This turkey salad recipe is so flavorful, colorful, and delicious! And it makes great use of your leftover turkey from Thanksgiving or any other occasion.
Adding cranberries makes perfect sense. Don't you think turkey and cranberries go together so nicely? Add pecans, and you have the perfect turkey salad.
I added pecans since pecan pie has been a traditional dessert for Thanksgiving in my family for as long as I can remember. But you can also use almonds or walnuts if you wish. I bet the turkey salad will be just as delicious!
A turkey cranberry salad like this adds both savory and sweet flavors, which, in my opinion, is the perfect salad!
This turkey salad with cranberries will use up quite a bit of your leftover turkey but will also leave plenty of turkey for all your other favorite leftover dishes.
If you need some help using all your turkey, here's a great roundup of turkey leftover recipes to help you along.
How to Make Leftover Turkey Salad with Cranberries
This turkey salad recipe is so quick and easy - but you'll likely forget how easy it was once you taste it!
You will basically just gather all your ingredients and combine them in a large bowl and mix. You can either shred your turkey or cut it into chunks. I think shredding blends the turkey flavors with the other ingredients better, but choose which method you prefer.
Note that you can also use leftover chicken or canned chicken for this recipe, as the flavor profile is pretty much the same for chicken and turkey.
You will want to chop the nuts somewhat, but don't pulverize them. You don't want powder, and you don't want pecan halves (at least I don't). So go somewhere in between and have small chunks after breaking them up a bit.
The reason I prefer smaller pieces of things in my recipes overall is because I believe the flavors meld throughout the dish better. In my opinion, there's not much worse in a recipe than big chunks throughout.
I like to taste each flavor in each bite. Big chunks prevent this and cause you to go hunting and gathering for each ingredient to put on your spoon or fork with each bite in order to get the full effect of all the flavors.
Is this just me? Ah well ... welcome to my culinary world!
You can use dried, store-bought cranberries, or you can use fresh cranberries. Keep in mind, however, that the fresh cranberries will offer a much more tart flavor to your turkey salad than if you use the dried, sweetened version.
If using fresh, rinse them well first, then chop them up into halves or fourths before adding to the salad.
How to Serve Cranberry Turkey Salad
You can serve this turkey salad recipe over lettuce, on bread as a sandwich, or all by itself in a bowl or on a plate. It's delicious any way you want to serve it.
If you eat this turkey salad on bread as a sandwich, consider serving with a cup or bowl of my easy, cheesy Crock Pot Potato Soup.
It can be served as your main entree, or as a side dish. You can also place a small portion on top of fancy crackers as an appetizer. Top with a bit of dry parsley or chives, and you have a fancy-shmancy party food.
Great for brunch, lunch, dinner, or a party - this turkey salad recipe is super versatile and delicious! Let me know in the comments below how you and your family liked it!
If you don't want to use mayonnaise, you can just use extra plain yogurt in its place. It will offer a more tart flavor, but it's a great substitution if you're either out of mayo or simply want to use a lower-fat option.
I like using a mixture of both, as I love both the salty, creamy aspect of the mayonnaise as well as the slight tartness of the yogurt.
For the cranberries, you could substitute raisins or grapes if desired. You will get a nice color variation (which is part of the beauty of the recipe) as well as good flavor.
For the pecans, you could use almonds or walnuts and have a great salad. The pecans are somewhat sweet. Walnuts will add a more "oily" taste that's potentially less crunchy, but I think they would be a nice option. Almond slivers would offer a nice crunch and be less sweet than the pecans.
Cashews are also a nice substitution for the pecans, as they also have a slight sweetness just like the pecans.
I love the addition of the purple cabbage, as I think it offers a nice crunch, beautiful color, and also another flavor to the salad that would be missed (in my opinion).
Turkey Salad Recipe with Cranberries
- 2 cups cooked turkey or chicken, shredded or cut in chunks
- 2 stalks celery (about 1 cup), chopped
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup pecans, chopped
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup plain yogurt (unsweetened and unflavored)
- salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dry thyme
- 1 teaspoon dry marjoram
- ¾ cup purple cabbage, finely chopped
- Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate or serve right away. Can be made up to 3 days ahead of using. Can be stored up to 3 days after making.
- Serve over a bed of lettuce, on bread or crackers, or by itself.