This homemade Arby’s chicken salad recipe with red grapes and pecans makes the most amazing sandwich ever! Full of delicious chicken, crispy veggies, and juicy fruits, the creamy salad is perfect for lunch or a light dinner.
Homemade Arby’s chicken salad sandwich
My Arby’s chicken salad recipe is always a hit at our house. We love the flavor and texture packed into this tasty chicken salad sandwich. The fruits complement the juicy chicken so well, and the mayo dressing coats every bite in creamy deliciousness.
Not only is the salad delicious, but my favorite part is that it’s really effortless to make. You’ll only need a handful of simple ingredients and cooking is at a minimum. It’s the perfect throw-together meal, and your family will love this pecan chicken sandwich for lunch and dinner!
And for more Arby goodness, try my Arby’s chicken sandwich recipe!
What is Arby’s chicken salad?
Arby’s pecan chicken salad sandwich is a creamy salad made of diced chicken, apples, celery, red grapes, pecans, and mayonnaise. The mixture is served with green leaf lettuce on toasted honey wheat bread.
When is Arby’s chicken salad available?
Arby’s pecan chicken salad is a seasonal product and only available for a limited time each year during the summer months. With my homemade recipe, you can enjoy this delicacy any time of year!
Simple and fresh, Arby’s chicken salad comes together with easy ingredients. You want to cook your chicken ahead of time so it’s cold, or buy a cooked chicken to save time. The ingredient amounts are located in the recipe card below.
- Cooked chicken: This works with any cooked chicken you have on hand. Leftover rotisserie, grilled, roasted, or poached chicken will work. Whatever you choose, chop it up or shredded, so it’s easy to eat.
- Apple: I recommend sweet, firm apples for chicken salad like Gala, Golden Delicious, or Honeycrisp.
- Red grapes add a hint of sweetness and juicy flavor. I love seedless red grapes because they are sweeter than green. You could also use a mix of red and green.
- Celery adds a bit of crisp crunch and freshness to each bite.
- Pecans: Chopped pecans add a contrasting nutty crunch.
- Mayonnaise holds everything together and adds a rich creaminess to the salad. Use a good quality mayonnaise – it makes all the difference.
- Lemon juice: A splash of lemon juice adds fresh brightness and a bit of zippy flavor to this salad.
- Salt + pepper: Season your pecan chicken salad recipe with salt and ground black pepper to your personal taste.
- Green lettuce makes a nice bed for our chicken salad.
- Bread: Arby’s chicken salad is served between two slices of toasted honey wheat bread, but any kind of sandwich bread is fine.
What chicken is best for Arby’s chicken salad?
I prefer to chop my chicken into small cubes for this dish, but some folks like to shred the meat. Either method works, so do what you want best.
Any cooked chicken will work in these pecan chicken salad sandwiches – poached, grilled, roasted, or rotisserie chicken. Here’s a quick overview of the different options:
- Poached chicken is my favorite for chicken salad because it’s simple and flavorful. Poaching allows the chicken to cook gently and helps the meat retain more moisture. I’ll show you what to do in the recipe card at the end of the post.
- Rotisserie chicken is a convenient way to make chicken salad. You need a large rotisserie chicken to cut 4 cups of cubed chicken.
- Grilled or roasted chicken: If you have leftover roasted or grilled chicken, dice it up and whip up this chicken pecan salad sandwich recipe. You can even include the crispy skin!
- Canned chicken won’t taste as good as fresh chicken but will work in a pinch if you have a can in your food storage that you want to use up.
Mayo substitutes for Arby’s chicken salad
If you want to keep the salad light or aren’t a fan of mayonnaise, swap out mayo with one of the following ideas. The taste will change, but it will still be very good.
- Yogurt: Greek yogurt is a great way to cut down calories and still enjoy a creamy salad.
- Sour cream will produce a nice zing.
- Ranch dressing is another option for chicken salad.
I personally love to replace half of the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt. That way, you still get that typical flavor of classic chicken salad but lighten it up a bit.
How to make Arby’s chicken salad
Now that you have assemble your ingredients, it’s time to assemble the salad. It’s so simple and ready in minutes!
#1 Step: Dice chicken
- Cut your cooked chicken into 1/2 in / 1.2 cm cubes.
