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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 4 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 sub 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).
  • 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 if 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 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 love to hear what you think, or any changes you make.


Sonoma Chickpea ‘Chicken’ Salad

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 a tablespoon or two 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!

Keywords: chickpea chicken salad

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  1. Huge hit over here! Served it in pitas!

  2. Made it with Vegan Mayo and it turned out great! Thanks!

  3. This looks so good! Could it be done with Greek yogurt instead of tahini and Mayo?

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Yes, you can plain flavored yogurt! Enjoy!

  4. Haley Curtis says:

    So delicious and easy to make! Great for something to have in the fridge for the week for quick lunches or dinners. :)

  5. I loved this.
    Allowing it to sit for a bit and giving it a few mix throughs really gives the flavors to mesh.
    I didn’t have dijon, but I did have honey mustard. That worked as well, but the dijon would have been better.
    Looking forward to other recipes.

  6. Does anyone know if chia seeds can be used instead of poppy seeds?
    Chickpea salad sandwiches are so yummy!

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Great question Liza! Yes, you can use chia seeds. The only is you may need to add a little extra water to the dressing in case the chia seeds soak some of the water up. You can also omit them in the dressing and simply sprinkle them in after, or add a sprinkle before you close your sandwich. Enjoy, this is a delicious sandwich filler!

  7. I made this recipe today and didn’t have tahini so I used sunflower seeds and blended the dressing ingredients up. The dressing turned out pretty good.

    I’m not a big fan of chickpeas, but this was a delightful salad and I will make it again.

  8. Your chickpea salads are always THE best! I made this last night and omg it’s incredible!

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Thank you so much Anna! I love chickpea salads! Cheers :)

  9. Trixilie & Bea says:

    we tried it and it was really delicious. We used half of the celery and instead of the maple syrup we used agave syrup… yummy :) We mashed all chickpeas and wrapped the salad in rice paper… nom nom nom ;) Thanks for this great recipe.
    Hugs and Kisses
    Trixilie & Bea

  10. Oh my gosh, this was so good! I made it with the tahini dressing and love it. Just ate it straight up for lunch with a few crackers. Thanks for sharing this one!

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