So fresh and light! Lemon tarragon shredded chicken salad with pecans is a light, bright, and sophisticated chicken salad perfect for a simple springtime lunch! Fresh fennel bulb adds a little crunch and complements the licorice-like flavor of the tarragon. Serve on a croissant sandwich, wrap, or on tea sandwiches.
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It’s springtime! Time for walks through parks, farmers’ markets, picnics, and flowers. And food-wise, it’s time to swap out hearty meals like pot roast and turkey chili for things on the lighter side — grilled salmon, homemade refrigerator dill pickles, and chicken salad sandwiches.
I wrote this recipe several years ago but just revisited it for a rewrite, and holy moly, I forgot just how stinkin’ GOOD this tarragon chicken salad is! This might be my new favorite summer sandwich filling, because I will definitely be making a LOT more of this this season.
This tarragon chicken salad with pecans is a refreshing option with bright, summery flavors from fresh herbs and lemon. You’ll love this simple chicken salad on a croissant or in a wrap, whether you’re bringing it to a picnic lunch or having a casual meal at home! It also makes an excellent tea sandwich filling.
I use shredded chicken for this easy recipe — leftover rotisserie chicken is perfect for this!
About tarragon chicken salad
This shredded chicken salad is a little different from your typical chicken salads — a classic chicken salad with basic spices and celery or onion, or a Waldorf chicken salad with grapes and pecans. Yes, this recipe has pecans in it, but paired with a sophisticated and delicate tarragon flavor instead of a sweet fruity component.
What does tarragon taste like?
If you’re not familiar with the flavor of tarragon, it’s an herb with sort of a licorice- or anise-like flavor. For those (like me) who dislike black licorice candy, this may sound unappealing, but its use in a chicken salad is as different as a peppermint stick is from mint in a roasted leg of lamb.
Tarragon classically pairs well with lighter foods like fish, chicken, or vegetables that are associated with spring and summer. And yes, it also goes well with lamb.
How about fennel?
In this recipe, rather than adding crunch with celery or raw onion, we add a little crunch with some finely diced raw fennel bulb.
First, the crunchy texture is a little less harsh than that of celery or onion (I always feel like too much crrrrunnnch detracts from a chicken or tuna salad), but it also pairs perfectly with tarragon. Like tarragon, fennel also has an anise-like undertone, so it really adds to the cohesive flavor of the chicken salad.
How to make tarragon chicken salad
First, you’ll start with some cooked, shredded chicken. You can make your own just for this recipe (this is a great method for making flavorful, juicy shredded chicken!) or you can use up leftover rotisserie chicken!
You can use two forks to shred your chicken or try my favorite shortcut of throwing it in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment/flat beater attached. You can also use a hand mixer — it really makes short work of shredding, which can otherwise seem like a chore.
Dicing will work too but I really love the texture that shredded chicken gives this chicken salad!
Next, chop your fresh tarragon until you have a tablespoon full, and finely dice the fennel bulb. Cut off the big leafy stems and dice the bulb like you would an onion. Fennel has a bit of a core at the bottom like a head of cabbage would, so just cut that part out.
Then you just have to mix it all together — the chicken, tarragon, fennel, mayo, pecans, lemon zest and juice, and spices.
How to use lemon tarragon chicken salad
This shredded chicken salad is so good it’s really a complete sandwich filling! No other ingredients needed except maybe a layer of crunchy lettuce.
You can have this chicken salad on a soft roll or in a wrap. Or try my favorite: on a sandwich made with a fresh and flaky buttery croissant.
For an appetizer, serve it on some crostini, or use it as a filling for tea sandwiches.
Want a lighter meal option? It’s also delicious on its own in a scoop with a green salad. In fact, I have a recipe for a Montreal chicken salad that uses this lemon tarragon chicken salad alongside olives, almonds, and fresh vegetables like tomatoes, green beans, and cucumbers over a bed of lettuce.
It makes a beautiful arranged salad that hits the spot for a light, summery meal!
Expert Tips & Tricks
- This recipe is a great way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken!
- Substitute 1 teaspoon dried tarragon for the tablespoon of fresh, and add more to taste. The flavor will emerge more as it absorbs some of the moisture from the chicken salad.
- Use the paddle attachment on a stand mixer to make quick work of shredding your chicken!
Lemon Tarragon Shredded Chicken Salad with Pecans
- 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup fennel bulb finely diced
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- zest from a lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve on a sandwich, with a salad, or on bread slices as an appetizer. Garnish with additional chopped tarragon, if desired.