Thanksgiving Salads

Kick off your holiday dinner with these light, fresh dishes

Apple, Blue Cheese, and Fig Salad
Leah Maroney

Thanksgiving is a time when you want every part of the meal to feel special. Any of these fantastic salads will be a beautiful accompaniment for your turkey. On a day when food preparation is often overwhelming, these recipes won't add to the stress and many can be made the day before and refrigerated, with the dressing on the side, until it's time to put dinner on the table.

Featuring autumn fruits and vegetables, these seasonal salads are totally worthy of your holiday table, and many are great options for vegetarian and vegan guests who might need a filling version as a main dish.

  • 01 of 15

    Fennel, Grapefruit and Arugula Salad

    Fennel, Grapefruit and Arugula Salad

    Getty Images

     

    Wake up your palate for the meal ahead with this bright, refreshing salad. Juicy, sweet and tart grapefruit balance out peppery arugula, creamy avocado, and crisp aromatic fennel. You'll also use the grapefruit juice in the dressing, so nothing is wasted. Add roasted beets for a heartier dish.

    If you're preparing ahead of time, don't slice the avocados or supreme the grapefruit until the last minute to avoid discoloration and sourness. Ready in 15 minutes.

  • 02 of 15

    Beet, Pear, Walnut, and Goat Cheese Salad

    Beet and Pear Salad With Walnuts and Goat Cheese

    Joff Lee-Photolibrary-Getty Images

     

    Tender, oven-roasted beets add beautiful color and texture to this appealing fall salad. The jewel-toned slices and arugula leaves are topped with sweet yellow pears, goat cheese, and a simple walnut oil vinaigrette.

    This salad is a great choice for a vegetarian guest, so if you know there will be a non-meat-eater in your party, add an extra portion of goat cheese to that person's plate so they can have a more filling salad. Roast the beets in advance and assemble in just 15 minutes.

  • 03 of 15

    Apple, Blue Cheese, and Fig Salad

    Apple, Blue Cheese, and Fig Salad
    Leah Maroney

    With crisp-tart autumn apples, rich blue cheese, and a sweet fig and balsamic dressing, this salad makes a festive first course at your holiday dinner. Gorgonzola and Danish blue work wonderfully, but you can add any of your favorite blue cheeses.

    This salad comes out best during the fall, peak season for apples. Use gala, fuji or opal apples. Sweet goes best with salty and creamy cheese. Use pepitas or sunflower seeds if there are any nut allergies to deal with. Prep and serve in 10 minutes.

  • 04 of 15

    Kale and Cheese Salad With Lemon Dressing

    Raw Kale Salad With Grated Cheese and Lemon Dressing

    Jennifer Meier

     

    Kale is abundant in fall, and this salad with grated cheese and zesty lemon juice makes the most of the fresh, crispy greens. Slicing the leaves thinly gives your salad the best texture. You can also go a bit heavy on the dressing as kale will soak up moisture without getting soggy. If you find raw kale texture too hard, try using baby kale, taking the stems out and slicing it as thinly as possible.

    Use Pecorino, Parmesan or Grana Padano as your cheese, and skip the walnut oil, replacing it with olive oil, if there are any nut allergies. Prep and serve in 20 minutes.

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  • 05 of 15

    Pomegranate Apple Salad with Poppyseed Dressing

    Pomegranate Apple Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

    The Picture Pantry

     

    Sweet-tart green apple slices, pomegranate seeds, and crunchy lettuce leaves are complemented by a homemade poppy seed dressing in this lovely winter salad. You could also use a tarter red apple variety for this salad, such as a gala, but the sweet dressing will contrast any tanginess of the apple of your choice.

    The creamy and textured dressing is amazing on any simple salad and is best on rough lettuce like an iceberg type. If you're not a fan of lettuce, experiment with unchopped baby spinach leaves for a rustic presentation. Prep and serve in 15 minutes.

  • 06 of 15

    Shaved Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Cilantro Dressing

    Shaved Asparagus and Arugula Salad With Cilantro Dressing

    Laurel Randolph

     

    Take advantage of the year-round availability of asparagus in a salad that also includes peppery arugula, crispy breadcrumbs, salty Parmesan cheese, and nutty edamame, all dressed in a light herb vinaigrette. Before you start, be sure to have at hand a good hand peeler. This is going to be your tool of choice to peel and shave your vegetables and cheese.

    A crunchy breadcrumb and olive oil mixture tops the salad. Make some hardboiled eggs to serve on the side and offer a vegetarian alternative during your dinner party. Prep and serve in 25 minutes.

  • 07 of 15

    Tossed Salad With Homemade Croutons

    Basic tossed salad with homemade croutons

    The Spruce

    Toss a simple salad with a variety of greens and easy 15-minute homemade croutons for a healthy and light addition to your Thanksgiving feast. Use one of our basic vinaigrette dressings, or offer guests several choices so they can customize the plate.

    Make garlicky croutons, and mix greens, romaine, tomatoes, radishes, and carrots. Add cucumbers, olives, artichokes, or sundried tomatoes for a heartier variation. Or add hardboiled eggs, Cannellini beans or garbanzos for a vegetarian alternative to your meat main. Prep and serve in 40 minutes.

