This Vegan Chicken Salad will blow you away and it’s perfect for picnics! Made with a handful of simple ingredients, you can have it on the table in just 15 minutes.

If you love chickpea salad recipes as much as I do, make sure to check out my Curry Chickpea Salad, Chickpea Salad Sandwich and this hearty Chickpea and Avocado Salad.

close up on vegan chicken salad in a croissant sandwich.

This picnic-perfect Vegan Chicken Salad is ready in 15 minutes or less and tastes incredible! It’s easy to make with whole food ingredients, like mashed chickpeas, crunchy almonds, fruit, and vegan mayo. If you can resist eating it by the spoonful, use it as a hearty filling for wraps or sandwiches! Or my favorite – in a vegan croissant!

I was inspired by my Vegan Tuna Salad to replace the meat in this vegetarian chicken salad recipe with mashed chickpeas rather than vegan meat alternatives. They’re a game changer; once mashed, they give the salad a creamy, yet hearty consistency. Plus, they don’t affect the flavor and blend cohesively with the mayo, almonds, and other ingredients.

If you want an even more realistic “chicken” salad, use rehydrated chopped soy curls. Or my vegan chicken.

It’s no wonder why this recipe has over 45 5-star reviews! Just look at what these commenters have had to say:

  • Kelly says, “This was a big hit at my home – everybody loved it and couldn’t believe it was vegan. So delicious!”
  • Taylore says, “I have made this multiple times now and it’s a staple at our house!”
  • Bonnie says, “One of the best chickpea salads I’ve made! Delicious!”

You’re sure to be blown away by the realistic flavors and textures in this vegan chickpea salad recipe. Give it a try yourself!

Ingredients needed (with substitutions)

  • Raw slivered almonds – Blending nuts into the chicken salad adds a soft crunch to every bite. Head to the Variations section for more nuts you can use and nut free options that work here.
  • Chickpeas – Use canned chickpeas to keep this recipe as easy as possible.
  • Celery – For crunch! Go ahead and play with the veggies in this salad as much as you like. There are plenty of options to choose from in the FAQs section below.
  • Red grapes – Or use green grapes if that’s what you already have on hand.
  • Dried cherries – The tart sweetness of dried cherries balances the creamy and rich dressing. Dried cranberries or raisins are a wonderful substitute if you don’t have cherries.
  • Vegan mayo – I like the salad best with my Vegan Cashew Mayo, but you can use store-bought vegan mayo or my Tofu Mayo. Plant based yogurt (plain) also works well.
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
chickpeas and crushed almonds in a food processor.

How to make vegan chicken salad

Find the complete printable recipe with measurements below in the recipe card.

Pulse the slivered almonds in a food processor until they turn into crumbs. Next, add the drained and rinsed chickpeas and pulse again until the mixture is flaky (some beans may be left whole – that’s okay!).

Transfer the almond-chickpea mixture to a large bowl and stir in the celery, grapes, dried cherries, vegan mayo, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Place the vegan chicken salad in the fridge for 30 minutes, if you can wait that long, then serve!

ingredients for vegan chicken salad in a large glass bowl.

Tips for success

  • Try not to pulse the almonds for too long in the food processor. You want them to have a crumbly texture. If they’re blended too long, they can turn into a powder or paste that will make the chicken salad taste gritty.
  • The same goes when you add the chickpeas. You don’t want to over-process the beans so they’re pasty or smooth. It’s okay if some are left whole!
  • If you don’t have a food processor, chop the almonds by hand, mash the chickpeas in a large bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients.
  • You can deepen the flavor by toasting the almonds before pulsing them in the food processor.
  • If you’re worried about the salad being too creamy, only stir in some of the mayo at a time until the creaminess is to your liking. 

Serving suggestions

One of the best ways to serve vegan chicken salad is in sandwiches! Stick with regular sandwich bread or take your vegan chicken salad sandwiches up a notch with vegan croissants, sourdough, or homemade bread.

You can also stuff the salad into lettuce cups or on top of a bed of greens for a healthy lunch. 

Did you end up with leftovers? Serve the salad as a dip with crackers or veggies!

using a metal spoon to stir the ingredients for vegan chicken salad together in a large glass bowl.

