I see stretchy sweatpants and leftover Thanksgiving turkey in our future, and I have just the recipe for us both: a healthy spin on classic comfort, Turkey Salad.
After you’ve spent meaningful time with people you love. After you’ve enjoyed a spread worthy of kings (don’t forget Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole, Crockpot Green Bean Casserole, and Homemade Scalloped Potatoes!). After you’ve washed the dishes. There’s one more task to tackle…
What to do with all of the Thanksgiving turkey leftovers??
Don’t send that turkey away in Tupperware just yet! And don’t use it all for Turkey Tetrazzini.
You need that juicy turkey for today’s holiday twist on my reader-favorite Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad. It takes the spirit of the core ingredients in classic chicken Waldorf salad and gives them a special harvest flare.
In addition to leftover turkey, this recipe takes advantage of extra cranberries, thyme, celery, and pecans sitting around after the big meal.
When tossed together with a creamy yogurt dressing (this is a turkey salad recipe without mayo!) they transform into a versatile dish you’ll be happy to eat anytime throughout the upcoming week.
How to Make Turkey Salad from Scratch
There’s no better way to use turkey leftovers for a healthy reset when you don’t want to let go of Thanksgiving flavors just yet.
This turkey salad recipe without mayo (just like my Whole30 Chicken Salad) is a healthy way to get you back on track after indulging in a great holiday meal.
Back on track while in stretchy pants, obviously (because jeans anytime during the week of Thanksgiving should not be allowed).
- Turkey. Just like chicken, turkey meat is wonderful in salad recipes like this. It provides lean protein and a hint of flavor without overpowering the other mix-ins and tasty yogurt dressing.
If you’re finding this recipe and it’s not the Thanksgiving season, you can use chicken in lieu of leftover turkey. In fact, here are 3 great ways to prepare chicken to use with this recipe:
- Cranberries. While a Waldorf turkey salad with grapes is more traditional, keep Thanksgiving rockin’ by making turkey salad with cranberries. They add a great burst of sweetness to the other savory flavors.
- Apples. Yes, texture! Turkey salad with apples perfectly balances the tender turkey and creamy Greek yogurt.
- Celery. Like apples, the crunch provided by celery bits is a 100% necessity.
- Pecans. Never enough crunch. You can also swap them for walnuts or almonds.
- Thyme. Its quintessential Thanksgiving flavor is right at home here. (If you prefer, you could also swap dill, which is a bit more traditional.)
- Curry Powder. This recipe calls for a titch of curry powder for its sweet aroma and warm touch. If you love that zesty curry flavor and want more, this Curry Chicken Salad is not one to miss!
- Toast and chop the pecans.
- Add the salad ingredients to a bowl.
- Add the dressing ingredients to a separate bowl.
- Whisk until smooth.
- Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients, stirring to coat. Serve as desired and ENJOY!
How to Serve Turkey Salad
I love having a bowl of turkey or chicken salad ready to go in the fridge for when it’s needed. It covers your healthy and versatility bases so well and can be served in so many ways. Here are great options for you:
- Buns. If you have the odd family member who doesn’t love a leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwich, have them try it on a sweet Hawaiian roll or pretzel bun. They’ll add those to their thankful list real fast.
- Whole Wheat Bread. A classic, wholesome choice for easy, healthy meals.
- Lettuce Wraps. Try crisp lettuce cups to keep it fancy without the fuss and flavorful without the work.
- Crackers. A spoonful on a cracker makes a perfect appetizer for friends or a snack for yourself while cooking.
- Croissant. Stop by your local bakery for these fresh, buttery pillows. A turkey salad croissant is a refreshing change of pace from a standard sandwich we all eat so often.
- To Store. Turkey salad can last for up to 3 days in the fridge.
- To Freeze. While you can freeze turkey salad with mayo or Greek yogurt, the dressing will likely become watery once thawed, so I don’t fully recommend it. If you insist, freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator and stir well before serving.
Serve a dollop of this turkey salad over a bed of greens for an easy and satisfying meal. For a more hearty option, serve the turkey salad over a bed of cooked and cooled quinoa or orzo.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Mixing Bowls. A must-have in every kitchen.
- Baking Sheet. Perfect for roasting nuts, veggies, and so much more.
- Small Whisk. The ideal size for mixing dressing ingredients together.
FOR THE SALAD:
- 2/3 cup raw pecan halves
- 3 cups ½-inch diced or shredded leftover turkey or swap cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pounds or 3 small/medium breasts)
- 3 medium stalks celery diced scant 1 1/2 cups
- 2 large green onions or 3 small/medium green onions thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 small tart apple such as Granny smith, diced
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- Serving suggestions: mini pretzel buns whole grain bread, croissants, lettuce cups, chopped lettuce, crackers
FOR THE DRESSING:
- 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure maple syrup or honey
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus additional to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper plus additional to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pecans in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until the nuts are fragrant, toasted, and crisp. Set a time and don’t walk away! Transfer nuts to a cutting board and let cool. Roughly chop.
- In a large mixing bowl, place the turkey, celery, green onions, apples, cranberries, and chopped toasted pecans.
- In a separate mixing bowl or large liquid measuring cup, add the dressing ingredients: Greek yogurt, lemon juice, maple syrup, thyme, curry powder, salt, and pepper.
- Whisk the ingredients together.
- Pour the dressing over chicken salad ingredients and stir gently to evenly coat. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Depending upon the saltiness of your turkey, you may need more salt (I added an extra pinch). Enjoy immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve on toasted bread, split croissant, pretzel buns, lettuce cups, or dip with crackers. I also love this over chopped greens like romaine or radicchio.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate leftover salad in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- TO FREEZE: While you can freeze turkey salad with mayo or Greek yogurt, the dressing will likely become watery once thawed. Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator and stir well before serving.
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