Ina Garten’s Easy Method of Making Chicken for Waldorf Salad: ‘It Comes out Perfectly Every Time’

TL; DR: 

  • Ina Garten’s Waldorf salad recipe is her Barefoot Contessa take on the classic.  
  • The cookbook author employs a method of cooking chicken she uses “most” for salads.
  • It involves roasting chicken in the oven with salt, pepper, and olive oil. 
  • Garten then serves chicken in the salad with soft-boiled egg, apple, bacon, and a homemade vinaigrette.

Ina Garten Waldorf salad is a twist on the classic that comes complete with a cooking hack. It involves a simple way of roasting chicken she often uses in salad recipes. It doesn’t take much effort or many ingredients. Perhaps best of all, according to Garten, it “comes out perfectly every time.” 

Ina Garten’s Chicken and Spinach Waldorf Salad

Originally featured in her Barefoot Contessa cookbook, Cook Like a Pro, Garten’s Waldorf salad is a spin on the original. As such, her version is slightly different. 

Garten skips grapes, which are traditionally found in Waldorf salad. Instead, she uses raisins. Celery, another standard ingredient in Waldorf salad, is nowhere to be found. 

Also absent in the Barefoot Contessa salad recipe is mayonnaise. Instead, she opts for a homemade mustard vinaigrette. What’s more, Garten adds chicken and soft-boiled eggs.

While Garten’s Waldorf salad is certainly a twist, it retains a few elements of the original. They are apples, lettuce, and walnuts. 

How the Barefoot Contessa cooks chicken for salads: in the oven with salt, pepper, and olive oil

Now for Garten’s easy method of making chicken for salads. While preparing her Waldorf salad on Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro, she shared exactly how she does it. 

“The method I think I use the most, particularly for salads, is bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. And I’m just going to show you how I do it,” she began. 

Garten continued, saying all it takes is three Barefoot Contessa pantry items. “Olive oil, salt, and pepper — it’s as easy as that,” she said before adding, “You want it to have lots of flavor.”

“In the oven, 350 degrees, for 35-40 minutes, and it comes out perfectly every time,” she said. Once cooled, Garten creates “large shreds of chicken” by hand. 

Ina Garten’s serves the salad with a mustard vinaigrette

Next is a simple vinaigrette recipe of Garten’s. “The first thing is olive oil,” she said from the “barn” where Barefoot Contessa’s filmed. She pours it into a liquid measuring cup along with apple cider vinegar, followed by Dijon mustard for “a little heat.” 

“I love to add mustard to vinaigrette because it emulsifies it,” she explained. Then some honey for “just a little bit of sweetness.” Finally, Garten adds a pinch of salt, an ingredient she believes is often used incorrectly, and pepper. “You want it to have lots of flavor,” she explained. “Give it a whisk and that’s the vinaigrette.” 

Ina Garten makes the most of the oven

Garten doesn’t just use the oven to roast meat for her Chicken and Spinach Waldorf Salad. She also uses it to prepare some of the toppings. “In the same oven, I’ve cooked some bacon,” she said as she pulled a sheet pan out of the oven. 

“And still in the same oven, I roasted some nuts,” she added. “It’s actually walnuts, cashews, and almonds. I just roasted them for, like, 10 minutes. It really brings out the flavor.”

After boiling eggs on the stove, Garten brings all of the components together to create her version of a Waldorf salad.

Find the full recipe for Garten’s Waldorf salad on Food Network.

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