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Waldorf Chicken Salad

Waldorf Chicken Salad is a summer classic! This cool and refreshing chicken salad recipe is bursting with sweet, creamy flavors with amazing texture. Perfect for the warm months of the year when you’re craving chilled food.

wooden bowl of chicken salad on a bed of butter lettuce with a blue striped napkin and a wooden bowl of pecans

Whether you’re having a barbecue, picnic or are simply trying to beat the heat, Waldorf Chicken Salad is a classic summer favorite for lunches and dinners when you’re looking to keep cooking at a minimum.

Tender chicken with sweet grapes, crisp apples, refreshing crunchy celery and crunchy pecans wrapped in a creamy mayo dressing is a high-protein delight when you’re looking for a filling yet cooler meal.

With lean protein and a lower-fat dressing, this easy Waldorf chicken salad recipe is a marvelous healthy addition to your green salads on a hot day.

horizontal wooden bowl of chicken salad with a golden spoon and a blue napkin.

Let’s discuss the fresh ingredients needed for this easy recipe.

Ingredients For Waldorf Chicken Salad:

The traditional ingredients used in Waldorf Chicken Salad are boneless chicken breasts, grapes, apple, celery, pecans and mayonnaise. 

I cut out some of the mayonnaise and replaced it with plain Greek yogurt in order to eliminate some of the fat without sacrificing the creamy texture of the chicken salad.

For added tang, you can add some fresh lemon juice, lemon zest or rice vinegar to offset the sweetness of the dish. If you love the zing of red onion, crunchy walnuts, or green grapes, feel free to swap them in.

If you prefer dark meat, you can always use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts, or even leftover roasted turkey from Thanksgiving.

Waldorf Chicken Salad is often served on top of a bed of lettuce or greens to make a high-protein green salad, and many people also serve it as a sandwich or wrap.

The easiest way to cook the chicken for chicken salad is to poach it in hot water.

If you have leftover baked chicken, grilled chicken, or leftover rotisserie chicken on hand, you can certainly chop it up and use it in this classic American salad.

closeup image of Waldorf chicken salad in a wood bowl.

For those wanting to poach the chicken, here’s the method I use for this easy chicken Waldorf salad.

How to Poach Chicken:

Bring a large pot of water to a full boil and season liberally with sea salt.

Once the water is boiling, carefully place the chicken inside the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat, cover it with a lid, and allow the chicken to sit in the hot water for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.

poached chicken breasts in a pot of water

To verify the chicken is cooked through, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breasts. 

Transfer the chicken breasts to an airtight container and refrigerate until they are completely chilled. Because you want the chicken to be very cold, you can poach the chicken ahead of time (up to 3 days).

Now that our boneless skinless chicken breasts are cooked, let’s make this tasty salad!

How to Make Waldorf Chicken Salad:

Transfer the cooked chopped chicken to a large mixing bowl, along with the apple, grapes, celery, and pecans. 

Add the mayonnaise and Greek yogurt and stir well until everything is well coated in the creamy dressing.

Sprinkle sea salt and black pepper over the chicken salad, mix well, and taste before adding any more.

Ingredients for chicken salad in a red mixing bowl

Serve the Waldorf chicken salad over a bed of greens or make lettuce wraps using butter lettuce or greens of choice.

Store any leftover chicken salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

This chicken Waldorf salad recipe tastes even better the next day after you prepare it. For this reason, I always recommend making it a day ahead of time for the best result if you can!

close up top down photo of chicken salad with pecans, grapes, celery, and apples in a bowl.

Also check out my Copycat Trader Joe’s Curried Chicken Salad and my Mayo-Free Mango Avocado Chicken Salad

If you love chicken salad recipes and are seeking more healthy salad recipes to beat the heat, here are some reader favorites!

More Summer Salad Recipes:

Enjoy this simple chicken salad recipe on repeat for a healthy lunches or dinner.

wooden bowl of chicken salad on a bed of butter lettuce with a blue striped napkin and a wooden bowl of pecans

Waldorf Chicken Salad

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 32 minutes

Light and refreshing healthy Waldorf Chicken Salad with crunchy celery, crisp apples, sweet grapes and crunchy pecans makes for an amazing protein-forward lunch or dinner!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, poached
  • 1 large apple, cored and chopped*
  • 1 cup red seedless grapes, halved
  • 3/4 cup celery, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup raw pecans or walnuts
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise**
  • ⅓ cup plain Greek Yogurt
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Instructions

Poach the Chicken:

1. Bring a pot of water to a full boil and season liberally with sea salt.

2. Once the water is boiling, carefully place the chicken inside the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat, cover it with a lid, and allow the chicken to sit in the hot water for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.

poached chicken breasts in a pot of water

3. To verify the chicken is cooked through, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breasts. 

4. Transfer the chicken breasts to an airtight container and refrigerate until they are completely chilled.

Make the Chicken Salad:

1. Once the chicken has cooled, chop the chicken into bite-sized chunks. Transfer the cooked chopped chicken to a large mixing bowl, along with the apple, grapes, celery, and pecans. 

Chicken, apples, pecans, grapes, and celery in a mixing bowl.

2. Add the mayonnaise and Greek yogurt and stir well until everything is well coated in the creamy dressing.

Ingredients for chicken salad in a red mixing bowl

3. Sprinkle sea salt and black pepper over the chicken salad, mix well, and taste before adding any more. Serve the Waldorf chicken salad over a bed of greens or make lettuce wraps using butter lettuce or greens of choice.

horizontal wooden bowl of chicken salad with a golden spoon and a blue napkin.

Notes

*I use gala apples or fugi apples, but any of your favorite types of apples will work, such as granny smith apples.

**Avocado oil mayonnaise is my preference, but any brand will work.

Store any leftover chicken salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1 Serving (of 4)
Amount Per Serving Calories 371Total Fat 21gCarbohydrates 17gFiber 3gSugar 12gProtein 30g
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collage for Waldorf chicken salad

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Ann

Monday 27th of June 2022

On my way downstairs to start the chicken water! Thank you for sharing!

Pamela

Tuesday 21st of June 2022

This was absolutely fabulous. Used left over rotisserie chicken. But changed nothing else. Maybe more pecans. Will be making this often during hot summer.

Julia

Wednesday 22nd of June 2022

Oooh, yum! I love using rotisserie chicken for chicken salad recipes. So happy you enjoy it, and thanks so much for the feedback!

Lucy to

Sunday 19th of June 2022

I love salads thy for cheer the meal I’m gonna be sharing with my family I’m gonna be famous with my salad thank you

Julia

Monday 20th of June 2022

I hope you love it! :)

JoJo

Sunday 19th of June 2022

Absolutely delicious!!! I just added 2 TBSP lemon juice to the dressing.

Julia

Monday 20th of June 2022

Ooh, I love that! Citrus is always so great in recipes like this! xoxo

Rebecca J.

Thursday 16th of June 2022

I love your recipes. Do you think I could substitute some non-dairy yogurt for the Greek yogurt?

Julia

Monday 20th of June 2022

Absolutely! My favorite brand of non-dairy yogurt is CocoYo, which is a coconut milk yogurt...it's so rich and creamy! If you have a brand of dairy-free yogurt you already love, I'd say it's worth trying it out! xoxo

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