Chicken Waldorf Salad

I’ve had a request for my Chicken Salad recipe, so here it is. There is a lot of disagreement about where or who created Chicken Waldorf Salad, but it truly doesn’t matter. It is a wonderful addition to any luncheon menu, and I’ve served it often for a crowd, as it keeps well, can be prepared in advance, and has a great variation in color, flavors and textures. This is my version and will serve 4:

  • 2 C diced, cooked chicken. I like to buy a Costco Roaster chicken and cut into 1/2″ dice. You can also poach your own chicken breasts or thighs, or use left overs, but make sure to remove the skin.
  • 1/4C finely diced red onion
  • 1/4C finely diced celery
  • 1 large or 2 small Granny Smith Apples, washed, skin on and diced – put into a bowl with a little lemon juice until ready to mix into the salad. Other apples will work fine, but my family likes the tartness and contrast the Granny Smith’s provide to the chicken and Craisins. You can also use 1 tart and 1 sweet apple
  • 1/2C  rough chopped walnuts which have been lightly toasted (other nuts work well too, but walnuts are traditional – you can substitute almonds, pistachios, pecans or even pine nuts – just make sure to toast them first.)
  • 1/2C Craisins (raisins will work as well, but Craisins give it a slightly different flavor)
  • 1/4C greek PLAIN yogurt
  • 1/4C light sour cream (I prefer Daisy’s)
  • 1/4C light mayo
    • NOTE: you need about 3/4 of yogurt, sour cream and/or mayo total. You can mix these in any combination you’d like. It can also be thinned out a little with a couple of tablespoons of orange juice, if you’d like the dressing a little thinner.
  • If you like a little spice, you could add a shake or two of cayenne to your dressing, or even a splash or two of sriracha or hot sauce.
  • If you don’t have orange juice handy and still think the dressing is too thick, add a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar and 1/2 tsp. sugar (to counter the acidity of the vinegar)

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, adding the nuts last so they don’t get crumbled too finely. Add salt and pepper to taste. I personally like to make this the night before. It’s one of the many dishes that improve as the flavors have a chance to meld together. You can also be very creative and grapes sliced in half lengthwise. I like to serve a mound of the chicken salad on a bed or romaine lettuce with cherry tomatoes placed around the salad. Crackers or bread sticks round out a nice light meal.

You can easily make this recipe your own by adding fresh chopped herbs. With chicken, you could add finely chopped dill, thyme, tarragon or even basil. Any of these will slightly alter the recipe from the original, but will bring out and enhance the salad flavors.

This recipe doubles and triples easily, though I would not necessarily double or triple the dressing. You can make it all, but add it slowly until it has enough body to hold it together without drowning it.

If you want to serve this for a crowd, you can fill a bundt pan with the chicken salad and turn it out onto a large platter covered with shredded lettuce. Then fill the center of the salad with cherry tomatoes for a beautiful color contrast. A bread basket on the side with crackers, bread sticks, or small finger rolls will finish the presentation.

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