Variations

  • Instead of almonds – Use any other nut you have on hand, such as peanuts, pecans, walnuts, or cashews. 
  • Nut free – Use pepitas or sunflower seeds instead of almonds. The nuts can also be left out of the salad entirely, but it won’t have the same soft crunch.
  • Oil free – Use vegan plain yogurt, my Tofu Mayo or Vegan Cashew Mayo to keep the chicken salad oil free.
  • Herbs – Stir in fresh or dried dill, scallions, or parsley.
  • More spices – Add extra flavor to the salad with even more seasonings, like garlic powder, onion powder, poultry seasonings, Dijon mustard, curry powder, or seasoned salt.

Frequently asked questions

What else can I put in chicken salad?

Fresh veggies are a must-have in chickpea chicken salad because they add a crunchy texture and extra flavor. I love this salad with celery, but you can also stir in shredded carrots, diced red or white onions, diced apples, or avocado.

Should you serve vegan chicken salad hot or cold?

Vegan chicken salad should always be served cold! The consistency is so much better and more appetizing after it’s been left to chill in the fridge.

How long does vegan chickpea salad last?

You can store vegan chicken salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

close up on vegan chicken salad in a croissant sandwich.

Want more vegan picnic recipes?

close up on vegan chicken salad in a croissant sandwich.
4.99 stars (63 ratings)

Vegan Chicken Salad

This Vegan Chicken Salad will blow you away and it's perfect for picnics! Made with a handful of simple ingredients, you can have it on the table in just 15 minutes.
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients 
 

  • 1/2 cup raw slivered almonds
  • 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 celery ribs, diced small
  • 1/2 cup red grapes, halved
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup Vegan Mayo
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, from about 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • In a food processor, pulse the slivered almonds a few times until crumbly, but not so much they turn into a powder or paste.
  • Add the drained and rinsed chickpeas to the food processor with the almonds, and pulse a few times until flaky. You can leave a few beans whole; you don't want to over process and have the mixture become pasty and smooth. Just a few pulses will do.
  • Add the almond/chickpea mixture to a large bowl and mix in the celery, grapes, dried cherries, vegan mayo, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Serve on croissants or bread with lettuce, on a salad or even with crackers. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. If you do not have a food processor, you can chop the almonds up with a large knife until small. Then, in a large bowl, mash the chickpeas with a potato masher or fork until flaky, and add the rest of the ingredients. It’s just a bit easier with a food processor. 
  2. Allergic to almonds? Omit them, or sub cashews, pepitas, or sunflower seeds. They add a nice crunch.
  3. I like this best with my Vegan Cashew Mayo, but you can use store bought vegan mayo or my Tofu Mayo if you like. Plain vegan yogurt also works well.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 209kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 299mg | Potassium: 284mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 285IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 80mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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Comments

  1. I tried a couple of your recipes. They have all been delicious. This one was easy and quick to make. Made no substitution. Next I will try your stuffed bell peppers. I have to wait for my tvp….

    1. Thanks for giving my recipes a try! I’m glad you are enjoying the ones you’ve made! I appreciate your wonderful review! Wishing you happy cooking!

  2. So yummy and surprisingly has the exact taste and texture that I remember chicken salad having (and my mom who does still eat meat even thinks it tastes the same!) Thank you for sharing the recipe!! Will be repeating 💗💗

    1. You are welcome! I’m thrilled that you and your mom loved the recipe! I appreciate your wonderful feedback, and wish you happy cooking!

    1. I’m so excited you loved the salad! Perfect for summer! Thanks for your great review!

  3. I went to make this recipe but had to make some last minute substitutions since I discovered I did not have a can of garbanzos in my pantry. Instead, I substituted a cup of dried Butler Soy Curls which are just dried soy (gluten free) and when reconstituted ( 15 minutes in liquid, broth or water; drained and squeezed) looks like chicken chunks. I put the reconstituted curls in my processor and gave it a few short pulses just to break it down to look like shredded chicken. Then added the almond slices for a couple of pulses. I followed the recipe as written and it was delicious but needed something. Sometimes I add a bit of curry but I ended up adding 2 T of Silk vanilla plant based yogurt and it was just the moist texture and flavor it needed – at least this time. Thanks Nora! I always enjoy your recipes and creativity.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it! I’ve used soy curls in this same way before too and it worked out well. Thank you!

  4. Oh my gosh! This is absolutely DELICIOUS!!!! Thank you so much for this lovely recipe; I am serving it on croissants.

  5. I’ve made this many times and it has been huge hit. Sadly in recent years I’ve developed a sensitivity to tree nuts. Any suggestions for some crunch that isn’t nuts? Thanks and I love your recipes!

