25 Recipes to Use Up Your Leftovers
Leftovers are an inevitable part of life. Easy, big-batch recipes exist for a reason (convenience!) but there's no shame in wanting to switch things up on the second or third day you're eating on that pork shoulder or pot roast. Whether you've got meat for days or just need to use up some vegetables, these recipes will make sure you don't waste any of your bounty of leftovers. Use them to plan out your meal prep week or just solve a mid-week dinner rut.
Roast Beef Hash
Chicken Parmesan Dip
This is a rich and creamy way to use up leftover marinara sauce or chicken. For an extra-Italian twist, use Italian sausage instead.
Cheesy Spinach Ramen
Use quick-cooking packaged ramen noodles (ditching the seasoning packet) as a base for this easy and cheesy noodle bowl. This Cheesy Spinach Ramen is the perfect go-to for a crazy comforting last-minute meal. Feel free to toss in any other veggies or proteins, like leftover rotisserie chicken, you might have hanging out in your fridge.
Chicken and Herb Crêpes
This is the perfect finale to a three-meal big-batch feast. Making French Onion Roast Chicken on one night will give you plenty of leftovers for Thai Chicken Pizza the night after, and this recipe the night after that. And the dishes are so varied in flavor your family won't get tired of them!
Southwestern Pork Lettuce Wraps
These easy lettuce wraps make for a perfectly light and lovely summer supper that won’t heat up your kitchen. We use a quickly grilled pork tenderloin here, but you could easily substitute any other protein you feel like tossing on the grill (like steak, chicken, or shrimp) or even smoked, pulled pork leftover from yesterday’s barbecue. Simply set out your components in separate bowls and let everyone assemble their lettuce wraps as they please for a fun family meal.
Cheesy Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms
Up your Brussels sprouts game with this mushroom-packed skillet side dish. Shopping hint: Cremini mushrooms are often labeled as baby bellas; there’s no flavor difference. Substitute your favorite variety, or pick up pre-sliced mushrooms to cut your chopping time in half. Leftovers are delicious served atop a salad or tossed with a quick tahini dressing.
Thai Chicken Pizza
Sheet Pan Cuban Sandwiches
Make perfectly pressed and toasty Cuban sandwiches for a crowd in one go with this genius sheet pan technique. Beyond being an obvious choice for your next party or tailgate, this recipe is an incredible way to recycle leftover pork roast or pork tenderloin into a delicious way to feed a group. Brushing the bread with pickle juice is a smart trick for keeping the bread from drying out too much and delivers an additional punch of flavor.
Grilled Cheeseburger Nachos
It was determined in our test kitchen that it is legitimately impossible to be anything other than happy while eating these cheeseburger nachos—do with that information what you will. The cookout-inspired food mashup is as perfect served as a fun, grilled snack for guests (especially during tailgating season) as it is an easy, throw-together meal to use up leftovers from a weekend get-together. So while the cheeseburger recipe provided here does produce an extremely moist and flavorful patty, you can certainly use leftover cooked burgers if you already have them on hand. Same idea applies to the nacho toppings; we went with a blend of typical Tex-mex toppers and backyard cookout accouterments, but you can vary things up however suits you. Your baking sheet will only be on the grill for a few minutes (just long enough for the cheese to melt) so you shouldn’t experience any issues with the pan warping or taking on grill marks. However, for easy clean-up, you can certainly go ahead and wrap your pan in aluminum foil.
Tex-Mex Breakfast Bake
This flavor-packed take on breakfast casserole is a great way to use up leftover Texas toast or garlic bread. Rich, indulgent, and spicy, its gooeyness is perfectly complimented by the tang from the crema, which can be found in a Latin market. Play around with frozen toast flavors to spice things up, or serve it as breakfast for dinner.
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).
Best Roasted Veggies
Parents of picky eaters, rejoice - the kids will actually want to eat these vegetables! It only takes a few pantry staples to transform roasted vegetables into a side everyone will enjoy. These are so savory and delightful, it's hard not to love them.
Roasted Vegetable Baked Ziti
This hearty pasta bake is the ideal dish of cheesy comfort food for cooler weather. We love the depth of caramelized flavor roasted veggies bring to this dish; plus, and you can swap in your favorite vegetables to make your own perfect pan of baked ziti. In fact, this dish is also a delicious way to utilize leftover roasted vegetables you might have hanging out in the fridge. In order to keep the dish entirely vegetarian, be sure to double check the labels on your cheese (especially the Parmesan) to make sure you pick up a package that is free of rennet and vegetarian-friendly.
Chicken, White Bean, and Spinach Salad
The beans, chicken, and dressing can all be made a day ahead in your slow-cooker. Assemble this meal in minutes and round out this light summer salad with a loaf of crusty bread. If you have any leftover, it will make a great lunch the following day. Slow cooking requires little fat, so trim the excess from meats and poultry. Preserve the flavor of fresh herbs by adding them to the dish once it comes out of the slow cooker. Removing the slow cooker lid while cooking releases valuable heat, so resist the urge to check on the dish as it cooks.
Leftover Green Bean Niçoise
Classic salade niçoise gets a big flavor boost from our leftover green bean recipe: Dried cranberries provide unexpected sweet-tart notes, while hazelnuts add lightly sweet, meaty depth.
