45+ 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.
Chicken Chilaquiles Casserole
Chicken Chilaquiles Casserole Recipe
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.
Slow-Cooker Four-Cheese Spaghetti with Italian Sausage
Slow-Cooker Four-Cheese Spaghetti with Italian Sausage Recipe
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.
Instant Pot Chicken Cassoulet
Instant Pot Chicken Cassoulet Recipe
Fast-track your way to a classic French dinner with this Instant Pot Chicken Cassoulet. In our version, chicken leg quarters take the place of traditional duck confit, but that doesn't make the rustic, rib-sticking meal any less impressive. With two types of smoky pork, unctuous chicken, and a base of rich, salty, tomatoey beans, Instant Pot cassoulet is a hearty dish that's fantastic for cool weather entertaining. You will have to saute in batches, but trust us—in this case, it's so worth it.
Mexican Chili Verde Chicken Casserole
Mexican Chili Verde Chicken Casserole Recipe
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.
Copycat Panda Express Chow Mein
Copycat Panda Express Chow Mein Recipe
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).
Roasted Butternut Squash-and-Spinach Lasagna
Roasted Butternut Squash-and-Spinach Lasagna Recipe
Talk about the perfect fall dinner! One reviewer says, "Loved it! I added some Italian sausage and everyone I shared it with loved it. I will make it again."
Instant Pot Butter Chicken
Instant Pot Butter Chicken Recipe
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
Chicken Panang Casserole Recipe
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.
"Meaty" Vegetarian Chili
"Meaty" Vegetarian Chili Recipe
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
Pressure Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
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.
Poached Chicken Noodle Bowl
Poached Chicken Noodle Bowl Recipe
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.
Soba Noodle and Pork Casserole
Soba Noodle and Pork Casserole Recipe
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
Instant Pot Beef and Bean Chili Recipe
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
Creamy Brioche and Egg Bake Recipe
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 irresistible 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.
Lemony Chicken and Spinach Soup
Lemony Chicken and Spinach Soup Recipe
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.
Instant Pot Sunday Sauce and Meatballs
Instant Pot Sunday Sauce and Meatballs Recipe
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.
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
Slow-Cooker Spanish-Style Chickpeas Recipe
One reviewer says, "We loved this recipe. We used smoked paprika, which really made a difference, but what really transformed the recipe was the Greek olive oil we drizzled on at the end. Delicious!"
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.
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
Shrimp and Grits Casserole Recipe
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.
Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Spaghetti Squash Recipe
For a family-friendly weeknight dinner that feels comforting but loads in the good stuff (A.K.A. fresh vegetables), Buffalo chicken spaghetti squash is where it's at. Featuring shredded chicken, carrots, celery, blue cheese, Buffalo sauce, and a drizzle of ranch (for good measure), these hearty, flavor-packed spaghetti squash boats deliver the best of a Buffalo chicken experience in a convenient, cheesy bake. We love using the hulled spaghetti squash as a vessel, but you could just as easily spoon the for the Buffalo chicken-spaghetti squash mixture straight into a casserole dish, top with cheese, and bake as instructed.
Instant Pot Chicken Mole
Instant Pot Chicken Mole Recipe
Flavorful chicken mole is an exceptionally great use of the Instant Pot. Making traditional mole is typically a labor-intensive process that requires slow simmering to build the sauce's mellow depth and rich layers of flavor. However, this Instant Pot chicken mole delivers all of the bitter, sweet, toasty, aromatic goodness you want when a mole craving strikes—in a fraction of the time. Serve your speedy chicken mole over rice with black beans, radishes, cilantro, pepitas, and any other desired accouterments.
Slow Cooker Mississippi Pork Roast
Slow Cooker Mississippi Pork Roast Recipe
Try classic Mississippi pot roast with pork for a juicier, less expensive twist. It's comforting, super savory, rich, and delicious, and the juicy, tender meat falls apart just like a good pot roast should. It makes a great dinner, especially paired with dinner rolls, mashed potatoes or rice. This recipe will also work with a bone-in pork butt. Best of all, the opportunities to utilize the leftovers are endless—try them in tacos, barbecue sandwiches, stews, and more.