- Alternately, shred the chicken with 2 forks.
#2 Step: Toss ingredients
- Add the chopped chicken, apple pieces, halved grapes, celery slices, and pecans into a large salad bowl.
- Gently toss to combine.
#3 Step: Add dressing
- Whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
- Drizzle over the chicken fruit mix and gently stir until everything is well combined and evenly coated.
#4 Step: Refrigerate (optional)
- Your chicken salad is ready, and you can eat it right away. But for the best flavor, I recommend letting the salad marinade.
- Cover the salad bowl tightly with plastic wrap (cling film) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to an hour or overnight.
#5 Step: Sandwich
- If making chicken salad sandwiches, toast the bread. Then layer a piece of green leaf lettuce and a scoop of chicken salad on half the bread slices. Top with the remaining slices.
- Alternately, serve the chicken salad in lettuce cups, tortilla wraps, or over a bed of mixed greens.
#6 Step: Serve
- Enjoy the chicken salad sandwiches immediately.
- If you want to prepare this in advance, you can mix the salad up to 1 day ahead of time. I recommend assembling the sandwich right before serving, so the bread doesn’t get soggy.
Tips for success
Want to make sure your Arby’s pecan chicken salad recipe is pure and utter perfection? Chicken salad is a rewarding dish to get right, and my handy tips ensure it will turn out great!
- Dry fruit: Gently dry your apples and grapes after washing them. You don’t want the excess moisture to make your chicken salad runny. You can drizzle lemon juice over the apple to prevent browning.
- Toast the pecans: Toast your chopped pecans to bring out that warm, nutty flavor. Spread the nuts evenly onto a lined baking sheet and bake in a 350°F / 180°C / gas mark 4 oven for 7 to 10 minutes, until the pecans begin to brown and smell aromatic.
- Don’t add hot chicken: If cooking chicken for this salad, wait until it has cooled to room temperature. Hot chicken would melt the mayonnaise and turn the recipe into a greasy mess.
- Marinate the salad: Letting the salad sit in the fridge helps meld and mingle the flavors together. Shoot for at least 30 minutes to an hour. You can even prepare the salad a day in advance and refrigerate it overnight.
- Serve it with: Looking for a side dish to go along with your Arby’s chicken pecan salad? You can serve it with a bowl of soup (like this pumpkin soup), green salad, chips, fries, a dip and vegetable platter, or fruit salad.
Variations & substitutions
One of the great things about this Arby’s pecan chicken salad recipe is that it’s easily customizable. You can use ingredients you have on hand or change it with the seasons.
- Fruit: Try green grapes for a slightly tarter version and substitute apples with pears.
- Nuts: Pecans are a classic, but feel free to swap in walnuts, almonds, cashews, or hazelnuts.
- Bread: Croissants or bagels make tasty stand-ins for sandwich bread.
- Onion: 2 sliced green onions will add savory flavor without being too pungent.
- Pickles: If you love the taste of pickles, chop one up and stir it into the easy chicken salad.
- Dried fruits: Dried cranberries, dried cherries, raisins, or chopped dried apricot make a tasty addition to chicken with a lovely sweetness.
- Herbs: A tablespoon or two of chopped parsley, dill, or chives introduce lots of lively aromas to the salad.
Other ways to serve pecan chicken salad
You can serve this creamy chicken salad in so many ways! It’s obviously delicious sandwiched between 2 slices of toasted bread, but there are plenty of other ways to enjoy it. Here are a few ideas to try:
- Eat as is: Arby’s chicken salad is excellent on its own. Just grab a spoon and dig in!
- Green salad: Pour a spoonful on a bed of green salad or leafy greens like spinach.
- Lettuce cups: For a wonderfully fresh and light meal, spoon your chicken salad into lettuce cups. Romain or butter leaf lettuce works great.
- Wraps: Stuff the salad into flour tortillas to make delicious wraps.
- Dip: Serve a little bowl of chicken salad with crackers or chips. It’s a tasty starter.
- Pasta salad: For a quick pasta chicken salad, bulk up it by adding some cooked pasta to the salad.
