Lindsay's first television appearance was at age seven when her school choir, the St Winifred's School Choir, released There's No One Quite Like Grandma, which reached number one on the UK Singles Chart in 1980.
Lindsay studied English at the University of Hull and had aspirations of becoming a journalist. However, she was cast in a play and enjoyed the experience, and then studied at North Cheshire Theatre School before dabbling with stand up comedy. When she was 24, she met and became friends with comedian Peter Kay. Subsequently, Lindsay and Kay appeared together in Phoenix Nights and in the video for the Comic Relief single Is This the Way to Amarillo?. In 2000, she appeared in an episode of The Royle Family, playing Twiggy's girlfriend, Michelle.
After winning the "Best Actress" category in the Inside Soap 2005 Awards, Lindsay implied in a radio interview on Mark Radcliffe's BBC Radio 2 show, where she was a regular guest, that she would be leaving the soap at the end of her contract (before the end of the year) to pursue some comedy projects. Lindsay subsequently announced that she would leave the role in 2006 after playing Shelley for five years. Lindsay returned for several episodes in late September 2006.
In 2010, Lindsay joined the cast of BBC Three sketch show Scallywagga on BBC Three. She also appeared as the recurring character 'tea lady' in the second series of the BBC One comedy drama Reggie Perrin co-starring Martin Clunes.
The ITV detective series Scott & Bailey, which began airing in 2011, was developed from an idea conceived by Lindsay and fellow Coronation Street actress Suranne Jones. As a fan of television programmes such as Cagney & Lacey, Lindsay was interested in the concept of a programme detailing the lives of two professional women. She had originally been set to portray the character Janet Scott, but due to the birth of twin sons wasn't able to commit to this role. Lindsay appears instead as Alison Bailey, the sister of Jones' character in episodes of the first and second series but only limited appearances in the first series due to being pregnant with twins.
Since August 2011, Lindsay has starred in the Sky1 comedy series Mount Pleasant as Lisa, described as a "real woman in a real marriage living in a real part of Manchester."
Since 2013, Lindsay has played Mrs. Agnew in BBC sitcom Still Open All Hours. In 2014, she made a guest appearance in an episode of Citizen Khan playing the role of care worker, Sam. In 2015, she played the role of Kathy in the BBC television drama Ordinary Lies.
In September 2011, Lindsay became a permanent panellist on Loose Women, replacing Coleen Nolan, who decided to leave the show the previous series. On 20 March 2014, she made her final appearance as a panellist.
In Series 16, she appeared a total of 53 times. In Series 17 she appeared a total of 22 times. In Series 18 she appeared 25 times.
After leaving Coronation Street in 2006, Lindsay concentrated on theatre work. In 2006, she played Marilyn Monroe in the musical Ella, meet Marilyn by Bonnie Greer opposite Rain Pryor at the Pleasance Ace Dome in Edinburgh and appeared in The Ho-Ho Club at the King's Head Theatre, Islington, London. In summer 2007, Lindsay played Beatrice in an open air run of Much Ado About Nothing at Stafford Castle.
Lindsay played Helen in Shelagh Delaney's acclaimed drama A Taste of Honey in November and December 2008 at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.
Lindsay returned to the Royal Exchange in July 2009, playing Linda in the world premiere of Niel Bartlets 'Everybody Loves a Winner' for the Manchester International Festival. She then toured with Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues", which ended in November 2009.
Lindsay also appears as a regular guest contributor to the Radcliffe and Maconie Show on BBC Radio 2 and she launched a DVD Sally Lindsay's Party Pub Quiz (2008), shot a role in a comedy pilot Till I Die for the ITV network and starred in a radio comedy for Radio 4 Pick-Ups with John Thomson.
Lindsay voiced the character of Piella Bakewell in the 2008 BBC Wallace and Gromit film A Matter of Loaf and Death which aired on Christmas Day. She was hand picked for the role by Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park after he heard her voice on the radio.
In 2015 Lindsay revealed that she was a supporter of the Labour Party and campaigned for the party during the general election. In July that year, she endorsed Andy Burnham in the Labour leadership election.
Lindsay married former drummer of The Style Council and Paul Weller Band, Steve White, in 2013. The couple have twin boys, Vic and Louie.