Grown-Up Pasta Salad
You know that pasta salad from childhood (you know the one—rotini, canned olives, underripe grape tomatoes, cubed cheese)? It showed up at cookouts, sleepovers and every occasion in between, and it holds a special place in hearts a plenty—or at least it does around our office. So, we made a few swaps to create a fully grown uptake that still hits all the nostalgic notes we crave. Think a more sophisticated nood (we went orecchiette, but you can go with whatever you like!), buttery Castelvatrano olives (i.e. the best olives), juicy-sweet heirloom cherry tomatoes for dynamic color, hunks of savory salami, rich and creamy mozzarella pearls, radishes for fresh crunch, and an easy, from-scratch Italian dressing. Sure, it may require a trip to the grocery store's olive bar, but trust us, it's so worth it.
Chicken Parmesan Casserole
Chicken Parmesan Casserole Recipe
This gooey, cheesy, ultra-comforting Chicken Parmesan Casserole is easy enough to throw together after work and is a surefire family favorite. Plus, the leftovers hold great—just be sure to cover while reheating to retain moisture. For the most flavorful Chicken Parmesan Casserole, our test kitchen recommends using Rao's marinara sauce.
Cheesy Potato Bake
This Cheesy Potato Bake makes a great potluck dish or side for brunch. It's super easy to mix together and throw in the oven, and you can even assemble it a day ahead and bake just before serving. You can use any brand of shredded hash browns, or make it with fresh potatoes that you peel, boil and dice beforehand. Cream of bacon soup is readily available, even if you've never heard of it.
Creamy White Chicken Chili
Creamy White Chicken Chili Recipe
This Creamy White Chicken Chili is super easy to make—seriously, it only takes 30 minutes, and it's manageable for beginner cooks. To make it even easier, you could even use a rotisserie chicken. It's rich, packed with beans, vegetables, and chicken, and isn't too spicy, but you can always add hot sauce or sliced fresh jalapeños to up the heat factory.
Turkey Noodle Casserole
Turkey Noodle Casserole Recipe
Here's an easy family dinner everyone will love, or just a fun way to use up some leftover holiday turkey. Our Turkey Noodle Casserole combines all the good stuff—broccoli, pasta, turkey, and cream sauce—into one delightful, family-friendly dish. For a little something extra, we've added mirepoix, otherwise known as the holy trinity of Cajun and Creole cuisine. Serve with a glass of milk, some rolls, and maybe a side of steamed or roasted veggies.
This lightened lasagna has everything you love about the classic Italian dish, minus the noodles. Don't worry, you won't miss them. There are rich, deep, meaty flavors in the sauce, which is complimented by the creamy ricotta mixture—it's a well balanced flavor combination that's not too cheesy. By salting and par baking the zucchini, you'll decrease the liquid in the lasagna and prevent that soggy feel most vegetable-based lasagnas have. Serve with red wine and a salad, or take it to your next potluck.
BLT Pasta Salad
If you're looking for a foolproof side to take to your next barbecue or potluck, you've come to the right place. This BLT Pasta Salad is essentially a BLT in a bowl, and who could turn that down? It's creamy and crunchy, just like the sandwich, and packs a delicious punch, especially with the use of fresh tomatoes and lettuce. If you have access to heirloom cherry tomatoes, feel free to use those instead. You could also use baby arugula instead of lettuce for a peppery zing. You can prepare this ahead of time, but don't dress until immediately before serving—otherwise, the lettuce will wilt and lose its crisp.
Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole
Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole Recipe
Kids aren't the only ones who love this melty, Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole. The rice, broccoli, and chicken provide a nice substance for the creamy, béchamel type sauce, while the buttery topping adds crunch and richness. In other words, it's pure comfort food, and you can have it ready for a weeknight dinner right at under an hour. Rotisserie chicken works wonderfully here, but you can use whatever leftover chicken you have on hand. To shake things up, substitute in a different cooked vegetable, such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, or asparagus, for the broccoli.
French Onion Meatloaf
If you thought classic meatloaf was peak comfort food, wait until you try our French onion variation. Loaded with caramelized onions and savory herbs, and topped with melted Gruyere cheese, this French Onion Meatloaf is sure to be an instant family favorite. Serve with mashed potatoes and garlic haricot verts for a wholly delicious dinner.
Couscous Tabbouleh Bowls
Couscous Tabbouleh Bowls Recipe
There are a lot of words you could use to describe these Couscous Tabbouleh Bowls (including "fresh," "vibrant," "delicious," "nutritious"), but "cumbersome" is not one of them. This bright and flavorful quick-fix meal deserves a regular spot in your recipe rotation.
