55 Recipes That Are WAY Better As Leftovers
Fact: Some foods are infinitely better after they sit around for a while. Be it chemistry, physics, or alchemy (truthfully I'm not quite sure), it's an absolute law. And that's a great thing when it comes to cooking dinner, because plenty of recipes yield more than we need at the moment. So don't worry if these dishes don't get eaten up in the first night; you won't have to worry about leftovers for long.
Slow-Cooker Four-Cheese Spaghetti with Italian Sausage
Switch up your go-to slow-cooker meals and go for a cheesy pasta dish that's loaded with hearty sausage. It's a great option for the entire family, and you can take the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Mexican Chili Verde Chicken Casserole
This casserole is a favorite in our test kitchen and it's easy to see why. It's delicious, family friendly and easy to prep. You might want to double this recipe—you're going to want leftovers.
Shrimp and Ramen Stir-Fry
The college student's standby gets a serious upgrade in this tasty stir-fry supper. Using quick-cooking, packaged ramen noodles (minus the seasoning packet) as a base, simply bulk them up with frozen shrimp, veggies, and a quick and flavorful homemade sauce to create a weeknight-friendly dinner. Added bonus: The leftovers make for an excellent next-day packed lunch.
Copycat Panda Express Chow Mein
You can make this Panda Express menu favorite at home in less time than it’d take you to load in the car and hit the drive thru. Even better, you can customize our copycat chow mein easily by adding in any favorite veggies you have on hand. If you want to bulk this easy noodle dish into an entree, add your protein of choice—leftover chicken, shrimp, or a freshly fried egg would all make great additions (and they won’t cost extra).
Sporting a crust made from woven bacon and topped with sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon and cheese—this “meatza” is not for the faint of heart (it may be a hit with your keto friends, though). Baking the bacon base on a wire rack helps it cook faster and crisp up nicely because air can circulate underneath and the bacon is not sitting in its own grease.
Roasted Butternut Squash-and-Spinach Lasagna
Talk about the perfect fall dinner.
Instant Pot Lasagna
Weeknight dinner doesn't get easier than this—we're talking cheesy, gooey, and ready in a flash. The next time the craving for hearty, comfort food strikes, just remember, Instant Pot Lasagna has your back.
Instant Pot Butter Chicken
If you say you don't like Indian food, you've probably never tried butter chicken. This easy dish is mild on spice (unless you don't want it to be) and big on flavor - perfect for a weeknight dinner.
Chicken Panang Casserole
When a Thai craving strikes, you’re first instinct probably isn’t to break out a casserole dish, but his streamlined take on classic chicken panang curry is a flavor-packed, one-dish dinner that’s gonna have you rethinking what it means to casserole. Don’t be intimidated by the seemingly lengthy ingredient list—most of the ingredients are easily found at a typical supermarket, and many may already be waiting in your pantry. Trickier items, like the lemongrass, kefir lime leaves, Thai basil, and tamarind paste can be purchased at an Asian market. Alternatively, you can substitute a bit of lime zest for the lemongrass, leave out the lime leaves altogether, use regular basil in place of Thai, and substitute a little molasses for the tamarind paste. Once you have your ingredients together, preparing the dish is incredibly simple. Even better—it’s make-ahead friendly. Thus, this warming casserole is a perfect dish for holiday entertaining and out-of-town visitors. Simply prep and freeze for an almost-instant and impressive dinner when company arrives.
"Meaty" Vegetarian Chili
This is an all-time favorite for a chilly night. The classic meaty beef chili gets a modern makeover with the combination of three hearty beans and vegetarian ground “beef.” Make this dish in bulk and freeze the leftovers for a lazy dinner down the road. Feel free to change up the vegetables in any way you’d like; butternut squash or zucchini are always delicious additions. A recipe so good, even carnivores will be asking for seconds.
