Why buy the expensive deli chicken salad when you can make our Copycat Willow Tree Chicken Salad at home? (It’s just as good!)

Make this delicious Copycat Willow Tree Chicken Salad at home!

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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 would 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 and poultry farm based out of Attleboro, Massachusetts, 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 also sold at grocery chains all along the East Coast of the United States.

Willow Tree Chicken Salad copycat recipe

My husband learned of my Willow Tree chicken salad craving – and being the sweetheart that he is – he set out to recreate this chicken salad recipe at home just for me. (It’s always important to keep a pregnant lady happy!) 😉

Jack 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. Enjoy!

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How to make copycat Willow Tree Chicken Salad at home

A few last notes: This recipe was originally shared here on A Family Feast in November 2012. We’ve updated the original photo (you can see that below – our food photography has definitely improved over the years) and we included a video as well (see above). Our readers love this recipe – even those readers who never tasted the original Willow Tree version!

I do also want to thank the folks at Willow Tree for being such great sports about this copycat recipe.  As you can see in the comments below, the folks at Willow Tree have been following along with our readers’ comments and closely guarding the family’s real chicken salad recipe!

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

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Copycat Willow Tree Chicken Salad

  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Yield: 4-6 servings

Description

A copycat recipe of the famous Willow Tree chicken salad.


Ingredients

  • 1 pound cooked chicken breast
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced celery
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

Instructions

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

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    Comments

  • Connie wrote:

    we don’t have a willow tree:( but just made this and it’s wonderful taste like our fav. Chicken salad recipe that we get from a resturant here thank you connie

    • Martha wrote:

      So glad you liked the recipe Connie! Thanks for taking the time to write to us today!

  • Valeria wrote:

    I just made your chicken salad. Then I used English muffins,slices of fresh garden tomato,chicken salad,Swiss cheese, and heated in oven until the cheese melted. Delish! I live in PA so I haven’t heard of Willow Tree , but it was really tasty. I liked the added pop of brown sugar

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Valeria! (Sounds delicious!)

  • MassachusEATS wrote:

    Just made a batch of this – very, very close to Willow Tree! Well done, I’m excited to make more in the future. 🙂

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you!

  • Stephen Genuario wrote:

    Hello Everyone,
    I just wanted to chime in and thank you for all the great comments on our Chicken Salad. We take great pride in producing a product that is made fresh, without all those nasty additives that make the product stable beyond it’s intent. As we all know, these stabilizers affect the overall taste and appeal of any product. Our chicken salad has the cleanest label of any branded product of its type and we intend to keep it that way. Again, thanks for all your comments. We appreciate all your topics and all conversations. Like many of you, I grew up on Willow Tree as I live in Rhode Island.

    Sincerely,
    Stephen Genuario
    VP – Sales & Marketing
    Willow Tree Poultry Farm

  • Darlene wrote:

    This is an awesome chicken salad recipe although I don’t use mayo (miss my Hellman’s) use yogurt, and extra herbs, but this is my to go to recipe from now on, great job :).

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Darlene! Your adaptation sounds delicious and healthier!

  • Ruth wrote:

    Hi! Just wondering what kind of onion you use and also what kind of brown sugar, light or dark? Thanks in advance! Can’t wait to try this recipe ASAP! 🙂

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Ruth – We usually use a Vidalia onion (but a red onion might be another good choice) and light brown sugar. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  • Matt wrote:

    The recipe was terrific. I used more like 4 or 5 tablespoons of celery, which was helpful, I think.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Matt!

  • Maria wrote:

    Not sure how I missed this recipe? I like Willow Tree and buy it frequently as chicken salad is one of my favorites! I wish you could copy the Trader Joe’s chicken salad with the pecans and cranberries. I’ve tried several recipes but none match it. Look forward to trying this recipe.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Maria! We will have to try the TraderJoe’s version!! Sounds delicious!

  • Trish Wall wrote:

    I have never tried Willow Tree, but I LOVE chicken salad. (I’m from Texas and Florida…now living in Birmingham, AL). Hopefully, they will open a store down here someday. So, I’ve GOT to TRY your copycat Willow Tree Chicken Salad.

    • Martha wrote:

      We hope you like the recipe Trish! You might be able to find it sold at the deli of your local supermarket too – if you would like to try the original recipe! Thanks for visiting our site!

  • Tracey wrote:

    Hi. I am also a fan of Willow Tree. Any chance you have ever considered trying to do a copycat of their Chicken Pot Pie? It’s a family favorite for us and I have been trying for years to make one like it at home with no luck. You got their chicken salad just right! We loved it.

    • Martha wrote:

      Funny you should ask that – we have tried but still don’t have it quite right so never published it! We have a turkey pot pie recipe on our site that we also make with chicken – that is the recipe we usually make! We’re glad you enjoyed the chicken salad recipe!

  • Kat wrote:

    This looks great! How far in advance can you make and store this?

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Kat! I’d recommend a day or two at the most for the freshest flavor.

