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.
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
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!
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.
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!
- 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
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.
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.
You can store vegan chicken salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Want more vegan picnic recipes?
Vegan Chicken Salad
- 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!
- 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.
- Allergic to almonds? Omit them, or sub cashews, pepitas, or sunflower seeds. They add a nice crunch.
- 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.