Pressure Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
This speedy take on chicken tikka masala is one of those big flavor, low effort meals you'll want to put on repeat week after week. In fact, this recipe exemplifies just about every reason we love the pressure cooker—it's efficient, it's easy to use, and it produces huge flavor in a matter of minutes. If you do a little bit of prepping ahead (say, cooking your rice and chopping aromatics the night before or in the morning), this rich and saucy supper can be on your dinner table in 10 minutes.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Chicken Chilaquiles Casserole
In a pinch and in need of a quick meal that will please everyone? A one-pan, assemble-and-bake Tex-Mex casserole just might be the answer. It takes just 5 ingredients to make a melty, cheesy, smoky green chile chicken dish. Add rice and black beans for a full on fiesta! Use the breast and leg quarters of a rotisserie chicken and store-bough enchilada sauce for convenience. This super-fast dish is even more delicious served with pico de gallo, guacamole, or even leftover tostadas on top for more crunch. If you can't find tostadas, yellow corn tortilla chips will also work.
Poached Chicken Noodle Bowl
There’s no better way to describe this poached chicken dish than wellness in a bowl. The delicate and delicious noodle bowl is a shining example of how to make and use poached chicken like a pro. Gently poaching chicken breasts in a liquid thats lightly flavored with aromatics, such as ginger and lemongrass, leads to wonderfully succulent, tender meat with a lovely level of flavoring. In this wholesome dish, we also use the poaching liquid both to cook the noodles and create the light coconut broth. The key to successful poaching is temperature control; once you’ve added your chicken to the pot, you want to keep your poaching liquid from ever reaching a boil. In fact, you should aim to keep the water at a state of releasing wispy spouts of steam from the surface, but never bubbling, throughout the entirety of the cooking process. (It’s not nearly as intense/difficult as it seems.) You should also try to purchase chicken breasts that are roughly the same size so that they cook at the same rate.
Soba Noodle and Pork Casserole
This is not your mom's creamy noodle casserole. After this dish, miso cream sauce will be your new go-to sauce for everything. It only has 3 ingredients, it's perfectly seasoned and creamy, and just thick enough to hold up to a good noodle. The creaminess is complemented by the crunchiness of the peanuts and panko in this casserole and the green onion and cilantro brighten it up. Make this dish gluten-free by replacing the panko with extra peanuts and using gluten-free miso. We think Togarishi-- a Japanese 7-spice blend found at Asian markets-- is worth the buy, but if you cannot find it use Chinese 5-spice.
Instant Pot Beef and Bean Chili
Using the flavor concentrating magic of the Instant Pot, we reach next-day level of delicious chili deliciousness in under an hour with this bold and meaty Beef and Bean Chili. Although optional, simmering beef bones in the chili makes it extra rich and we’d highly recommend trying it. If you ask your butcher for some spare beef bones when you go to pick up stew meat, they will likely be more than happy to help you out. We like to serve such a robustly savory chili with bright toppers like sour cream, fresh cilantro, fresh jalapeño, and a sprinkle of sharp cheddar, but feel free to dress your bowl up however you like. Finely chopped onion and some avocado wedges would also be welcome here.
Creamy Brioche and Egg Bake
This stand alone breakfast dish is an upgrade from the usual breakfast casserole. Baking eggs in brioche and heavy cream allows for perfectly set, soft, and runny eggs. Fresh herbs and rich egg and meaty sausage flavors round out this bake and give it irresistable texture. Ask for brioche at your local grocery store or bakery and they are sure to have it.
Instant Pot Gumbo
Gumbo is traditionally a time- and labor-intensive dish, but our Instant Pot recipe delivers full-on flavor in just one hour.
Lasagna is a powerful, thoughtful act of love, care, and precision. Lasagna is an art form. Lasagna cannot be just thrown together last minute to get dinner on the table. Good lasagna is better than the greatest casserole, and great lasagna is a desert island dish, a death row request for a last supper. A good lasagna can be achieved with store-bought noodles, a good meat sauce, creamy ricotta and mozzarella. A great lasagna is about a zillion layers of super-thin homemade noodles, rich béchamel sauce, homemade ragu made with three to four meats, fontina and Parmigiano reggiano.
On the rare occasion I make it, I cannot help but overindulge, including warming slices of the leftovers for breakfast. Which got me thinking: Instead of just having leftover dinner lasagna for breakfast, what if I made breakfast lasagna?
For starters, I swapped out the noodles for homemade crepes. Italians have done this for ages, making crespelle and swapping them for noodles in all sorts of dishes. Crepes are much easier than homemade noodles, and I am a big believer that breakfast should be easier than dinner. Not wanting to start the day with a long-cooked ragu, I looked to my husband’s Southern roots for inspiration, landing on a classic sausage gravy. Breakfast sausage suspended in a rich creamy sauce essentially covered the béchamel and meat in one fell swoop. I went with roasted tomato slices which are easy to make and bring all the tomato flavor without adding an extra sauce element, some ricotta to lighten it up a bit, soft scrambled eggs, and a blanket of mozzarella and Parmesan to hold everything together.
Is it a quick before-school breakfast? No more than lasagna is a quick weeknight dinner. But it is the perfect thing for a weekend breakfast when you can assemble most of it on Saturday and then finish Sunday morning as an act of devotion for the ones you love, which I sincerely hope includes your own fabulous self. No one deserves lasagna more than the cook.
Note: I often roast fresh tomatoes in large batches and freeze them in the summer when tomatoes are ripe, but this calls for roasting canned tomatoes, which is easier and doesn’t rely on seasonal produce. If you have roasted tomatoes in your freezer, use them.
Note: You can make the dish ahead without the eggs. Store covered in the fridge and just bake at 350°F covered for an hour or so before finishing the dish per recipe instructions.
Lemony Chicken and Spinach Soup
Inspired by Greek avgolemono, this recipe yields a creamy, comforting, bright bowl of soup that delivers everything we want when feeling a little under the weather. Heck, served with a warm blanket and a cozy couch, we’re convinced this lemony chicken soup can fix just about anything. As delicious as it is, this soup requires very simple ingredients and is easy to make. Just be gentle when adding the hot broth into your egg mixture (to temper), and the rest couldn’t be easier. This is a smart trick for richening soup without cream, and produces a uniquely rich broth that’s easy on the stomach. While we call for rotisserie chicken and store-bought stock for convenience sake, you could certainly roast your own chicken, then make chicken stock with the carcass for an even more flavorful pot of soup. We specifically developed this soup to make a large batch so that there’s plenty to share with friends, or stash in the freezer for the next time you’re feeling a bit under the weather or simply need a warming, fuss-free meal.
Instant Pot Sunday Sauce and Meatballs
Sure the idea of “Sunday sauce” is great, but the reality is, you’re not always going to have the flexibility to start a pot of sauce in the morning and stay home while it cooks throughout the day—even on the weekend. However, thanks to the ever-handy Instant Pot you can enjoy the robust flavor of a slow-simmered tomato sauce in less than an hour. Serve the sauce and meatballs over your favorite hot, cooked pasta for a hearty, highly comforting meal.
This indulgent, BLT-inspired pasta bake is the perfect recipe for your next Sunday cooking session. A fresh tomato sauce balances the rich bacon béchamel in this fun twist on classic lasagna. While we made a fresh tomato sauce here, you can use your favorite jarred sauce as a convenient shortcut.
Roasted Cauliflower with Green Tahini Sauce and Caramelized Dates
Roasted veggies have never tasted so indulgent. Topped with an herbaceous tahini sauce and salty-sweet, caramelized dates and walnuts, these crispy cauliflower steaks are just the veggie side that you've been looking for. Use any leftover tahini sauce on salads, chicken, or fish for an added burst of vibrant, nutty flavor.
Master Turkey Meatloaf
This is the ultimate, foolproof, turkey meatloaf that is every kind of comforting that you would want a meatloaf to be. This just may be the only meatloaf recipe you'll ever need. Not only is this dish absolutely delicious, but it's also gluten-free. This flavorful meatloaf features bacon for added flavor and richness, and includes a special factor with a trio of tomato sauces and condiments to create an updated version of the traditional meatloaf topper. To make this meal even better, try enjoying it on a sandwich the next day.
Meatloaf Bundt Cake
When you thought meatloaf couldn’t go more retro, we found a way. Spiced with Creole seasoning, garlic powder, and butter-coated vegetables, this meatloaf recipe finds it’s home in a bundt pan. This traditional recipe truly takes the cake and will be at the center of attention at any dinner party. And like any good cake, our meatloaf needs proper frosting and decor. Thus, we finished our tomato-glazed meatloaf bundt with a drizzle of gravy, freshly piped mashed potatoes, crispy onions, and a sprinkle of finely chopped fresh parsley. Oh, and we filled the center with French onion dip… because it felt like the right thing to do. Dinner is served.
This dynamic and delicious dish features sweet, caramelized plantains, tender and well-seasoned beef, and intensely flavorful black beans. The 3 primary colors of the dish (black beans, white rice, and brown beef) are to represent the union of the 3 races in Venezuela: Africans, Europeans, and indigenous people. When cooking the plantains, make sure the pan does not get too hot as these will easily burn given their high sugar content. As a shortcut, you can definitely substitute canned black beans—but if you have the time to make these black beans from scratch, they’re so well worth the added effort. Panela or papelon is a brown sugar loaf that can usually be found at Mexican or Latin markets; it offers a more deeply molasses-forward flavor than brown sugar and can be grated on a microplane.
Slow-Cooker Spanish-Style Chickpeas
Adobada is a general term that refers to meat (often pork) that is marinated in a very thick, flavorful, chile-based mixture. When cooked in a hot pan—note, this is key, your pan needs to be hot— the meat will develop a delightfully charred, crisp exterior while maintaining a succulent interior. This flavor-packed pork recipe is an amazing start for tacos; simply spoon the meat into warm corn tortillas and serve with minced onion, cilantro, and lime juice. If you want to prep ahead, the marinade mixture can be made up to 5 days in advance. While set sauce may seem like an out-of-place addition, it delivers just the right hit of salty umami to balance out the bittersweet chiles. Guajillo and
ancho chiles can be found in most groceries stores. Anchos are mild with a slightly bitter, yet sweet flavor. Guajillos offer a
slightly fruity flavor. They also have a thinner flesh and therefore, produce less puree (which is why there are more in the recipe). As far as the cut of meat, we’d definitely recommend sticking with pork shoulder here. Rich and fatty, pork shoulder will not dry out or take on an unpleasant chewy texture after resting in the acidic marinade.
Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs
When you’re going for a mouthwatering BBQ experience done indoors, these Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs are the way to go. Using the Instant Pot creates incredibly succulent ribs with virtually no fuss; you even make your sauce right in the pot. Finishing these honey-soy ribs under the broiler creates a nice, crispy exterior crust, but you can bypass this step if you want to avoid heating the oven at all. And if you’re short on time and looking to make this recipe an even speedier dinner solution, you can skip the dry rub; however, the flavor enhancement this mixture of dry spices and aromatics provides is well worth the extra effort when possible.
Pressure Cooker Chicken Spaghetti
This comforting and delicious Chicken Spaghetti is satisfying meal the entire family can get behind, and can be made with just a quick (and inexpensive) stop by the grocery store on your way home. Thanks to the pressure cooker, this recipe yields the flavor of a rich, long-simmered sauce in only 25 minutes. While browning the chicken and onions does help build flavor, it's OK to skip this step. Just add about 5 minutes to your cook time and discard the skin before adding your chicken to the pressure cooker. This dish is also easily adapted for your Instant Pot, click HERE for detailed instructions.
Taco Mac & Cheese
When taco night meets mac and cheese, magic happens. Melty cheese, hearty ground beef, and a creamy Tex-Mex inspired sauce come together in this taco-mac skillet for a maximum comfort food meal. You can absolutely prep this cheesy dinner bake ahead of time to make for even easier weeknight prep; simply assemble (following the recipe through step 4), then cover tightly and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake (add a few minutes to the bake time if you’re going from the fridge to the oven). You can typically find taco skillet sauce shelved near the dry taco seasoning and tortillas in the supermarket.
Shrimp and Grits Casserole
This casserole is tangy and cheesy, but thanks to the tomato and mushroom mixture there’s a nice richness here as well—just how shrimp and grits should be. It’s perfect for a holiday potluck or buffet-style brunch, especially with a crisp green salad and a mimosa or Bloody Mary.
Instant Pot Chana Dal
For the ideal bowl of soul-warming comfort, look no further than chana dal. Hearty and tender split chickpeas absorb the toasty goodness of an aromatic, deeply flavorful broth, which is complimented by a bright yogurt topper. One taste is all it takes to become enamored with the way toasted cumin seed and curry powder, balanced with a handful of other spices and aromatics like turmeric and fresh ginger, infuse chana dal with dynamic flavor and a gloriously golden color. The Instant Pot makes easy work of preparing this classic Indian dish, making it a perfect vegetarian recipe to add into your meal-prep rotation. Dried split chickpeas can be found at specialty Mediterranean markets as well as online.