Waldorf Salad is a delicious fruit salad made with apples, pineapple, celery, pecans, and golden raisins with a creamy dressing. This classic salad is even better during the fall when the apples are fresh from their harvest.
Classic and refreshing, the Waldorf Salad is unlike any other salad. Dried and fresh fruit, nuts, and celery are lightly coated with a cream cheese and citrus dressing and then served over crisp lettuce leaves. The combination may seem a bit odd at first, but once you try it, you are sure to make this Waldorf Salad recipe again and again.
The History of the Waldorf Salad
This salad derives its name from the world-famous former Waldorf Hotel (even before it was the legendary Waldorf-Astoria Hotel) in New York City. In 1893, the newly opened Waldorf Hotel hosted a charity ball to support St. Mary’s Hospital for Children as its first catered event. Oscar Tschirky, the maitre d’hotel, created the salad and called it, what else, but the Waldorf Salad.
How About Them Apples?
Diced apples are a key component of the Waldorf Salad, so you better use the right ones. Traditionally, most cooks used Granny Smith apples for their tart taste and crunchy texture. Sticking to the original is a safe bet, but there are alternatives for those who are a bit more adventurous.
Go ahead and choose any apple you enjoy. Better yet, why not use a few different varieties to create a range of flavors. Two varieties of apples that work extraordinarily well in this Waldorf Salad recipe are Honeycrisp and Pink Lady.
Honeycrisp apples offer a firm bite and delicate texture that’s not at all mealy. They tend to be a little less tart than Granny Smiths with just a hint of sweetness. Pink Lady apples, on the other hand, are full-flavored with a pronounced sweet and sour taste.
Whatever apples you choose, you don’t want them to change colors. Even if you plan on serving the salad quickly, dunking the cut apples in a bowl of water with lemon juice will help prevent them from oxidizing and turning brown.
Make It a Meal
Although commonly served as a starter, a chilled Waldorf Salad makes an excellent entree when you add some protein. Topping the salad with a few slices of grilled or pan-seared chicken is common. However, don’t let that stop you from getting more creative by using sliced turkey or even rare roast beef.
Vegetarians may want to include lightly seasoned chickpeas or even baked tofu in their salads!
Whatever protein you add to the Waldorf Salad recipe, you don’t want it to overpower the rest of the ingredients, so season lightly.
Tips for Making and Serving the Waldorf Salad
- No cream cheese, no problem: Make a mayonnaise or yogurt-based dressing instead. Add a tablespoon each of lemon juice and white sugar to a half-cup of mayonnaise. Stir well to combine. Or, try mixing a half-cup of plain yogurt with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Stir in a teaspoon of finely chopped tarragon.
- Serve the Waldorf Salad immediately. Once you cut and dress the apples, time is ticking. You really can’t save leftovers, but you can prepare each part of the recipe in advance to save prep time.
Waldorf Salad Recipe Ingredients
Here’s a list of what you need:
- Cream cheese
- Orange or pineapple juice
- Pineapple tidbits
- Golden raisins
- Green leaf lettuce for garnish
How to Make Waldorf Salad
- Place the cream cheese, sugar, and juice in a small bowl.
- Stir until creamy and smooth.
- Place the apples, pineapple, celery, pecans, and raisins in a large bowl.
- Add the cream cheese dressing to the fruit and nuts.
- Toss gently to coat the fruit and nuts with the dressing.
- Cover and refrigerate the salad for several hours.
- Gently toss the salad again.
- Line a salad bowl with lettuce leaves.
- Spoon the salad into the lettuce-lined bowl.
- Serve immediately.
Keep the salad covered and refrigerated when not serving.
Love side dish salads? Try these recipes!
- Cold Beet Salad
- Copper Penny Salad
- Cucumber Onion Salad
- Grape Salad
- Homemade Macaroni Salad
- Three Bean Salad
- Tomato Onion Salad
Favorite Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes
- Bisquick Apple Cobbler
- Chocolate Pudding Pie
- Double Layer Pumpkin Pie
- Eggnog Pie
- Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Red Velvet Cake
- 3 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon orange or pineapple juice
- 3 unpeeled apples, cubed
- 8 ounces pineapple tidbits drained
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
- 2 tablespoons chopped pecans toasted
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins
- leaf lettuce for garnish
Place the cream cheese, sugar, and juice in a small bowl.
Stir until the dressing is creamy and smooth.
Place the apples, pineapple, celery, pecans, and raisins in a large bowl.
Add the cream cheese dressing to the apple mixture and toss gently.
Cover and refrigerate the salad for several hours.
Gently toss the salad again.
Line a salad bowl with lettuce leaves.
Spoon the salad into the lettuce-lined bowl.