Vegan Chicken Salad Recipe

This easy vegan chicken salad recipe features tempeh cubes smothered in a flavorful, creamy mayo sauce. It’s a healthy protein option and it’s perfect to serve on sandwiches, salads, and more!

For more vegan sandwich spreads, be sure to try these vegan egg salad, vegan tuna salad, or even this vegan ham salad recipe.

A vegan chicken salad sandwich sits in the foreground with ingredients behind it.

Marly’s Tips

Where to Buy Tempeh

A block of tempeh on a cutting board next to a knife.

Tempeh is cultured soy beans that comes in a rectangle or square block. You can usually find it in the refrigerated sections of health food stores, near the tofu. Some grocery store chains will sell it in their health food sections or produce aisles.

What You Need

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Tempeh — You’ll need an 8-ounce block of tempeh.
  • Apple — I prefer using a Granny Smith Apple, but any apple will do.
  • Carrot — You’ll want one carrot.
  • Celery — We’ll be using one stalk of celery. I like the texture that celery adds to this recipe, but you can substitute celery seeds.
  • Green onions
  • Dried cranberries — These are also referred to as craisins. They add color and flavor. You can substitute regular or golden raisins.
  • Walnuts — A few chopped walnuts will do the trick here.
  • Dairy-free mayo — I oftentimes will use Hellman’s Vegan Mayo, or you can substitute cashew cream (I find I need to use a bit more cashew cream to get the same consistency as mayo).
  • Vinegar — Use either white vinegar or white wine vinegar.
  • Berry preserves  — Either strawberry, plums, or raspberries jam will add a hint of flavor and sweetness.
  • Salt & pepper — Add some salt and pepper to taste.

Marly’s Tips

You can substitute tempeh with vegan chicken which is easy to make and has great flavor and texture.

How to Make Vegan Chicken Salad

  1. Prepare the tempeh by removing it from the package, and cutting it into cubes.
  2. Steam the tempeh in a covered steamer for 15 to 20 minutes. 
  3. Add the chopped apples, celery, carrots, onions, craisins, and walnuts to a bowl.
  4. Once the tempeh is done steaming, carefully dump hot tempeh cubes into the bowl with the apple mixture. Cover and set aside.
  5. Make the mayo sauce by stirring together the vegan mayo, vinegar, and berry preserves.
  6. Add the mayo sauce to cooled tempeh and season with salt and pepper.

Here is a step-by-step guide to making this recipe:

Step One: Prepare the Tempeh

We are going to steam the tempeh, but for this recipe, first it needs to be cut into cubes.

Tempeh chopped into cubes sitting next to a knife on a cutting board.

You can always break these cubes into smaller pieces, but for now, nice large cubes will work just fine.

Step Two: Steam the Tempeh

Tempeh cubes in a steaming basket.

Drop the tempeh cubes in a steaming basket over a saucepan with simmering water. Steam the tempeh for 15 to 20 minutes. This helps the tempeh to soften and bind together (and not become crumbly).

Step Three: Chop Vegetables

While the tempeh is steaming, chop the rest of your ingredients, like the celery, carrots, and green onion, into a bowl.

Marly’s Tips

Use a lidded bowl to make storage simple and easy. Otherwise, you’ll need to transfer the finished salad spread to a lidded bowl for storage.

Other ingredients for this vegan chicken salad, like celery and green onions, sit on a cutting board.

This is an important step because, well, you’ll see in the next photo.

All the other ingredients are chopped and in a bowl.

Step Four: Add Steamed Tempeh

Once the tempeh is steamed, dump the steamed tempeh (or use tongs) in the bowl with your chopped ingredients. The heat from the tempeh will gently soften things like carrots and green onions.

You’ll still get a nice crunch from the fresh veggies, but not as much.

Freshly steamed tempeh cubes added to the bowl with the other ingredients.

Step Five: Make the Mayo Sauce

Stir the ingredients for the sauce together. We want that tempeh well-coated so it can take on the flavors of everything around it.

Step Six: Add Sauce to Tempeh

Once the tempeh has cooled enough, pour the sauce over and stir. I like to salt and pepper to the desired taste.

Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

A pink hued sauce in a glass bow.

Serving Suggestions

I like to serve vegan chicken salad over greens or on toasted buns as a sandwich.

Storage Tips

Store any unused portions in an airtight container. It will keep in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Cooking with Tempeh

If you don’t know what it is, let alone how to pronounce it, here’s a little guide. Tempeh, pronounced TEM-pay, is basically cultured soybeans.

Nutritionally, tempeh packs a powerful punch. Here are some of the nutritional elements found in tempeh:

  • Protein (roughly 18 g of protein per serving)
  • Riboflavin
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Copper
  • Fiber.

Tempeh is like tofu in that it takes on the flavor of what it’s cooked with. You can marinate it, grill it, and then slice and serve over a salad for a yummy, protein-packed dinner.

You can find tempeh near the tofu.

Picture of the produce section of a grocery store showing veggie cheese, veggie bacon, tofu, and tempeh

More Vegan Salads

Vegan chicken salad is piled high over greens and sliced green apples.

That’s it for this vegan chicken salad recipe!

