Simple Celery Salad (Waldorf Apple Salad)

5 from 12 votes
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Enjoy this sweet and savory simple celery salad with apples, grapes, and dried fruit. This simple salad is a healthy take on a Waldorf salad without the heavy mayo dressing! It takes just minutes to prepare and is gluten-free, and can be made dairy-free too!

Celery salad with apple and grapes

By combining sweet, savory, salty, and tangy flavors, this celery salad manages to entice all your taste buds. Plus, the different textures within the dish make for a delightful eating experience – especially on those days when I have leftover celery after forgetting to juice it (whoops). The resulting salad is similar to a Waldorf salad but without all the mayo!

While a traditional Waldorf salad combines apples, celery, walnuts, and grapes in a mayonnaise dressing, this version uses a simple lime and olive oil dressing to cut back on the fat while retaining heaps of flavor. For those who do prefer something a little creamier, I’ve included options below for a healthier Greek yogurt Waldorf salad dressing, too (you can never have too many options). 

Celery salad with apple and grapes

I know some people hate the sweet and savory combination in salads, but I love how the tart apple and refreshing grapes combine with sweet dried fruit and savory celery and greens. It’s not the first time I’ve paired sweet and savory either. Last summer, I loved eating berry salads like strawberry spinach salad and blackberry spinach salad.

In comparison, this apple celery salad recipe can be enjoyed year-round, though particularly in the fall and winter, when apples and walnuts are in season. Adapt it into a delicious Holiday salad (for Thanksgiving and Christmas) with dried cranberries or pomegranate. Alternatively, prepare it for picnics, potlucks, and mid-week meals with your choice of dried fruit!

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The Waldorf Salad Ingredients

Ingredients for Celery Salad
  • Celery: the base of this salad, make sure not to omit it!
  • Apple: I used a crisp green apple with a slightly tart flavor. Pear will also work if you have no apples. Apple varieties that work well include granny smith, pink lady, Honeycrisp, golden delicious – or even a combination, just make sure they’re crisp.
  • Lettuce: use mild, leafy lettuce. This is technically optional – serve the celery salad over a bed of lettuce, chop it up into the salad, or omit it entirely. You could also substitute the lettuce for some lightly massaged kale (like I did with this kale salad).
  • Grapes: I like to use red grapes, which are sweeter. 
  • Walnuts: you can alternatively use pecans or almonds, roughly chopped.
  • Dried fruit: I used barberries. However, you could alternatively use cranberries, cherries, raisins, or sultanas. Dates may also work. 
  • Cheese: I used parmesan (make sure it’s vegetarian if needed as some are made with rennet). Blue cheese or feta would also work. For a vegan Waldorf salad, you can use a dairy-free cheese (like this vegan feta), sprinkle of nutritional yeast, or omit it entirely. 
  • The dressing: I use a simple combination of olive oil, lime (or lemon), garlic, and salt and pepper. Read below for a healthy take on the classic Waldorf dressing. 
Mixing celery salad

Other Optional Add-ins and variations

  • Greek Yogurt dressing: For a healthier creamy Waldorf salad with yogurt instead of mayo, combine greek yogurt (instead of the olive oil) with the lime juice and seasonings. You can keep the seasonings savory (garlic, salt, and pepper), or even make them sweet (cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little sweetener like honey/maple). You can optionally add in just 2-3 spoonfuls of mayo for that classic rich creaminess of a classic Waldorf salad.
  • For vegan Waldorf salad: Use dairy-free yogurt (like coconut yogurt or soy yogurt), optionally with a few spoonfuls of vegan mayonnaise. Alternatively, just use my olive oil citrus dressing, which is naturally vegan, and you can substitute or omit the cheese. 
  • Honey Mustard vinaigrette: The flavors in this apple celery salad recipe also pair wonderfully with a tangy mustard sauce. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, dijon mustard, and honey and taste until you find your perfect balance.
  • For spice: You could add a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  • Vinegar: You can add a few spoonfuls of red or white wine vinegar to the celery salad for more of a tangy marinated salad. 
  • Proteins: this salad is great for chucking in leftover proteins after the holidays.
  • Other vegetables: Including red onion, broccoli, cauliflower, radish, avocado, bell pepper, tomato, cucumber, olives.
  • Other fruit: orange/mandarine, pineapple, etc.
  • Herbs: mint and/or parsley would pair well. Dill may also work. 

You could also try this apple grape salad with some homemade croutons, boiled eggs, or alongside a grain like quinoa or brown rice.

How to Make Celery Salad

Step 1: Chop the ingredients

First, wash and finely slice the celery. I like to make my pieces really fine. This is great if you’re not a massive fan of celery, and it’s also easier for digestion – it’s a win-win!

Make sure to remove any of the string fibrous parts of the celery. You can do this done manually or with a vegetable peeler.

Chopping celery

Then chop the apple either into thin slices or cubes based on personal preference and shred the lettuce. Finally, mince the garlic.

Choped apples

Step 2: Combine the ingredients

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and toss gently to combine. 

You can alternatively mix all the ingredients and the dressing in a separate bowl and serve it over a bed of lettuce rather than mixing it into the salad. 

When ready, serve it alone, as part of a picnic, potluck, or with your protein of choice!

Steps for preparing celery salad

How to Store?

