Have you got leftover meat from your feast? Try this delicious turkey salad tossed in a creamy sauce with crunchy bits. Just mix with lettuce greens for a salad or scoop it onto bread for a hearty sandwich.
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When Thanksgiving winds down, it’s time to use up those leftovers! The last thing you want to do is cook some more after feeling tired and sleepy from all of the tryptophan. Your fridge and pantry may still contain Thanksgiving turkey meat and lingering ingredients. If leftover turkey pot pie isn’t in the cards, I’ll show you how to make a quick and easy turkey salad.
The recipe is a simple combination of creamy mayonnaise, seasonings, and freshly chopped fruit & vegetables. I like to add a few scoops on top of a bed of lettuce for a high protein and low carb meal. But my husband loves it on some toasted sourdough bread for a heartier option.
Prepare the turkey
It’s always a good idea to make enough roast turkey for leftover meals. You’ll need about 1 pound of refrigerated turkey breast and thighs if you like some dark meat mixed in. Chop it up into ½-inch cubes, or you can shred them into small pieces by hand or using a fork to yield about 4 cups of meat.
This recipe also works great with chicken breast. I do this for a quick lunch after making a whole roast.
Make a creamy dressing
The base of the dressing is mayonnaise, and you can make it from scratch if desired. You can also substitute some plain Greek yogurt or sour cream for a lightened tart flavor. Dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar add tanginess to balance the richness of the mayo.
I also add honey just for a hint of sweetness. Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and freshly chopped rosemary add savory and herbaceous notes. For a more robust spiced flavor, you can add curry powder. I use this in my chicken salad sandwiches. It’s delicious!
Add flavorful mix-ins
Turkey has a soft texture, so adding in a mix of fresh and crunchy ingredients makes the salad much more enjoyable. You likely already have some of these in your kitchen cabinets. Chopped celery, red onion, dried cranberries, and pecans give that Thanksgiving dinner vibe all in one dish.
Apples are a crisp surprise element. You can use any type of apple, green for a more tart flavor, or Honeycrisp for something sweeter. Everything comes together in just minutes.
Creative ways to use it
- Add a few scoops on top of a fresh green salad
- Serve with potato chips, crackers, or crostini as a light appetizer
- Make a Thanksgiving sandwhich by adding stuffing and cranberry sauce
Frequently asked questions
About 3 to 4 days, refrigerated in an airtight container. The salad tastes best within 1 to 2 days after the turkey is cooked.
Yes! Chopped chicken breast or thighs or a mix works well. You’ll need 4 cups or about 1 pound. I often use leftover rotisserie chicken for a quick meal.
Omit the higher carb, sweet ingredients like dried cranberries, apples, and honey. It will be much more savory in flavor. You can increase the amount of celery and nuts for extra crunch.
Freezing the mixture
This salad tastes best when eaten within a few days. However, you can freeze it by storing it inside an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator the night before. Because there are chopped fruit and vegetables, they may not taste as crisp as they release moisture from their broken cell walls. Just mix well before serving to incorporate the defrosted liquid.
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- 4 cups cooked turkey, diced into ½" cubes or shredded
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup diced celery, ¼" dice
- ½ cup diced apple, ¼" dice, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Fuji
- ¼ cup diced red onion, or shallots, ⅛" dice
- ¼ cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup chopped pecans, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons honey, or pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary, or ½ teaspoon dried
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- In a large bowl, add the diced turkey, mayonnaise, celery, apple, red onion, cranberries, pecans, mustard, honey, apple cider vinegar, rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Stir to combine—season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Recipe Yield: About 4 cups
- Serving Size: ½ cup
- Storing: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Freezing: Store in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator the night before. Stir before using.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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