A vegan chicken salad sandwich sits in the foreground with ingredients behind it.

Vegan Chicken Salad

Enjoy this vegan chicken salad on a sandwich with greens and sliced green apples, or serve it on a bed of greens. You'll love the creamy, sweet flavor!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 232kcal
Author: Marly

Ingredients

  • 8 oz tempeh
  • ½ Granny Smith apple , diced
  • 1 carrots , diced
  • 1 stalk celery , finely chopped
  • ¼ cup green onions , diced
  • 2 tablespoons cranberry raisins
  • ¼ cup walnuts chopped
  • cup dairy-free mayo
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons berry preserves (Strawberry, plums, raspberries)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Remove tempeh from the package. Cut into cubes. Steam tempeh in a covered steamer basket for about 15–20 minutes, or until tender. 
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl add apples, celery, carrots, onions, dried cranberries, and walnuts and mix well. 
  • Once the tempeh is done steaming, carefully remove the steaming basket from the pan, drain any excess liquid, and dump hot tempeh cubes into the bowl with the apple mixture. The hot tempeh will help soften these ingredients. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, combine mayo, vinegar, and preserves.
  • Add mayo mixture to cooled tempeh and season with salt and pepper.

(The products above contain sponsored links to products we use and recommend)

Nutrition Facts
Vegan Chicken Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 232 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Sodium 84mg4%
Potassium 237mg7%
Carbohydrates 17g6%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 1740IU35%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 53mg5%
Iron 1.3mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

This post was originally published in 2018 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2020.

19 Responses to Vegan Chicken Salad Recipe

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyGrace Reply

    Okay Marly where were you when my niece V was living with me years ago. She was vegan and I always had such a difficult time cooking for her. Could’ve used your wonderful recipes, I always felt like I was starving her.

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      I wish I knew you then too! I’ll do my best to make up for lost time, especially with this vegetarian chicken salad sandwich recipe!

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMonet Reply

    Marly,
    What a wonderful recipe. I just made a “real” chicken salad for a friend’s bridal shower, and I wanted so badly to make a vegan/vegetarian adaptation so I could enjoy a bit. This looks great, and I’m excited to give it a try. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyFOODESSA Reply

    Marly, I want to thank you for not only offering further info on what and how to use Tempeh…but also for the encouragement to want to eat it. I’m still experimenting with tofu. Just yesterday I found the nutritional yeast you’ve spoke of in the past. Now, I will slowly discover if this suits my palate. One step at the time ;o)
    Thanks for your experience on another way of eating.
    Flavourful wishes, Claudia

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      There are so many options for vegetarian eating and ways to tweak recipes to make them so much more enjoyable! When I first went vegetarian it seemed like I just ate veggie burgers all the time. I knew I wanted to add more interesting dishes, but just was a little afraid to try them. Tempeh seemed to me like it might as well have come from the moon or something. But once you try it once, you will want it again and again. It has a really great texture. Glad you found the nutritional yeast flakes. Isn’t it fun trying new things?

  4. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMary Reply

    I love to learn new things and your blog helped that happen today. I am a meat eater but am trying to cut way back. Blogs such as yours are enormously helpful. I spent some time reading your earlier posts and really enjoyed my visit. I’ll be back often. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Ahh, you have made my blogging day! It can seem insurmountable to change a diet all in one swoop. However, taking steps here in there – maybe designating one day a week as vegetarian to start – can make a big difference. Thanks for the well wishings and I hope the same for you too!

  5. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyStella Reply

    Oh Marly, you are so good at posting interesting recipes. I love this, and I’m going to the Asian market in a minute. I’ll see if they have tempeh. If not, I get it at the health food store and make this. Sounds so good.
    p.s.-beets are my precious. Trixie hobbits!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      I had a feeling you might be another beetster. You want to know my favorite, cost-saving tip? I buy a jar of fancy beets…the more expensive variety (at our store they’re usually about $2 per jar). But at the same time I buy about 3 (less expensive) cans of beets (usually about .70 cents per can). The juice from the jar of beets is still leftover even after I’ve eaten the beets so I just transfer the beets from the can into the left-over juice of the jar. I let them sit in the juice for about a day and they take on the yummy flavor. The canned beets have juice too, I know. But it’s not quite as tasty as the ones in the jar. So, voila! I have tasty beets at a fraction of the cost!

  6. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlySweetOnVeg Reply

    I must give tempeh a try! This salad looks great.

  7. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyReeni Reply

    I love, love, love everything in this salad! So bright and fresh! And now I know what to do with tempeh!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Are you another beet lover too? I used to hate them when I was a kid, but I have since been converted!

  8. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyPatty Price Reply

    WOW, this looks great, love all the flavors and the photos of the process are wonderful, make your salad look even more delicious!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hey, now I’m even wanting more. I might have to go get some more tempeh myself!

  9. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyAnna Suljak Reply

    can this be made the night before to serve at lunch the next day?

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Anna. Definitely! In fact, I think the flavors intensify a little as it sits in the fridge overnight.

  10. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyRichard Reply

    How long does this keep in the fridge?

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Richard! This vegan chicken salad should last up to 4 – 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

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