Chicken Waldorf Salad is a classic cold salad recipe made with tender chunks of chicken, apples, grapes, nuts, and celery in a creamy dressing. Served on a bed of greens, in a sandwich, or a warp—it's a perfect homemade light lunch or easy dinner.
Waldorf Chicken Salad is savory and sweet while being a great combination of flavors and texture. Leftover chicken can become a simple classic meal. Think of it as chicken salad with grapes, nuts, and apples.
Incredibly tasty for a simple cold meal for a hot summer day on the deck or a picnic. I always think of it as a fancy "brunch" recipe, but it is a great dish for many uses.
High 4 to lower 5 depending on your needs at the time.
Waldorf salad was created at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1896 by Oscar Tschirky, the maître d'hôtel. The original version contained only apples, celery, and mayonnaise. Chopped walnuts later became part of the dish.
Chicken is probably the most common add-in making this salad into a main dish worth for a fancy light lunch or easy family dinner. But there are numerous variations.
You want about two cups of diced or shredded cooked chicken. Leftover rotisserie chicken should be fine.
You can cook the chicken any way you want, but try to keep it moist. If you have a couple of small or a large raw skinless boneless chicken breasts, then trim and bake for about 35-40 minutes in a 350-degree oven to an internal temperature of 165.
A lot seems to be made of what apple to use for this or that. I believe it is more a matter of individual taste. So probably the apples you have is fine.
I think an apple that is firmer and tarter is the best choice here. So if you are buying apples just for this recipe, then good choices are Granny Smith, Ida Red, Fuji, Honey Crisp, or Gala.
While the original Waldorf salad did not have nuts, they are standard now. Later, just chopped walnuts were added. Pecans or almonds are also commonly used.
Toast the nuts does add a lot of extra taste, and I highly recommend it, but it is optional.
Mayonnaise is the most common dressing, but yogurt and sour cream are occasionally used. Any can be used alone or in combination with one of the other.
Celery is a must for the crunch it provides.
Grapes, like celery, are a mandatory ingredient providing sweetness to the other savory elements. Most will use red seedless but green are fine. Some people will substitute raisins or dried cherries for the grapes.
Lemon juice is added to keep the apple from turning brown and will add a bit of taste.
I like a bit of red onion, but it is an optional ingredient.
Serve very cold to bring out the crunchiness.
Try to let the flavors come together for an hour or so before serving.
Lemon juice is used to prevent browning of the apple.
Good refrigerated for 3-4 days. Not a good candidate for freezing.
📖 Picnic Recipes
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🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
You need about 2 cups of cooked chicken.
You need ½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans). Optional: toast them over medium heat in a small nonstick pan for 4-5 minutes to increase crunchiness.
Clean, core, and chop one firm apple. Do not peel.
Clean and trim one rib celery. Dice into relatively small pieces.
Clean and cut in half 1 cup of red seedless grapes. Optional: ½ cup finely chopped red onion (about ½ medium-sized onion)
Combine apple, celery, and grapes in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and mix well to coat.
Add onion, nuts, and mayo—salt and pepper to taste (about ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper). Mix well, cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour to allow all ingredients to cool and blend flavors.
Serve on a plate, in a wrap or a pita, on crackers, on a salad, or in a sandwich.
Waldorf Chicken Salad
- 2 cups diced chicken
- 1 firm apple
- 1 rib celery
- 1 cup grapes
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ cup chipped nuts - Walnuts or pecans. Toasting is optional.
- ½ cup red onion finely chopped - Optional. About ½ medium size onion
- ½ cup mayo - low-fat suggested
- salt and pepper to taste
- Clean, core, and chop 1 firm apple. Do not peel.
- Clean and trim 1 rib celery. Dice into relatively small pieces.
- Clean and half 1 cup red seedless grapes.
- Optional: ½ cup finely chopped red onion (about ½ medium size.)
- You need ½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans). Optional: toast them over medium heat in a small nonstick pan for 4-5 minutes to increase crunchiness.
- Combine apple, celery, and grapes in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and mix well to coat.
- Add onion, nuts, and mayo. Salt and pepper to taste (about ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper). Mix well, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour to allow all ingredients to cool and blend flavors.
- Serve on a plate, in a wrap or a pita, on crackers, on a salad or in a sandwich.
My Private Notes
- This is an easy recipe to scale to your ingredients and needs.
- You need about 2 cups of cubed or shredded chicken. So leftover or rotisserie chicken works well. Or you can bake a couple of small or a large skinless chicken breast at 375° for about 35 minutes until an internal temperature of 165°.
- I like walnuts, but pecans work fine and toast the nuts a bit to add flavor if you have time.
- Use a frim apple or just the apple you like. I suggest Granny Smith or Ida Red as good choices.
- Lemon juice is used to prevent browning of the apple.
- Good refrigerated for 3-4 days. Not a good candidate for freezing.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editor's Note: Originally Published June 30, 2010. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.