45+ Ways to Transform Your Thanksgiving Leftovers
Thanksgiving is the feast that keeps on giving. Those leftovers will feed you for days, but that doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't reinvent them. Turn those Thanksgiving leftovers into something better, like a breakfast casserole, fried rice, and even lasagna. Here are some innovative ways to use your leftovers for some great meals and sides.
Cran-Apple Smoked Turkey Sliders
Let's face it: You have to have a killer leftover turkey sandwich the day after the feast. If you start with our robust Applewood-Smoked Turkey, you need only a few embellishments--namely the juicy snap of tart apple and the extra layer of smoke from the cheddar--to reach to-die-for status.
Cauliflower Turkey Tetrazzini
The genius trick to this unique turkey tetrazzini is using flavor-packed Cauliflower Salad in the sauce. Pureed, it becomes creamy and luscious. Any leftover turkey, or even rotisserie chicken, will work here.
Dressing-Stuffed Mini Peppers
We love these stuffed peppers as an appetizer, but you can also serve them as a side dish. Use your leftover dressing to fill these peppers with amazing flavor.
Turkey and Andouille Sausage Gumbo
This gumbo is a great use for leftover roasted turkey, though cooked chicken will also work. We skip the long-stirred roux here in favor of filé powder, a thickener made from the sassafras plant; look for it on the spice aisle. For the best results, stir in the filé powder off the heat.
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.
Picadillo-stuffed Mashed Potato Balls
Papas rellenas (stuffed potato balls) are a traditional Spanish dish. Baked instead of fried, they're a healthy and delicious way to make a meal out of leftover mashed potatoes.
Roast Turkey Pho
You can substitute unsalted chicken stock for the homemade. If you do, simmer with the water, stock, peppercorns, sugar, star anise, and ginger, and proceed with recipe from there.
Smoked Turkey and Swiss Crepes
Separate the turkey into eight piles on a plate, and top evenly with cheese so you can quickly top each crepe as it cooks in the pan. Black Forest turkey has a subtle smoked flavor. You can also use oven-roasted turkey.
Gumbo-Style Turkey Soup
If you’re looking for gumbo-flavor without the daylong cook time, check out this recipe that utilizes leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Top each bowl with a few leaves of parsley for a fresh finishing touch. Be sure to serve with thick slices of crunchy French bread to help sop up the last few drops of broth. This soup feeds eight, making it the perfect day-after-Thanksgiving meal to serve lingering house guests.
Green Chile-Turkey Soup with Hominy
This Tex-Mex soup packs a punch of flavor in each bowlful. The next time you’re looking for the perfect chicken noodle soup, try this instead. It’s full of Tex-Mex flavor that we know you’ll love. Start the meal off with chips, salsa, and our Easy Guacamole. If you’re looking to get even more festive, add a bath of tasty margaritas to the menu. Just before serving, stir in cilantro, and lime juice for a dose of extra fresh flavor. We love topping each serving of soup with thinly sliced radishes for a little crunch.
Turkey, Broccoli, and Phyllo Pie
Skip the potpie and try a fragrant, flaky casserole for your turkey leftovers. If you don't have turkey, use shredded rotisserie chicken.
Slow-Cooker Split Pea Soup with Smoked Turkey
If your Thanksgiving tradition includes a smoked turkey, save one of the legs for this easy, soul-satisfying soup. Otherwise, look for smoked turkey legs near the bacon at your grocery store (or use a ham hock).
Thanksgiving Leftovers Tostadas
Move over, turkey sandwich! A tostada loaded with Mexican flavors is an unexpected way to dress up Thanksgiving leftovers.
Turkey Tortellini Soup with Greens
This recipe utilizes our best turkey stock. Make a big batch and freeze individual portions to use instead of buying the boxed or canned versions from the grocery store. The beauty of this recipe is that you basically dump all of your ingredients in the pot (at varying times during the cooking process), let simmer, and magic is made. We love topping each serving with a bit of shaved Parmesan cheese for a salty finish. Serve with a crusty French bread and a glass of white wine for a full meal that weekend guests will love. This soup is hearty enough to serve as a big bowl of comfort when cooler weather arrives.
Waffle Iron Turkey Melt Panini
This playful turkey melt's abundant crisp crevices and gooey interior will have the whole family wondering, "What can we waffle next?"
Turkey Melt with Beer Sauce
We've based this recipe on Welsh rarebit--a simple but rich sauce of beer and cheese poured over toast--and slipped in some leftover Thanksgiving turkey.
Wine pairing: Raeburn 2015 Chardonnay (Russian River Valley; $20).
