With tender pasta, tart cranberries, crunchy walnuts and a tangy sweet dressing, this turkey pasta salad is perfect for feeding a crowd, or just when you need to refuel after all that holiday shopping.
I am a huge fan of pasta salads. They are super easy, and really require just a few basic things.
Pasta – I love how pretty bowtie pasta looks, so that’s often my go-to for pasta salads. Any small pasta wil work, like rotini or macaroni.
Fruit or veggies – This version has dried cranberries and sweet mandarin oranges. It also has celery and green onions for balance. You could also make a savory version with all veggies.
Protein – Obviously we went with turkey here, but chicken works, too.
Pasta Salad Dressing – This can go in a sweet, tangy or savory direction and can be light and fresh or thick and creamy. This simple dressing is lightened up with Greek yogurt, and has mayo, apple cider vinegar, honey, salt and pepper.
Texture – I love to include a crunchy element in my pasta salad to balance all the creamy and soft textures. This salad has walnuts, celery and green onions for crunch.
How to make Turkey Pasta Salad
Start by cooking your pasta to al dente. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside to cool.
Chop the turkey, vegetables and walnuts into bite sized pieces.
Drain the oranges completely.
Combine all of the ingredients together in a big bowl, cover it and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days.
Pasta Salad Dressing
While the pasta is cooking, prep the other ingredients and make the dressing.
A good creamy dressing has 3 basic parts – creamy, acidic and sweet. The creaminess comes from a combination of mayonnaise and Greek yogurt. You could use all mayo, or all greek yogurt or even sour cream (or any combination of the three, depending on what you have on hand).
Vinegar provides an acidic balance to the creaminess and honey gives a sweetness. The measurements here are general – feel free to adjust based on your liking.
Feel free to adjust the amounts of ingredients.
Walnuts are optional. If you have an allergy or just don’t like them, leave them out.
Storage: Keep tightly covered in the fridge for up to 3 days. If it seems dry, add a little greek yogurt or mayo and stir to combine.
Make Ahead: You can make this pasta salad ahead of time up to 24 hours.
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Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.