Waldorf Salad

updated Nov 17, 2021
Waldorf Salad Recipe

This sweet salad is filled with chopped apples, grapes, celery, and walnuts.


Prep17 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook3 minutes

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waldorf salad in a bowl
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Waldorf salad is a classic for a reason. The sweet mix of red grapes, chopped apples, crunchy celery, and buttery walnuts dressed in a tangy, creamy dressing can be served any time of year, whether as an appetizer, a side salad, or a light lunch. Try this retro salad piled high onto leafy green lettuce, then make it your own by adding flaked tuna or shredded cooked chicken.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Why Is It Called Waldorf Salad?

The Waldorf salad was invented at New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in the late 1890s by the hotel’s maitre d’hotel, Oscar Tschirky. At its inception, the salad was made with just mayonnaise-dressed apples and celery. As the years passed and the salad gained popularity in other hotels and society gatherings, chopped walnuts were added and became an integral part of the sweet salad.

What’s the Best Apple for Waldorf Salad?

Pink Lady (or Cripps Pink) were cultivated in the 1970s, decades after the Waldorf salad was introduced. This cross between the Golden Delicious and Lady Williams varieties features a rosy skin and firm, crisp-sweet texture that’s perfect for Waldorf salad. Although this variety wasn’t around when the salad was first served at the Waldorf-Astoria, choose it or other crisp-sweet apples like Honeycrisp and Gala apples for the best results.

What Is the Dressing for Waldorf Salad Made Of?

There are two ways to make the dressing for this updated Waldorf salad: with mayonnaise or yogurt. Choose one depending on what you like (or what you have in the fridge), then add freshly squeezed lemon juice, kosher salt, black pepper, and, if desired, a touch of granulated sugar.

  • Mayonnaise: Mayo is the classic creamy component for Waldorf salad. I love the tangy homestyle flavor of Duke’s mayonnaise, but you can use whatever you have in your refrigerator or blend up a batch of homemade mayonnaise.
  • Full-fat plain yogurt: Using yogurt makes for a dressing that has a tangy flavor and creamy texture without the weight of mayonnaise. Greek yogurt can be substituted for regular, but since it’s thicker, use milk or extra lemon juice to thin it to your desired consistency.

Waldorf Salad Recipe

This sweet salad is filled with chopped apples, grapes, celery, and walnuts.

Prep time 17 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 3 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 1/4 cup

    mayonnaise or plain full-fat yogurt

  • 1 tablespoon

    freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon

    granulated sugar (optional)

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more for garnish

  • 2

    medium sweet-tart apples, such as Gala, Honeycrisp, or Pink Lady (about 14 ounces total)

  • 2 medium stalks

    celery, plus leaves for garnish

  • 1 cup

    seedless red grapes (about 6 ounces)

  • 3/4 cup

    walnut halves

  • 12 leaves

    Bibb, Boston, or green leaf lettuce


  1. Place 1/4 cup mayonnaise or yogurt, 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar (optional), 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

  2. Prepare the following, adding each to the bowl of dressing as you complete it: Core and dice 2 medium apples (about 2 cups, no need to peel); halve 2 stalks celery lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise (about 1 cup); halve 1 cup seedless red grapes.

  3. Place 3/4 cup walnuts in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook, tossing frequently, until fragrant and lightly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board to cool slightly, about 2 minutes. Coarsely chop, add to the salad, and toss to combine.

  4. Divide 12 lettuce leaves among 4 wide, shallow bowls or plates. Divide the salad evenly between the bowls. (Alternatively, coarsely chop the lettuce and toss with the salad.) Garnish with celery leaves and more black pepper.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The dressing can be made and refrigerated up to 4 days in advance. The salad (without walnuts) can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance; add the walnuts just before serving.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days -- the apples may brown slightly and the walnuts will soften.