Inspired by Waldorf salad. Just add chicken.
This is possibly the best chicken salad recipe ever: a chicken Waldorf salad recipe, styled with chunky apples, walnuts, and plenty of fresh herbs, all folded with just the right touch of mayo. Get the recipe for this essential lunchtime and summer picnic classic.
All About the Best Waldorf Chicken Salad Recipe
I have a soft spot for classic, even retro, food like egg salad and deviled eggs. Also, chicken salad. (I have not, however, gone so far as to crave a Jell-o mold.)
The chicken Waldorf salad makes a perfect lunch or summer dinner — or really, a great anytime food to just have in the fridge. The chicken salad recipe is more than a bad mashup of chicken and mayo. Great chicken salad, like this, comes filled with texture and flavor, with just enough mayo to hold it all together and add a little light richness.
Food History: Waldorf Salad
This chicken Waldorf salad is made in the style of the classic Waldorf salad. Maître d’hôtel Oscar Tschirky created Waldorf salad at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City in 1893. Waldorf salad has gone through many iterations since then. But the general idea is a salad of chopped apples, celery, and walnuts, bound with mayonnaise and served with crisp lettuce.
How to Make This Waldorf Chicken Salad Recipe
Using a classic chicken Waldorf salad as inspiration, this chicken salad recipe combines apples, celery, mayo, and walnuts, plus other ingredients like fresh scallion and tarragon, for something truly special and flavorful, balanced and crisp.
Chicken cooking and cooling time aside, chicken salad takes minutes to make and will keep for a few days in the fridge.
Serve atop toast or crisp salad greens, or enjoy straight from the bowl.
Here are the main steps to making chicken Waldorf salad:
- Poach your chicken and let it cool. Then, cut it into chunks.
- Combine the chicken with chopped crisp apples, walnut pieces, seasoning, herbs, and fresh mayo.
- Serve on its own, or with salad or toast.
A detailed, step-by-step guide to making Waldorf chicken salad.
First, let’s talk about the ingredients you will need:
- Cooked, shredded chicken: This serves as the main protein component of the dish.
- Celery: Adds a refreshing crunch and a slightly bitter flavor that complements the sweetness of the apple
- Apple: Brings a natural sweetness and juicy texture to the dish
- Walnuts: Adds a nutty flavor and a crunchy texture that complements the softness of the chicken and apple
- Greek yogurt: Adds creaminess and tanginess to the dressing while providing a more nutritious alternative to mayonnaise
- Mayonnaise: Provides richness and flavor to the dressing
- Cook the chicken or use pre-cooked rotisserie chicken. Cool and dice into large chunks.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients: the chicken, celery, scallions, herbs, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, apple, walnuts, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
- Taste for seasoning and see if you’d like to add a tablespoon or two more mayonnaise.
Tips and Tricks:
- To save time, use pre-cooked rotisserie chicken or leftover grilled chicken.
- For a healthier version, use all Greek yogurt and omit the mayonnaise.
- Customize the recipe by adding other ingredients such as grapes, cranberries, raisins, or chopped carrots.
- Make a larger batch and store it in the refrigerator for an easy lunch option during the week.
How to Serve This Chicken Salad
- Serve the Waldorf Chicken Salad as a main dish or as a side dish alongside grilled vegetables or a green salad.
- Pair with a refreshing iced tea or lemonade to balance out the richness of the dish.
- Finish off the meal with a light and fruity desserts such as sliced watermelon or fresh berries.
You’ll also like: Classic Deviled Eggs and Egg Salad With Fresh Herbs
Chunky Waldorf Chicken Salad
- 1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cooked and cooled
- 1 stalk fresh celery, sliced thin
- 1 medium-sized crisp apple, such as Pink Lady or Honeycrisp, diced
- 2 scallions, green and light green parts only, sliced thin
- 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, minced
- 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon, minced
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup good mayonnaise, such as Hellmann's or Best, depending on your taste. You can also substitute plain Greek yogurt.
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 15 turns or so freshly-cracked black pepper
To cook the chicken
- Bring a medium-sized pot to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. Poach the chicken breasts for 20 to 25 minutes in simmering water, until fully cooked and not pink in the center. Let cool fully, covered, in the fridge for about 30 minutes before proceeding. Can be made up to two days in advance.PRO TIP: Make sure the water does not boil when poaching chicken. This will toughen the meat. Also, this is a good time to prep your other ingredients.
- Dice the cooled chicken into 1/2" to 1" chunks.
To Make the Waldorf Chicken Salad
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients: the chicken, celery, scallions, herbs, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, apple, walnuts, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Taste for seasoning and see if you'd like to add a tablespoon or two more mayonnaise.
- Serve on its own, or as a sandwich or on top of crisp salad greens.