  • 08 of 15

    Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

    Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
    B*2/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

    Sweet potatoes have a wonderful flavor and texture and nothing says Thanksgiving more than their beautiful orange color on a plate. Roast cubed sweet potatoes and mix them with romaine lettuce, crunchy radishes, sweet tomatoes, salty crumbled feta, and pine nuts.

    This filling salad is a great vegetarian addition to the table, and if you serve the cheese on the side can double as a vegan dish. Use any nuts of your liking to add crunch, or pepitas or sunflower seeds for people with nut allergies. Prep and serve in 40 minutes.

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  • 09 of 15

    Green Bean, Clementine, Bulgur Wheat, and Feta Salad

    Green Bean Salad with Clementines, Bulgur Wheat and Feta
    Katie Workman / themom100.com

    Green beans aren't just for casseroles. Combine the vegetable with juicy clementine sections, nutty bulgur wheat, feta cheese, and a simple Dijon-thyme vinaigrette to make a flavorful salad that's full of texture. Blanch the green beans in salty water for just 3 minutes and rapidly cool them off to preserve their crunch. Mix with clementines, cooked bulgur wheat, and top with vinaigrette and feta cheese.

    Plan ahead because you need at least 15 minutes to cook your bulgur wheat. Once all ingredients are ready, assemble the salad in 20 minutes. If making it ahead, reserve the oranges and feta to add just before serving.

  • 10 of 15

    Caesar Salad

    Classic Caesar Salad Recipe

    Night and Day Images/Getty Images

     

    Everyone loves Caesar salad so this traditional preparation with anchovy, garlic, and egg yolks is a popular choice for holiday meals. Be sure to make the dressing immediately before you serve it to avoid separating, and dress the salad right before serving to avoid soggy lettuce.

    This rich dressing can be hand mixed, but a blender works well and saves you time. Careful when salting the dressing because both the anchovies and the Parmesan cheese have a ton of salt. Make crispy croutons before serving. Add grilled shrimp for a fancier salad course. Prep and cook in 30 minutes.

  • 11 of 15

    Seven Layer Salad

    Seven Layer Salad
    Layered Salad. James Baigrie/The Image Bank/Getty Images

    This Southern classic has layers of lettuce, vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, and sweetened mayonnaise dressing. The layered presentation will look pretty on your holiday buffet table but plan ahead because the salad needs to set and chill for at least 12 hours. Making it the night before yields great results, and be sure to have a glass bowl so the layers can be seen.

    Alternate lettuce, eggs, peas, bacon, and Cheddar, and top with a sweet mayonnaise dressing. Decorate with green onions and prep in just 20 minutes.

  • 12 of 15

    Farro, Roasted Chickpea, and Cauliflower Salad

    Farro, Cauliflower, and Chickpea Salad
    © Miri Rotkovitz

    Farro is a delicious whole grain with a satisfyingly chewy texture and so much protein that makes it a great base for salads and pilaf preparations. Here, it's tossed with tasty roasted cauliflower and spiced chickpeas, then dressed simply in lemon and olive oil.

    Make the most of your time by roasting the chickpeas and cauliflower while cooking the farro. The no-hassle assembly takes just 15 minutes and the overall prep and cooking time is 45 minutes.

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  • 13 of 15

    Vegan Couscous Salad

    Vegan Couscous Salad with Chickpeas
    Vegan Couscous Salad with Chickpeas photo by Philippe Desnerck / Getty Images

    If you like your salads hearty, this vegan salad with couscous and chickpeas is sure to delight. It's also got plenty of freshly chopped vegetables and doubles as a great low-calorie first course at your Thanksgiving meal. Non-vegans can sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top for extra flavor, while vegans can grate cashews or sprinkle nutritional yeast.

    Couscous makes a great base for a cold or warm salad, and our recipe mixes it with crunchy cucumbers, peppers, and onions. A lemony dressing is the perfect finish touch. Prep and serve in 15 minutes.

  • 14 of 15

    Persimmon Arugula Salad

    Persimmon Arugula Salad

    Molly Watson

     

    Subtly sweet persimmons partner with the peppery bite of arugula in this colorful autumn salad. Make sure to use ripe fruit for maximum flavor and to make your expense worthwhile. Persimmons are one of the most expensive fruits per pound and cutting open one that's not ripe is a literal waste. Buy a couple and save them until ready to make this salad.

    Mix the arugula and fruit, and coat with a mustard dressing. Prep and serve in 15 minutes.

  • 15 of 15

    Wilted Spinach and Warm Bacon Salad

    spinach salad with warm bacon dressing
    Diana Rattray

    This wilted spinach salad is made with a warm bacon dressing, hard-boiled eggs, and red onion for added zing. The hot dressing of bacon drippings, sugar, vinegar, and salt softens the leafy greens and binds together this filling salad. Once the salad has cooled off a bit, it's time to serve.

    For a different version, sautee some sliced mushrooms, toss in raisins or dried cranberries, or add pinenuts or other nuts for extra crunch and fiber. Prep and serve in 15 minutes.