This Waldorf inspired Whole30 Chicken Salad recipe has me convinced that, in a hypothetical universe in which every Whole30 recipe is as easy and delicious as this one, I might actually not just survive on a Whole30/Paleo diet, I’d thrive.
Creamy, chunky, wholesome, and bright, this Whole30 Waldorf chicken salad has been a regular in my healthy meal rotation.
I originally created this recipe (which is both Paleo and Whole30 friendly) because you all loved my Whole30 Vegetarian Power Bowls (it’s the #1 healthy recipe of 2018!), and these Whole30 Meatballs and this Whole30 Salmon have been crowd favorites too.
These days, I make (and remake) this everyday Paleo chicken salad because I love how it tastes, the way I feel after I eat it, and the fact that it proves you don’t need to be a gourmet chef to make nutritious meals that taste fantastic.
Even if you aren’t following a Paleo or Whole30 diet (I am not), this easy chicken salad is well worth adding to your healthy meal arsenal.
The ingredient lineup is well rounded and the flavors are satisfying and complex, and because this Whole30 chicken salad can last several days in your refrigerator, it offers max payoff for your cooking efforts.
I like to whip up—and I do mean whip up; this easy chicken salad recipe is FAST—a batch on Sunday then eat it in various forms throughout the week.
Sometimes I keep it extra light as Whole30 chicken salad lettuce wraps; other times, I like to toast a few slices of bread and make a Waldorf chicken salad sandwich.
No matter how you serve it, this Whole30 chicken salad is one of those prized recipes that manages to fill you up without weighing you down.
Waldorf Chicken Salad: The Recipe Inspiration
This Whole30 easy chicken salad recipe is a riff on a classic Waldorf chicken salad.
For the curious, Waldorf chicken salad gets its name from New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where it was created in 1896 not by a chef but by the maître d’. The original version of this salad contained only apples, celery, and mayonnaise.
These days, you’re more likely to see Waldorf chicken salad jazzed up a bit. Almonds and grapes (in place of the apples) are my favorite spins. The grapes can last longer in the refrigerator, and the nuts are crunchy, toasty, and make the chicken salad all the more delicious.
No fresh grapes on hand? You can also make this Waldorf chicken salad with dried cranberries.
The Making of a Simple and Scrumptious Whole30 Chicken Salad Recipe
My biggest challenge to creating a Whole30 chicken salad recipe was the mayo.
While you can have certain brands of mayo on Whole30, they are hard to find at average grocery stores and are pricey. Most following a Whole30 diet (or the Paleo diet) opt to make mayo themselves from scratch.
Since I was looking for quick and easy Whole30 lunches (and since my lifelong aversion to mayo is showing no signs of remission), I decided to skip the mayo completely.
To make healthy chicken salad, I’d usually opt to replace the mayo with yogurt like in my Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad, but since dairy is a Whole30 no-no, I needed a different option.
Tahini is a rich, creamy, lightly nutty paste made from sesame seeds.
Tahini’s most popular use is in hummus, but I love it just as much in salad dressings. You can find it in most grocery stores (check the international foods aisle), and the leftovers can last in your refrigerator for six months or longer.
Ways to Serve Whole30 Chicken Salad + Recipe Twists
Once you have a big, beautiful bowl of this chicken salad in your refrigerator, you have many tasty ways to use it! Here are a few serving ideas, as well as different spins on the recipe.
- Whole30 Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps. I thought eating these out of lettuce cups would feel kind of sad, but it is scrumptious. They are refreshing, filling, and do not feel like “diet” food whatsoever.
- Whole30 Waldorf Chicken Salad and Crackers. While regular crackers are not approved for Whole30, you can find Whole30-approved crackers sold in some grocery stores or make your own from almond flour (this recipe is just one that I came across). If you aren’t following Whole30, I like this with a wheat-based cracker or even classic buttery entertainment crackers.
- Whole30 Green Chicken Salad. Serve over mixed greens. Feel free to add other extras, like grated carrots or beets for color and crunch.
- Waldorf Chicken Salad Sandwich. If you aren’t following Whole30, try this on top of lightly toasted whole wheat bread.
- Whole30 Grilled Chicken Salad. While I usually make this recipe following my easy method for How to Cook Shredded Chicken or Crock Pot Shredded Chicken, you can swap diced, grilled chicken instead.
- Whole30 Chicken Salad Curry. Follow this recipe for my Chickpea Salad Sandwich, but swap diced or shredded chicken for the chickpeas, tahini for the Greek yogurt, and omit the honey.
- Simple Paleo Chicken Salad. This recipe is already Paleo! No adjustments needed. It’s the perfect everyday Paleo chicken salad just as is.
For those looking for additional Whole30 chicken recipes, Paleo recipes, and more, check out my collection of Whole30 Recipes.
Even if you aren’t following a Whole30 diet or Paleo diet, these recipes are easy to make, healthy, affordable, and super scrumptious. Each will be a worthy addition to your recipe routine!
Whole30 Chicken Salad
- 1/4 cup raw sliced almonds or raw walnut halves
- 2 cups 1/2-inch-diced cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 1/2 cups seedless red grapes halved
- 3 medium stalks celery diced (scant 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 large green onion thinly sliced (about 3 tablespoons), or 2 small/medium green onions
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus additional to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper plus additional to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder plus additional to taste
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 5 tablespoons hot water plus additional as needed
- Bib or romaine lettuce
- Toast the nuts: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the nuts in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes (for almonds) or 8 to 10 minutes (for walnuts) until crisp, fragrant, and toasted. Set a timer and do not walk away from the oven during the last few minutes, as nuts can burn the moment you stop watching. If using almonds, transfer to a small bowl; if using walnuts, transfer to a cutting board, then let cool a few minutes and roughly chop.
- Place the diced chicken, grapes, celery, green onions, dill, and toasted nuts in a large bowl.
- In a small bowl, add tahini, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Whisk to combine. Add the apple cider vinegar, then the hot water, and stir until smooth. Add additional hot water 1 tablespoon at a time, until you have a smooth, pourable sauce that seems like a thick dressing.
- Pour the tahini mixture over the chicken mixture and toss to coat. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as desired. If time allows, refrigerate for 2 hours. Serve piled inside lettuce cups and enjoy!
- *To cook the chicken in the Instant Pot, see this post for Instant Pot Chicken.
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