20 Fresh and Vibrant Salads for Thanksgiving Dinner

20 Fresh and Vibrant Salads for Thanksgiving Dinner

Kelli Foster
Nov 22, 2016

Thanksgiving is a time for plates piled high with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and much more. It's a day of feasting at its finest. But in the mix of all those comforting side dishes, I also like to include the option for something a little lighter, like a fresh and vibrant salad.

These 20 colorful salads will show you it's worth making room for a bright spot on the Thanksgiving table in the form of a refreshing salad — leafy greens, optional.

(Image credit: Andrea Bemis/Tara Mataraza Desmond)
(Image credit: Sarah E Crowder)

1. Spinach Salad with Warm Brown Butter Dressing

This classic and easy spinach salad nixes the standard bacon vinaigrette, but you'll never miss it because what you get instead is way better: a warm brown butter dressing that really makes this salad sing.

(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

2. Bar Tartine's Chicory Salad with Anchovy Dressing

If you like Caesar salad, like real Caesar salad with plenty of anchovies and garlic, then this is the salad for you. Because this salad is packed with sturdy, zippy chicories, like endive and radicchio, it won't wilt quickly and can actually benefit from sitting in the dressing a bit to mellow out.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

3. Light & Easy Broccoli Salad

This salad is easy to throw together and light, with a hint of sweetness and a good crunch factor — just what you want in a Thanksgiving salad.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

4. Arugula, Pear & Blue Cheese Salad with Warm Vinaigrette

This salad is one of those recipes where the end result is way more than the sum of the ingredients. And what really makes it stand out is the warm vinaigrette.

(Image credit: Anjali Prasertong)

5. Garlicky Grilled Kale Salad with Grilled Bread

Impress your kale-loving friend with a grilled kale salad in your Thanksgiving mix. It's smoky and garlicky, studded with chunks of grilled bread, and topped with a fresh citrus dressing.

(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

6. Kohlrabi and Cabbage Salad with Maple Lemon Dressing

This salad is a great make-ahead side dish because the kohlrabi and cabbage are sturdy enough that they won't wilt very much as they sit, and the flavors just meld together really well.

(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

7. Alice Waters' Baked Goat Cheese with Spring Lettuce Salad

This classic salad might just be one of the most delicious, enjoyable ways to eat a pile of greens — France meets California, cozy and fresh at the same time.

(Image credit: Andrea Bemis)

8. Mediterranean Cauliflower Couscous Salad

When you want a salad but prefer to skip the greens, this cauliflower "couscous" salad — loaded with tomato, chickpeas, olives, herbs, and a bright lemon dressing — definitely does the trick.

(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

9. Kale with Apples, Currants, and Warm Pancetta Vinaigrette

This is a fun twist on a warm spinach salad, with the hearty kale standing up to a rich pancetta dressing and tart apples.

(Image credit: Andrea Bemis)

10. Collard Green Salad with Strawberries & Tahini Dressing

Can't find decent fresh berries this time of year? No problem. Instead, we love swapping them and sweetening this salad with some seasonal persimmons or dried cranberries.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

11. Kale & Quinoa Salad with Dates, Almonds & Citrus Dressing

Not only will this shredded kale salad with a fresh citrus dressing be a total crowd-pleaser at your Thanksgiving table, but it's also an ideal make-ahead dish.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

12. Chopped Brown Rice Salad with Grapes and Pecans

With brown rice, crunchy pecans, and a burst of sweetness from grapes, this salad is a cross between a big bowl of leafy greens and a hearty side dish.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

13. Arugula & Fennel Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

When you want a simple salad to make the meal complete, this tumble of arugula and shaved fennel is all you need.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

14. Fennel and Radicchio Winter Salad with Pecans

It's really hard to go wrong with vegetables like these. The bitter radicchio is pleasant with the sweet, anise-flavored fennel, and the romaine lightens everything up with its crunch.

(Image credit: Tara Mataraza Desmond)

15. Apple Cabbage Salad with Cider Vinaigrette

This vibrant combination of apples and cabbage is made for fall comfort classics, which is precisely why it makes a welcome addition to your Thanksgiving spread.

(Image credit: Andrea Bemis)

16. Carrot Tahini Salad

This light and crunchy salad is a bright companion to the heavier sides on your holiday table. The raisins also pair really well with the spiced chickpeas for a wonderful combination of sweet and savory.

(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

17. Baked Goat Cheese Salad with Creamy Walnut Vinaigrette

This salad gives your fresh and comforting all in one bowl, with a big pile of greens topped with crunchy pecans, soft baked goat cheese, and a thick walnut vinaigrette.

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

18. Sicilian-Inspired Blood Orange Salad

The perfect salad is crucial to any supper, and Thanksgiving is no exception. Skip the greens and let a tangy blend of citrus fruits lead the show in this colorful and vibrant salad.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

19. Lemony Green Salad with Radicchio & Pepitas

This go-to side salad is colorful and bright, with a mixture of greens, a touch of lemon zest, and some crunchy pepitas.

(Image credit: Anjali Prasertong)

20. Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Apples, Hazelnuts & Brown Butter Dressing

Eaten within a few hours of making it, the salad is crunchy and refreshing, but you can also make it a day ahead, leaving the Brussels sprouts soft and infused with the brown butter dressing.

Not all salads are made the same, so how can you choose the right plate of greens for your table? Play our Recipe Roulette, with a Thanksgiving twist, to decide which salad will have your guests seeing green this year.

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