Vegan Waldorf salad? Imagine Basil Fawlty's face when you tell him it's got to have walnuts and be vegan.
The good news is this recipe is drama-free – as well as happily dairy-free, meat-free, and gluten-free.
With a nice mix of textures and flavours from all those plant-based ingredients, it's a surprisingly filling salad that I would best describe as a sort of delicious, savoury granola (albeit with lettuce thrown in).
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What is Waldorf salad?
Waldorf salad takes its name from the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City, where it was created by Oscar Tschirky in 1896 for a charity ball.
Early versions comprised chopped apples, celery, walnuts, and grapes, dressed in mayonnaise, and served on a bed of lettuce. Variations then went on to add meat, dried fruit, and yoghurt in place of the mayonnaise.
How to make it vegan
To make this recipe without mayonnaise, I've gone for a simple dressing that combines plant-based yoghurt and lemon juice. You'll want a plain, unsweetened yoghurt that doesn't overpower the other ingredients (I went for a soy-based variety, just like in this dairy-free cucumber raita).
Another way to make a Waldorf salad dairy-free would be to simply use a vegan mayonnaise product, which seem pretty easy to come across these days (at least here in the UK).
One serving of this recipe provides:
- Calories: 422 kcal
- Protein: 12 grams (24% of RDA)
- Fibre: 10 grams (42% of RDA)
- Vitamin A: 3360 IU (67% of RDA)
(Amounts are based on a third-party nutrition calculator and include the optional chickpeas and dried cranberries)
What you'll need
This vegan recipe isn't too different to what you might find in a traditional Waldorf salad. You'll need:
- Romaine lettuce or another lettuce variety
- Classic ingredients in the form of apple, celery, grapes, and walnuts
- Optional extras such as dried cranberries and pre-roasted chickpeas
- Dairy-free yoghurt for the base of the dressing
How to make vegan Waldorf salad
Chop the lettuce leaves into strips and add to a large mixing bowl along with the chopped apple, celery, grapes, and walnuts.
If including dried cranberries and/or roasted chickpeas, also add these. Mix everything well.
In a separate bowl or jug, combine the plant-based yoghurt and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and mix well.
Adjust the seasoning to taste, adding more lemon juice, salt, and pepper if necessary.
Add the dressing to the large bowl of salad ingredients and combine well to coat everything.
Serve and enjoy as a main or side.
What goes with a vegan Waldorf salad, I hear you ask? Truthfully, it's a pretty well-rounded and healthy meal on its own, especially if you include the roasted chickpeas and dried cranberries.
Saying that, you could have it as a summer side dish alongside the likes of grilled king oyster mushrooms, teriyaki grilled tofu, vegan cucumber sandwiches, or your favourite plant-based chicken substitute.
You can certainly make this in advance and store it in the fridge before eating. For the best results, I'd say no more than one day ahead and ideally just a few hours.
Provided everything is coated well in the dressing, the lemon juice should prevent the other ingredients (especially the apple) from discolouring.
The salad will be at its best for a day or so, but should keep in the fridge for up to two or three days.
This recipe will be gluten-free provided you use a GF plant-based yoghurt or mayonnaise. Most soy-based varieties will be GF, but you may want to double check certain oat-based products if cross-contamination is an issue for you.
You may also want to check any other additions such as plant-based meat substitutes.
Variations and tips for vegan Waldorf salad
- Lettuce: I'd recommend a lettuce variety with a bit of crunch and texture. Romaine would be my first choice, followed by varieties such as little gem or even iceberg.
- Raisins: This recipe uses dried cranberries (optional), which could easily be replaced with raisins.
- Vegan mayo: If you don't have plant-based yoghurt, you could use a plant-based mayonnaise instead for the dressing.
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More vegan recipe ideas
If you liked this recipe, you may also enjoy:
- Moroccan Couscous with Chickpeas and Roasted Veg
- Vegan Raita with Cucumber and Mint
- Chickpea Stir-Fry
- Vegan Cucumber Salad
- Teriyaki Grilled Aubergine
- Veggie Biryani with Chickpeas
- Broad Bean and Mint Dip
- Crispy Vegan Roast Potatoes
You can also check out my full list of vegan sides.
Vegan Waldorf Salad
- 12 romaine lettuce leaves, washed and chopped
- 1 apple, cored and diced
- 2 celery sticks, chopped
- 1½ cups (250 g) grapes, halved
- 1 cup (120 g) walnuts, chopped
- ½ cup (60 g) dried cranberries (optional)
- 1 tin pre-roasted chickpeas (optional)
- 1 cup (250 ml) plain, unsweetened plant-based yoghurt (see notes for alternatives)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice (1 whole lemon)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Once you've prepared the lettuce, apple, celery, grapes, and walnuts, add these to a large mixing bowl and combine. If including dried cranberries and/or roasted chickpeas, also add these. Mix everything well.
- In a separate bowl or jug, combine the plant-based yoghurt and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and mix well. Adjust the seasoning to taste, adding more lemon juice, salt, and pepper if necessary.
- Add the dressing to the large bowl of salad ingredients and combine well to coat everything. Serve and enjoy as a main or side (see notes for suggestions).
- Moroccan Couscous with Chickpeas and Roasted Veg
- Three-Bean Salad with Lemon, Mint and Parsley
- Mediterranean Couscous Salad
- Vegan Slaw with Sesame Ginger Dressing
- Courgette Salad with Peanut Dressing
- Celeriac and Apple Soup
- Easy Hummus
- Homemade Baked Falafel
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