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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!


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!


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!


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 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings


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
  • 1/8 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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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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  • 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 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!

  • 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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