Classic Creamy Waldorf Salad is the side dish of your dreams! Crisp apples, juicy pineapple and grapes, and crunchy nuts combine with a homemade poppy seed dressing for a fresh and wholesome treat.
A Creamy Fruit Salad with Apples and Nuts
Have you ever tried Waldorf salad? It is one of my favorite side dishes ever: sweet, creamy, and full of raw, fresh fruit. The added crunch of fresh celery and nuts rounds out the dish, giving it an addictive textural contrast and sweet-salty flavor. Yum! I usually find myself making Waldorf salad around the holidays, but it is a well-balanced dish that’s great anytime!
It’s also a very flexible recipe. You can use whatever apples, grapes, and nuts you like, and you can easily tweak the sweet, creamy dressing. I give mine a pop from poppy seeds and lemon, but you could give yours a sweet boost, a lift from fresh herbs of your choice, or whatever you like.
So next time you’re looking at the same old side salad, consider making this, instead! It’s a tasty change of pace, and a great way to add fiber, hydration, and micronutrients to your menu.
What’s in Waldorf Salad?
So just what do you need to make your own Waldorf salad? Well, that depends on who you ask! My recipe includes the usual suspects, like apples, celery, and grapes, with a few additional ingredients to boost the flavor. Here’s the list:
- Apples: Wash the apples, and dice them up. You don’t have to peel them, but you can if you prefer.
- Grapes: I use red seedless, but green seedless are also great. Cut them in half.
- Pineapple: Pineapple adds a juicy, tropical twist! Use fresh diced pineapple, or canned pineapple tidbits, well drained.
- Celery: Fresh sliced celery adds a juicy crunch and slight savory taste.
- Mayonnaise: A little bit of your favorite mayo makes the dressing ultra creamy.
- Yogurt: Plain Greek yogurt is so indulgently smooth and rich!
- Sugar: Plain granulated sugar is fine. Not a fan? You can also use honey or maple syrup.
- Poppy Seeds: I love the subtle texture and flavor of poppy seeds in this salad! Feel free to omit them if you prefer.
- Parsley: Chopped fresh parsley elevates the recipe, and gives it a pleasant herbal fragrance and flavor.
- Lemon Juice: Fresh lemon juice gives the brightest flavor, but bottled lemon juice is also fine.
- Nuts: Walnuts or pecans, either will work!
- Zest: This is optional, but a little bit of lemon zest adds depth, and an almost floral note. Make sure not to get any white pith in the zest.
- Lettuce: Bibb lettuce is traditional, as a bed for serving the salad. You can omit this if you prefer.
How to Make Waldorf Salad
Once you have the ingredients prepped, all you have to do is mix everything together! If you like this is a great recipe to invite some kitchen helpers to assist you with. Smaller “chefs” can cut grapes in half, while older helpers can dice apples and cut celery. All with supervision, of course!
- Combine the Raw Ingredients. Cut up all of the fruit and celery. As you cut up each ingredient, add it to a large mixing bowl. When everything is cut up and combined, give it a quick stir to mix.
- Make the Dressing. In a smaller mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise with the yogurt, sugar, poppy seeds, and lemon juice. Stir well to make a creamy dressing.
- Dress the Salad. Pour your salad dressing mixture over the other ingredients in the large mixing bowl, and toss to coat evenly.
- Add the Nuts. Stir in half of the walnuts (or pecans). Then, scrape the Waldorf salad into a serving dish with a spatula (you could also leave it in your mixing bowl). Sprinkle the remaining nuts over the top, and garnish with lemon zest (if using).
- Serve Immediately. Serve up your salad on leaves of fresh Bibb lettuce. If you need a little more time before serving, chill the salad in the fridge, covered well, until you’re ready to serve.
You can make this fruity favorite your own in all kinds of ways! One of my favorites is to add lean protein, to make a salty-sweet salad that you can have for a quick lunch. Let’s take a closer look at some great variation ideas!
- Chicken: A little bit of diced or shredded chicken is the perfect match for this apple-y salad, and makes a complete meal in a bowl.
- Bacon or Ham: The smoky, salty taste of bacon and/or ham is just right with fresh, sweet fruit and crunchy celery.
- Mini Marshmallows: For a dessert-like Waldorf salad, try this time-honored addition! Mini marshmallows add pops of fluffy sweetness all through the salad. Yum.
- Cranberries: Dried cranberries add interest and an intense sour sweetness.
- Dates: The sugary, almost chocolatey taste of dried chopped dates is a perfect addition to classic Waldorf salad! You’ll be glad you tried this!
What Should I Serve with Waldorf Salad?
One great thing about this dish is that it’s so scrumptious with just about any main course. It’s a great way to serve your family a feast of fresh raw fruit, veggies, and nuts, with no hassle, and as part of any meal. Here are just a few of our favorites!
- A Holiday Feast: For many of us, Waldorf salad is part of our holiday table! So feel free to serve it with your favorite turkey or ham. Maybe this easy Air Fryer Ham with pineapple? Yum!
- A Rotisserie-Syle Chicken: Make this easy Crockpot Whole Chicken for a homemade version of the deli favorite! It goes beautifully with any sides that you like, from mashed potatoes to green beans to this fruit-filled Waldorf salad.
- Macaroni and Cheese: This might just be the ultimate kid-friendly recipe! My 15-minute Homemade Mac and Cheese is crazy levels of comfort food, just like creamy Waldorf salad. A match made in heaven!
Storing the Leftovers
Waldorf salad stores well in the fridge for up to three days. In fact, you might find that you like it even better after the flavors have had a chance to meld for a while! Store in an airtight container for the freshest results.
Creamy Waldorf Salad
- 1 ½ cups diced apples
- 1 ½ cups red seedless grapes, halved
- 1 cup pineapple pieces
- 1 cup celery, sliced
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt, plain
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon poppy seeds
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 cup walnuts or pecans
- Zest from 1 lemon, optional
- Bibb lettuce, for serving
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the apples, grapes, pineapple pieces, and celery.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the mayonnaise, yogurt, sugar, poppy seeds, and lemon juice. Stir to combine.
- Pour the salad dressing over the salad and toss to mix.
- Stir in half of the walnuts, and then sprinkle the remaining nuts over the top before serving.
- Sprinkle with lemon zest, if desired.
- Serve on leaves of Bibb lettuce.
More Fresh and Easy Salad Recipes
Looking for more fresh and easy salads? Here are a few of my favorites, especially that light and summer-y Watermelon Salad:
- Copycat Maggiano’s Chopped Salad
- Ambrosia Salad
- Air Fryer Chicken Fajita Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Holiday Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
- Easy Broccoli Salad With Bacon
- Fresh Greek Salad
- Mediterranean Orzo Pasta Salad
- Watermelon Feta Salad With Mint
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