Refrigerator: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, in a covered container.
  • Meal prep: For meal prep, make the salad as directed and store in the refrigerator. Meal prep with leafy greens, or make sandwiches or wraps. See below for more serving suggestions.

Serving Suggestions

Here are a few of our favorite ways to serve this versatile Sonoma chickpea chicken salad:

  • Salad: Serve on a bed of fresh leafy greens as a salad. Use chopped romaine, or keep it simple with a salad spring mix.
  • Wraps: Make lettuce wraps, roll them into tortilla wraps, or tuck into pita bread.
  • Sandwiches: Of course, it’s great as a sandwich filler or open-faced sandwich. Try pairing it with homemade Artisan Bread or a good fruit and nut bread.
  • Mashed or unmashed: Either way, mashed or un-mashed, can be eaten as is straight from the bowl!
  • Fruit: Serve with a side of fresh fruit (grapes, cantaloupe, watermelon, apple slices, etc.) for a healthy lunch or dinner.
head on view of chickpea chicken salad sandwich sliced in half and stacked.

More Easy Chickpea Recipes!

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


Sonoma Chickpea ‘Chicken’ Salad

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5 from 26 reviews

This quick and easy, vegan chickpea ‘chicken’ salad can be partially mashed for a sandwich/wrap filler or un-mashed and served alongside fresh leafy greens. Either way it’s healthy and delicious!


  • 2 cans (14 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed or 3 cups cooked
  • 1 1/2 cups of seedless grapes, sliced in half
  • 1/2 heaping cup celery ribs, diced
  • 1/22/3 cup pecans, roughly chopped

Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing

  • 4 tablespoons tahini (1/4 cup) or vegan mayo
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons dijon
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • dash or two of garlic & onion powder
  • pinch of salt & pepper

to serve, optional

  • salad greens of choice
  • slices of your favorite bread
  • chopped chives, to garnish (not shown)


Dressing: Place ingredients in a small bowl and mix to combine. Add 1 – 2 tablespoons of water as needed to thin. Set aside.

Un-mashed Salad: Add chickpeas, grapes, pecans, and celery to a medium-sized mixing/serving bowl. Top with dressing and mix to coat. Season with mineral salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.

Mashed Salad (perfect for sandwiches): Add chickpeas to a medium-sized mixing bowl, roughly mash 2/3 – 3/4 of the chickpeas using the back of a fork or spoon. Add in the grapes, pecans, and celery, top with dressing and mix to combine. Season with mineral salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Make sandwiches, wraps, or simply serve with leafy greens.

Serves 4 – 6

Store: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


Add more grapes for extra juiciness.

If you prefer a very creamy salad, make a little extra dressing.

Because of their rich flavor profile I highly recommend using the pecans here, but if you don’t care for them walnuts will be just fine.

Feel free to cut this recipe in half, but I think you’ll be more than happy to have some leftovers!

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  1. Just delightful, such a unique combo of flavors. I tried tahini, will do vegan mayo next time.

  2. First time making this and I love it! I made the dressing thicker by adding more vegan mayo. I always loved fresh lemon in my chicken salad before I went vegan, so I decided to add it here. Simply delicious ! Thank you for the dressing recipe. I can’t wait to just use it on a green salad as well.

  3. Delicious – thank you!!!!

  4. We used a vegan mayo in place of tahini and it was terrific. Always a crowd pleaser!

  5. We serve this in lettuce wraps and it never fails to amaze us! Thanks so much for this delicious vegan recipe. :)

  6. This is one of my favorite vegan sandwich fillers. When grapes are not in season, I sub with dried cranberries. Either way is delicious!

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