This mouth watering vegan chicken salad is loaded with big, bold flavour, a little crunch, a little sweetness and a lot of deliciousness! Smothered in a rich and creamy, oil free dressing that is as delicious as it is easy to make!
Roasted jackfruit, walnuts and chickpeas make the base of your vegan chicken salad. Then added to it is some crunchy celery, sweet grapes and green onion, all dressed in a creamy, tangy, dill-icious cashew based sauce that is TO DIE FOR!
Why I love this salad
While there are plenty of vegan chicken salad recipes out there, I think you’ll find this version a little unique.
- Roasting the jackfruit, walnuts and chickpeas really add to the depth of flavour. But if you’re in a hurry or want something raw, try my oil free chickpea salad sandwich version instead.
- There are so many wonderful textures and distinct flavours, yet they all work well together in perfect, delicious harmony.
- The dressing is homemade, using wholesome ingredients, as opposed to dousing this salad in mayo.
- This “chicken” salad is not only vegetarian and vegan friendly, but also gluten free, soy free and oil free, making it suitable for most eaters.
How to make it
(This is a summary with step by step photos, full recipe measurements and instructions are in the recipe card below.)
Gather your ingredients.
Make sure to use Young Green Jackfruit that is canned in brine or water, NOT syrup. You do not want sweet jackfruit, as it won’t work well for this savoury dish.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas and jackfruit, and chop your celery, green onion and slice your grapes.
Once your jackfruit is rinsed very well, shred the pieces using your hands, or two forks. (photos 1-2)
I typically use my hands, and have no trouble pulling it apart.
Place the shredded jackfruit, along with your chickpeas and walnut pieces on a baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes and then remove from the oven and set aside. (photos 3-4)
The edges of the jackfruit will get a little cripsy, the walnuts and chickpeas should look nicely golden.
While the jackfruit, chickpeas and walnuts are in the oven, prepare the dressing for your vegan chicken salad.
Add all the ingredients to a high speed blender and process until smooth and creamy and set aside. (photos 5-6)
NOTE: If you do not have a high speed blender, soak your cashews first.
Add the roasted jackfruit, chickpeas and walnuts along with all remaining salad ingredients to a bowl. (photo 7)
Then pour the dressing you just made over top and mix well. (photo 8)
Then you may serve your salad straight away or refrigerate for one hour or longer to chill.
Can I make it ahead of time?
In fact, this salad tastes even better once the flavours have had a chance to meld together.
Just refrigerate until ready to serve and enjoy cold.
How to serve
- As is, from the bowl. Seriously, it’s that good.
- Make it a sandwich. Grab two slices of your favourite bread, gluten free if needed. Add some lettuce and load it up with your salad.
- Use it as a topper. Spoon it on crackers, cucumber slices, or pita.
How long does it keep?
Your dressed salad will stay fresh in the fridge for 2-3 days before getting a little soggy.
If you make the dressing ahead of time, the dressing may be kept separately for 4-5 days.
- Use young green jackfruit canned in brine or water, only. Do not use fresh jackfruit, and do not use jackfruit that is canned in syrup as it will be very sweet.
- Don’t skip the roasting! This is really what makes this dish so special and flavoursome.
- If you do not have a high speed blender, soak your cashews in cool water overnight, or soak in boiling hot water for 15-30 minutes, then drain. The soaking time allows your cashews to swell and soften, making them easier to break down in your blender.
- This vegan chicken salad tastes great when freshly made, but tastes even better once chilled in the fridge. Refrigerate for 1 hour or more to get all the flavours to meld nicely.
Substitutions & Variations
- No walnuts? Use pecan pieces, slivered almonds, pine nuts or macadamia nuts.
- For nut free: Skip the walnuts, and replace the raw cashews with sunflower seeds instead with slightly different results.
- You may sub the grapes for dried fruit if you don’t have fresh on hand. Dried cherries, cranberries or raisins all work well.
- For a mayo style dressing, sub for my oil and nut free pepita mayo instead. Although. I truly recommend trying it this way first.
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For the Salad
- 20 oz can young green jackfruit in brine or water, NOT syrup, drained & rinsed
- 15 oz can chickpeas drained & rinsed (or 1.5 cups)
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces or pecans
- 1/2 cup celery diced (approx 1 rib)
- 1/2 cup red grapes halved
- 1/4 cup green onion thinly sliced (approx 1 green onion)
For the Dressing
- 3/4 cup raw cashews
- 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp lemon juice approx half a large lemon
- 1 tsp dill weed
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
- Rinse your jackfruit very well to remove the brine and shred all the pieces. Add them to your baking tray along with your drained and rinsed chickpeas and walnut pieces. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from the oven.
- Meanwhile, add all the dressing ingredients, starting with 3/4 cup of water to a high speed blender and process on high until smooth and creamy. Add the remaining two tablespoons of water if needed, to thin out your dressing.
- Arrange your jackfruit, chickpeas, walnuts, celery, grapes, and green onion in a bowl. Pour the dressing on top and mix well.
- Serve straight away, or refrigerate for an hour or more to chill and serve cold.