The classic Waldorf Salad is a sweet, savory, and creamy dish that’s so easy to make! It’s the perfect refreshing, light lunch, or a side dish for a special meal.
I just love recipes that have real history behind them! Do you know where the Waldorf Salad originated from?
The creamy, fruity salad is named for New York City’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. Interestingly it was the hotel’s maître d’, not a chef, who is credited with creating this salad back in 1896.
A salad of chopped apples, celery, and mayonnaise was first served at a charity event and was later added to the hotel’s menu.
At the time I’m writing this, the Waldorf Astoria is actually closed for renovations, but up until recently, you could still go to the Peacock Alley restaurant in the lobby of the hotel and order yourself a Waldorf salad!
Luckily, Waldorf Salad is now served at restaurants all over, and it’s also super easy to make at home. This easy salad requires just a few minutes of time to chop up some produce and mix up the dressing.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It takes less than 10 minutes to make.
- It’s a classy, and classic salad, perfect for serving to guests.
- Your options for variations are endless (but not required – Waldorf Salad is perfect already!).
Waldorf Salad Ingredients
Here’s what you need to make this American icon:
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Grapes: Seedless grapes, cut in half, or in quarters if they are particularly large. I like to use both red and green grapes for interest.
- Apples: I think a good Waldorf salad needs both sweet apples and tart apples! Again, the different colors will add visual interest, and the different flavors are an extra bonus. Try a tart green Granny Smith apple and any sweet red apple that you like. Crisp apples like Red Delicious, Honeycrisp, and Fuji apples will be best.
- Celery: This salad is all about texture! Chopped celery adds an earthy flavor and more crunch to each bite.
- Nuts: Walnuts are traditional, but pecans also work. Toast the nuts briefly and then roughly chop them.
- Lettuce: While lettuce doesn’t go inside of a Waldorf salad, it is traditional to serve the salad on a bed of lettuce leaves. I’m using romaine today, but Bibb lettuce also works very well.
- Waldorf Salad Dressing: It takes one minute to stir up a creamy dressing for Waldorf salad made from mayo, sour cream (or yogurt), lemon juice, honey, and salt and pepper.
Optional Ingredients for Waldorf Salad
- Protein: To make a Waldorf Salad into a more filling meal, consider adding diced, cooked chicken. It also pairs well with shrimp, tuna, and eggs.
I enjoy serving this with boiled eggs (hard-boiled or jammy!) on the side. It’s the perfect light lunch.
- Dried Fruit such as raisins, dried cranberries, or dates.
- Other Fresh Fruit: pomegranate seeds, diced pineapple, or berries.
- Extra Flavor can come from diced red onion, cooked bacon bits, or salted sunflower seeds.
How To Make Waldorf Salad
- Prepare Ingredients: Wash and chop your fruits and vegetables, wash and dry the lettuce leaves, and chop the toasted walnuts.
- Make the Dressing: In a large mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper.
- Mix it Up! Add the chopped ingredients into the bowl with the dressing and stir to coat the salad. Serve over lettuce and enjoy.
When chopping the apples, grapes, and celery, take care to try to keep all of the pieces about the same size. If you start by cutting the grapes in half, you can match the others to that.
- Sweetener Substitutions: Feel free to use regular sugar, agave, or any sweetener that you prefer in place of the honey. You can also reduce the amount of sugar in the dressing for Waldorf salad if you want the dressing to be more savory.
- Sour Cream Substitution: In most recipes, including this one, plain Greek Yogurt can be substituted for sour cream. Yogurt adds a slightly different tangy flavor, but it’s delicious made both ways. Dairy-Free yogurt can also be used.
- Mayonnaise: If you have a minute, make homemade mayo for this recipe. It’s so delicious! You can also substitute with your favorite vegan mayo if you like.
- Add the Lettuce: If you’d rather, chop up the lettuce and mix it right in with the other ingredients.
Waldorf salad can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days. The apples will start to brown and the grapes will get very soft if stored for longer.
It’s best to serve this salad shortly after making it.
What To Serve With Waldorf Salad
It also makes a delicious light lunch or dinner, paired with one of these amazing sandwiches:
The most important thing is that the apples you choose are crisp! I like to add two different apples to my Waldorf salad: one tart and one sweet. Try a Granny Smith and a Fuji apple if you’re stuck on which to buy.
I highly recommend that you do toast the walnuts, and it’s super easy to do. Simply add the nuts to a small skillet and cook over medium-high heat on the stovetop until you can smell them. Remove from the heat, let them cool, and they will be toasty, delicious, and ready to go.
You can also bake pecans or walnuts on a small baking sheet for 8 minutes at 350°F/180°C.
While it includes sweet ingredients, Waldorf salad is rarely seen as a dessert food. The rich and savory dressing makes it perfectly acceptable to enjoy as a lunch entre or dinner side dish.
Be sure to Pin this Waldorf Salad Recipe! I know your family is going to love it when you serve this with dinner or at your next holiday meal.
For the Waldorf Salad Dressing
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 1 teaspoon honey or other sweetener
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Salad
- 1 cup seedless grapes halved
- 2 large apples one green tart apple and one red sweet apple, cored and diced
- 1 cup chopped celery
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts or pecans toasted, see note 1
- 6 leaves lettuce Romaine or Bibb, for serving, see note 2
- In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to create the dressing.
- Add halved grapes, diced apples, chopped celery, and chopped nuts. Stir gently to combine.
- Serve over lettuce, garnished with additional chopped nuts if desired.
- To toast walnuts: Bake them in a 350°F/180°C oven for 8 minutes. You can also toast them in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until they are fragrant.
- Lettuce can be chopped and added into the salad if you prefer. Serving the salad in lettuce cups is traditional and makes a nice presentation.
- If you have a minute, make homemade mayo for this recipe. It’s so delicious! You can also substitute with your favorite vegan mayo if you like.
- Take care to chop the fruits and celery into pieces that are all about the same size.
- Optional additions can include cooked chicken, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, bacon pieces, diced avocado, diced red onion, or raisins.
- To Store: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. This salad is best enjoyed the same day that you make it.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
© Little Sunny Kitchen