This simple vegan Waldorf salad combines fresh fruits, lettuce, crunchy walnuts and a creamy yogurt salad dressing (made without mayo!) that's fully dairy-free and naturally gluten-free. Makes for a nice side salad for the winter or can easily be turned into a full meal by including a few add-ons.
You may have had a traditional Waldorf salad before, but did you know that you can easily make this sweet and salty salad completely vegan by switching up the mayonnaise for cashew mayo or vegan yogurt?
This recipe combines crispy apples, sweet juicy red grapes, walnuts, celery and a very simple lemony yogurt dressing. There is so much amazing crunchiness going on in there that contrasts perfectly with the creamy vinaigrette.
I also love how simple this vegan Waldorf salad is and how quickly it comes together. You will only need a few minutes to prepare it without having to cook anything!
One more thing: it features fresh produce that is easily available all year round, such as grapes and apples, which makes it such a great winter or fall salad. Also amazing as a side salad for Thanksgiving!
Hope you guys give it a try! 💚
Why you'll love this recipe
- VERY easy and quick simple salad recipe
- Great side dish for the holiday table, such as Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter
- Perfect recipe for the sweet and savory lover
- Healthy and nutrient-dense
- Completely plant-based (dairy-free and egg-free)
- Naturally gluten-free
- Very versatile
Origin of Waldorf salad
The original recipe for Waldorf salad is thought to have been simply made out of green apples, celery and mayonnaise and was served over a bed of lettuce. The simple but elegant dish had a nice "green-ish" tone to it and was created at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in 1896 in New York city by Oscar Tschirky for a charity ball.
The classic recipe was subsequently adjusted and featured in cookbooks (published by Tschirky himself) where it sometimes also include grapes, nuts and apples. The idea was a fresh sweet and savory salad made out of fruits and some vegetables tossed in a creamy dressing.
You will now see many variations from the classic Waldorf salad with the dressing made out of yogurt, including dried fruits, swapping the nuts and often also including some extra protein to serve it as a full meal.
Ingredients you'll need
- Apple: a classic Waldorf salad will include green apples, which are more tart than red ones and make the salad nice and green. You can also do like me and choose a sweeter kind of red apple, such as Honeycrisp or Fuji. Simply choose your favorite kind!
- Grapes: again, the classic recipe uses green grapes. But, I used red grapes because I think they add a nice punch of color and they are super sweet, which my kids love.
- Walnuts: amazing for a nice crunch and they also bring extra healthy omega-3 fats.
- Celery: very crisp and fresh, adds a nice savory flavor to balance the sweet fruits.
- Green onion: not classic in a Waldorf salad, but the subtle oniony flavor goes so great with the other ingredients. You could use other kinds of onion such as yellow or red, although I find green onions to work better in this recipe for their milder flavor.
- Romaine lettuce: I love how crunchy romaine is, which works better with the other ingredients than delicate leafy green. I love to toss romaine within the salads, but you could make a bed of romaine in your bowl and top it with the rest of the recipe.
- Plain vegan yogurt: use your favorite vegan yogurt, just make sure it is unflavored and unsweetened. I used this cashew yogurt from Forage.
- Fresh lemon juice: for a nice tangy flavor, or use apple cider vinegar in a pinch.
- Sweetener: I used maple syrup, but feel free to use granulated sugar if that's easier.
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
How to make a vegan Waldorf salad recipe with yogurt
This recipe is so simple! I recommend to stir in the dressing just before eating so the lettuce does not have time to get soggy.
Make the Waldorf salad dressing
In a small bowl, combine the vegan yogurt, lemon juice, sweetener and salt. Set aside.
Make the salad
In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped lettuce, grapes, celery, apples, walnuts and green onions. Pour the dressing over and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt and lemon juice as needed. Serve and enjoy right away.
- Aim to chop everything about the same size.
- The fresh apples will brown quickly after you chop it. So try to cube it just when ready to toss with the dressing to prevent oxidation from happening.
- For a great combo of flavor and texture, you can also use half/half of mayo and vegan yogurt when making the dressing.
- This salad is better crisp and nicely chilled. So try to keep everything in the fridge until ready to chop!
- You can also first toast the walnuts if you have a few extra minutes. This will crisp them and add a nice toasty flavor to the salad. To do that, roast in a pan (without oil!) on medium-high heat stirring often for a few minutes until browned and a nice toasty fragrant smell comes from the pan. Watch carefully though as they will burn quickly! Cool them down before adding to the salad.
