16 Make Ahead Thanksgiving Salad Recipes That Are Anything but Boring (2024)

Thanksgiving salads, though often underappreciated, provide a fresh counterpoint to a celebration characterized by carb-heavy dishes. We rounded up Thanksgiving salad recipes you can make ahead, all of which elevate a sometimes boring requisite into an A-list star.

You can make these salads—in whole or in part—a day or two in advance, reserving valuable oven real estate and precious time and energy for other Thanksgiving side dishes. Whether you're hosting Thanksgiving or contributing a dish, these make-ahead salads stay well clear of the typical warm-up-everything-at-the-last-minute chaos.

While most of our featured salads can be served at room temperature, they're subject to a 2-hour limit. That's the maximum time the USDA recommends leaving perishable foods between 40 and 140 degrees F, an environment where bacteria quickly multiply. This limit applies to cold and hot foods, so before time's up, ensure you reheat, refrigerate, or freeze any food that's been sitting out.

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Brussels Sprouts Salad

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Dried cranberries add a pop of color and flavor to this hearty veggie salad. They contribute sweetness to the mix of thinly sliced Brussels sprouts and bitter radicchio, while pecans add crunch. All this dish's components stand up to its honey-mustard vinaigrette, which you can make ahead to save time on T-Day.

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Make-Ahead Holiday Salad

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Take a load off your Thanksgiving Day tasks by making this colorful salad the day before. The kale leaves and shredded Brussels sprouts stay crisp in the sweet-tart Dijon vinaigrette for hours—and even overnight. Hazelnuts and pomegranate seeds add more color and texture, and a last-minute flourish of croutons seals the deal.

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03of 16

Citrus Salad With Almonds and Manchego

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If you don't mind a salad getting more oohs and ahhs than your turkey, serve this attention-stealing dish. It pairs a medley of in-season citrus—blood oranges, grapefruit, and navel oranges—with radicchio. The citrus is then coated in a maple-Dijon vinaigrette. Prep the citrus and dressing up to two days ahead and store covered, separately, in the fridge and then toss just before serving.

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04of 16

Green Salad With Cornichon Vinaigrette

Don't pass on this salad just because "cornichon" sounds scary! It's just a pickle, what you might know as a gherkin. Cornichons (pronounced "KOR-nee-shons") play a dual role in this punchy salad: They are chopped and mingled with mixed baby greens, and a bit of pickle juice is added to the vinaigrette dressing. Whisk and store the dressing in the fridge for up to two days ahead.

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Miso Caesar Salad

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This recipe gives a classic salad an Asian twist with a rich, umami-packed dressing that swaps the usual mustard and Parmesan with miso paste. Make the yolk-free dressing and crunchy croutons the day before, leaving a simple assembly task for Thanksgiving Day.

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Celery-and-Apple Salad With Crispy Buckwheat

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This multi-textured combo of celery, apple, and trendy buckwheat stands up to its apple cider vinegar dressing for hours without wilting. It provides a refreshing crunch amidst a table full of rich, heavy dishes.

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07of 16

Green Bean and Celery Salad

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You'd expect to find sesame seeds, green beans, and celery on a Thanksgiving spread, but the three together in one dish, in a salad? It works! This is a great candidate if you're tasked by the host to bring a dish. Cook the beans and mix the dressing a day or two ahead, combine before serving, and serve cold or at room temperature.

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08of 16

Mustardy Kale Salad With Roasted Sweet Potato and Apple

This hearty Thanksgiving salad guarantees the taste of fall in every bite. It combines roasted sweet potatoes with kale, apple slices, and chopped almonds, all coated in a lemon mustard dressing and topped with shaved pecorino. Store covered in the fridge for up to a day ahead.

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Beet Radicchio Salad

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This colorful salad provides a dramatic purple presentation on your Thanksgiving tablescape. Green arugula and orange slices add punches of contrasting colors to entice guests. Save yourself some stress by cooking the beets and blending this salad's lemony maple-miso vinaigrette up to two days ahead.

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Roasted Carrot Salad

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This Thanksgiving dish walks the line between a salad and a side dish. It features roasted rainbow carrots but is tossed in a lemony olive oil dressing and can be served at room temperature, making one less dish to warm up at the last minute.

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11of 16

Superfood Lentil Salad

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This salad will be especially well-received by health-minded and vegan guests. With broiled zucchini chunks, earthy lentils, sweet golden raisins, and nutty sunflower seeds, it could be a meal in itself if it wasn't Thanksgiving. Store the completed dish in the fridge for up to 24 hours, and serve at room temperature.

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12of 16

Roasted Sweet Potato and Bulgur Salad

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Is it a salad, a starch, or a veggie side? Yes! This whatever-it-is packs whole grains, nutrient-rich vegetables, creamy feta, and crunchy pistachios into a colorful one-side-fits-all dish for Thanksgiving. Cook the bulgur and sweet potatoes the day before and store each, separately, covered in the fridge.

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13of 16

Grapefruit, Beet, and Radish Salad

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It's not often that a salad steals the show at Thanksgiving, but this one just might. A vibrant mix of color and texture is dressed in just a smidgen of olive oil with salt and pepper. With the simple seasoning, the flavors of the fruit and veg really shine through. Store this completed salad covered in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

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Green Bean Salad with Crispy Bread Crumbs

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There's a lot to love about this dish besides how it tastes: It's green, it counts as a salad or a side, you can make it a day ahead, and it's served at room temperature. For a unique briny twist, it mates freshly cooked green beans with anchovies (but you can leave them out if you're not a fan).

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Tangy Broccoli Slaw

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Blurring the line between a slaw and a salad, this Thanksgiving dish starts with quick-broiled broccoli, giving it a light, crisp char. It finishes with the addition of sour cherries, sliced almonds, and shallots tossed in a probiotic-rich, kefir-based dressing. Store the completed salad in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

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Spiced Carrot Salad

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Instead of a summery, mayo-dressed carrot salad, this fall recipe coats carrots and raisins in warm Moroccan spices, namely cumin and crushed red pepper. Shred the carrots up to four days ahead, and keep them covered in the fridge until serving (or buy them pre-shredded).

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16 Make Ahead Thanksgiving Salad Recipes That Are Anything but Boring (2024)
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