Store the celery salad in an airtight container, covered, for between 2-3 days. It will become a little watery over time, so you may want to drain it before eating. You can also add a little extra dressing before eating leftovers. 

Note that the grapes will go a little soft from refrigeration. I recommend keeping them to one side to top the salad with just before serving. 

To make ahead: It’s best to prepare the salad and dressing separately and combine the two just before serving. Also, only add the nuts/seeds just before serving. That way, you can store this celery salad in the fridge for 4-5 days. 

Note that cut apples will discolor quickly, so tossing them with a little lemon juice may be best to avoid this.

A spoonful of celery salad

Recipe Notes and FAQs

  • For super-crispy celery: You can place the chopped celery in an ice bath for 15-20 minutes. After soaking, pat it dry with a kitchen towel and continue with the recipe. 
  • Raw or toasted nuts: You can enjoy the nuts either way in this salad. To toast the nuts, do so in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant – this should take just a few minutes. 
  • For a nut-free salad: You could use sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. Raw or toasted will work. 

Other Simple Salad Recipes

If you try this apple celery salad recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts/questions below. Also, I’d really appreciate a recipe card rating below, and feel free to tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

Simple Celery Salad (Waldorf Apple Salad)

5 from 12 votes
By: Samira
Enjoy this sweet and savory simple celery salad with apples, grapes, and dried fruit. This simple salad is a healthy take on a Waldorf salad without the heavy mayo dressing! It takes just minutes to prepare and is gluten-free, and can be made dairy-free too!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 side portions

Ingredients 
 

  • 10 celery stalks
  • 1 green apple any crisp apple will work
  • 2 romaine lettuce leaves
  • 2 oz cheese I used parmesan, blue cheese would also go great or feta
  • 1/2 cup grapes or sultanas
  • 1/4 cup walnuts or pecans/almonds
  • 2 Tbsp dried barberries or cranberries, pomegranate, cherries, sultanas, dates.
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice or lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions 

Step 1: Chop the ingredients

  • Wash and finely slice the celery. I like to make my pieces really fine. This is great if you’re not a massive fan of celery, and it’s also easier for digestion – it’s a win-win!
    Make sure to remove any of the string fibrous parts of the celery. You can do this done manually or with a vegetable peeler.
  • Chop the apple either into thin slices or cubes based on personal preference and shred the lettuce. Finally, mince the garlic.

Step 2: Combine the ingredients

  • In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and toss gently to combine.
    You can alternatively mix all the ingredients and the dressing in a separate bowl and serve it over a bed of lettuce rather than mixing it into the salad.
  • When ready, serve it alone, as part of a picnic, potluck, or with your protein of choice!

How to Store?

  • Store the celery salad in an airtight container, covered, for between 2-3 days. It will become a little watery over time, so you may want to drain it before eating. You can also add a little extra dressing before eating leftovers.
    Note that the nuts will go a little soft from refrigeration. I recommend keeping them to one side to top the salad with just before serving.
    To make ahead: It’s best to prepare the salad and dressing separately and combine the two just before serving. Also, only add the nuts/seeds just before serving. That way, you can store this celery salad in the fridge for 4-5 days.
    Note that cut apples will discolor quickly, so tossing them with a little lemon juice may be best to avoid this.

Video

Notes

  • For super-crispy celery: You can place the chopped celery in an ice bath for 15-20 minutes. After soaking, pat it dry with a kitchen towel and continue with the recipe. 
  • Raw or toasted nuts: You can enjoy the nuts either way in this salad. To toast the nuts, do so in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant – this should take just a few minutes.
  • For a nut-free salad: You could use sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. Raw or toasted will work.

Other Optional Add-ins and variations:
  • Greek Yogurt dressing: For a healthier creamy Waldorf salad with yogurt instead of mayo, combine greek yogurt (instead of the olive oil) with the lime juice and seasonings. You can keep the seasonings savory (garlic, salt, and pepper), or even make them sweet (cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little sweetener like honey/maple). You can optionally add in just 2-3 spoonfuls of mayo for that classic rich creaminess of a classic Waldorf salad.
  • For vegan Waldorf salad: Use dairy-free yogurt (like coconut yogurt or soy yogurt), optionally with a few spoonfuls or vegan mayonnaise. Alternatively, my olive oil citrus dressing is naturally vegan, and you can substitute or omit the cheese. 
  • Honey Mustard vinaigrette: The flavors in this apple celery salad recipe also pair wonderfully with a tangy mustard sauce. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, dijon mustard, and honey and taste until you find your perfect balance.
  • For spice: You could add a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  • Vinegar: You can add a few spoonfuls of red or white wine vinegar to the celery salad for more of a tangy marinated salad. 
  • Proteins: this salad is great for chucking in leftover proteins after the holidays.
  • Other vegetables: Including red onion, broccoli, cauliflower, radish, avocado, bell pepper, tomato, cucumber, olives.
  • Other fruit: orange/mandarine, pineapple
  • Herbs: mint and/or parsley would pair well. Dill may also work.
Course: Appetizer, Side
Cuisine: American
Freezer friendly: No
Shelf life: 3-5 Days

Nutrition

Calories: 203kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 244mg, Potassium: 205mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 1449IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 126mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. Vivian Desormeaux says:

    5 stars
    This was so good!!

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Glad you liked it, Vivian!