Turkey Cranberry Pasta Salad is loaded with my holiday favorite flavors.  Juicy turkey, sweet tart cranberries, toasted almonds and crunchy celery are mixed with pasta tossed in an easy poppy seed dressing.

Making an easy pasta salad recipe is the perfect way to enjoy leftover turkey.

Turkey pasta salad in a bowl with a metal spoon and salt and pepper in bowls beside it

How to Make Pasta Salad

Pasta salad recipes are my go to for quick and easy meals and potluck dishes! Everyone loves them and you can add anything to them from ham and pineapple (in our Hawaiian pasta salad) or this Dill Pickle Pasta Salad!

  • Pasta Choose a short shape with bumps or ridges to hold in some of the sauce. I’ve used bowties in this recipe.
  • Protein Any type of leftovers will work, this recipe uses leftover roast turkey but you can use chicken or ham.
  • Crunch Pecans and celery add a bit of crunch and texture to this salad. So good! Any nuts from almonds to walnuts will work well.
  • Flavor Cranberries add sweetness, toasted pecans add flavor as do green onions (or red onions).

The first step, toasting the pecans adds a lot of flavor in this recipe.  You can toast a just the amount called for in this recipe on the stovetop but I often toast up a larger batch in the oven. They’re perfect in this salad but also great to sprinkle on other salad recipes too.

How to Toast Nuts:  To toast nuts, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place them on a pan.  Bake 3-5 minutes stirring occasionally.  They don’t take long and can go from perfectly toasted to burnt in a matter of a minutes. Cool and enjoy!

Turkey pasta salad ingredients in a clear bowl with a wooden spoon

Pasta Salad Dressing

I love a creamy poppy seed dressing for this recipe but any sort of creamy sweet dressing will work. Honey mustard dressing is great too.

Shortcut Dressing: Creamy coleslaw dressing makes a great dressing for this pasta salad (store bought our homemade). Add in a sprinkle of poppy seeds.

Turkey pasta salad in a bowl seasoned with pepper

More Great Ways to Enjoy Leftover Turkey

Turkey pasta salad in a bowl with a spoon and salt and pepper
5 from 17 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Turkey Cranberry Pasta Salad

Turkey Cranberry Pasta Salad is loaded with my holiday favorite flavors. Juicy turkey, sweet tart cranberries, toasted pecans and crunchy celery.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 servings
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  • 12 ounces bow-tie pasta or other short pasta
  • 2 cups diced cooked turkey
  • ½ cup celery chopped
  • cup dried cranberries
  • cup pecans or almonds, sliced and toasted
  • ¼ cup green onions sliced
  • cup poppy seed dressing store bought or homemade
  • cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)


  • Place almonds in a small non-stick pan and cook over medium heat until lightly browned.
  • Cook pasta al dente according to package directions.
  • Combine poppy seed dressing, mayonnaise and cider vinegar (and sugar if using) in a small bowl and mix well.
  • Toss all ingredients in a larger bowl and chill at least 1 hour before serving.


Creamy coleslaw dressing also goes well with this recipe.
Replace leftover turkey with chicken or ham if desired.
5 from 17 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 482 | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 130mg | Potassium: 356mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 100IU | Vitamin C: 1.1mg | Calcium: 198mg | Iron: 2.5mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Turkey pasta salad ingredients in a clear bowl and turkey pasta salad in a bowl with a spoon and a title
Turkey pasta salad ingredients in a glass bowl and turkey pasta salad in a bowl with a spoon and writing
Turkey pasta salad in a bowl with a spoon and a title


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Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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Recipe Rating


  1. Didn’t need sugar. Used Marzetti Poppy Seed Dressing. Toasting the almonds was a great idea. Found everything at Wal-Mart. Will make again.5 stars

      1. Hi Regis, if using frozen I would let them defrost and drain the liquid from them so it doesn’t make your salad watery, then I would add them to your preference. I would start with ⅓ of a cup and add more as you need :)