Recipe Makeover: Healthy Waldorf Salad

Who thinks the recipe for Waldorf Salad needs a massive makeover? I do, that’s who. And so will you, comparing the calories and Weight Watchers points for my makeover recipe versus a traditional recipe. Would you believe, a reduction of almost 75%?
PS There's no sacrificing flavor, either. This salad tastes great!

Healthy Waldorf Salad ♥, my makeover recipe reduces calories & Weight Watchers points by almost 75%.

Mayonnaise plays the schoolyard bully in too many salads. “Taste me!” it shouts, punching us in the taste buds. “This salad is all about me-me-mayo!”

In those mayo salads, mayonnaise overpowers the naturally shyer flavors, the ones that need room and a little coaxing to reach their full potential.

A traditional Waldorf Salad is thick with mayonnaise, even though some recipes "thin" – ahem – the mayonnaise with sour cream.

For my makeover recipe for Waldorf Salad, I’ve sent the bully that is mayo to the back of the fridge and substituted something lighter and sweeter, a little yogurt laced with vanilla.

The result is a salad where the apples and walnuts (they’re the shy kids, you know!) become BFF with a kiss of nutmeg – becoming, at last, the deserving popular kids.


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Makes 4 cups

  • Zest & juice (about 2 tablespoons) of a lemon
  • 2 medium apples, cored and diced
  • 2 ribs celery, trimmed and diced small
  • 1/4 cup (25g) currants or raisins
  • 1/4 cup (25g) toasted walnuts, chopped (how to toast nuts)
  • 1/3 cup non-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Additional nutmeg for sprinkling

In a large bowl, toss the lemon zest, lemon juice and chopped apples. (Be sure that all the apple pieces touch the lemon juice, so they won’t turn brown.) Add the remaining ingredients.

Top each serving with a sprinkle of nutmeg. Best served immediately or within an hour or so.

ALANNA’s TIPS Healthy Waldorf Salad makes for a great fruit dessert, though it does take a little getting used to the idea, well, that there’s celery in your dessert. That said, it took just two bites to love it, celery and all! No vanilla yogurt? No problem. Just add a splash of vanilla to your yogurt. Greek yogurt works well here, all the way from the 0% fat to the full-fat. I adore the Fage products but they're increasingly difficult to find at a reasonable price. (Darn you, Sam's Club, for dropping Fage yogurt!) After that, I'm partial to Trader Joe's European-Style Yogurt, it's looser than Greek yogurt but has a strong sourness that harkens back to my time living in Finland.

My HEALTHY WALDORF SALAD (recipe above) Per Cup: 115 Calories; 4g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 30mg Sodium; 20g Carb; 3g Fiber; 15g Sugar; 2g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 2 & WW PointsPlus 3 & WW SmartPoints 5

vs TRADITIONAL WALDORF SALAD (based on a popular internet recipe, I estimate the serving size is 1-1/4 cups) Per Serving: 434 Calories; 35g Tot Fat; 4g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 131mg Sodium; 28g Carb; 5g Fiber; 19g Sugar; 5g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 10 & Points Plus 12 & SmartPoints 16

TEN POINTS? TWELVE POINTS? WOW, SIXTEEN POINTS??? Give me a break! Those traditional recipes are so high in calories and Weight Watchers points. Just look at the whole meals, the pies and rich desserts you can have for a whole eight points, see the Eight-point recipes. Heavens, look how many whole meals, soups, salads and desserts you can have for FOUR points, see Four-point recipes. So for a little apple salad to add up to ten or twelve points and now sixteen points? To quote one of my two favorite seven-year olds? "That's craaaay-zee."

How Did I Give Waldorf Salad a Recipe Makeover?

Frankly, this one was easy.

I substituted full-fat mayonnaise with non-fat yogurt. In Waldorf Salad, mayonnaise serves as a binder, holding all the apples, celery and walnuts together. This means that the fat in mayonnaise just isn't missed.
I increased the volume of the plant-based ingredients, apple, celery, walnuts and lemon.
First up, I added more fiber-rich and flavorful apple. Isn't Waldorf Salad, after all, supposed to be an apple salad?
I also increased the fiber-rich and low-calorie celery, chopping it small so that the apple still stays front and center. Celery adds great crunch, it helps us eat more slowly.
I made sure the walnuts were toasted, that increases their flavor. I used fewer walnuts too, but still, a generous tablespoon per cup.
I bumped up the flavor of the overall salad, using vanilla yogurt, adding the zest of a lemon and kissing it all with nutmeg.
But I kept the serving size at a full cup, even though other Kitchen Parade recipes often use a half cup as the serving size. But compared to the traditional recipe, it just didn’t seem like a fair fight to reduce the calories by 87%. I was still trying, you know, to compare "apples to apples".

Regular Readers: Would you like more recipe makeovers like this one for Healthy Waldorf Salad? Give me some ideas in the comments, which dishes you'd most like to see made over? I'll do my best!

More Apple Desserts!
(If Only to Prove I'm Not Averse to Good Desserts)

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Baked Apples Naturally Sweetened Apple Butter Extra-Crispy Apple Crisp

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2010, 2014 & 2016 (repub)

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Excellent! I love waldorf salads!! This looks like a great version, thanks!

  2. you mean waldorf salads weren't healthy? lol. this looks delicious!

  3. Mariem599/28/2010

    Just what I was looking for!!! Thanks so much!

  4. I do a similar Waldorf salad, from the Moosewood Cookbook, I think, which also has cinnamon and cardamom as spices. I also throw in a drained can of mandarin oranges, a little orange juice and some shredded carrots.


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna