You don’t have to go to some fancy lunch spot to get your Waldorf salad fix. It’s incredibly easy to create it in your own kitchen. We got this Waldorf salad recipe from registered dietitian and recipe developer, Kristen Carli. She runs Camelback Nutrition & Wellness in Scottsdale, Arizona and blogs all things meat-free over at Mostly Green.
Carli’s Waldorf salad recipe is unique because she uses Greek yogurt as the base. Of course you always have the option to use the traditional mayonnaise instead, but Greek yogurt has some advantages. We asked her the reasoning behind the switch-up (should you opt to use it) and she explains, "Greek yogurt is a healthier alternative to mayo because it is high in protein. Protein helps make this recipe more balanced."
It’s your call if you decide to go yogurt or go mayo. Maybe even try both ways to see which one you like better? Either way, you really can’t go wrong with this easy-to-execute Waldorf salad recipe.
Gather all the Waldorf salad ingredients
Before you start to assemble the Waldorf salad, be sure to prep all the ingredients that are going in with the yogurt. There is minimal slicing, chopping, and measuring involved so this shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes to do.
You’ll need your basic staples, salt and pepper, along with six tablespoons of Greek yogurt (or mayo); two apples (chopped); a cup of diced celery; a cup of toasted walnuts (more on that in the next section); one cup of red grapes (halved); and some green leaf lettuce for serving.
It’s pretty standard for traditional Waldorf salad to always call for red grapes instead of green ones. However, according to Carli, you have a bit more leeway with the apples. "I chose gala because that is what I keep on hand. Gala, Honeycrisp, Envy, Lucy, or Golden Delicious would be great substitutes," she says.
Toast the walnuts for the Waldorf salad
Toasted nuts are better than raw nuts, as a general rule. We GUESS this is debatable (but also, not really). For this Waldorf salad, we’re telling you to definitely toast the nuts. After all the ingredients are lined up, you’ll need to toast that cup of walnuts you’re planning to add to the salad.
Place the oven on the broil setting. Toast the walnuts for about one minute. Carefully watch so they do not burn. Seriously, do this. We’ve learned the hard way, those walnuts will burn and they will burn quickly.
If you need to do this in advance of making the rest of the salad, that’s fine. While the taste will be superior when the nuts are toasted, they don’t have to be straight out of the oven to really dazzle the taste buds. But again, do not skip this step if you know what’s good for you (and your Waldorf salad).
Season the yogurt for the Waldorf salad
The next step in this Waldorf salad recipe is seasoning the yogurt. A half a teaspoon of salt and a half a teaspoon of pepper should do the trick. Place the yogurt (or mayo, we don’t discriminate) in a small bowl. Add the salt and pepper, then stir it to thoroughly combine.
Greek yogurt is really having a moment these days so chances are, your dairy section is just exploding with options. (They’re probably next to the thousand rows of various types of coffee creamers Americans now have to choose from.) We asked Carli which one she recommends and she likes Chobani Greek yogurt the best.
While it’s always helpful to have a recommendation from the experts, it’s your choice which yogurt you want to use. Just double check you are actually buying plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt. An accidental mouthful of vanilla yogurt in your Waldorf salad is not something anyone likes to experience.
Combine the apples, celery, walnuts, and grapes in a bowl
The next step after seasoning the yogurt is combining the other recipe items together. Place the apples, celery, walnuts, and grapes in a large bowl. You’ll be adding the yogurt later and mixing everything together but you can go ahead and mix these items together prior to the yogurt, or wait until after it’s added, or do both. This part of the recipe would also be a good time to add another staple item to the Warldorf salad — chicken.
To some, the Waldorf salad might not even be complete without the meat. This Mashed staff member, to be honest, did not even realize the salad could exist without it! We asked Carli about how to incorporate chicken. She confirms, "You can easily add in two chicken breasts to make this more of a complete meal. I prefer the texture of shredded chicken in this dish as opposed to diced, but this is personal preference." Diced or shredded, this would be the time to add the chicken if you choose to.
Mix the yogurt with the other Waldorf salad ingredients
Now you will top all the Waldorf salad bulk ingredients with the yogurt, and stir everything in the bowl until thoroughly combined. Don’t stir with too much vigor as you don’t want to smush the grapes.
The Waldorf salad is basically ready at this point but there are opportunities to add even more ingredients if you think it needs a kick. "Optional add in ingredients include raisins, dried cranberries, diced pears, or diced peaches," says Carli. So depending on what’s in season and what your palate prefers, these added dried or fresh fruits can really jazz up this grandma-basic Waldorf. Although if you are a grandma who specializes in Waldorf salad reading this, we want to reiterate that we see nothing wrong with the original one in all its traditional glory.
Feel free at this point to add any more salt or pepper if you think it needs it.
Serve the Waldorf salad over greens
Your Waldorf salad should be ready to serve by this point. Carli uses green leaf lettuce to serve it over, as exemplified in the photos here, but any type of greens will work! Kale and spinach are welcome — they might make your grandma shudder though. You can also enjoy the Waldorf salad plain with a fork or crackers. Put it between two slices of bread if you really want to get wild!
How long does Waldorf salad prepared with Greek yogurt last? We all know that mayo-based salads can be dicey in terms of longevity so we asked Carli about this one. "This will keep in the fridge for three days in an airtight container," she confirms. So if you want to prepare this salad in advance, you have a couple days for it to keep!
Enjoy and definitely brag about how much protein you’re getting these days.
Mayo is a key ingredient of the classic Waldorf salad, or is it? This recipe swaps in Greek yogurt for a healthier version that still delivers trademark flavor.
- 6 tablespoons unsweetened Greek yogurt (or mayonnaise)
- 2 apples, chopped
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 cup red grapes, halved
- ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoons black pepper
- green leaf lettuce, for serving
- dried cranberries
- diced pears
- diced peaches
- Place the oven on broil. Toast the walnuts for about 1 minute. Carefully watch so they do not burn.
- Place the yogurt in a small bowl with salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Place the chopped apples, celery, walnuts, and grapes in a large bowl.
- Add yogurt to rest of ingredients and stir to combine.
- Serve over green leaf lettuce leaves.