Waldorf Salad recipe may be old-fashioned but it never goes out of style because it’s a classic. Crispy apples, celery and walnuts with sweet raisins make a perfect fall salad. Always great for a HOLIDAY meal too.
Around the holidays we were talking with friends about some of their favorite family dishes and it reminded me of the apple Waldorf salad my mom would make for Thanksgiving. I don’t know when this became old-fashioned or just not in style, but I haven’t had it in years. I generally just go with a classic cranberry relish, but there’s no reason you can’t do both.
While in New York one year we went to the Waldorf-Astoria just so we could order the salad for lunch, what a treat it was to eat in that beautiful lobby. Theirs was similar to my mom’s but they slivered the apples, while we always just chop them.
The Waldorf-Astoria in NY is currently closed for renovation as of the date of this post and is scheduled to reopen in June 2023, so you’ll have to just try my version. It’s such a nice salad to round out a weeknight dinner or Holiday meal and it’s so simple to make.
Why this is the best recipe for Waldorf Salad you’ll ever have
- This fall salad uses crisp naturally sweetened apples & walnuts to give it a great texture and crunch.
- You can make this salad earlier in the day so you are free to work on other tasks
- This is a great idea if you need to bring something to a potluck. It goes with everything.
What is Waldorf Salad?
An apple salad recipe was created in the late 1800’s at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in NY for a charity ball and was still being served before they closed it for reconstruction. A Waldorf salad always has apples and celery with a mayonnaise based dressing. Some add grapes or chicken. You can tweak the recipe based on your preferences, but I think it should have raisins, walnuts and celery along with the apples.
Best Waldorf Salad ingredients
- Apples – Use an apple that’s crisp, it’s even more interesting if you use a variety, some sweet and some tart. Fuji are my favorite.
- Walnuts – but not just plain walnuts, toast them first. They will offset the sweet apples beautifully!
- Celery – chopped small so you get a little crunch
- Raisins – to add a bit of sweetness
Apple Waldorf Salad dressing ingredients
The dressing is so simple with just three ingredients:
- sugar and
- lemon juice
Choose your favorite mayonnaise, (Hellmans for me) and add just a little lemon juice and sugar. I like less dressing, just enough to coat the apples.
Best Apples for Waldorf Salad
The best apples for a Waldorf salad are Fuji, gala or even a red delicious, you need a crisp apple. If you want it a little tart, then try a honeycrisp.
Variations on this recipe for Waldorf Salad
If you want to make this sweeter, add a little more sugar. You can leave out the raisins and replace with grapes. If you’re not a fan of walnuts, you can easily replace with pecans.
How to make Waldorf Salad With Raisins
Step 1: Whisk together the mayonnaise with just a little sugar and lemon juice.
Step 2: Don’t peel the apples, just cut into bite sized pieces and add raisins, walnuts and chopped celery. Add dressing and combine.
If you want to be fancy then you can do like they do at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel and cut the apples into match sticks.
Pro Tip: The lemon juice in the dressing will keep your apples from turning brown so you can make this earlier in the day by chopping the apples and mixing them into the dressing ahead of serving. It will still be good for at least 24 hours, but I think it’s best eaten the same day.
How to serve Apple Waldorf Salad
Apple Waldorf Salad should be served cold or at room temperature. Since it has a mayonnaise base, it should not be left out for extended periods of time.
Waldorf Salad Recipe FAQs & tips
The best apples to use for Waldorf salad are the ones that you like to eat. They should be crisp, and for a pretty salad, have red skins. I prefer fuji or gala or even a red delicious. I think Honeycrisps are too tart for this salad but that’s just my preference. For everything you want to know about apples, go to Stemilt’s website, they are my favorite brand.
You don’t need to peel the apples, just remove the core, cut into slices and cut slices into 1 inch bites. If you have a device that cores and slices, it makes it so much easier.
A classic Waldorf salad has walnuts in them. I prefer them toasted and in large pieces.
Rotisserie chicken or leftover shredded turkey would be a simple, healthy addition to your salad and can be tossed in right before serving.
Waldorf salad will stay fresh in the refrigerator for a couple of days. After that, the apples will get soggy and turn brown.
Can’t get enough APPLES, here are some more recipes
If you aren’t in the mood for an apple salad, enjoy these fun salad combinations
- Get your veggies with Corn and Cucumber Salad
- Simple but delicious Burrata with Oranges
- Feeling fruity, try Tequila Lime Blueberry Salad
- Broccoli Salad will go with any meal you are preparing
- Add some Cayenne for a spicy fruit salad
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Best Waldorf Salad
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- pinch salt
- 4-5 apples cored and diced
- ½ cup celery thinly chopped
- 1 cup walnuts toasted and chopped
- 1 cup raisins
- Apple slicer
- In a large measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sugar, lemon juice and salt.
- Add toasted walnuts, celery and raisins to a large bowl. Add diced apples and toss. Spoon dressing over right away and toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- Use a firm sweet apple like fuji or gala.
- Coat the apples with dressing as soon as they have been cut to prevent browning.
- To toast the walnuts, place in the oven at 350º for a few minutes watching to make sure they do not burn.