  • Jean Carpenter wrote:

    Hi Martha, I made this yesterday. Wow! I like it better that WT (don’t tell them LOL). Its nice to have a readily available alternative. My DH just loved it. We love to go to the Willow Tree store and have a “picnic” in our car LOL. Now we won’t have to leave the neighborhood. Needless to say, it was gone in one meal. I’m making more this weekend for my hungry man
    ( and me too!) Thanks again for a great recipe.

    • Martha wrote:

      So glad you enjoyed the recipe Jean! And thanks for letting us know!

  • Laury wrote:

    Made this for dinner this evening and it was a big hit! This will be my new “go to” recipe for chicken salad. Thank you so much for sharing it!!!!

    • Martha wrote:

      We’re glad you enjoyed the recipe Laury! Thanks for visiting our site!

  • Your Friends at Willow Tree wrote:

    Hello Everyone, well we are all flattered that you enjoy our chicken salad enough to duplicate its taste. We are working very hard to push Willow Tree’s brand outward and into new areas. Just keep tuned to our facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/willowtreefarm and ‘like us’. We always announce when our Chicken Salad is available in new areas. As for the actual recipe, well…. it’s just a lot of love, care, and great ingredients that goes into every container. Feel free to tell everyone! 🙂

  • Kim @ Soliloquy Of Food & Such wrote:

    I am so excited to find this, and cannot wait to try it out! I grew up in RI where Willow Tree is readily available. When I moved to northern Maine, I would make excuses to drive several hours south – as it was nowhere to be found nearby.

    • Martha wrote:

      I hope you like it Kim! We think it’s pretty close to the original – and in fact, it’s our most popular recipe ever! Thanks for stopping by! Martha

  • Stacy Cole wrote:

    Fantastic!! Thank you for posting it! 🙂

  • Jennifer wrote:

    What brand of mayonnaise do you use?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Jennifer – we usually use Hellman’s mayonnaise!

  • Kim wrote:

    Thank you for this recipe. I saw it on Pinterest and made it tonight for dinner with some chicken noodle soup. The chicken salad us delish! I used 2 cans of chicken breast in water and it worked great.

    • Martha wrote:

      So glad you liked it Kim! Thanks for letting us know!
      Martha

  • Evelyn @ My Turn for us wrote:

    Just dropping in from Serendipity and Spice to pin this. I am not pregnant but I crave a good Chicken Salad Sandwich!!

    Have a Happy New Year!!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Evelyn! Hope you enjoy the chicken salad! It’s our most popular recipe!

  • Laurie @ Laurie’s Little Bits of Creativity, etc. wrote:

    This looks delicious! Definitely trying this recipe. Visiting and pinning from The NY Melrose Family’s Pinfest 2012 party. Thanks for sharing.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Laurie! Happy New Year!

    • Norma Curran wrote:

      The brown sugar ! This is basically the same as mine, EXCEPT for the brown sugar.(mine calls for 1Tbsp curry….cause I love the stuff !) I am eager to try this recipe .Thanks 😉

      • Martha wrote:

        I hope you enjoy the recipe Norma! The brown sugar does add a distinctive touch of sweetness… (Your curry recipe sounds delicious!)

    • robbin wrote:

      the secret to willow tree’s chicken salad is OJ concentrate. i was told this by someone who used to work there.

      • Martha wrote:

        Very interesting Robbin! Thanks for sharing!!

      • shar wrote:

        Is that oj orange juice??? How much???

        • Martha wrote:

          Hi Shar! Hopefully Robbin will reply back with some more info – I’m curious to know too!

        • Stephen Genuario wrote:

          Well… I’m not too sure about that orange juice! The REAL secret to our Chicken Salad is a closely (and I mean closely) guarded family recipe. Although you will not find OJ in our chicken salad, a tall glass of this refreshing drink would go so well with our Chicken Salad on a crusty Ciabatta Roll…. Oh, and there’s big news on the horizon. We are now making Willow Tree BUFFALO Chicken Salad! Watch for it in your local retailers this spring! Trucchi’s Supermarkets in Massachusetts, along with Select Hannaford Markets are already selling it.

          Thanks so much (and keep guessing)
          Steve Genuario – Willow Tree

          • Martha wrote:

            The Buffalo Chicken Salad sounds delicious Steve!! We will definitely look for it! 🙂

          • Cleeo2 wrote:

            You’re a good sport Steve! 🙂

          • Wendy Hampton wrote:

            How fun that Steve left a message! I’m in California and am not able to visit in person for a chicken salad sandwich. I think I will have to figure out a vacation trip. The Buffalo Chicken Salad sounds unreal!

          • Jackie wrote:

            Thank you Steve, you are an awesome sport! I am a Rhode Island native and yes, I have put it on ice to DRIVE home to KY with it so I have a taste of home in the place I call home now. I have been in KY for 10 years now, and when I go home Willow Tree Chicken Salad is one of the top things on my list of things to have before I come home!!!

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