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Modern Waldorf Salad, Food Gypsy

The Modern Waldorf Salad

A modern take on a classic American salad, the Modern Waldorf Salad is a light, fruity combination of apple, celeriac, grapes & walnuts that has truly stood the test of time.

A Page of History, The Waldorf Salad

The original Waldorf Salad debuted, along with the now famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City in 1893 at a charity ball. First created by Matier d’hotel Oscar Tschirky, it was a simple chopped salad of apple, celery & mayo.

Walnuts were added to the recipe in 1928. Followed by grapes in the 1950s. This is the recipe most of us know. Chunky bites of sweet and sour apple, crisp celery, bitter walnuts, and sweet grapes in a creamy coleslaw-type dressing.

From Chopped to Julienne

By the time the Waldorf Astoria Cookbook was published in 2006 Chef John Doherty shifted the Modern Waldorf Salad slightly, in both look and direction.

Replacing celery for celeriac, chopped ingredients for a fine julienne, and candied nuts for the original raw, the famous salad took on new life under Doherty and remains much the same on today’s menu.

That 2006 version also featured black truffles, which is a bit bougie for today’s home cooks on a budget, and perhaps even the hotel itself, as this is no longer a featured ingredient. I love the Waldorf Astoria cookbook. It has long fascinated me with its updated classics and modern twists. It reminds me that nothing in the world of cuisine is static, it is forever changing and evolving.

Waldorf Salad Recipe, Food Gypsy

What is Celeriac?

Celeriac is also known as Celery Root. It is literally the edible root of the celery plant. Its tangled roots and bulblike base might look a little intimidating, but it’s really no different than working with rutabaga, or turnip.

Celeriac has a firm, nutty, white flesh. In its raw state, it makes a terrific salad or slaw. Cooked, celeriac mashes and purées well and can be used on its own or mixed with potato for a slightly different flavour for your mashed potatoes. Celery root pairs well with rich beef cuts, or large game like wild boar, venison, or elk.

How to Prepare Celeriac

If you’ve never handled celery root before you might be wondering how to prepare Celeriac. Personally, I like to cut the entire bulb in half – lengthwise – before I start to give myself a flat base to work on. This way the other half of the root remains largely intact in the fridge and will hold, in an airtight container for about ten days for other uses.

To peel, place the flat face of the celeriac on your board, and use a sharp, manageable knife, to slice the thick skin away from yourself to reveal the smooth, white flesh. Peepers have little effect on the thick skin, so a knife is always best. Slice the small roots off entirely, as they often contain soil and sand.

Once peeled remove the discarded peel and roots and clean your cutting board to remove all debris, then julienne with either a mandolin or knife into matchstick-like sticks, the same size and thickness as your apple. We are looking for symmetry here.

The Modern Waldorf Salad, Food Gypsy

Mayo or Yogurt for Waldorf Salad Dressing?

In the classic Waldorf salad we use mayo. While the modern version is often made with yogurt or crème fresh, instead of mayo. I’m in the mayonnaise camp in the winter months (which is what we’re using in this recipe), and the yogurt camp in the summer.

Feel free to substitute yogurt for mayo in your kitchen. You may need to add some honey to offset the added tartness of yogurt in that incarnation as you’re already using a sharp Granny Smith as one of your apples.

What to serve with the Modern Waldorf Salad

The Waldorf Salad, in its modern adaptation, is still served at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York today.

It’s a fresh, light chilled appetizer or cold side in the summer that pairs well with veal, chicken, or smoked duck. I prefer Rosé as a wine pairing but the classic pairing is Sauvignon Blanc. This recipe also works as a standalone dish or light lunch.

The Modern Waldorf Salad; a spectacular salad without greens.

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Waldorf Salad Recipe, Food Gypsy

The Modern Waldorf Salad

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  • Author: Cori Horton
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Diet: Vegetarian


A modern take on a classic American salad, the Modern Waldorf Salad is a light, fruity combination of apple, celeriac, grapes & walnuts that has truly stood the test of time.


Units Scale
  • 6 tablespoons mayonnaise (or plain yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch white pepper
  • 12 teaspoons honey (optional, if using yogurt)
  • 3 Gala apples, fine julienne
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, fine julienne
  • 1/2 cup celeriac (celery root), fine julienne
  • 1/2 cup seedless red grapes, halved (or 1/4 cup raisins)
  • For the candied black pepper walnuts:
  • 1 cup raw walnuts, whole preferred
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked, fresh ground pepper
  • Pinch of ground white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 egg white


1. Prepare Candied Black Pepper Walnuts: preheat oven to 350°f (175°c) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix salt, black pepper, white pepper, and sugar in a small bowl. Add nuts and stir. In a separate, small bowl whisk the egg white until just foamy, pour foamy egg white over nuts, mix to coat, and spear in a single layer on the parchment. Toast at 350°f (175°c) for 15 to 17 minutes until walnuts are a deep, golden brown and crispy. Remove from oven and reserve, cool until needed. This step can be done a day or two ahead. Hold Candied Walnuts in a dry, airtight container.

2. Mix your dressing: combine mayo (or yogurt), lemon, salt & white pepper in a bowl, whisk until smooth, and reserve, cold.

3. Cut apples and celeriac into a fine julienne. It’s handy and fast to use a mandolin, set on the ‘comb’ setting for this purpose. If there’s no mandolin in your kitchen, time to practice those knife skills! Cut thin slices of apple (being careful to avoid the seeds) and celeriac. Layer the slices into short stacks and slice across the slice, the same thickness, to create a thin matchstick cut. Work as quickly as you can so that neither your apple nor celery root oxidizes and turns brown. (See note)

4. Dress sliced apple and celeriac lightly with Waldorf dressing and toss. Taste. Season if needed. Slice grapes in half, toss half of your grapes into your apple-celeriac mixture (optional).

5. Plate on cold plates, stacking the salad in the center (I used a clean tin can, with both ends cut out to stack this salad. (Great tool for plating.) Finish your plate with remaining grapes and candied black pepper walnuts. Drizzle a little extra dressing if desired. Crush or chop candied walnuts and sprinkle on top. Serve immediately.


If you need a little extra time or are making this salad in volume, add a little lemon juice to coat your apple and celeriac to keep it from browning. Keep in mind that this will add acidity to your dressing, so again, you may need to add that touch of honey to bring the Waldorf Salad back into balance.

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Salads
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Cori Horton

Cooking in her home kitchen just outside Ottawa, Canada; Cori Horton is a food photographer and recipe blogger. A Cordon Bleu-trained Chef, Cori spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn and has been sharing all things delicious - right here - since 2010.

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