If you’re a fan of creamy chicken salad, you’ll love this curry-spiced twist that uses leftover turkey as the base. Use it in sandwiches or wraps, over a bed of lettuce, or enjoy it with crackers for scooping.
Happy Thanksgiving Week! Maybe you have your menu planned out or maybe you don’t. Or maybe you’re not cooking a thing this year. I love any and all options. It’s 2020. Anything goes.
Though I thought I’d just skip making the traditional meal, as it got closer, I couldn’t resist a turkey with all the sides, so that’s the route we’ve chosen. And a whole roasted turkey for 5 people means a lot of food, and a lot of leftovers! This recipe has been such a big hit at our house that Frank requested I buy and roast a much larger turkey than our family even needs so that we can make lots of Curried Turkey Salad with the leftovers.
I owe my discovery of this creamy, lightly spiced, super flavorful dish to my good friend Audra. She has been singing the praises of curried chicken salad for years. When I went to pin down a go-to version, I ultimately landed on Ina Garten’s Curried Chicken Salad. My version is a bit lighter, skips Ina’s white wine, and uses slice toasted almonds instead of the cashews, but it does borrow one key suggestion from that recipe – Mango Chutney. This sweet, fragrant, slightly spicy condiment (it comes in mild or hot, so don’t worry if you don’t like spice) is the thing that really puts this turkey salad over the top.
Be sure to save some leftover turkey for this dish. It’s so easy to make. Here’s how!
- Leftover Roasted Turkey – Use dark meat, light meat, or a combination. You can, of course, also use leftover cooked chicken in this recipe.
- Sliced Almonds – These add nutty flavor and great crunch. Lightly toast them in a pan to maximize their flavor.
- Mayonnaise – It’s really worth using regular mayonnaise (not light). Though plain or Greek yogurt can certainly also work, you’ll get the most delicious rich flavor from the classic.
- Mango Chutney – Don’t skip this if you can help it! It really is the key to the unique flavor of the dish. Loaded with spices and sweet mango, this condiment can be found in most grocery stores near the jams and jellies. Major Grey’s is a common brand. It comes in mild or hot, so choose the one that fits with your spice preference.
- Mild Yellow Curry Powder – This dried spice can be found near the other dried spices and herbs in most standard grocery stores. The mild version has almost no heat at all and is a great option if you don’t prefer spice.
- Shallot and Celery – This combination adds tanginess and crunch. I prefer shallot over onion for its sweeter, mild flavor.
- Golden Raisins – I prefer the color of golden raisins in the turkey salad for a bit of sweetness, and I always feel like they have a bit more sour-sweet balance than regular raisins. That said, there’s no need to run out and get golden raisins just for this recipe. Regular raisins will work just fine. Or you can skip this altogether.
- Chopped Chives or Green Onions – These are totally optional, but they do add some color and a bit of fresh herb flavor.
How to Make Curried Turkey Salad Ahead
You can make the turkey salad up to 3 days ahead – it stores really well in the fridge. Wait to add the almonds and chives / onions until right before serving so that the almonds stay crunchy and the flavor of the onions don’t overwhelm the dish.
I would argue that this salad is actually better a day or two after making it when the flavors have had time to mellow and come together.
My Complete Thanksgiving Menu
- Simple Roasted Turkey
- Bacon Wrapped Dates with Brie and Balsamic Honey (to serve as an appetizer)
- 1-Hour Light and Buttery Dinner Rolls
- Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
- Turkey Gravy with White Wine and Sage
- Homemade Green Bean Casserole
- Focaccia and Bacon Stuffing
- Creamy Butternut Squash and Spinach Casserole
- Cranberry Sauce (from Simply Recipes)
- Slow Cooker Pumpkin Cheesecake
Get more details and a complete Thanksgiving timeline here.
Curried Leftover Turkey Salad
- Skillet or Non-Stick Pan
- Mixing Bowl
- ¼ cup Sliced Almonds
- ⅓ cup Mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp Mango Chutney (see note)
- 1 Tbsp Mild Yellow Curry Powder
- 1 tsp Diced Shallot (optional)
- 4 cups Leftover Roasted Turkey, finely chopped or shredded
- ½ cup Diced Celery
- ¼ cup Golden Raisins (optional; you can skip these altogether or use regular raisins)
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Chopped chives or green onions (optional)
- Place a small skillet or nonstick pan over medium heat. Add almonds to heated pan and toast, stirring frequently, until light golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, chutney (if using), curry powder, and shallot until smooth. Fold in turkey, celery and raisins. Taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed. Add some more mayonnaise if you would like your salad to be more creamy.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate up to three days. (The flavors will improve as it rests in the fridge.)
- Just before serving, stir in almonds and chives / green onions.
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