Chicken, Cranberry, Pecan and Orzo Salad with a Lemon Vinaigrette

My wife is a high school teacher. She regularly amazes me with her gifts and talents. She is dedicated at her job and cares about each student that is in her classroom. She teaches English and every Wednesday, for lunch, the English department has a salad pot luck.

All the English teachers, and a few from other departments, are encouraged to bring a salad to share with everyone. I love the idea as it is a great way to build a sense of team within the department.

So, every Tuesday night, I make the salad that Janna takes to the school. I must confess that I am not a salad person. Where Janna loves the salad section of a pot luck or buffet, I usually bypass that section for the hot food.

Therefore, salad day has forced me to start creating some new and unique salads that I get to also put on the website.

A hearty and healthy pasta salad recipe with orzo, chicken, pecans, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, scallions with a lemon vinaigrette using lemon juice, zest and olive oil.

Even though salad is not my favourite course of a meal, I have been enjoying developing this new recipe creations. To top it all off, some of the salads have been pretty tasty, like this Chicken, Cranberry, Pecan, and Orzo Salad with a Lemon Vinaigrette.

This orzo salad is packed with so much hearty goodness. There is a nuttiness with the pecans and pumpkin seeds, a sweetness with the dried cranberries and  a zing with the lemon zest.

The salad is brought together by the orzo pasta and chunks of chicken. Orzo pasta is a wonderful vehicle to build a salad around. Its small size makes you think you may be having rice but it is tender and delicious!

Chicken, Cranberry, Pecan and Orzo Salad with a Lemon Vinaigrette

A hearty and healthy pasta salad recipe with orzo, chicken, pecans, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, scallions with a lemon vinaigrette using lemon juice, zest and olive oil.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8 people


  • 2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1 cup chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup whole pecans
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 3/4 cup sliced scallions (green onions)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper


  • Cook orzo pasta in a pot of boiling water until tender, about 8 minutes. Cool the pasta completely before making the salad.
  • Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the oil, honey, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Let sit for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavours to combine.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the orzo pasta, chicken, cranberries, pecans, pumpkin seeds and sliced scallions. Pour the vinaigrette on the salad and toss until the salad is evenly coated.

A hearty and healthy pasta salad recipe with orzo, chicken, pecans, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, scallions with a lemon vinaigrette using lemon juice, zest and olive oil.


Did you try this recipe?

Leave a comment and let me know how it turned out. Or, take a picture to share on Instagram and tag me @theblackpeppercorn.

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  • Kudos to your wife for what she does. I have the highest admiration for teachers 🙂
    And kudos to you for this salad, Steve. It looks wonderful! Question though- you have lemon listed in the name, directions and description, but lime in the recipe itself… while I am sure that BOTH would be amazing, I’m curious which you used yourself? Cause this is a definite try for me and I want to get it right 🙂

    • Thanks Janet! I am glad you caught that. It is lemon. It is funny that I have written lemon and lime wrong on a few different recipes in the past and I always mss it in the editing process. It’s funny, I guess they look so similar I do not notice it is wrong. It is fixed now though!

  • You’re welcome! Though it was fairly self serving of me cause I want to make this lol

    And I’ve done the same thing with lemon and lime… I guess it’s a common gaffe lol

  • That looks so good!! I love summer salads and this would be great!!

  • This salad sounds deliciously satisfying…would be great for lunch or dinner! Your wife is a lucky lady to have you cook for her, and her students are lucky to have such a dedicated teacher!

    • Thanks Bonnie! And yes, those students are lucky!

  • Oh, YUM! I love orzo and your flavor combination is incredible!

  • I love orzo salads! They are so easily adaptable. The cranberries sold me on this recipe 🙂

    • Thanks Anna. Yes, orzo is great for making salads. You can build so many wonderful creations with orzo as the base ingredient.

  • Not a salad person? You sure could have fooled me with this wonderful creation! You did a great job pulling the elements together, the flavors are so complimentary. Also, nice range of texture in each bite. The Wed salad days does get you to thinking outside the box, since you are not big on eating salad in the first place. Well done.

    • LOL Tina. Well, my not being a salad person doesn’t mean I cannot make them. It’s just that I don’t eat them much. Yet, this one did taste quite awesome. Thanks for your positive spin – hope you have a great day Tina!

  • Love it, Steve. The plating is particularly alluring in that oblong white bowl. The pristine white really highlights the colors and lightness of your dish. Incredibly appetizing (as I’ve come to expect from you!)

    • Thanks Viviane! You are too kind! I hope you are having a wonderful day

  • This is so my kind of salad, Steve. I love everything that you added. Orzo is one of my favorites!

  • Good for you helping your wife out and making salads for her potlucks. You’re a good hubby!! This salad look great… light and still satisfying!! I say you deserve an A+ from your wife. 🙂

  • C’est certain que je vais essayer cette recette,elle a l’air excellente!

    • Reply
  • Let hear it for salad day. This is a winning salad. I love to eat salad but I really love it when someone else makes it.

  • The teachers must just buzz with excitement when Janna brings in her salad each week. I love what you’ve created…it looks fabulous!

  • Thanks for all the kind things that were said about teachers. I know we all had a bad teacher or two in our days, but most teachers really do care about their students and their job is a lot more than just a paycheque! I know it’s that way for me!

    Now, about the salad, it’s a fantastic tradition that my department head, Karin, started. The food is always amazing and on top of that, it is good to have one lunch a week that we try to keep “sacred” so we can connect in our department. So often we are meeting students for extra help, marking, setting up for the next class, etc. Thanks to “salad day” we have a real bright spot mid-week.

    Finally, about my salad provider . . . he is totally the bomb and I don’t know what I would do without him. Love you, babe!

    • Reply
  • I love chicken with salads with a fruit and nut component especially components I have in the house, including the cooked chicken. Looks perfect to me!

  • MMM!!!!! This looks so yummy! I love the pumpkin seeds in here. Can’t wait to try this one.

    • Reply
  • This has everything I like in a salad. Looks nice and refreshing and I bet the other teachers ate it up!

  • Hey this is my favorite salad, but i never tried it with lemon vinaigrette. Next time i will make with your recipe! Thanks and cheers! 🙂

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