Zucchini Fried Rice
This single skillet dinner is a weeknight-friendly meal the whole family can get behind, not to mention—it’s a genius way to put a bulk of summer zucchini to good use. The grated zucchini helps to lighten and brighten this take-out favorite, and stealthily bulks up the nutritional value of pickier eaters’ plates. Plus, this budget-friendly dish is actually best made using day-old rice, so it’s a great meal to plan on for utilizing leftovers later in the week. You can definitely use whatever you have on hand, but smaller-sized zucchini tend to work best in this recipe, as you want to minimize the number of seeds. Feel free to eliminate the pork or replace it with tofu to make this meal vegetarian.
Curry Fried Chicken Chicken Salad
Got leftover fried chicken? Chop it up and put it to work in this insanely tasty chicken salad. Make it once, and you'll find yourself going out to buy fried chicken specifically to make it again. While it might seem a little weird to coat fried chicken in mayo—trust us, it's a revelation. The fried chicken provides an insane depth of rich flavor, not to mention, all of the salt your salad will probably need. And keep in mind that this fast and easy chicken salad is completely adaptable based on your tastes and what you have on hand. Not a curry fan? No problem, this chicken salad will be just as delicious without the curry powder. Don't have an apple in the crisper? You could always substitute grapes in for the apple. Have a smaller amount of fried chicken on hand? Not a problem, scale the recipe to work with what you have. Serve sandwiched between slices of whole-grain bread or on a bed of lettuce.
If you serve our étouffée and have leftovers, slather it on top of grilled 'dogs.
Hamburger Bun Glazed Donuts
Ever notice how after every cookout, you seem to find yourself with a handful of leftover hamburger buns, but not so many leftover burgers to fill them? Don’t toss the strays, turn them into breakfast with this brilliant recipe for burger bun donuts.
Congee is one of East Asia's best comfort foods--a soft, almost puddingy rice soup with any number of toppings. Usually it's made with raw rice, but the beauty of this recipe is that it uses up both leftover Chinese takeout rice and leftover sliced Chinese roast pork (or shrimp, or whatever protein you may have ordered).
Putting together a full bagel spread is a lot of work, and you may spend more time artfully arranging the lox than spending time with your friends at brunch. Instead of the platter approach, give your friends a full bagel experience in casserole-form. Plus, you can use any stale savory bagels you have left over from last week (shh!).
Whisk together eggs and milk with cubed bagels in an assortment of flavors—pumpkernickle will add some fun dark colors and a toasty flavor, while sesame and poppy seed bagels will add a satisfying crunch. For extra flavor, add a spoonful of everything bagel seasoning, then mix it all together with sliced red onion and tomatoes. Dot the casserole with cream cheese, then bake until warm. Top that bad boy with torn lox, dill, and chives, then dive on in.
Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas with Red Sauce
Are you ready for the best chicken enchiladas of your life? While you could use a rotisserie chicken for this cheesy enchilada recipe, poaching chicken breasts in a delicately flavored liquid both creates succulently tender meat (that won’t dry out as the casserole bakes) and adds another layer of flavor to the dish. The key to successful poaching is temperature control; 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. While the total prep time on this recipe isn’t exactly what you might consider “speedy,” it’s a fun dish to prepare and assemble with another helper in the kitchen. Prep a pan (or two, so you have one for the freezer!) on Sunday to enjoy heading into a new week. Featuring smoky ancho chili powder and some of the poaching liquid, the homemade enchilada sauce is another distinguishing delight of this dish; however, if you’re looking to shave time off of the recipe, you can substitute store-bought sauce. And if you opt to use rotisserie or leftover chicken as a shortcut, but still want to make your sauce from scratch, simply substitute water and/or chicken stock for the liquid called for.
Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnamon Toast
Need to use up a small amount of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal that won't fill a bowl? Use it as a crunch-tastic accent for toast instead. This fun twist on cinnamon toast is easy enough for kids to make, and thanks to the cereal, no additional cinnamon sugar is needed.
Niçoise Gnocchi Salad
Haven’t made it to the grocery store in a minute? That doesn’t mean you can’t whip up an impressive dish. This lovely, snackable take on a salad Niçoise is composed largely from pantry items, like canned tuna and roasted red peppers, plus a couple of common refrigerator staples—frozen green beans and eggs. We use packaged gnocchi, shelf-stable gnocchi as a creative swap for the fresh potatoes typically found in a salad Niçoise. Dressed up with a super simple vinaigrette this “throw-together” salad could easily pass for a well-planned. In other words, keep this one in your back pocket for the next time you need a last-minute appetizer for entertaining.
BBQ Chicken Bean Dip
Step aside, Buffalo chicken. Move it along, basic bean dip. The game day dip to rule all game day dips has arrived. This bold yet balance BBQ Chicken Bean Dip has so much going for it: It’s easy to make, you likely have most of the necessary ingredients on hand, and most importantly—this cheesy chicken appetizer will be a winner with any crowd. The barbecue sauce used in to make the dip couldn’t be easier to mix up, and it’s one you can come back to again and again for all of your BBQ needs; however, if you want to shave a few minutes off the recipe, you can certainly use your favorite bottled sauce instead. We suggest topping the dip with cheese towards the end of baking in order to prevent the dip from becoming too greasy.