I feel like chicken Waldorf salad gets a bad wrap. Er, rap.
Haha, get it? I crack myself up sometimes…
Usually looked upon as a classic, stuffy recipe that was created at a famous hotel way back when, it seems a little retro. But it’s one of those recipes that’s stuck around for all this time for a reason.
A traditional Waldorf has always been made with apples, celery, and walnuts, with a mayonnaise dressing to bring it all together. And it’s good that way.
But our version brings grapes, a burst of bright lemon, and golden raisins to the party for a new spin on the same-old dish.
Personally, I am all about the types of apples that are used here. You can take your pick from a variety of eating apples, but I like a crisp red Gala or Fuji for sweet crunch, plus a touch of tartness from a green Granny Smith to balance out those overly sweet tones that you can sometimes get from adding fruit to a recipe.
This chicken Waldorf salad should be your go-to lunch, pretty much like our other chicken salad with strawberry vinaigrette, but you can also whip it up and make it ahead of time with leftover chicken, so a simple dinner will be waiting for you in the refrigerator when you get home from work on a busy day.
It’s wonderful on its own, eaten straight up, but my preferred conveyance for this tasty salad is a wrap. Instead of needing a fork, you can simply grab your wrap and go to work, school, or a picnic in the park.
You can use any kind of leftover cooked chicken in this dish (you’ll have some, especially if you learn how to break down a whole bird, or if you made our recipe for Crock-Pot Whole Chicken!), but I really love using rotisserie chicken, if only for the fact that you don’t have to cook it yourself. The savory flavor of roasted poultry complements the sweet, acidic, and tangy flavors of the other ingredients in the best way.
I first tried chicken salad made Waldorf style as a kid at our annual family ladies’ tea that we have around Christmastime. There were little sandwiches with this filling stuffed between white bread for us kids (because heaven knows we weren’t going anywhere near the cucumber sandwiches).
When I tentatively took my first bite, I thought I was going to hate it, but instead I was pleased to discover that it was oh-so-yummy. The chicken paired with bursting fruit flavors and a light, creamy dressing was just the sandwich to enjoy while sitting properly and drinking tea.
Without the chicken, maybe I wouldn’t have liked it so much. But this particular combination was love at first bite. I’ll always associate it with festive gatherings, and times when you’re looking for something casual that’s also a bit fancy to put on the table.
I’ve been making this kind of salad for years because it’s so simple. You just throw everything into a bowl and mix it all up together. That’s it.
To make it portable, you simply wrap up the salad tightly inside of flour tortillas, like little burritos. I like to pair my wraps with a side salad of mixed greens with a little olive oil, freshly cracked pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.
It’s a healthy, refreshing meal that makes the rest of the workday not seem so terrible. It also makes for a great lunch for the kiddos that they can grab on their way out as they run to make the school bus.
And if you’re hosting a tea party, you know which recipe to turn to.Print
When you feel like treating yourself to a flavorful and fresh lunch, reach for one of these chicken Waldorf salad wraps.
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise or plain yogurt
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp honey
- 2 red apples (like Gala or Fuji), cored and chopped
- 2 Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 ½ cups seedless red grapes, halved
- 3/4 cup chopped celery (about 2 medium stalks)
- 3/4 cup walnut halves and pieces, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 2 cups chopped leftover cooked chicken
- 4 flour tortillas
- In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise or yogurt, salt, pepper, lemon zest, and honey. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, toss together apples and lemon juice. Add grapes, celery, walnuts, raisins, and chicken, and toss to combine.
- Add dressing and toss to coat well.
- Cover and refrigerate to let the flavors meld together for at least 1 hour.
- Add a couple large spoonfuls (at least 1/2 cup for small tortillas and 1 cup for large tortillas) of the salad into the middle of each tortilla and roll tightly, like a burrito.
- Serve immediately, or wrap in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate. Wraps can be made 1 day in advance.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Sandwiches
- Method: No-Cook
- Cuisine: Lunch
Keywords: chicken salad, chicken salad wrap, Waldorf salad, chicken
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients
Zest enough of a medium lemon to have 1/2 teaspoon total. I use about half a lemon for this, finely shaved with a microplane or zester.
Halve grapes until you have a total of 1 ½ cups.
Chop 2 medium stalks of celery so you have 3/4 cup total.
If you’re using whole walnuts or nut halves, give them a rough chop.
Chop enough leftover chicken until you have 2 cups total. You can use whatever you like, dark or light meat, poached, grilled, baked, or roasted.
Measure out all of the remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list.
Step 2 – Make Dressing
Step 3 – Make Salad
Toss together the apples and lemon juice in a large bowl.
Add the grapes, celery, walnuts, raisins, and chicken.
Toss to combine.
Add dressing to the salad and toss to coat evenly.
Step 4 – Chill
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Step 5 – Make Wraps
To make the wraps, add a couple large spoonfuls (about 1/2 cup for small tortillas, 1 cup for larger tortillas) of the salad to the middle of each tortilla.
Wrap tightly like a burrito.
Serve immediately, or wrap each individually in foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate to be eaten later. Wraps can be made one day in advance.
Prep for a Week of Lunches
When it comes to prep cooking for the week, this is a fantastic salad to do it with. The flavors continue to meld together as they sit, so they get even better as you let them mingle throughout the week.
I recommend keeping the salad and the tortillas separate to make the most of this recipe. You can either make a wrap the night before you go to work, or you can bring the salad in a container with tortillas carried separate, to fill just before you’re ready to eat.
Then you can simply make the wraps at your desk. It’s as easy as that.
Want to keep things fresh? Here’s even more inspiration for your healthy lunch routine:
- Creamy, Spicy Collard Wraps
- Asian Inspired Spicy Ground Beef Lettuce Wraps
- Spiralized Beet Noodle Wraps
- Slow Cooker Chicken Sloppy Joes
- Cherry Chicken Salad
- Greek Chicken Pitas
Do you like to meal prep your lunches for the week? Tell us in the comments below. And be sure to come back to rate the recipe as well!
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on November 18, 2010. Last updated: September 10, 2023 at 7:53 am. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Meghan Yager
Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.