Chicken Waldorf Salad

This “no raisin, no mayo” chicken Waldorf salad recipe gets a boost of flavor from apples, grapes, celery, nuts, and a simple lemon vinaigrette.

By Yankee Magazine

Sep 20 2016


Chicken Waldorf Salad

Photo Credit : Heath Robbins

This is a modern interpretation of the classic Waldorf salad–a creation of Oscar Tschirky, the first maitre d’hotel of the Waldorf Astoria in New York. The original Waldorf salad was just apples and celery in mayonnaise. Over time, raisins and walnuts were added. But we’ve never been fans of fruit in mayonnaise or raisins in salads. So we replaced the raisins with red grapes and tossed them with apples and lettuce in a simple lemon vinaigrette. Then we mixed chicken, celery, and lots of toasted walnuts in a creamy dressing of Greek yogurt with mayo, lemon juice, tarragon, and onion. It’s like a chicken salad mixed with a green salad combined with a fruit salad. And all those parts come together in a fresher, more flavorful whole. No raisins? No mayonanaise? No problem.


4 servings as a lunch entrée, 6 as a side dish

For the dressing:


1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, divided
1/3 cup reduced-fat Greek-style yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon (see Note)
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced sweet onion, such as Walla Walla or Vidalia


First, make the dressings: In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon lemon juice with olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside. In another small bowl, stir together yogurt, mayonnaise, tarragon, honey, remaining lemon juice, lemon zest, remaining salt, and pepper. Stir in onion. Set aside while you prepare the salad.

For the salad:


2/3 cup walnut pieces
1/2 pound chicken breast and/or thigh meat (see Note)
1-1/2 large celery stalks, sliced crosswise very thinly
6 ounces butter lettuce (also called Boston or Bibb)
1 cup halved seedless red grapes
1 medium apple (Cortland, Gala, Ginger Gold, or Fuji are great for salads because they don’t brown quickly), cored and cut into thin wedges


Toast walnuts in a large dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until brown and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Pour into a medium bowl, and let cool as you prepare the chicken: Remove any skin and tear the chicken into 2- or 3-inch strips. Add to the bowl with the walnuts. Add the celery and the yogurt dressing and stir so that everything is evenly covered.

In your serving bowl, toss the lettuce, grapes, and apple wedges with the lemon/oil dressing. Spoon the chicken mixture over all. Use your hands to lightly fluff the leaves and grapes, just to make it look pretty. Serve on chilled salad plates.