How to store Arby’s chicken salad
- Room temperature: Chicken salad is meant to be chilled. Don’t leave it out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
- Fridge: Pack leftovers into an airtight food container and store refrigerated. It will be good for 4 to 5 days. If you notice separation, give the salad a good stir to combine everything back together.
- Make–ahead: This pecan chicken salad recipe is perfect for making a day in advance. It tastes even more flavorful after it has sat in the refrigerator for a bit.
Can you freeze Arby’s chicken salad?
No, I don’t recommend freezing chicken salad because freezing will affect the taste and texture of the salad. Mayonnaise doesn’t freeze well and could separate when defrosting. Additionally, the fruit will soften and lose water after being frozen and thawed.
- 4 cups cooked diced or shredded chicken (see note below)
- 1 cup / 150 g / 5.3 oz halved red seedless grapes
- 1 cup / 100 g / 3.5 oz chopped celery (approx. 3 stalks)
- 1/2 cup / 60 g / 2 oz apple, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 cup / 65 g / 2.2 oz chopped pecans
- 1 cup / 230 g / 8 oz mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Chicken Salad Sandwich (optional)
- 8 green leaf lettuce leaves
- 16 slices honey wheat bread (or your favorite sandwich bread)
- Dice chicken. Cut your cooked chicken into 1/2 in / 1.2 cm cubes. Alternately, shred the chicken with 2 forks.
- Toss ingredients. Add the chopped chicken, apple pieces, halved grapes, celery slices, and pecans into a large salad bowl. Gently toss to combine.
- Add dressing. Whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle over the chicken fruit mix and gently stir until everything is well combined and evenly coated.
- Refrigerate (optional). Your chicken salad is ready, and you can eat it right away. But for the best flavor, I recommend letting the salad marinade. Cover the salad bowl tightly with plastic wrap (cling film) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to an hour or overnight.
- Sandwich. If making chicken salad sandwiches, toast the bread. Then layer a piece of green leaf lettuce and a scoop of chicken salad on half the bread slices. Top with the remaining slices. Alternately, serve the chicken salad in lettuce cups, tortilla wraps, or over a bed of mixed greens.
- Serve. Enjoy the chicken salad sandwiches immediately. If you want to prepare this in advance, you can mix the salad up to 1 day ahead of time. I recommend assembling the sandwich right before serving, so the bread doesn't get soggy.
How to poach chicken for chicken salad
If you want to cook chicken specifically for chicken salad, the easiest way is to poach it. Poaching creates incredibly tender and juicy chicken pieces if done correctly. Follow these steps:
- You need: 1 1/2 lb / 700 g boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Arrange your chicken breasts in a wide pot and ensure they don't overlap.
- Season with salt and cover with cold water.
- Heat the water to a gentle simmer. Then turn the heat down to low and cover the pot.
- Simmer the chicken for 10 minutes.
- To check doneness, insert an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of a chicken breast. The chicken is ready when the internal temperature reaches 160-165°F / 70-75°C.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and chill it in the fridge until ready to use.
Lighter chicken salad
For a lighter chicken salad, prepare the recipe with 1/2 cup/ 115 g / 4 oz mayonnaise +1/2 cup / 115 g / 4 oz Greek yogurt.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 378Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 63mgSodium: 545mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 18g
Reasons to love this Arby’s chicken salad sandwich recipe
- Quick + easy: If the chicken is pre-cooked, a pecan chicken salad sandwich is one of the quickest meals you could prepare. Just chop and mix – no oven or stove needed.
- Great to use leftover chicken: This recipe is great for using leftover rotisserie chicken and avoiding food waste.
- Make it decadent or healthy: This Arby’s copycat chicken salad can be as light or rich as you please. Use plenty of mayonnaise to make indulgent, or keep it on the healthier side with low-fat Greek yogurt.
- Delicious anytime: Arby’s chicken salad sandwich is a scrumptious option for brunch and lunch. It’s also perfect for a light dinner and great to upgrade cocktail hour.
- Portable: You can bring it to a luncheon, church/school function, or a party with friends.
More tasty chicken recipes
Chicken is so versatile and full of good nutrients. Because of its mild flavor, chicken goes with about every combination of herbs, spices, and sauces. Here are a few more winner-winner chicken dinner ideas for you to enjoy!