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

  • Marisa wrote:

    This is the best chicken salad recipe ever!! Love the flavor and the consistency!! Got my husband hooked too!! Thanks for sharing!!!

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome Marisa! So glad you both enjoyed the recipe!

  • Kat wrote:

    Would love to try this recipe? I’m looking for a new unch go to meal and I may try this but my question is – can you use plain fat free greek yogurt in place of mayo?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Kat – Sure – Greek yogurt has a very different flavor than mayo but if you are OK with that, it’s definitely a lower fat option for you than using mayo.

  • Vickie wrote:

    I think I will try this recipe with Turkey.. seeing I will have Turkey leftovers this THANKSGIVING!!

    • Martha wrote:

      This recipe works great with leftover turkey – enjoy!

  • SheShe wrote:

    1 TSP soy sauce and 1/4 TSP of Chinese 5 Spice for an Asian twist. Definitely on my menu for the weekend!

    • Martha wrote:

      Sounds like a delicious variation! Thanks for sharing!

  • Ellen wrote:

    I have made this recipe on several occasions and I’m always asked to make it again and again. I add dried cranberries and walnuts and the result is pretty close to Willow Tree’s. Add a little Buffalo Sauce and you get their buffalo chicken. They’re latest flavor sensation is sriracha chicken salad! I’m transplant to Pennsylvania, but whenever we go to Massachusetts every trip includes a stop at the Willow Tree store. Chicken salad and pot pies to take home! Gotta Love The Tree!

    • Martha wrote:

      Great suggestions Ellen! So glad you are enjoying our copycat version!

  • Carol wrote:

    Instead of brown sugar use honey…..big difference…

    • Jack wrote:

      Thanks for the suggestion Carol! We’ll give it a try!

  • Donna wrote:

    How do you usually prepare your chicken breasts– boiled, roasted, ect. ?

  • Delores Kay Collins wrote:

    Thank you for the recipe; I am eager to give it a try, because it looks and sounds wonderful.

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome Delores! We hope you love it as much as we do!

  • Melissa Howell wrote:

    I have never had WillowTree chicken salad (I live in Indiana.) That being said, this chicken salad recipe is amazing! Absolutely love it.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Melissa! So glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  • Linda wrote:

    Good chicken salad. Thanks

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome! So glad you enjoyed it Linda!

  • Emma Rios wrote:

    I haven’t tried it but I will as soon as I return home. Thank you for sharing.

    • Martha wrote:

      We hope you love the recipe Emma!

  • April wrote:

    I just came across this recipe and I have to make chicken salad sandwiches for a wedding shower (tomorrow)! I have never made chicken salad before (don’t laugh lol), but definitely want to try this version. I will be cutting the sandwiches into triangles so I’m trying to figure out about how many whole sandwiches this recipe will make? Maybe half the thickness of the original image? Hope it’s not too late to ask this. Thanks for posting this recipe!

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi April – This recipe is portioned for two to three sandwiches…two if you really like a ‘full’ sandwich and three if you prefer a thinner spreading of the salad. Hope that helps!

  • Jen wrote:

    Greetings! No Willow Tree here in Alaska, but now have some darn tasty chickie salad!
    First time around was great as written; second time switched to yogurt instead of mayo, onion powder, little extra celery.
    Used toasted English muffin halves, one side hot with chick salad, tomato slice, green chiles, and habanero jack under broiler… other side cold with chick salad, dried cranberries, and toasted pine nuts. Toss up for which is better!
    Amazing recipe! Thank you so much!!

    • Martha wrote:

      Sounds delicious Jen! So glad you are enjoying the recipe!

  • Pamela mack wrote:

    This is the best chicken salad. I’ve tried all kinds of recipes and this one is a hit! My husband loves them… Thank you for a delicious recipe.

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome Pamela!

  • Linda wrote:

    Not familiar with Willow Tree, but I made this today and it is delicious. Subbed pickles for the celery (didn’t have any). Love the addition of brown sugar – I would never have thought to add that but it gives such a nice hint of sweet .

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Linda! I agree – the brown sugar is a surprising (and delicious) ingredient! Glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  • Rainah wrote:

    Slated this on the menu. Hubs made it up for us (though he only chopped the chicken). Loved it…., It was just the right amount of creaminess. The onion was too strong until we added the sugar….. Amazed how much we loved this…… I was so hyped to have a tried and true recipe…., Then I found out he adjusted the seasonings….. (like, extra pepper, garlic, and some oregano…..)……, now, can I recreate it for him???? (If you’ve read Understood Betsy, and how she learned to make applesauce, maybe you can appreciate our mindset on these things……)

    • Martha wrote:

      LOL – glad you enjoyed the recipe Rainah! Until we started blogging, my husband Jack never wrote down his recipes or precise measurements of ingredients so I completely understand! 🙂

  • Ashley wrote:

    Ok I JUST made this like 5 minutes ago, and it is DELICIOUS!! I left out the brown sugar because i prefer my chicken salad more savory than sweet, and I didnt have celery on hand, but even without those, its still so yummy! I had some time, so I seared my chicken breasts with salt and pepper on them, and then I baked them to cook through the rest of the way. One bite and I was like “Ohhhh yeaaa!!” Thanks for the recipe guys!!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks so much Ashley!

  • Gran wrote:

    I have never had Willow Tree’s Chicken Salad, but I can’t imagine it being any better than yours. Best chicken salad sandwich that I have had in a long time. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome – So glad you enjoyed the chicken salad as much as I do Gran!

  • Donna J wrote:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this wonderful recipe! I grew up in RI and went to high school in Attleboro, MA. On my way home from school, I would always stop by the Willow Tree Farms store and get some of their amazing chicken salad. I married my husband, a physician in the military, which took us all over the country (SD, NE, FL, AK, and now OK). Through all our travels, I’ve never found food like we had in New England. I’ve tried so many times to recreate the delicious Willow Tree chicken salad over the years but it was never quite right. Kudos to your husband for figuring it out!

    • Martha wrote:

      So glad you are enjoying the recipe throughout your travels Donna!

  • Shari D wrote:

    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….

    • Martha wrote:

      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!

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