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Classic Waldorf Salad

Classic Waldorf Salad is famous for a reason! You won’t be able to stop munching this crunchy blend of apples, grapes, nuts, celery, and creamy-sweet dressing. Plus, it’s easy to make ahead, and perfect for the holidays!

A Beloved Fruit and Veggie Salad that’s Super Fresh

For some, Waldorf salad is a must-have recipe for the Holidays, for family gatherings, and potlucks. However, others may not have tried (or even heard of?) this old-fashioned recipe. Either way, if you need a simple side that’ll feed a crowd – and make you feel good, too – reach for this creamy fruit salad!

Waldorf salad is prepared with an apples and grapes base, plus a creamy dressing. To add extra pops of texture and flavor, most recipes include some nuts and chopped celery, too.

Depending on your taste, special add-ins like, marshmallows or raisins, work great, too. I like to add dried cranberries to mine because I like the addition of sweet and tangy!

Mix this up for your next special meal, and watch it disappear.

Fruit waldorf salad, arranged on lettuce leaves.

Why Is It Called Waldorf Salad?

Most people agree that the basic recipe for Waldorf salad was created at the famed Waldorf Hotel in New York City, sometime around 1893. The original version apparently only had three ingredients: apples, celery, and mayo. Since then, it’s undergone a lot of twists and variations, but that basic combo gives it all the creamy crunch you could ask for.

From top: Dried cranberries, sugar, halved grapes, sour cream, mayonnaise, honey, a Golden Delicious apple, two Honeycrisp apples, lemon, chopped nuts, celery, Bibb lettuce.

Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make this version of classic Waldorf salad. It’s a simple mixture that’s easy to pull together from scratch!

  • Mayonnaise and Yogurt: A few spoonfuls of each, for the dressing.
  • Lemon Juice and Honey: Both of the ingredients deepen and balance the flavors of the dressing. You can substitute sugar or maple syrup for the honey, if you prefer.
  • Salt: A couple of pinches, not too much.
  • Apples: For the best flavor, use a couple different kinds of apples. I usually go with one Golden Delicious, sometimes a Granny Smith, and a couple of sweet red apples, such as a Gala or Honeycrisp.
  • Grapes: Look for seedless red grapes, and cut them in half. 
  • Celery: Thinly slice the celery, or chop it if you prefer.
  • Cranberries: Dried cranberries add color and a zingy taste.
  • Walnuts: Toasting the walnuts before you add them gives the salad a terrific flavor.
  • Boston Lettuce: Optional, for serving.

What Apples Are Best for Waldorf Salad?

This is really a matter of taste. I go with mostly sweet apples, but if you wanted to do something a little different, you could throw in a Granny Smith or Pink Lady apple for some sweet-tart goodness. I do recommend using an apple meant for eating, rather than cooking, because this salad is not cooked.

Close-up shot of Waldorf salad, showing the texture of the ingredients and dressing.

How to Make This Easy Dish

Another neat thing about this Waldorf recipe is that you can enlist some kitchen helpers to make it with you! Responsible kiddos can practice their cutting skills by helping you dice the apples, slice the celery, and halve the grapes. Littler helpers will be excited to stir together the colorful ingredients.

  • Make the Dressing Mixture. Get out a large bowl, and combine the mayo, yogurt, honey, lemon juice, and salt in it. Use a whisk to mix the dressing well.
  • Add the Remaining Ingredients. Add the fruit, celery, cranberries, and walnuts to the bowl of dressing. Stir and toss to combine.
  • Taste and Chill. Taste a bit of the salad to see if it needs additional salt, honey, etc. Once the flavors are right, cover the bowl and chill the salad for at least one hour, or up to three days.
  • Enjoy! Serve the salad on crisp Boston lettuce leaves for a pretty presentation.

