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Copycat Willow Tree Chicken Salad

Copycat Willow Tree Chicken Salad - Our attempt at recreating the famous Willow Tree chicken salad - and I think we're pretty close!

A few years back when I was pregnant with my daughter, I had food cravings like most pregnant woman do.  One of my cravings was for Willow Tree chicken salad.  Almost every day for lunch, I went to a little sandwich shop about a block away from my office and I’d get the exact same thing to eat: a Willow Tree chicken salad sandwich (and this sandwich shop specifically stated it was Willow Tree for good reason!) on sourdough bread, milk, and a piece of fruit.

Willow Tree Farm is a New England-area food company famous for their deli chicken salad and chicken pot pies.  According to the Willow Tree website, they credit their chicken salad as one of the reasons the company has flourished over the years and their products are now sold at grocery chains in 14 states primarily in the eastern US.

My husband learned of my Willow Tree chicken salad craving, and being the sweetheart that he is, set out to recreate it at home just for me.  He started with the recipe found online here (someone else must have had a similar craving) but tweaked it further after reading the ingredients which the folks at Willow Tree were nice enough to list on their website as well.  I think Jack has come pretty close with the recipe we’ve listed below.

Copycat Willow Tree Chicken Salad
Serves: 4-6 servings
Prep time:
Total time:
A copycat recipe of the famous Willow Tree chicken salad.
  • 1 pound cooked chicken breast
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced celery
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  1. Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, blend chicken breasts until thoroughly shredded, or shred by hand. (Note: Shredded chicken rather than diced chicken pieces will help recreate the original Willow Tree chicken salad texture.)
  2. Remove bowl from the stand mixer and add in all other ingredients. Stir by hand to mix well.
  3. Serve over lettuce leaves or in sandwiches.

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  1. This sounds like it’s going to become MY “go to” chicken salad recipe, as I can tell from the ingredients and the process that it’s going to produce the precise chicken salad type that I have always loved but can rarely find! I grew up in southeastern Virginia, on the Chesapeake Bay, where fresh caught seafood of many varieties was almost always the order of the day, along with good old Southern home cooking of course, and with good pork barbecue, southern style cured hams, etc., but in spite of my love for chicken salad, it was always hard to find.
    There was no Willow Tree in our area, or their products in our groceries, so I’m sure I missed out on something truly yummy. But this is going to provide me with the kind of chicken salad I adore. I have lived in Indiana now for going on 38 years, and no Willow Tree around here I have ever seen. Everyone around here seems to prefer selling it chunky style instead of shredded, and with all sorts of fruit and nuts in it, like white grapes, or cranberries and walnuts or almonds and all that sort of stuff. I’m sure if that’s your “thing” then it must be wonderful, but being a purist myself, I like my chicken salad to just BE chicken salad, not a fruit and nut salad with some chicken thrown in on the side!
    Chicken Pot Pie is also another favorite ~ wish I could get closer! The crust to me is the most important part. Boy, you better get a great flaky crust, as well as a thick, creamy sauce inside to carry the solid bits too!
    I will look forward to your “copycat” chicken pot pie recipe soon!
    Best regards….

    • I hope you enjoy the recipe Shari! We’ve published my husband’s turkey pot pie recipe (which we use for chicken too) but not a copycat for Willow Tree’s version! Thanks again for writing to us today!

  2. How do you cook the chicken???

  3. Hi Deb! You can cook it any way – roasted, poached, etc or you could even buy a rotisserie chicken from the market. We usually poach it: Hope that helps!