Chicken Salad with Pears & Traverse City Cherries

Having grown up just 30 miles south of the self-proclaimed Cherry Capital, I’m no stranger to the sweet and tangy world of cherries. Traverse City is located in the upper western part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. It’s proximity to the Great Lakes and access to Grand Traverse Bay makes this thriving area a perfect growing environment for the tiny red fruit.

It’s been awhile since I’ve lived in the area as life has taken me in different directions over the years. However, I still have family there and they are often giving me regular updates of the local festivities. Traverse City has also been buzzing in the media lately with a feature spread in Food & Wine Magazine and even one of my favorite bloggers, Matt Bites, wrote a wonderful piece about his cherry travels.

My family came to visit me in Pittsburgh recently and arrived with a huge bucket of dried cherries. This ritual has become a tradition really as no matter where they visit me, that bucket isn’t very far behind.

This recipe is a perfect blend of flavors that represent both my past and future. The tart, yet slightly sweet, cherries are a throwback to my childhood. The pears have become a signature fruit of choice in my adulthood. Perfect as a unique appetizer when served with endive leaves, or as a light lunch with two slices of fresh baked bread, this salad is simply delish.

Chicken Salad with Pears & Traverse City Cherries
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
Recipe Type: Salads
Serves: 6 portions
  • 1/3 cup celery, small diced
  • ¾ cup pear, small diced
  • 2 ½ cup cooked chicken breast, small diced
  • 2/3 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup mayo
  • 1 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 hearts Belgian endive leaves, separated
  1. Toss all the ingredients, except the endive leaves, in a medium mixing bowl until well combined. Scoop the chicken salad in the endive leaves using a small serving spoon. Serve chilled.
Author's Note
If you can’t find dried cherries in your area, dried cranberries are a great substitute.

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  • I absolutely love chicken salad and make it differently almost every time because there are so many great options for mix-ins. Never tried pears before.. might add a little bit of blue cheese too. Thanks for the great idea! 🙂

  • Sounds delicious, but sadly I don’t have access to Traverse City cherries. Boo! But a quick question for you, do I need to rehydrate dried cherries or just use as is?

  • One of my favorite vacations was when we went camping at Sleeping Bear Dunes, kind of close to Traverse City. I think we passed by on our way there. I love the wines from that area.