Published Dec 22, 2020, Updated Oct 12, 2023
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Waldorf salad is loaded with apples, celery and walnuts in a light creamy dressing. It’s crisp, sweet, refreshing and perfect served as an appetizer or side salad.
As a salad lover through and through, I’ve become really intrigued by classic salads that pop up on fancy restaurant menus and on holiday tables year after year. There are some traditional salad recipes that have stood the test of time… like ambrosia, watergate and Waldorf salads.
My mom made watergate salad for holidays (see my healthy spin on watergate salad), but I don’t remember ever having Waldorf salad growing up.
Upon discovering Waldorf salad a few years ago I started making it and loving it. I’ve shared a chicken Waldorf salad (and it’s delish), but I wanted to share the classic version for anyone who doesn’t eat meat or for those looking for the traditional salad.
The classic has a focus on apples and celery, which makes for a tasty combination of savory and sweet, with just the right amount of crunch.
Like I said before, I didn’t have this on my holiday table growing up but I can see it being a part of ours moving forward! It’s so simple to throw together and is the perfect accompaniment to traditional holiday entrees.
Classic Waldorf Salad
The classic Waldorf Salad is named after the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York. This salad was first created for a charity dinner in 1896 (whoa!!) and basically went viral. The original recipe was just three simple ingredients: apples, celery and mayonnaise. Since then it has been adapted and upgraded to include a variety of other ingredients like nuts, raisins and herbs.
Traditionally it’s served on a bed of lettuce and honestly I couldn’t find the reasoning for it! Probably because the presentation is better than a bowl full of a saucy apples and celery. If you’re in a fancy setting, the greens seem more like a garnish to me, but you can totally eat them if you wish or even make Waldorf salad lettuce wraps.
- apples – I used Honeycrisp and Granny Smith for a variety of color, but you can use your favorite apples.
- red seedless grapes
- walnuts – toasted for more flavor, if you’d like!
- plain yogurt – regular, Greek or dairy-free yogurt will work or you can use mayonnaise
- golden raisins (optional)
- fresh parsley (optional)
- lemon juice
- sea salt and pepper
- Butter or Bibb lettuce for serving (optional)
Other Mix-Ins and Variations
- Make it Vegan: use a dairy-free yogurt or a vegan mayonnaise. I’ve made it with Culina coconut milk yogurt and it was delish!
- Add sugar: for a sweeter version, add 1 teaspoon of maple syrup or honey to the mixture.
- Add raisins: for more texture and sweetness, add in golden raisins!
How to Store this Salad
This salad keeps really well! Store your Waldorf salad (without the bed of greens) in an airtight container in your refrigerator for 3-4 days. If the salad seems a little dry you can add a little more yogurt or mayo before serving.
What Pairs Well With Waldorf Salad?
Waldorf salad works great as a light appetizer or side salad. Many people enjoy serving it as a side for holiday meals, like Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. I’ve found that it’s also a tasty side for brunch as it makes a nice complement to savory egg dishes like omelettes, egg casseroles or quiche.
More Unique Salads to Try:
- Chicken Waldorf Salad
- Turkey Salad
- Kale Pomegranate Salad with Goat Cheese
- Fennel and Celery Salad
- Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash
- Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad
- Ambrosia Salad
- Creamy Grape Salad
- Strawberry Pretzel Salad
- 2 medium apples, diced (I used Honeycrisp and Granny Smith)
- 1 cup red seedless grapes, chopped in half
- 1/2 cup diced celery, diced
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted, if you’d like
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt, regular, Greek or dairy-free or mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup golden raisins, optional
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, optional
- 1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- sprinkle of black pepper, to taste
- Butter or Bibb lettuce, for serving (optional)
- Toast walnuts: add walnuts into a skillet over medium heat and toast for 2-5 minutes or until fragrant, tossing occasionally. Remove from pan and let cool.
- Make salad: In a large bowl combine diced apple, grapes, celery, walnuts, yogurt, lemon juice as well as raisins and parsley (if using). Taste and season with salt and add pepper if desired.
- Serve: Serve salad over a bed of lettuce, if desired.
- Storage: Salad will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
- Vegan option: use a dairy-free yogurt like Culina coconut yogurt or a vegan mayonnaise.
- Yogurt sub: You can use mayonnaise in place of yogurt or even do 1/4 cup yogurt and 1/4 cup mayo.
- For a sweeter version: add 1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.