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Chicken Harvest Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

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Chicken Harvest Salad is a Fall favorite made with juicy chicken, candied walnuts, cranberries, gouda cheese, apple slices and drizzled with a homemade apple cider vinaigrette. And it’s ready in under 30 minutes!

I am a sucker when it comes to a good salad. And I don’t mean the kind with iceberg lettuce and few veggies, although that simple salad has it’s place.

I’m referring to hearty ones like Copycat Panera Greek Salad, Panera Thai Chicken Salad, Big Mac in a Bowl, Chicken Cobb Salad, and Taco Salad. You know, ones you can make a meal out of.

top view of chicken harvest salad with nuts, cranberries, cheese, and apples

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But the salad obsession doesn’t stop there. I know we’re talking about dinner salads today but I also love vintage sweet salads, and have a collection of recipes. Guests always rave about these classic sweet salads when we serve them at parties and many of my childhood dinner memories include these dishes. 

My Mom’s Creamy New York Fruit Salad and the Mandarin Orange Jello Salad are a couple of my favorites if you want to try them. 

ingredients labeled to make chicken harvest salad

Ingredients Needed to Make Chicken Harvest Salad

Candied Walnuts:

  • butter – I use salted butter
  • sugar
  • walnut halves
  • water

Apple Cider Vinaigrette:

  • olive oil
  • apple cider vinegar
  • honey – could also swap for maple syrup
  • garlic
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salad Ingredients:

  • spring greens salad mix
  • cooked chicken breast – this is my favorite grilled chicken recipe
  • Gouda cheese
  • dried cranberries 
  • red apple – Pink lady and Honeycrisp are good for this recipe

How to Make Chicken Harvest Salad

Make the walnuts: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Heat butter in a skillet over Medium heat until melted. Add the sugar and nuts. Stir continuously until the caramel starts to thicken. Then transfer candied nuts to the parchment paper in a single layer to cool. 

making candied walnuts in a skillet then transferring to parchment paper

Mix the dressing: Blend all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a high speed blender for 2 minutes or until it’s creamy.

two image collage showing the apple cider vinaigrette being made for the harvest salad

Assemble the salad: Add the greens to a large serving bowl. Add the chicken, nuts, apples, and cranberries. Drizzle with the vinaigrette or serve on the side. 

a scoop of harvest chicken salad on a fork

Tips for Making 

  • Use pre-cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken from the store as an easier option. This is my go to when meal prepping chicken for generic recipes. If you have leftover chicken, here are some other recipes to make when using canned chicken.
  • Toss the apple slices with a little lemon juice to keep them from browning.
  • Feel free to adjust the salad ingredients to what you have on hand. 
  • To make the salad ahead of time, prep the walnuts and dressing. Store dressing in the fridge and nuts at room temperature until you’re ready to serve. 
  • The salad dressing will keep for up to 1 week when stored in an airtight container. Mason jars work well for this. 
  • For more Fall vibes, add roasted sweet potatoes or butternut squash. 
  • Swap the salad dressing for your favorite if preferred. I also make a creamy house dressing that is amazing. 
  • Use any cheese you like. We use gouda because it pairs well with the walnuts and apples. 
  • Crumble some bacon on top if desired. 
  • If you don’t want the sweetened nuts, you can skip the candy method and put them on the salad raw. You can also use almonds or pecans. 
  • For even more crunchiness add sunflower seeds or pepitas.

**Save Chicken Harvest Salad for Later**

harvest chicken salad in a large white bowl with text overlay
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top view of chicken harvest salad with nuts, cranberries, cheese, and apples

Chicken Harvest Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Chicken Harvest Salad is a Fall favorite made with juicy chicken, candied walnuts, cranberries, gouda cheese, apple slices and drizzled with a homemade apple cider vinaigrette. And it's ready in under 30 minutes!
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Salad, Weeknight Dinner
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 657kcal
Author: Lori @ A Reinvented Mom


Candied Walnuts:

  • 1 Tablespoon salted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • 1 teaspoon water

Apple Cider Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Salad Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces spring greens salad mix
  • 10 ounces cooked chicken breast, sliced or diced
  • 6 ounces gouda cheese, sliced
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 red apple, seeds & core removed and sliced thinly


Candied Walnuts:

  • Cut a sheet of parchment paper about the size of a sheet pan and set aside.
  • Warm a medium saucepan on Medium heat. Once warm, add the butter and heat until melted.
  • Add sugar and walnuts to melted butter. Mix together walnuts are coated in butter and sugar. Stir continuously until you see the caramel start to thicken – about 2 minutes.
  • Add the water and stir for 1 more minute.
  • Transfer walnut mixture to the parchment paper, and spread them out in an even layer to cool.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette:

  • Place all dressing ingredients in a blender jar or food processor bowl. Blend for about two minutes or until you reach a creamy consistency.


  • Place the salad greens in a large bowl.
  • Add the chicken, cheese, candied walnuts, apple slices and dried cranberries.
  • Drizzle vinaigrette over the salad or serve it on the side.


  • Use rotisserie chicken or precooked chicken from the grocery store or leftover roasted chicken.
  • Feel free to adjust the salad ingredients based on preferences or what you have on hand.
  • This salad is best eaten immediately.
  • Make ahead directions: prepare the nuts and dressing ahead and store the dressing in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Prep salad ingredients and store separately until ready to serve. To serve: make salad as directed.
Tried this recipe?Mention @AReinventedMom or tag #areinventedmom

Nutritional Estimate

Calories: 657kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 16g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 447mg | Potassium: 579mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 6744IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 370mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutritional information is provided as a reference, using an online calculator. We recommend verifying the information independently for accuracy.

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