Turkey Time: 7 Salads You Can Make Using Leftover Thanksgiving Meat

There’s a good chance that your fridge will be filled with turkey leftovers the day after Thanksgiving. But for those of us who are trying to get back to a healthy, post-holiday diet, reliving our Thanksgiving feast two days in a row is the last thing we want to do. Fortunately, there’s a great way to use your extra meat without wrecking your waistline. Turkey leftovers create a terrific topper for salads, ensuring that you have a light, fresh, and satisfying dish to enjoy the day after Thanksgiving. We’ve compiled 7 salad recipes that let you feast on your favorite holiday bird, without derailing your diet.

1. Turkey Salad with Cranberry Dressing

Source: iStock

Southern Living delivers a salad that lets you put your leftover turkey, dinner rolls, and cranberry sauce to good use. You’ll use your dinner rolls to make crisp and crunchy croutons, which pair perfectly with this salad’s tart and tangy dressing. This recipe yields 8 servings.


  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 4 medium-size dinner rolls, cut into 2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1 (5.5 ounce) package spring greens mix
  • 1 small head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped turkey or ham
  • ½ English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir together first 2 ingredients in a bowl. Add bread cubes; toss to coat. Bake cubes in a single layer in a jelly-roll pan 3 to 5 minutes or until golden, stirring once. Cool completely on a wire rack, about 15 minutes. Combine spring greens, next 3 ingredients, and toasted bread cubes in a serving bowl. Process vinegar and next 6 ingredients in a blender until smooth. Serve with salad.

2. Turkey Waldorf Salad

Source: iStock

Food Network explains that the Waldorf salad was first served in 1896 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. This appetizing dish is both sweet and savory and is filled with fruits, nuts, turkey, and apples. It yields 4 to 6 servings.


  • 2 cups shredded leftover turkey meat
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • ½ cup celery leaves, coarsely chopped, plus more whole leaves for garnish
  • 1 crisp apple, such as Gala or Macintosh, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup red seedless grapes, halved
  • ½ cup pecans, toasted, and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup non-fat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 small celery root, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions: In a large bowl, gently toss the turkey, celery, celery leaves, apple, grapes, and pecans until combined. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mayonnaise, honey, and ¼ teaspoon salt until well combined. Put the celery root in a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the dressing, and toss to coat completely. Add the remaining dressing to the turkey mixture, season with salt and pepper, and toss gently to evenly dress the salad. To serve, spread the celery root evenly onto a serving platter, top with the dressed salad, garnish with celery leaves and serve immediately.

3. Turkey Salad with Worcestershire-Chutney Vinaigrette

Source: iStock

If you’d like to add a little zest to your turkey leftovers, Bon Appétit’s recipe via Epicurious is perfect for you. Mango chutney, malt vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce add fragrant flavors, while toasted pine nuts add a welcome crunch. If you also have extra dinner rolls, we suggest serving them alongside your salad for a satisfying meal.


  • 1 cup mango chutney
  • ½ cup peanut oil
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup malt vinegar
  • ½ (10-ounce) package ready-to-use spinach, stems trimmed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2½ cups cooked turkey, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1⅓ cups crumbled Stilton cheese (about 5½ ounces)
  • 1 cup pine nuts, toasted

Directions: Purée chutney, peanut oil, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar in blender until smooth. Dressing can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Combine spinach, turkey, cheese, and pine nuts in large bowl. Pour enough dressing over to coat salad. Toss to blend. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, passing remaining dressing separately.

4. Turkey and Barley Salad

Source: iStock

Turkey works well with barley and cranberries in Real Simple’s healthy salad. Barley is a low-glycemic grain that’s high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Eating it can lower your blood cholesterol levels, protects against cancer, and provides phytochemicals. This healthy post-Thanksgiving dish yields 4 servings.


  • ¾ cup quick-cooking barley
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 2 cups shredded roasted turkey or chicken
  • ½ cup dried cranberries

Directions: Cook the barley according to the package directions; drain and rinse under cold water to cool. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. In a large bowl, combine the barley, arugula, turkey, and cranberries. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss to combine.

5. Turkey and Napa Cabbage Salad with Lime-Ginger Vinaigrette

Source: iStock

A fresh salad with crunchy veggies, a bright and light dressing, and your extra turkey creates a delicious dish to enjoy for your day-after-Thanksgiving dinner. If you’re planning to make this Turkey and Napa Cabbage Salad with Lime-Ginger Vinaigrette, The Tampa Bay Times suggests removing the meat from the turkey bones the same day the turkey is roasted, which will prevent it from drying out.



  • ½ head napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, grated (about ¾ cup)
  • 2 cups cubed cooked turkey (or chicken)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 ounce low-fat baked tortilla chips, lightly crushed
  • ¼ cup chopped peanuts


  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • Juice of ½ lime (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Directions: In a large serving bowl, layer the cabbage, scallions, carrot, turkey, cilantro, tortilla chips, and peanuts. Set aside. To make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the mustard, soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, and hot sauce until smooth. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water if too thick. Slowly whisk in the oil until the dressing is well blended and uniform. Add the ginger and whisk until incorporated. When ready to serve, drizzle dressing over salad, then toss well.

6. Turkey, Sweet Potato, and Watercress Salad

Source: iStock

Martha Stewart’s Turkey, Sweet Potato, and Watercress Salad is filled with tasty turkey, peppery flavors, crisp radishes, and roasted sweet potatoes. This ravishing recipe yields 6 servings.



  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled, halved crosswise, and cut into ½-inch-thick pieces
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Dressing and Salad:

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1½ cups large shreds cooked turkey
  • 2 bunches watercress, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces (5 cups)
  • 6 radishes, quartered
  • 2 ounces crumbled cotija cheese (½ cup), feta cheese, or ricotta salata

Directions: To make the vegetables, preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss all of the ingredients on a rimmed baking sheet, and spread in a single layer. Roast, stirring once, until sweet potato wedges are golden and tender, about 25 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet. Make the dressing and salad. Whisk lime juice, oil, and parsley in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in roasted vegetables and turkey. Toss with watercress, radishes, and half of the cheese. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top, and serve immediately.

7. Curry Turkey Salad

Source: iStock

Simply Recipes’ Curry Turkey Salad is creamy, tangy, and filled with wonderful flavor. It’s light enough to enjoy as a post-holiday lunch, and is packed with vibrant spices that will certainly please your palate. This recipe yields 2 servings.


  • 2 cups chopped cooked turkey meat
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • ¼ cup of raisins and/or dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions or chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley)
  • 1 rib celery chopped
  • ½ tablespoon yellow curry powder
  • ¼ cup yogurt
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Salt and pepper

Directions: In a small skillet, heat the curry powder on medium low heat until quite fragrant. Remove from heat. Feel free to skip this step if you’re in a hurry. In a large bowl, mix the curry powder, yogurt, mayonnaise, honey, and ground ginger. Add salt and pepper to taste. Gently fold in the chopped, cooked turkey, apple, raisins/dried cranberries, green onions, cilantro, and celery. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve on a bed of lettuce greens.