- A fun way to serve this salad is in lettuce wraps! Simply omit the lettuce when preparing the salad mix, then serve over a sturdy salad leaf, such as romaine or 2 layers of Bibb lettuce.
Variation to the recipe
If you want to turn this healthy Waldorf salad into a full meal instead of a side salad, especially for lunch, then you can add some cooked grains or more plant-based protein to make it more filling.
- Add some grains: such as brown rice, farro, barley or quinoa.
- Add more protein: lentils, chickpeas, cubed tofu or tempeh.
- Add more aromatic ingredients: I think rosemary would pair well with the apples and grapes. More ideas includes dried basil or parsley.
- Add some freshness: add some fresh herbs, especially dill or parsley. Add some more lemon juice over for extra brightness.
- Swap the nuts: walnuts are the classic kind of nut paired with a Waldorf salad, but if you don't have any, I think roughly chopped almonds would work great too. Also, use pumpkin seeds for a nut-free salad (and choose soy yogurt!).
- Extra additions: dried fruits would add a nice chewy bite plus some extra sweetness. Dried cranberries or raisins would pair very well with the ingredients. For more punch in flavor, try including chopped pickled red onion too! If you have some pomegranate seeds, add some, especially if making it for Christmas or Thanksgiving.
As for the dressing, both vegan yogurt and vegan mayonnaise (or store-bought Vegenaise) can be used. Using mayonnaise would add extra fats, which can boost the flavor and texture of the dressing. I like to do half-half mayo + yogurt for salad dressings in general, which keeps the dressing lower in fat and healthier, but still ton of flavors and a nice richness to it.
Also, the dressing of a Waldorf salad is typically a very simple light sauce, but you can add more to it if you want to get more flavors. I'm thinking of apple cider vinegar, crushed garlic, finely diced dill pickles, dijon mustard, etc, would pair well and add even more character to your dish. I simply like to add a generous splash of lemon juice and to salt it nicely, which keeps the flavor focused on the produce.
Once the dressing is stirred in the salad, then I recommend enjoying it as soon as possible.
BUT, I think the salad can still be good the next day, although the romaine will wilt a little after soaking in the vinaigrette.
If you make the salad to bring for lunch, then just keep the romaine lettuce apart and mix in everything else, including the dressing. Then, simply keep the un-tossed romaine over the creamy salad ingredients in your to-go container. Toss in the lettuce only when ready to eat.
If you want to meal-prep ahead for a gathering for example, then simply chop and combine the produce in a bowl, but keep the dressing and romaine apart in an airtight container until just before serving. You might want to splash some lemon juice over the apple to prevent browning.
- Vegan focaccia
- Chickpea patties
- Vegan bagel bites
- Whole wheat rolls
- Balsamic tofu wraps
- Broccoli almond soup
- Kale noodles
- Vegan zucchini fritters
More creamy salad recipes you might like
- Red lentil pasta salad
- Tahini rainbow salad bowl
- Vegan eggless salad
- Tuscan bean salad
- Vegan chickpea dill salad
- Cucumber mango salad
- Pesto-tahini couscous salad
- Cucumber beet salad
I hope you like this vegan Waldorf salad as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Vegan Waldorf Salad
- 10 leaves of romaine lettuce - I used one small heart of romaine
- 1 cup grapes - red or green, halved
- ½ cup walnuts - roughly chopped
- 1 stalk of celery (about ½ cup) - diced
- 1 cup apple (or 1 small) - unpeeled and diced
- 2-3 green onions - sliced
For the dressing
- ½ cup vegan plain yogurt (unflavored + unsweetened) - or vegan mayonnaise (or half-half yogurt + mayo)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp sweetener - I used maple syrup, granulated sugar works too
- salt and ground black pepper - to taste
- In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt, lemon juice, sweetener and a generous pinch of salt together. Set aside.
- In a large serving bowl, combine the lettuce, grapes, apple, celery, walnuts and green onions.
- Pour the dressing over and stir to combine. Taste and adjust salt and lemon juice to taste. Enjoy!
- If you don't plan to enjoy this salad right away, then keep the dressing and produce apart from each other until ready to eat.
- Feel free to add some chickpeas to your salad or to serve with a side of bread to make it a full meal.
- Other tasty additions to the salad would be dried cranberries, pomegranate, dijon mustard, dried herbs, fresh parsley, etc.