Turkey and Vegetable Stew with Whole-Grain Biscuits
Comfort food gets a hearty addition with this turkey and veggie stew. Served alongside some buttery homemade biscuits, this stew makes for the perfect cozy meal.
Turkey-and-Collard Green Stew
Chef, cookbook author, and recipe developer Virginia Willis is a big proponent of collard greens and wonders why they haven’t received the celebrity treatment that kale has enjoyed for the last few years. “Down South,” Virginia writes, “we know that collard greens are good and good for you. Georgia Southern and Alabama Blue certainly don’t sound exotic, but these heirloom varieties are the stars of country cooking.” In the rest of the country, collards are often misunderstood and thought to be the food of the poor. In the past, the only way collards were prepared was simmered, sometimes boiled in water, along with strips of bacon, ham hocks, or fatback. This method is still very popular and incredibly delicious, but Virginia has believes it is time to fresh look at this Southern staple.
Peking Turkey Wraps
Salty-sweet and full of fresh crunch, these wraps are a tasty way to pack in a serving of vegetables that the kids are sure to love.
Turkey and Swiss Sloppy Joes
This twist on a classic sandwich swaps the sweet, barbecue-style sauce for a white sauce enriched with nutty Swiss cheese.
Thanksgiving Leftover Empanadas
Instead of having the same old turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving this year, try these easy empanadas. Use store-bought pie crust, and they come together in minutes. Find rolled-out pie crusts in the refrigerator section of your grocery store
Turkey Sandwiches with Kimchi Slaw and Miso Sauce
Give your day-after-Thanksgiving sandwich a modern update with global ingredients. The robust flavors of nutty sesame oil, tangy-garlicky-pungent kimchi, and salty-sweet white miso give your palate a welcome change of pace. The sandwich also feeds your gut healthy probiotics (kimchi, yogurt, and miso) plus prebiotics (whole-grain bread) to keep the good bacteria well fed.
Thanksgiving Leftovers Breakfast Casserole
Unsure what to do with all of those Thanksgiving leftovers? While most people will have heard of putting them to work in a casserole, a breakfast casserole might be a new idea. By using leftover turkey, gravy, and stuffing, this breakfast casserole comes together in a cinch with just a few extra ingredients tossed in. This dish is perfect for feeding a crowd, which means family and friends get another dose of the amazing Thanksgiving spread the next day.
Take-Two Turkey Noodle Soup with Ginger and Chile
After eating piles of turkey flavored with the usual sage and oregano, you'll be grateful for leftovers that taste totally different: This soup is fiercely gingery (to revitalize you after a holiday-meal stupor). If you're not a ginger lover, cut back the amount to a few slices.
The Best Leftover Turkey Sandwich Ever
The name says it all: this is truly the Best Leftover Turkey Sandwich Ever. It's recipes like these that allow us to be just as grateful for the days after Thanksgiving as well.
We used leftovers and extra ingredients from Thanksgiving recipes for these pizzas.
Smoked Turkey-Blue Cheese Open-Faced Sandwiches
These simple sandwiches are perfect if you have leftover smoked turkey.
Leftover Turkey Breakfast Sandwich
Got leftover turkey? The morning after Thanksgiving deserves some delicious breakfast sandwiches.
Turn your Thanksgiving leftovers into a hearty hash and top with eggs for a one-dish breakfast meal.
Turkey Enchiladas with Sour Cream
Super easy and satisfying, this recipe turns leftover Thanksgiving turkey into a fiesta of flavors. Make sure you use a high-quality salsa for the freshest taste. Serve with a simple Mexican coleslaw of shredded cabbage topped with lime juice and cumin.
Toasted Turkey and Brie Sandwiches
This twist on the traditional turkey sandwich marries elegance with convenience. Split English muffins, add honey mustard, shredded turkey breast, sliced red onion, and delicious, creamy Brie. Boil until the cheese melts, then add fresh arugula for a spicy kick.
Turkey Soup Provençal
Transport your turkey to the south of France. For this soup, add ground (or leftover) turkey to chicken broth, cannellini beans, spinach, and canned tomatoes. Then season it with the delicate and aromatic flavors of herbes de Provence. The best part? It's super fast and budget friendly, requiring just six ingredients and 10 minutes of your time.
Roast Turkey and Prosciutto Pizza
Since the days after Thanksgiving are a time to relax and renew your energy, a simple recipe keeps mealtime stress-free. Store-bought pizza crust and sauce make this pizza super easy to prepare, while quality ingredients like creamy fontina cheese and salty prosciutto lend an air of sophistication.