Malaysian Fried Rice (Nasi Goreng)
Malaysian Fried Rice (Nasi Goreng) Recipe
In my opinion, the best pork sausages are found in Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. Nem nuong embodies the perfect balance of meatiness, spiciness, sweetness and saltiness. The rich, savory bacon and the warm spices of cinnamon and star anise in the five-spice powder pair beautifully with the fresh, lively herbs. This recipe requires forming the sausages like little kebabs around a skewer. However, the pork mixture can also be stuffed into sausage casings You can use any protein you like and marinate it the same way as directed in this recipe. Beef or pressed firm tofu are common substitutes.
French Onion One-Pot Pasta
French Onion One-Pot Pasta Recipe
Inspired by the deeply savory flavors of French onion soup, this single-pan pasta is a surefire crowd please—and better still, it couldn't be easier to make. You start by caramelizing your onions to create a deeply flavorful base, then simply add your cooking liquid, aromatic flavorings, and dried pasta to the pan—bring everything to a boil and cook until your pasta is tender and the liquid is largely absorbed. This French Onion Pasta is here to prove that all you need for an incredible meal is one pan and a plan.
Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas Recipe
If you're looking for a milder, creamier take on classic enchiladas that's super comforting, your search is over. Our Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas are so soft they're almost pillowy, but still have a good degree of spice from the tomatillo cause and pepper Jack cheese. We used Frontera for our enchilada sauce, but any smooth tomatillo salsa from a jar (or a homemade one!) would work just as well here. You can also use corn tortillas if you prefer them over flour. Bake until the sides are bubbly to make sure the sauce isn't too thin. Complete the meal with beans and rice, and serve with lots of garnishes, such as hot sauce, limes, cilantro, avocado slices or guacamole, and sliced radishes.
Thai Sweet Potato-Coconut Soup
Thai Sweet Potato-Coconut Soup Recipe
This simple vegetarian dish hits the perfect balance of sweet and savory. Serve this Thai-inspired sweet potato soup with a fresh salad for a light and lovely meal.
Buffalo Chicken Chili
This Buffalo Chicken Chili is one the best soups that's come out of our test kitchen. We've combined two of the best foods around to make one ultimate dish. It's hearty, full of chicken and veggies, and has a subtly spiced buffalo flavor. The vegetables, especially the corn, add a bit of sweetness, while the beans offer creaminess that stands out from the cream cheese enriched broth.
Curried Chicken Salad
If you think chicken salad can't be improved, you need to give our Curried Chicken Salad a try. Every bite is filled with something delicious, sweet, and crunchy. There's a lot of textural interest going on, and all kinds of flavor: Tanginess from the yogurt, sweetness from the apricot jam, complexity from the curry powder, and a zing from the ginger. Plus, it's super simple (All you have to do is stir and sit!) and it makes the perfect lunch, whether it's stuffed into a wrap, laid atop a bed of greens, or spread into a sandwich. Feel free to add any stir-ins you like, such as raisins, nuts, or fresh fruit. Feel free to roast your own chicken (2 breasts will also do the trick) instead of buying a rotisserie at the store.
Weeknight Hummus Bowl
Our Weeknight Hummus Bowl makes a perfect healthy, bright, feel-good dinner that's still super satisfying. Plus, the leftovers make a great lunch or savory breakfast. Using pre-made hummus shaves off some time. We like Ithaca's hummus, but you can use your preferred brand or even make your own hummus. For less jammy yolk, cook the eggs for 8 to 10 minutes instead of 6. You can add, substitute, or omit toppings to your liking, depending on what's in season and whether you'd like to make a more protein-rich meal with meat, beans, or feta. Go ahead and cook some extra eggs for breakfast or a snack, and eat leftover hummus with crudité or chips.
Taco Pasta Salad
Taco night, meet pasta. Adding chorizo and taco seasoning give our Taco Pasta Salad an unmistakable taco feel and taste. The chorizo and taco seasoning give the pasta an unmistakable taco feel and taste. Riffing off of a classic cilantro garnish, the cilantro vinaigrette adds color and a ton of flavor to the pasta. The bell pepper, corn, onion, and tomato complement all of the other flavors present in the dish, and sprinkling some queso fresco on top adds a burst of salt and some textural contrast.