  6. I made this last night, along with the vegan cashew mayo. Both were quite tasty.
    Rather than using canned chickpeas, I used Trader Joe’s Balela (combo of chickpeas, black beans, mint, onions, tomatoes). I also added garlic because it’s good in just about everything! Lastly, I pulsed some marinated artichoke hearts, added dried cranberries, chopped pecans and my go to seasonings. Will definitely make again!

    Thanks so much, Nora. I’ll tag you.

  7. Hi! I just made this and after reading some of the reviews gave me some ideas of how to “upgrade” next time since I wanted to follow your ingredients, although I used dried cranberries since I am not a fan of cherries. I add green onion because green onion adds that extra something to everything lol. I can’t wait to have it for lunch with some toasted GF bread. So EXCITED to find your recipe and I think this will be something I will make often that I can eat as a snack with crackers. So simple and not a lot of ingredients my favorite kind of recipe 🙂 Thank you!!

    1. Hi Tracey! Thanks for your terrific feedback and review. It’s always fun to read the different ways others add to the recipes! I’m glad you love the salad!

  8. I made this last night and loved it. I ate about half of it. I added some chopped jalapeno because I like it hot. It was so good. Thanks for the recipe. Its just another in a long line of great recipes from you.

  9. Just made this yummy recipe for the first time — LOVE it! My husband likes it too, which is saying something! I didn’t have grapes, so I put in chopped apple instead – also added about 3/4 of a teaspoon of curry powder. Love the texture, too. Thank you, Nora!

    1. You are welcome, Robin! This is a summer salad I love! I appreciate your fabulous review and feedback!

  10. I made this last night. I loved it. I did not have any cherries, but it was still divine. I added walnuts for more brain food and protein. I also added red onion and a touch of mustard. I did not have any croissants or fresh bread, but I heated up an uncooked tortilla and made it a wrap with fresh romaine and tomato. I look forward to having it again.

    1. I’m thrilled you loved the salad! Must have been delicious in a tortilla! Thanks for your wonderful review and feedback!

  11. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Perfect quick, no cook meal for these hot days. It is so good as written, but I chose to add a teaspoon of curry powder and a few drops of hot sauce. Might add a couple green onions next time, but know this will be a regular this summer. I’m thinking a little fresh dill might be another good add in to change it up. Love your recipes!

    1. You are welcome, Debbi! All of your add in ideas sound really fantastic! I’m thrilled you love the chicken salad! Thanks for your stellar review and feedback!

  12. I’ve made and tweaked the original Tuna Salad recipe so many times. I even double the recipe. I also like to add a bit of onion, yellow mustard, lemon juice, pickles or pickle juice (sweet or dill,) and love it with it with chopped bell pepper or finely chopped apples. It’s always great made with the original recipe or pretty much anything you can think to add. 😋

    1. I kept thinking this recipe looks good but how will it taste like chicken salad? I’m sure it needs something! Then you said pickle juice! that’s what it would be missing!

  13. I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest. I have been vegan and gluten free for 3 1/2 years and i must say, this is the first recipe for anything “mock chicken” that I have tried that actually tastes the way it should. Thank you so much for posting this. It’s so freaking yummy!

  14. My partner and I loved it for lunch! Very filling and tasted like chicken. I loved the addition of fruit. I added shredded carrots, and used the nuts I had on hand (peanuts and cashews). Made sure I processed so that it was still a bit chunky. Overall, really good and I am making it for lunch again today!

    1. Your salad sounds delicious! I’m so glad you and your partner loved it! Thanks for your fabulous feedback and review!

      1. This recipe is excellent! I didn’t have grapes so instead substituted diced apples and I had to add some raisins because I didn’t have enough dried cherries…garlic and onion powder and it was good to go. I made little sandwiches and shared with a friend who eats a more traditional diet and she loved it as much as I did, and asked for the recipe. I will make this again and again, so good!

    1. Another great recipe to add to my vegan repertoire! Thank you so much! And this is from someone who still eats some meat. Had it on a brioche bun and loved it!

  15. I love this chick-pea salad. I made two batches – one with the fruit and one without. They were both great. I prefer the one with fruit.

    1. I’m so glad you loved the chicken salad! It’s one of my favorites! Thanks for sharing your terrific feedback!

  16. This has been a recipe on repeat for us. It’s just scrumptious! I served at a lunch with all non vegans and they thought it was chicken salad and asked for the recipe. It’s a long time since I ate chicken, but this recipe is excellent no matter what you call it. Thank you!

    1. Hi Willa. How fabulous that you are loving the chicken salad! Thank you for taking time to share your feedback and review! Makes me want to go make some now! Happy cooking!

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