Does Salad Belong On Your Thanksgiving Table?

The verdict’s in on whether leafy greens deserve a space on your Turkey Day plate.

Autumn Salad with Maple-Cider Vinaigrette
Photo: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

Sometimes I think of Thanksgiving as one giant game of Tetris. I’m constantly trying to finagle the best ways to fit everything in. Whether that’s one more casserole warming in the oven, one more dish crammed on the dinner table, one more bite of pumpkin pie in my belly, or one extra seat for a new friend.

On Thanksgiving Day, there are plenty of must-make dishes. Turkey , for one. Then there’s dressing , green bean casserole , mashed potatoes , cranberry sauce , and for the true Southerners, those deviled eggs . But when it comes to planning out those second-tier dishes, I’ve got one question: Does salad belong on the Thanksgiving table?

While I’m sure many will disagree, arguing that it’s a waste of time or space—or both, I’ve got it on strong authority that there’s never a bad time for a bright, fresh salad. And yes, that includes on Thanksgiving Day. Just hear me out. I’m not suggesting that you take up prime real estate on your plate with a massive portion of the stuff. But a small corner, or even a salad plate to accompany your regularly scheduled carb-filled feast, can work wonders.

"Think of salad as a palate cleanser that’s meant to complement not detract from the real stars of the Thanksgiving table." - Tara Massouleh McCay, Editor

While the rest of your meal sings a familiar chorus of starch, salt, and fat, a couple bites of fresh roughage will cut through the muddle and make that next bite of mac and cheese taste all the better. Think of salad as a palate cleanser that’s meant to complement not detract from the real stars of the Thanksgiving table. Sure, no one’s waiting 364 days to eat a salad, but those couple of bites of greens will make the pineapple and sweet potato casseroles of the world shine all the brighter.

And I’m not alone in the Great Thanksgiving Salad Crusade. Sixty-two percent of our polled Instagram followers like adding a salad to their spread. Assistant Homes Editor Cameron Beall says her family is adamant about the add. Their meal always includes a simple green salad tossed with pomegranate seeds, toasted walnuts, and a light, homemade vinaigrette. “It’s the perfect thing to balance out your plate,” she says.

“It’s the perfect thing to balance out your plate." - Cameron Beall, Assistant Homes Editor

Even Senior Digital Editor Rebecca Baer, once a strict anti-salad campaigner, is making an exception this year. “I will say, I was staunchly opposed to salad at Thanksgiving. I thought it just took up space that carbs should have, but I’m changing my tune this year thanks to this Sweet and Tangy Roasted Pumpkin Salad . Will my family riot? To be determined. But I make the menu and I cook, so this is going to be on the table this year,” says Rebecca.

Not convinced? Recipes from this collection of Thanksgiving salads are just begging for a spot on your table. From hearty kale tossed with apples and sweet potatoes to a shaved Brussels sprouts stunner that comes together in a flash, we’re making the case that salads do, in fact, belong on the Thanksgiving table.

At least, one will always find a home on mine.

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