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There is something so satisfying about the simple combination of sweet apples, crisp celery, and mayonnaise in my Chicken Waldorf Salad.
You’ll love how easy this salad is to bring together and the poppy seed dressing is a unique but super delicious spin.
Chicken salad is great because there are so many variations to suit your taste buds. In this salad I added in sweet and juicy red grapes, lemon juice, chives, three heaping cups of diced chicken and the earthy, buttery, complex flavors of walnuts.
The simplicity of dressing in the original Waldorf salad is just mayonnaise, salt and pepper, which added to the success of this salad. But throughout the 130 years of this salad being made, the dressing has also been dressed up!
In my dressing I Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar and poppy seeds to create a creamy dressing with a slight spicy tanginess that compliments this classic salad.
For the ingredient measurements and entire recipe, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the blog post where the recipe card is located.
- Chicken: for the quickest and most convenient option I like to use a rotisserie chicken. I use both white and dark meat and cut it into cubes. You can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or whatever leftover chicken you may have. There is no need to worry about the chicken being dry because the yummy poppyseed dressing keeps everything well coated and moist!
- Apple: adds a pop of color and crunch! I like to use Granny Smith since it is tart.
- Grapes: The Waldorf salad originally didn’t include grapes, but over the years it was added in. Most commonly you’ll see red grapes used, but you can also use green if you prefer.
- Nuts: feel free to use walnuts or pecans. They add a nice texture to the salad.
- Celery: celery adds that classic crunch to chicken salad. If you’re not a fan of celery you can use bell peppers!
- Lemon Juice: fresh lemon juice brightens up the salad.
- Dressing: the poppyseed dressing is mayonnaise based and uses a little milk, Dijon mustard, poppyseeds of course, apple cider vinegar, and sugar.
Step by Step Directions
For the full recipe instructions, scroll down to the bottom of the blog post to the recipe card.
- Whisk together the ingredients for the poppy seed dressing.
- Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl.
- Add dressing and toss to combine.
- Chill and then serve.
Expert Tips and Variations
- To add some extra tang to the Chicken Waldorf Salad or for a lighter option, you can substitute Greek Yogurt for the mayonnaise or use a 50/50 split with the mayonnaise and Greek Yogurt.
- For just a slight difference in flavor and sweetness add in green grapes for a more tangy flavor.
- For a citrusy sweetness add in mandarin oranges or dice up slices of oranges.
- For a more wintery flavor, add in dried cranberries, dried cherries, almonds, or oranges to the apple, celery combo.
- Depending on how your chicken is flavored, you may not need to add salt so taste before grabbing the salt.
- If you prep the apples first, be sure to add some lemon juice to the diced up apples to prevent them from browning (slows down oxidation).
- Prep this ahead of time since it works great for lunches and light meals.
- Serving the Chicken Waldorf Salad on a bed of lettuce is my favorite option. Fresh arugula, spinach, kale, or diced romaine are all excellent choices.
How long can I store the Chicken Waldorf Salad in the refrigerator?
Stored in an air tight container, I would recommend 3 to 4 days.
Can I make this ahead to time?
Yes you can. I would suggest that you do not add the walnuts until right before serving so that they do not get soggy.
What cuts of chicken can I use?
I like the ease of using a rotisserie chicken, but you can use left over chicken breasts, diced or any whole baked chicken that you have pre-made.
Can I use other varieties of apples?
The goal is to use a crisp apple that does not brown easily. The Granny Smith works great, but other varieties such as Honey Crisp, Fuji, and Pink Lady work great too.
I am not a fan of walnuts, so what other nuts can I use?
I would suggest almonds or pistachios are great substitutions. Sunflower seeds are also a great option!
I’ve heard that you can also add marshmallows, is that something you like?
I am personally not a fan of adding marshmallows to this recipe, but yes you can add them! Some variations include adding marshmallows and dried dates or raisins for more of a Winter or Fall variation.
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For the dressing
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. whole milk
- 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
- 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the salad
- 1 rotisserie chicken, cubed (~3 cups)
- 1 medium Granny smith apple, diced
- 1 cup walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped
- 1 cup red grapes, halved
- 2-3 stalks celery, diced
- 1 lemon, juiced (~2-3 Tbsp.)
Last step! If you make this, please leave a review and rating letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business thrive & continue providing free recipes.
- Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing until combined. Taste and adjust any seasonings or ingredients as desired.
- Add all the salad ingredients to a large bowl. Pour the poppyseed dressing over the salad and toss until combined. (Note: can add all the dressing, or just some of it and leave remaining dressing on the side, whatever you prefer).
- Serve right away or you can cover and let it chill for about 30 min – 1 hour.
- Enjoy on sandwich bread, a croissant, in a wrap, with leafy greens, etc. YUM!