Our healthy Waldorf chicken salad recipe is an easy, healthy recipe that you can whip up in just 30 minutes. Perks of making this salad? No effort, no waiting, and a story to tell others! (That is, if you have guests.)
What Is Waldorf Chicken Salad?
If you’re wondering whether Waldorf chicken salad has anything to do with regular chicken salad, it does not. It is a variation of the Waldorf salad, a side dish named after a New York restaurant.
In 1896, Oscar Tschirky came up with a salad recipe for a charity ball at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. The decision was wild, but the outcome was not— it became an instant success.
In fact, the decision marked the recipe’s first appearance in The Cook Book by “Oscar of the Waldorf.”
At the time, the Waldorf salad recipe called for only celery and apples, dressed in mayonnaise and served on lettuce. Later on, different versions of the salad appeared, and they shared a long list of ingredients.
We think the Waldorf chicken salad recipe is the best and would like to introduce it to you.
How Healthy Is Our Recipe?
Unless drenched in mayonnaise, the Waldorf chicken salad is considered healthy on its own.
For starters, the leanest cut of chicken is often used— chicken breast. Compared to other parts of the animal, chicken breast is 22.5% protein, more packed than other parts.
Our version of Waldorf salad is even healthier since less than half a cup of Japanese mayonnaise is used. This brings the saturated fat content of each serving to only 2.6 grams, totally within our guidelines.
When it comes to choosing dairies to make dressings, we couldn’t help but fall in love with Japanese mayonnaise. It has a sweet undertone rather than a sour one like traditional mayo.
That’s not to say that Waldorf salad can’t go well with another dressing besides Japanese mayonnaise. You can use half mayonnaise and half Greek yogurt to preserve the creaminess, but reduce the saturated fat content even more. Or you can try dijon mustard for another tasty side for lunch or dinner — it’s all up to you!
2. Cajun Seasoning
Cajun seasoning is a spicy mix of seasoning powders mainly comprised of paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, pepper, and oregano. Yes, it goes against the traditional flavor profile of Waldorf dressing, but we’ve tried and thought it was awesome.
Traditionally: Shred the Romaine lettuce and toss it along with other ingredients. Serve the salad in bowls with forks.
For BBQs: Using a fork at a BBQ sounds a bit off, does it? Since people pick up their food with their hands, you might as well leave lettuce as-is, allowing guests to make little wraps.
To fill your tummy: There is nothing wrong with having salads as main meals. Sandwich the salad between two slices of bread, white or whole grain, for a convenient, yet nutrient-packed meal.
Can You Freeze?
If you’re planning 1-2 days ahead, we’re sorry to say this salad can’t be frozen, like most salads. Leafy greens, when thawed, will turn mushy, which doesn’t make for a good salad.
Instead, you can prep the ingredients and refrigerate them separately. When it’s time to serve, simply take them out and mix to serve.
More Non-Boring Salads to Try
This chicken broccoli salad with scattered pomegranate gems is the reason we don’t get why they say chicken salads are boring. It has literally all delicious textures: of chicken, of crispy blanched broccoli, of juicy seeds, and of savory feta cheese. The dressing? Simple yet effective honey mustard.
This grilled chicken salad is a little bit more basic, with grilled chicken and… a lettuce salad tossed in lemon vinaigrette. The highlight is creamy avocado slices, the texture of which really makes all the difference.
6 oz romaine lettuce (shredded (or leave it whole))
1 oz celery (diced)
2.6 oz grapes (halved)
1.4 oz red onion (diced)
1 oz walnuts (chopped)
2 tbsp basil (chopped)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
5 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
Boil the 6 oz chicken for 15 minutes on medium heat, leave to cool, and then cube into bite-sized pieces. While the chicken’s boiling, prep the vegetables. You can shred 6 oz lettuce or leave it as is to make delicious wraps.
Mix 2 tbsp lemon juice and 1/8 tsp salt in a large bowl until the salt dissolves. Add 5 tbsp mayonnaise and 1/4 tsp black pepper, and mix well.
Add the rest of the ingredients in a large salad bowl: (1 oz celery, 2.6 oz grapes, 1.4 oz red onion, 1 oz walnuts), then add the dressing. Toss to combine.
Place the lettuce on a serving dish, then add the mixture we just made on top of it. Decorate with 2 tbsp basil and serve.
Healthy Waldorf Chicken Salad
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 250Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 3g
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Vitamin A 3801IU
Vitamin C 6mg
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Lizzie Streit is a Minneapolis-based dietitian and founder of It’s a Veg World After All. She completed her MS in Human Nutrition from Drexel University, and is an expert in culinary nutrition, recipe development, and nutrition communications. Lizzie’s philosophy is centered around making nutrition recommendations, and especially the advice to eat more vegetables, approachable and realistic. She is excited to be working with the team at Healthy Recipes 101 to ensure that their recipes are both nutritious and delicious.
Waldorf chicken salad is a refreshing and healthy lunch option.