Best Waldorf Chicken Salad Recipe

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This Waldorf Chicken Salad is a refreshing and filling dish loaded with fruit, veggies, and nuts. It comes together quickly and packs up well for taking to work or even a picnic.

A couple of my other favorite quick and easy picnic lunch recipes are Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps and Basil Pesto Chicken Sandwiches.

Waldorf Chicken Salad on a leaf of lettuce.

Waldorf Chicken Salad

This delicious, healthy, and fresh chicken salad is perfect for a light and tasty lunch. I LOVE chicken salad. It’s yummy, filling, easy to make, and can be made ahead of time and comes together in just 15 minutes!  Waldorf Salad is a classic. It was first served in NYC in the late 1800’s. It usually doesn’t have chicken but I am obsessed with chicken salad so I decided to turn it into a filling meal by simply throwing some in. You can use leftover rotisserie chicken or cook your own.

I’ve found that the easiest and fastest way to perfectly cook chicken is in the Instant Pot. Toss the chicken breast in, sprinkle on whatever seasonings you want and then cook on high pressure for 10 minutes with a 5 minute natural release. So quick and perfectly tender and juicy. Of course, you can also just bake, grill, or even slow cook your chicken too. 

A bowl full of Waldorf Chicken Salad ingredients- Chicken, grapes, apples, walnuts, celery, and dressing.

Chicken Salad Ingredients:

Chicken salad is usually loaded with lots of mayonnaise but I like to lighten things up a bit. You can fully swap out the mayo for plain Greek yogurt but I think that changes the flavor too much so I like to go halfsies. I also have found that the mayonnaise made with canola oil has half the calories as regular but still the same great flavor and texture.

  • Greek yogurt: The greek yogurt is a way to cut down on calories.  It also adds a tangy smoothness to the chicken salad.
  • Mayonnaise: I prefer canola oil mayonnaise.
  • Lemon juice:  The lemon juice keeps the flavor fresh.
  • Salt and Pepper: To taste!
  • Chicken breast: Cooked and diced*
  • Celery: Using chopped celery stalks add a crisp flavor.
  • Apple: one chopped
  • Grapes:Halved pieces of grapes add a hint of sweetness to the salad.
  • Walnuts: Toasted and chopped walnuts give the chicken salad a warm nutty crunch.
  • Boston lettuce:  Boston lettuce is a great way to make a wrap with this chicken salad without all the carbs!

How to Make a Cold Salad:

I love making meals like this salad at the beginning of the week so I can have it for a quick lunch the following days. My husband especially loves taking it to work because it’s filling and he doesn’t have to waste time waiting to use the microwave. You are going to love this Waldorf Salad!

  1. Bake walnuts: Place walnuts on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Cool.
  2. Mix wet ingredients and seasonings: In a small mixing bowl, mix yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, and pepper together.
  3. Combine wet and dry ingredients: In a large bowl, toss together chicken celery, apple, grapes, walnuts, and the dressing.
  4. Plate and Serve: Spoon into lettuce cups and serve immediately.

Ingredients for Waldorf Chicken Salad.

How Do You Moisten Dry Chicken?

Believe it or not there is a solution out there for this problem! I know we have all been in that situation where we cook up a large amount of chicken, only to use some of it right then and have the rest sit in the fridge for a day or two and dry out a little bit. Well here is a quick trick you can try out to get that chicken moist and ready for this tasty waldorf salad! What you want to do is warm up some broth either in the microwave or on the stove. You want it to be hot but not boiling. Then, slice the chicken, layering it down into a shallow baking dish, and pouring the broth over the chicken. You will want to keep the dish warm for about 10-15 minutes and you can do this by keeping it in your oven or on a low burner. One common misconception is that just straight boiling it will help, but in fact that will just cook it even more. 

What Are Different Variations of Chicken Salad?

When it comes to chicken salad there are many different ways you can go with it. Of course you have all your common ingredients but this type of salad is compatible with a lot of different vegetables and fruits. Some popular additions you may consider mixing your chicken salad with would be scallions, apples, or even raisins. All of these compliment the rest of your chicken salad. You also have the option of serving it so many different ways, whether it is in a croissant, on pita bread/chips, or on flatbread crackers, chicken salad pairs nicely with them all. 

What Are the Benefits of Waldorf Chicken Salad?

Because of all the different ingredients that go into this salad, it is definitely one of your nutrient packed meals. You have of course the chicken which is full of protein, good for the heart, and the list goes on and on. Then you have the walnuts which are full of antioxidants and a super plant source of omega-3’s, and can even reduce risk of some cancers. Depending on the variations you make to your salad as well, with adding apples and grapes those are also great sources vitamin C and K, beneficial for the heart, and can even lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. 

A large bowl of Waldorf Chicken Salad sprinkled with pepper.

How to Serve Chicken Salad:

  • Melt: Butter two slices of bread and put chicken and cheese between the unbuttered sides of the bread with your favorite cheese.  Cook on a skillet until the bread is toasted, cheese is melted, and chicken is heated through.  If you are making multiple sandwiches you could bake in the oven at 350 for about 5-8 minutes.
  • Quesadilla: Similar to the chicken melt, butter the tortilla, add chicken to the unbuttered side.  Add tomato, avocado, cheese, shredded lettuce.  Then, fold over to allow the cheese do melt everything together.
  • Salad Wrap: Scoop the mixture into the middle of a quesadilla and wrap it up.
  • Salad: Serve it over a bed of greens.  So simple, nutritious, and delicious!
  • Salad Sandwich: This may be the most obvious choice, but pairing this chicken salad with some whole grain bread is so easy and the perfect lunchtime meal!

Picking up Waldorf Chicken Salad on a bed of lettuce.

How to Store Refrigerator Salad:

  • Prepare the chicken salad pack it into a freezer-safe bag or container, removing as much air as possible before sealing and placing in refrigerator or freezer.
  • Chicken salad will last for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
  • Bacteria grow rapidly at temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F; chicken salad should be discarded if left out for more than 2 hours at room temperature
  • Do not use mayonnaise if you are planning to freeze it or if it has been left out for any length of time.  Instead, choose a whipped salad dressing, sandwich spread or mayonnaise substitute that does not separate after freezing
  • Store the chicken salad in the freezer for up to three months.
  • Defrost in the refrigerator one day before serving if using from frozen.

Four lettuce leaves topped with Waldorf Chicken Salad.

More Chicken Salad Recipes:


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