Not My Mama’s Waldorf Salad


Apple season is here and for me that means Waldorf salad. Now, this isn’t the Waldorf salad that comes from the Waldorf Astoria in the Big Apple! Makes me wonder now how the Big Apple got to be the Big Apple seeing how this salad is so popular. (OK, I just looked it up and it has nothing to do with this salad. It has to do with horses. That’s all I’m going to say.)

It’s been around since the 1890’s and is still a signature dish at the hotel today. After viewing this video and recipe I can see why. My pictures pale in comparison when you see what is on those plates, as do my ingredients. But since I made my salad first and then watched the video, well, let’s just say the next time I make mine, it could be quite a bit different than the one I’m showing today.


My mom used to make Waldorf salad. It was never my favorite though. I did like picking out the apples. And the nuts. And the celery. Just didn’t like them all together. I think maybe she added marshmallows and I don’t like marshmallows. So maybe it was the marshmallows I was removing. It was a long time ago and I don’t remember! I also think she added a lot of mayonnaise and I do like mayonnaise but not that much mayonnaise. Really, those ingredients minus the marshmallows plus chicken equals a very good chicken salad. In mathematical terms it would look like this:

Celery + Walnuts + Mayonnaise + Chicken = Good Chicken Salad.

I make chicken Waldorf salad a lot but never really thought of it this way.


Well, at the Waldorf Astoria today you would find a very different Waldorf salad than what they served in the 1890’s. Today’s updated version contains black truffles and walnut oil and celery root. The walnuts are also glazed with sugar and paprika. AND they don’t use mayo anymore! I must say I would LOVE to try this Waldorf Salad. I would love to try this Waldorf Salad – THERE! In the Big Apple. I could make it, minus the black truffle, but I know it just wouldn’t be the same, if I am not sitting in that massive, but gorgeous dining room.  Now that is A Waldorf salad.

Mine pales in comparison. But it is good and my kids used to love it as children. We didn’t wait to eat it only at Thanksgiving. We ate it whenever I had apples that needed a home. Or when I was brain dead and needed a salad, somehow I always had apples, nuts and yogurt on hand. It is a good salad that is a long lost cousin from the original Waldorf salad. However, it is from that, that this recipe derives. It’s always good to have a rich cousin, right?


Not My Mama’s Waldorf Salad
Serves 4

2 Chopped Apples – (Not too small)
1/4 c chopped hazelnuts or walnuts or pecans or almonds!
1/4 c raisins
1/4 c dried cranberries or your favorite dried fruit
1 T Maple Syrup or Brown Sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1 c yogurt – your favorite kind though plain, vanilla or honey works well. And I like the apple kind, too!

That’s it! Just mix it up and you have a great way to get some fruit into your kids. And I SUPPOSE you could leave out the cinnamon and the sugar and add celery! Throw in some peanuts and you’d have ants on a log salad. Oh-it has been a long week!

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More to Try:
Sephardic Charoses (Dried Fruit Salad)
Frozen Cranberry Salad
Microwave Caramel Corn
Gingerbread Waffles
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

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  • Laura Dembowski
    October 21, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    This looks really fresh and yummy! Love that you added cinnamon.

  • Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    October 21, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Abbe – I LOVE everything about this salad – what a great idea with the yogurt and all that wonderful fruit. Who needs celery!

  • shannon weber
    October 21, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    waldorf salad! my mom is a HUGE fan of the old-school version…i still make it for her every so often when she's visiting. I love your version: especially the yogurt in it! i've always been a little sketchy about combo of mayo and fruit, you know? the yogurt solves that issue completely. 🙂

  • foodwanderings
    October 21, 2013 at 4:56 am

    Aww love the history and the vintage and modern background on the Waldorf salad. Your version looks phenomenal! Yum!

  • Mary Callan
    October 21, 2013 at 12:39 am

    This is beautiful and as I've committed to eating a salad a day this is just perfect!
    Mary x

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      October 21, 2013 at 2:26 am

      Thanks, Mary. A salad a day is something we all should do!

  • Amy
    October 20, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    I love apple season. 🙂 Your waldorf salad sounds wonderful and would definitely hot the spot!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      October 21, 2013 at 2:25 am

      I remember when my mom would buy a bushel of apples. Thy smelled so good.

  • Yi @ Yi Reservation
    October 20, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    I've been having one apple a day for the past few weeks. They are so delicious and cheap when in season. Thanks for that Waldorf salad video, I am so inspired after watching it and will def give it a shot. I also like your version a lot especially with all the dried fruits. Thanks for sharing it!!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      October 21, 2013 at 2:24 am

      Then the doctor will stay away! I do like the look of the new Waldorf salad, I must say. Can't wait to try something similar! You are welcom, Yi!

  • Angie Schneider
    October 20, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Not a fan of mayonnaise, but I do enjoy a good waldorf salad…maybe Greek yogurt will do the trick.

    October 20, 2013 at 5:41 am

    Healthy and delicious!

    October 20, 2013 at 4:57 am

    This may not be the original recipe but so what? It sounds delicious and your family likes it. That's all that really matters, Abbe. Personally, I think it sounds great and love the substitution of yogurt for mayo. I've nothing against mayo but think that yogurt would be a welcome change. Now I wish I'd bought those dried berries I saw at the farmers market this morning. 😉

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      October 21, 2013 at 2:23 am

      John, you must have a super farmers market. Ours is over for the year!

  • Sharon
    October 19, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Abbe, I like your version a lot ~ it has all my favourite!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      October 21, 2013 at 2:22 am

      Thanks, Sharon. It helps when it has your favorite ingredients!

  • Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch)
    October 19, 2013 at 11:53 am

    I have never made a Waldorf salad or even had one. I think the modern day version from the Astoria sounds really interesting. I was just introduced to celery root in Germany and now I'm noticing ways to use it. Anyway, thanks for the post and the reminder that I need to give this a try.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      October 21, 2013 at 2:21 am

      I love celery root. It does tend to get used in soup a lot, but this year I also put it in a salad. And it is good! My mom used to make it for Thanksgiving so it seemed common to me. If you like apples, give it a try and create your own version!

  • Anonymous
    October 18, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    I love Waldorf salads!!!!

    • yummychunklet
      October 18, 2013 at 11:12 pm

      What a healthy version of Waldorf salad!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      October 21, 2013 at 2:19 am

      And good, too!

  • Kitchen Riffs
    October 18, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Like you, when I was a kid I didn't much like this salad either. I liked all the individual ingredients, just not the combo. I'm still not this salads #1 fan, but I do like it better. The version the Waldorf serves today sounds much, much better! I've never eaten at the Waldorf, but I've been to their bar – I used to work in an office that was 2 or 3 blocks from it. Occasionally I'd do some business entertaining there (way too expensive for me to drink there without having an excuse to put it on my expense account). Fun days! And this is a fun post – thanks.

  • Abbe Odenwalder
    October 18, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Thanks Amy! Simple is good!

  • Amy (Savory Moments)
    October 18, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Really lovely version of this salad!