Apple and Celery Salad – Leite’s Culinaria


Author Regula Ysewijn says of this salad: “Celery was often used as a salad vegetable in the past. In this no-fuss combination, it’s paired with apples and then dressed with mayonnaise. Using a simple mayo dressing for finishing everything from salads to cold cooked meats and vegetables was popular in the Edwardian kitchen.”

Judging by how The One and I fell upon this celery and apple salad, it’s clear it’s just as seductive now as it was in Edwardian times. There’s a simplicity of preparation and taste.

The best way I can describe its flavor is blinding fresh and superlatively green. (Yes, I know green isn’t a flavor, but if you close your eyes and take a bite, all you can see are round tart Granny Smith apples, crunchy frilly celery leaves, and lavish mint sprigs.)

This is a winner any time of year, and it’s a mainstay through the warmer months, but I love to serve it in spring. Its fresh, green simplicity goes so well with spring dishes: Easter ham, minty spring lamb chops, and fresh spring peas.

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Why You’ll Love This

My testers adored this simple celery and apple salad recipe for its refreshing crunch and “bright and creamy” dressing. They were delighted to have a simple alternative to classic Waldorf salad that could be prepared in just 15 minutes. FIFTEEN MINUTES!

What You’ll Need to Make This

Ingredients for apple and celery salad--celery, apple, lemon, mayonnaise, creamy, and mint.
  • Celery–Look for firm stalks that have bright leaves and no scabs or bruises. The satisfying crispness of the celery is key to the salad, so avoid any celery that is looking wilted or slumped.
  • Apple—Choose a firm, crisp apple variety, such as Granny Smith for a tarter bite or Honeycrisp or Pink Lady for a sweeter taste. Trust me, you want plenty of crunch in the salad, so avoid softer varieties, like McIntosh or Golden Delicious, or any apples that are past their prime or have bruised spots.
  • Lemon juice–For the best flavor, use freshly squeezed lemon juice. That stuff in the yellow squeeze bottle is blech.
  • Mayonnaise–Use your favorite good-quality store-bought or homemade mayonnaise. As always, I recommend using full-fat mayo.
  • Heavy cream–I recommend using full-fat cream here as it adds flavor and fat to the salad, giving it a wonderful creaminess. In a pinch, you can substitute half and half.

How to Make Apple Celery Salad

A person removing strings from a stalk of celery; sliced celery and chopped celery leaves on a cutting board.
  1. Use a sharp knife to peel away the fibrous strings from the celery stalks.
  2. Thinly slice the stalks and chop the leaves.
Slices of apple on a cutting board; celery leaves and slices and apples slices in a glass bowl.
  1. Peel, quarter, and thinly slice the apple. Toss the apple slices with the lemon juice.
  2. Combine the celery and apple in a bowl.
Celery leaves, celery slices, and apple slices in a bowl with a dollop of mayo on top; a person mixing everything together.
  1. Add the mayonnaise and drizzle with cream.
  2. Toss everything to coat. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with mint.

Common Questions

How do I choose the best celery leaves?

You’ll score the most leaves by looking for a full bunch with dark green outer stalks. Pale leaves have a more delicate taste and texture, while the darker leaves are grassier and tougher. Pick the leaves off the thin stems at the top of the stalk, wrap them in a slightly damp kitchen towel, and place the bundle in an open plastic bag in your vegetable drawer. 

Why do I have to string celery?

The strings of celery are tough and extra-fibrous and give the stalks their support. They’re unpleasant to eat and can feel like dental floss between your teeth. (Who wants that at dinner?) Stringing the celery gives you all the flavor and crunch without any of the tough chew.

Can I make this in advance?

Totally. You can make this salad a few hours before serving, as the lemon juice will prevent the apple from turning brown. However, I definitely serve it the same day it’s made, as the dressing will become watery if stored overnight.

Helpful Tips

  • The quickest and easiest way to slice an apple is to cut it into quarters around the core, then, working with one quarter at a time, lay it flat on a cutting board and slice.
  • This recipe is suitable for gluten-free diets.

Substitutions & Variations

  • If you want a creamy but tangy dressing, use full-fat sour cream instead of the mayo.
  • A pinch of celery seed on top is a lovely addition for an extra punch of celery-ness.
  • For a fun, light lunch, serve this over a few lettuce leaves, top with cold poached or roasted chicken, and a sprinkle of toasted walnuts, and you have a new and innovative chicken Waldorf salad.

What to Serve with This Recipe

Our testers enjoyed this as a light lunch alongside freshly baked Italian breadsticks or as part of a more substantial meal that included roasted meat, cornmeal-crusted fried chicken, or barbecue.

