This 15-minute Waldorf salad recipe is a simple classic that never goes out of style! It's bright, fresh, and packs a crunch. You won't be able to resist the creamy dressing.
Why you'll love it
Waldorf salad is an American staple that happens to have a very fancy sounding name, but it actually couldn't be easier to make in your own kitchen. It has just a handful of everyday ingredients like apples, grapes, and walnuts that you'll be able to find at any grocery store. Since it's very quick to prepare, it's great for last-minute gatherings or as a light lunch.
I'm such a fan of salad recipes with both substance and flavor, and this fruit and nut salad is definitely no wimpy salad and does not disappoint. My easy Waldorf salad is so crisp and crunchy, and the homemade mayo-based dressing is the perfect balance of creamy and tangy with a hint of sweetness.
Why is it called Waldorf salad?
- It's named for the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City, where in the late 1800s a Swiss-American restaurateur named Oscar Tschirky created it for a charity ball. He developed loads of signature recipes for the hotel and was known far and wide as "Oscar of the Waldorf".
What you'll need
For the salad
- Apples - I chose Honeycrisp for their balanced sweet yet tart quality. I think it sets my Waldorf salad apart from the rest!
- Celery - it adds more freshness and signature crunch
- Grapes - we're using red grapes here. Just make sure that they're seedless.
- Walnuts - they add texture and even more crunch and a savory contrast
For the dressing
- Mayonnaise - I like to use full-fat Hellmann's for that rich, creamy base
- Sugar - a touch of white sugar adds sweetness
- Lemon - we're using both lemon juice and lemon zest to infuse the dressing with brightness and acidity, and it also helps to counter discoloration of the apples. I use my handy Microplane to zest the lemon.
How to make Waldorf salad
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and set aside. Wash, prep, and chop the salad ingredients, adding them to a mixing/prep bowl as you go along. Pour the dressing over top, toss, and season generously with salt & pepper! Chill if desired.
- You can make this salad up to a few hours ahead, but the apples may brown.
- It's a good idea to chop the apples last if you're worried about them discoloring and you want to eat the salad right away.
- After you wash the fruit and veggies for this salad, be sure to dry them properly (I use paper towel) so as not to water down the dressing.
- Try playing with how large you chop the ingredients to customize the texture to your liking. I personally prefer the celery to be chopped finely, for example.
Substitutions and variations
- Feel free to swap out the apple variety with whatever your favorite is. I like to use fairly tart ones like Honey Crisp and Granny Smith or mix a couple of varieties.
- You can sub some/all of the mayo for Greek yogurt, but yogurt tends to dry out faster and make the dressing less silky. It'll also be more tangy, so keep that in mind.
- To make this salad extra fancy, try toasting the walnuts! Simply add them to a skillet over medium heat with a bit of olive oil and cook until toasted, but watch them carefully since they can go from uncooked to burned in a hurry.
- Don't like walnuts? Try swapping for pecans or almonds.
- I've seen some versions include dried cranberries or raisins. Either replace the grapes with them or add a handful in addition.
- Add in some cooked rotisserie chicken to make a Waldorf chicken salad. Shrimp would work great too for some additional protein.
What to serve with Waldorf salad
- This salad is often served on a bed of butter lettuce, also known as Bibb lettuce, for an appetizer or light meal. Lettuce wraps would be fantastic as well.
- You could serve this salad with a slice of crusty bread or in a wrap for a more substantial meal.
- This also makes a delicious side salad to pair with everything from Parmesan Crusted Chicken to Pan Seared Salmon. People also sometimes serve it as a holiday side dish like they would Classic Ambrosia Salad since it's a versatile year-round salad!
Leftovers and storage
- You can keep leftovers for up to a few days in an airtight container in the fridge, but keep in mind that it'll become more watery and the apple will discolor over time. It'll still taste good, though.
- If it's been sitting out for a long time, I'd discard the leftovers for food safety reasons.
- As with any salad, I don't recommend freezing leftovers.
Did you make this classic Waldorf salad, or do you have any questions? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below! Tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram if you've made any of my recipes.
Easy Waldorf Salad
- 2 apples (I used Honeycrisp) chopped
- 2 sticks celery chopped small
- 1 cup red seedless grapes cut into halves
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup mayo
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice + zest of 1/2 lemon
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Add the dressing ingredients (mayo, sugar, lemon juice and zest) to a small bowl and stir together. Set aside.
- Prep the remaining ingredients and add them to a salad bowl as you go along.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss. Give it a taste and season with salt & pepper as needed (I'm generous with both).
- If you're eating it as a main course without much else, it'll serve 2. Or 4-6 as a side.
- This salad is pretty flexible. Feel free to add more/less of an ingredient to suit your preferences.
- If you don't own a zester, you can leave out the lemon zest, but it does add a nice pop of freshness.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.