Turkey Croissant Sandwiches
Sunset reader James C. Hayes of Ridgecrest, California, makes ordinary turkey sandwiches spectacular with fresh vegetables and buttery croissants. Leftover roast turkey has the most flavor, but you can use sliced deli meat instead.
Use your Thanksgiving leftovers to make a hearty salad. Cut cornbread dressing into cubes and toast for croutons, and top mixed greens with leftover turkey and cranberry sauce.
Turkey Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions and Charmoula Mayo
Warm Moroccan spices mix with sweet onions to give leftover turkey a fresh spin.
Turkey-Mushroom Bread Pudding
This dish is a great way to use up extra turkey and bread leftover from the holiday meal. It's a one-dish wonder featuring cremini mushrooms, celery, onions, garlic, seasonings, and fresh Parmesan cheese.
Turkey Panini with Watercress and Citrus Aioli
Take your average turkey sandwich to the next level with a citrusy spread and a few minutes on the panini press.
Buffalo Turkey Wings With Blue Cheese Dip
Bigger and better than your average wings, these turkey wings will take center stage at your next holiday party. They'll make a great appetizer and an even better main dish. Dress up the already impressive baked wings with a few more vegetables included alongside to dip in the blue cheese dressing—think radishes, cucumbers, cauliflower, or asparagus.
Fried Turkey and Waffles
All year long, chicken and waffles work hard to be delicious. Give them the week off and focus on fried turkey and waffles. This Thanksgiving spin on fried chicken and waffles makes the most of leftover turkey and leftover gravy. But, you can stretch your Thanksgiving leftovers even more by using leftover cranberry sauce in cranberry Belgian waffles and leftover stuffing in stuffing waffles for the base of the dish. (A plain waffle also works just fine.) If you don’t have a waffle iron, grab the frozen kind (you’ve already put in enough kitchen time this holiday). Fry your leftover turkey in oil until it’s crispy and golden, toss it in maple gravy, and pile over a stack of waffles for a sweet-and-savory comfort breakfast. After one forkful, fried turkey and waffles will quickly become a day-after-Thanksgiving staple.
Fried Turkey and Waffles
Day-After-Thanksgiving Leftover Stuffing Breakfast Strata
After the Turkey Day party’s over, give thanks for the mountain of stuffing in your fridge because you have breakfast for the next morning. This stuffing breakfast strata just calls for two ingredients: eggs and stuffing—bread-based or meat-based. Think of this leftover stuffing recipe like a baked egg-in-a-hole or a carb-loaded shakshuka of sorts. The eggs are nestled in leftover stuffing and baked until they’re perfectly runny. If your stuffing seems a little dry, stir in a few tablespoons of leftover gravy or chicken stock to moisten the Thanksgiving breakfast strata. Feel free to use individual ramekins or a larger baking dish to fit the amount of stuffing you’d like to repurpose. Seriously, this stuffing egg bake might just become a day-after-Thanksgiving tradition in your home.
Stuffing Breakfast Strata
Thanksgiving Leftovers Lasagna
Everyone knows the best part of Thanksgiving is the leftovers, and it just so happens that layering those leftovers into a lasagna is a fantastic way to guarantee that every bite is the perfect bite.
Thanksgiving Leftovers Fried Rice
On Thanksgiving at Craig Koketsu's house, a roasted turkey will definitely be trotted out, but sides and gravy are the real stars of the show. Even though he's the chef/partner at New York City's Quality Eats, he sticks to the tried-and-true at holidays—no funny business with the stuffing (which might even start with boxed)—and everyone around the table is happy and satisfied. But the morning after is when the real kitchen wizardry begins. Koketsu recombines the best elements of the meal into a stunningly satisfying fried rice that's amped up with scrambled eggs and a solid belt of soy sauce to enhance the savory flavors.
Koketsu's tip: If you can possibly make this in a cast-iron pan, it will form a killer crunchy layer on the bottom that can be peeled up and mixed in for extra flavor and texture.
Thanksgiving Fried Rice
Morning-After Turkey Hash
Leland Avellino, corporate executive chef and pitmaster of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, gives new life to last night’s leftover turkey in his Thanksgiving hash. This hot mess of Thanksgiving leftovers highlights dark meat, which is perfect for repurposing the next day. Avellino’s hash recipe begins with pan-frying patties made from leftover stuffing. Each cornbread stuffing patty is topped with leftover dark meat that's been doused in the restaurant’s Sensuous Slathering Sauce and then finished off with a sunny-side up egg. Toss a handful of baby greens in last night’s leftover cranberry sauce and serve on the side.