An apple and celery salad in a creamy dressing, garnished with mint leaves in a yellow scalloped bowl.

More Excellent Apple Salad Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

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  • Using a small, sharp knife, peel away the tough outer strings from each celery stalk.

  • Thinly slice the stalks crosswise on the diagonal, then coarsely chop the leaves.

  • Peel the apple, quarter through the stem, and cut away the core. Starting from the short side, slice each quarter as thinly as possible. Working quickly, dump the slices into a bowl and toss them with the lemon juice, coating evenly to prevent browning.

  • Add the celery slices and leaves to the apple slices.

  • Spoon in the mayonnaise and cream.

  • Stir gently to coat the apple and celery. Top with the mint.

  • Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, garnish with a mint sprig.

  1. Slicing an apple–The quickest and easiest way to slice an apple is to cut it into quarters around the core, then, working with one quarter at a time, lay it flat on a cutting board and slice.
  2. Dietary–This recipe is suitable for gluten-free diets.
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Adapted From

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 85 kcalCarbohydrates: 7 gProtein: 1 gFat: 7 gSaturated Fat: 2 gMonounsaturated Fat: 2 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 8 mgSodium: 47 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 5 g

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

Recipe © 2020 Regula Ysewijn. Photos © 2024 David Leite. All rights reserved.


Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Organic celery and apples are two staples in my fridge at all times. Both are so versatile—great for snacking with nut butter, great add-ins for pureed soups, or great on their own as the star of a recipe like this one. 

Celery is definitely an underappreciated veggie. It has such a wonderful crunch when raw in salads, but its floral flavor, with the tiniest hint of pepper, is truly a game-changer. 

Combining the fresh, crisp celery slices with sweet apples is so refreshing! I used a Pink Lady apple (my favorite), 1/4 teaspoon of fresh pepper, and fresh mint. The creamy dressing really rounded everything out.

I served this celery apple salad on the side of chipotle-baked salmon with roasted sweet potato wedges. I can see this salad being an excellent alternative to a traditional Waldorf salad at lunch, maybe on a bed of watercress with some roasted, sliced chicken as well.

I love apple and celery together in Waldorf salad, so I tried this apple-celery salad recipe. Unfortunately, since I had that thought in my head, I found that I kept missing the raisins and walnuts as I ate the salad! However, for anyone who can’t eat nuts and/or is philosophically opposed to raisins, this would be a great, more basic alternative to the Waldorf.

The dressing was bright and creamy. It doesn’t specify the type of mayonnaise; all I keep on hand is Hellman’s light mayonnaise, so I used it. Employing a full-fat mayonnaise would make the dressing richer, but we thought it was fine as it was.

Since I didn’t have mint, I sprinkled a handful of chopped parsley over the salad at the end instead. That added some nice color.

I love this apple and celery salad recipe. My mother used to make a very similar salad, and it was my job to peel the apple(s). It graced our Thanksgiving table many times. Sometimes, she added walnuts or pecans, but celery was always the star!

The celery stalks nearer the heart were better, as the outer ribs were more mature and had more “strings attached” (and who wants that?). A few radishes added color and texture.

I’ve made this several more times, and each time, I think we enjoy it more. Last time, I added a bit of grated lemon zest (about 1/2 of the zest from a small lemon), and we liked that addition very much. This salad was wonderful with a pork roast, lamb burgers, and fried chicken!

I found this salad kept well. It could undoubtedly be made several hours ahead, even overnight, without compromising its texture.

Make coleslaw or sour cream cucumber salad? Try this apple celery salad next time instead. It’s light, refreshing, and wonderful with barbecue, fried chicken, and roasts, to name a few.

Putting celery front and center in a dish may be new to some, but the beautiful chartreuse veggie has a lot going for it. It’s uniquely fragrant, crunchy—do peel and remove some of the strings for an addictive airy crispness—and versatile fresh or cooked.

It marries the apple flavor so well in this recipe, and I loved the addition of mint. The apple of my choice was Pink Lady, my go-to when I need apples that have a nice balance of tartness and sweetness, and retain the crunch over time. I used two different kinds of mint from my garden: spearmint and apple mint.


I used a Mutsu apple (a very good eating apple that doesn’t brown quickly) and celery from the farmer’s market. Had mint been in season, I might have used it as the suggested garnish.

It was a nice, simple salad with lots of crunch! Because it was very white without the garnish, apart from the flecks of freshly ground pepper, we served it atop a good amount of lettuce bedding to add some green color to the plating.

We ate this with thick slices of unadorned, seedy, freshly baked bread, and a couple of handfuls of sweetly roasted mixed nuts, all of which made for a quick, easy, and pleasant lunch on the go.


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