Tips for Success

With a recipe this well-loved, you can imagine that there are countless variations and tips to dig through. Here are some of my favorite ways to change things up and make it great:

  • Amazing Mix-Ins: Make things a little sweeter with additions like mini marshmallows, pineapple, and dates. Finely chopped red onion, diced chicken (or turkey), or sunflower seeds would be great for a more savory twist. 
  • Dress Up the Dressing: Swap the yogurt for more mayo to make things even creamier – or get crazy and use sweetened whipped cream, aka Cool Whip!
  • Keep Apples from Browning: The mayonnaise in the dressing should be all you need to keep your apples from oxidizing and turning brown, but if you’d like a little extra insurance, toss the lemon juice WITH the apples before adding both to the salad. Lemon juice is great for keeping apples pretty!
  • Make Ahead: Waldorf salad lasts for about three days in the fridge, so it’s perfect for making in advance. Just cover it tightly with plastic wrap, foil, or an airtight lid, to keep other food flavors and odors out.
Overhead shot of a platter of Bibb lettuce leaves with servings of creamy fruit salad on each one.

What to Serve with Waldorf Salad

To serve this recipe, you can go as fancy or as simple as you like. It works equally well as a wholesome side with a basic main course like baked chicken, or as part of a big ol’ feast. 

  • Pork Loin Roast: Everyone loves apples with pork, so why not serve your cool and creamy salad alongside this killer recipe for Tender and Juicy Pork Loin Roast? It’s a no-fail, comfort food favorite.
  • Turkey Breast: Yes, that could mean a turkey breast sandwich! Or, if you need something a little more grand, how about this Juicy Air Fryer Turkey Breast. It’s great for a main course, and fabulous for leftovers.
  • Brunch: Waldorf salad couldn’t be more appropriate for brunch. To keep things easy and make-ahead friendly, throw together this Slow Cooker Veggie Omelette to go with it.
Fruit salad, arranged on lettuce leaves.

Storing the Leftovers

  • Storing this salad is very easy. Just make sure you pack it up into food storage containers or a bowl with a lid within an hour or two of serving.
  • Store it in the fridge, and use it within three days.

Can I Freeze Waldorf Salad?

  • Sadly, no. Freezing fresh apples, grapes, and celery means they’ll all turn to a watery, mushy mess when thawed. If you’re concerned that you might have too much salad to finish, you could reduce the recipe by ½ to cut down on the leftovers.

ENJOY!

Overhead shot of a platter of Bibb lettuce leaves with servings of creamy fruit salad on each one.

Classic Waldorf Salad

Katerina | Diethood
Classic Waldorf Salad is a crunchy blend of apples, nuts, celery, and creamy-sweet dressing. It’s easy to make ahead, and perfect for the holidays!
5 from 5 votes
Servings : 6
Prep Time 15 mins
Chill Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • In a large mixing bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, honey, lemon juice, and salt.
  • To the dressing, add the chopped apples, halved grapes, celery, cranberries, and walnuts.
  • Toss to combine.
  • Taste and adjust.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, or keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  • Spoon salad on lettuce.
  • Serve.

Notes

  • Apples: Use a variety of crispy, crunchy, tart, and sweet apples. I like to use Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, and sometimes I also add a Granny Smith. 
  • Chopped Fruit: To get a balanced bite of each crunchy, sweet, and tart treat, make sure to chop up all the ingredients about the same size.
  • Walnuts: For a deeper, more intense flavor, toast the nuts for a minute, before adding them to the salad.
  • Add-Ins: Keep the recipe traditional, as presented here, or you can also make it your own by adding in pineapple chunks, mini marshmallows, raisins, chopped chicken, sunflower seeds, and so on.
  • Liquid: The longer the salad sits, the more liquid it will release. Before serving, make sure to drain out any extra liquid, and stir the salad.

Nutrition

Calories: 227 kcal | Carbohydrates: 31 g | Protein: 3 g | Fat: 12 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2 g | Trans Fat: 0.01 g | Cholesterol: 3 mg | Sodium: 162 mg | Potassium: 257 mg | Fiber: 4 g | Sugar: 25 g | Vitamin A: 132 IU | Vitamin C: 5 mg | Calcium: 45 mg | Iron: 1 mg | Net Carbs: 27 g

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

Course: Salads/Side Dishes
Cuisine: American
Keyword: christmas side dishes, fruit salad, thanksgiving side dishes
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