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Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and of course, delicious food! But we always look forward to are the leftovers. This Cranberry Pecan Turkey Salad is a perfect option for any of your turkey leftovers.
Inspired by a favorite turkey salad from a local grocer, this recipe is packed with sweet and tart cranberries and crunchy Texas pecans. This Thanksgiving leftover recipe is a creative way to use leftover turkey, and you can enjoy it on bread, crackers, or a bed of mixed greens. It’s a true second act for your Thanksgiving turkey, ensuring that every morsel is savored.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
This recipe uses a few pantry staples and along with holiday leftovers.
In the printable recipe below, you can find a complete list of ingredients and measurements.
- Cooked Turkey: This is a delicious use for leftover Thanksgiving turkey and you can use either white meat, dark meat, or a combo of each. Dice or shred it to your desired size, ensuring each bite is filled with turkey goodness.
- Dried Cranberries: These plump, sweet-tart berries add a burst of flavor and a hint of festivity to the salad. Their chewy texture complements the turkey, providing a satisfying contrast.
- Chopped Pecans: The chopped pecans bring a nice crunch to the salad and contribute a rich, nutty flavor. You can roast them for an extra layer of depth. If you don’t have pecans, you can substitute walnuts or almonds.
- Mayonnaise: Creamy mayonnaise serves as the salad’s base that binds the ingredients together. It adds richness and a touch of savory flavor. You can also use low-fat mayonnaise or Greek yogurt instead of regular mayonnaise.
How to Make Cranberry Pecan Turkey Salad
Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.
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Pro-tip: After mixing the salad ingredients, cover it and allow it to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. This resting time lets the flavors meld together, intensifying the taste and making the salad even more delicious.
1. Prepare Turkey Salad: In a medium bowl combine the shredded leftover turkey, cranberries, pecans, celery, parsley, and tarragon and mix well to combine. To the salad add the mayonnaise salt and pepper and stir will. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Cover the bowl with a resealable lid or saran wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
2. Serve: This turkey salad is delicious as a sandwich, served with crackers, or on a bed of mixed greens.
Serving Ideas for Turkey Salad
These are some of our favorite serving options for your Cranberry Pecan Turkey Salad:
- Sandwich: It’s delicious on various bread options like croissants, toasted whole wheat bread, or a hoagie roll.
- Salad: Enjoy it over a bed of chopped romaine or iceberg lettuce for a refreshing salad.
- Wrap: Turn it into a wrap by adding some lettuce or spinach to a large flatbread or tortilla.
- With Crackers: Perfect for a light meal or snack, simply serve it with your favorite crackers.
How to Store
Store leftover cranberry pecan turkey salad in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to 3 to 4 days. It’s not recommended to freeze salads that contain mayonnaise, as mayonnaise can separate and change in texture when thawed.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- Use Leftover Turkey. This salad is a great way to use up leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. The cooked turkey adds a savory and hearty element to the salad.
- Mix Up the Dressing. The dressing is a key component of the salad. You can use mayonnaise as a base and add some Dijon mustard or Greek yogurt for extra creaminess. A splash of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice can provide a tangy contrast to the sweetness of the cranberries.
- Toast the Pecans. While completely optional, toasting the pecans adds a rich, nutty flavor and a pleasant crunch to the salad. Simply place them in a dry skillet over medium heat and stir until they’re fragrant and lightly browned.
- Adjust the Sweetness. You can control the sweetness by adjusting the amount of cranberries and adding sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.
- Get Creative. While this classic recipe is delicious as is, don’t hesitate to get creative. Consider adding diced apples, grapes, or even some crumbled feta cheese for extra flavor and texture.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! You can use a freshly cooked and chopped chicken thigh or breast or make it easy and use rotisserie chicken.
Yes, you can prepare the salad a day in advance. Store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.
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Cranberry Pecan Turkey Salad
This recipe may contain paid affiliate sales links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see my full disclaimer policy for details.
- 2 cups turkey breast, cooked and shredded
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup pecans, chopped
- ½ cup celery, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a medium bowl combine all ingredients and mix well to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Cover and refrigerate for an hour.
- Serve on crackers, on a sandwich, or on a bed of mixed greens.