11 Smart Ways to Use Thanksgiving Leftovers

11 Smart Ways to Use Thanksgiving Leftovers

What do you make with Thanksgiving leftovers?

If you hosted Thanksgiving dinner at your house, that is probably what you’ll be wondering the moment you emerge from your tryptophan stupor.

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I’m hosting a huge Thanksgiving dinner at my house this year, and I’m actually really excited. You know why? Because I will be left with a fridge full of the very best part about the Thanksgiving feast: the leftovers.

We all look forward to rummaging through the fridge for an extra serving of turkey, mashed potatoes, and homemade rolls after the holiday. And we absolutely love to eat pumpkin pie (heavy on the whipped cream) for breakfast the rest of the week.

Yum! I may have had to just wipe drool off my laptop.

I especially appreciate that Thanksgiving leftovers make feeding my family so dang easy and cheap over the next week! Thanksgiving dinner just keeps on giving and giving!

You’re probably thinking, “Cheap? Thanksgiving dinner?”

I know, it feels like Thanksgiving dinner costs an arm and a leg? You go grocery shopping with your Thanksgiving prep list and spend double what you ordinarily would? Gah!

Well, if it was just one meal — if you threw all the leftovers away afterward — that would actually be the case. It would be one super expensive meal.

But if you package up all the leftovers and use them to create the meals I’ve outlined below, you can easily get an entire week’s worth (or more!) of meals out of your Thanksgiving leftovers.

That’s why, while everyone else is out Black Friday shopping, I’ll be home (in my stretchiest stretchy pants, thank you very much!) turning my leftovers into delectable meals.

Using up your Thanksgiving leftovers will save you so much money!

Keep scrolling for some enticing ways to use up your Thanksgiving leftovers!

 

Leftover Turkey Recipes

Of course, there is always the old standby; the turkey sandwich. My husband likes to create his sandwich atop a homemade roll and pile it high with turkey and stuffing, then dip it all in gravy as if it were au jus. My kids like to spread bread with cranberry sauce and mayo, then sandwich turkey slices between the bread.

However you like your turkey sandwiches, they are a great option, and I love that they are simple and no-cook. However, they can get boring. Here are some less boring ways to use up your Thanksgiving leftovers.

Turkey Crepe or Omelet

Have you ever made an omelet or crepe out of your Thanksgiving leftovers? I have and they are delicious as well as surprisingly easy. Fill them up with chopped turkey, leftover veggies and drizzle them with gravy. Yum!

Turkey Pot Pie

This is my families favorite way for me to use up leftover turkey. I rarely make it, so they think it’s pretty special.

As I make pies the day before Thanksgiving, I always pinch off and set aside a couple of lumps of pie crust dough. That way, all I have to do is roll out the pie crust dough, fill it with cubed leftover turkey and vegetables, top the whole thing with gravy and a top crust, and pop it in the oven. Serve it up with leftover rolls, and you’re in leftover heaven!

Turkey Cranberry Salad

And if you’re feeling like something a little lighter, just cube your leftover turkey and toss it with a few cranberries and some greens for an easy and nutritious salad. This is the perfect, healthy leftover turkey recipe!

Cubed turkey also freezes well if your fridge is just too full and you can’t possibly deal with everything right now.

Thanksgiving Leftovers

 

Leftover Turkey Casserole

This Thanksgiving, instead of sneaking bites of leftovers all day long until you feel sick, do yourself right and make them into a casserole. This casserole is an easy, delicious way to use up your Thanksgiving leftovers!

Turkey Shepherd’s Pie

My mom used to make this and now I carry on the tradition with my own family. It’s a lot like a shepherd’s pie, but you use up all your Thanksgiving leftovers to create it.

Butter a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Spread about 2 cups of leftover stuffing in the bottom of the dish, pressing it flat. Follow with an even layer of turkey. Drizzle about 1/2 c. gravy over the turkey. Next up is a layer of green beans. Then spread a nice layer of leftover mashed potatoes over the top. Top with grated cheddar cheese, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the foil to let the top brown a little, then serve with extra gravy and cranberry sauce.

You can use any vegetable in place of the green beans, depending on what you have. Maybe not candied yams, though!

What do you make with thanksgiving leftovers?

 

Leftover Turkey Soup Recipes

Where I live, the end of November is snowy and cold. A nice pot of soup, made of Thanksgiving leftovers, just hits the spot! Soup is the ultimate comfort food, and this one, made with real stock, is particularly nourishing and rejuvenating after a busy holiday.

Turkey Stock

Once you’ve picked your turkey carcass clean, toss all the bones and extra pieces (The neck and giblets make it extra yummy) of turkey into your crock pot. Cover the carcass with water and 2 Tbsp. vinegar. (The vinegar helps to leach minerals from the bones, making your stock rich in minerals and gelatin.)

Let it simmer at least overnight. I’ve left mine going for a couple of days before, though, when I was too busy (or, um… forgot?) to do anything with it. As long as you keep adding water and keep the bones covered it should be alright. Remove the bones and pour the stock through a cheesecloth to remove any tiny particles. Use it to make the soup below or another soup.

Turkey Noodle Soup

Add 2 c. coarsely chopped celery, onions and carrots to your turkey stock. Simmer over medium heat until they are soft. (About 3 hours in a crockpot.) Season your soup to taste and add 1 16-oz package of egg noodles. Simmer another 1/2 hour in the crockpot, then serve piping hot with leftover homemade rolls and a gallon of milk.

This Turkey Barley Soup sounds divine, too!

Thanksgiving Leftovers

 

Leftover Turkey Pasta Recipes

Turkey tastes a lot like chicken, and it has the same texture, so nobody will object (or even notice, probably!) if you throw cubed, leftover turkey into your pasta dish in place of chicken. But just in case you were hoping for an actual pasta recipe for using up leftover turkey, here ya go.

Turkey Tetrazzini

This is a scrumptious way to use up you leftover turkey. It’s creamy and delicious —  the ultimate comfort food! And it’s so easy it’s practically fast food. Just cook your pasta to al dente (I usually use spaghetti) then set it aside. In a large dutch oven pan, melt 1/2 cube of butter, stir in 2 Tbsp. flour to make a roux, then add 2 c. turkey broth (recipe above, or used canned chicken broth), stirring constantly until your sauce has thickened.

Remove it from the heat and stir in 1 pint of half and half, 1 tsp. parsley, 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Toss about 2 c. cubed, leftover turkey, a cup of mushrooms, and your cooked pasta into the sauce and stir. Sometimes I add leftover broccoli or green beans to the pot, too. Spread the mixture into a 9 x 13 glass baking dish and sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, or until heated all the way through.

Thanksgiving leftovers

Repurposed Mashed Potatoes

Latkes

Thanksgiving LeftoversOur favorite way to repurpose mashed potatoes is to turn them into hot, crispy, salty latkes. And whenever I make them, my kids have to run find the book, Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat by Naomi Howland, to read while we take turns frying the latkes. It’s fun to learn about other cultures.

Latkes are so easy to make that my kids like to whip this one out themselves!

Start by heating 1/4 c. coconut oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. While the oil is heating, stir together 3 c. of your leftover mashed potatoes, 3 beaten eggs, 3 Tablespoons flour and 1 tsp. salt. Place large spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the hot oil, pressing down on them to form patties. Fry until crisp on the outside and hot all the way through.

Top them with sour cream and chopped green onions and serve them with applesauce. What a fun way to serve up repurposed mashed potatoes!

Gnocchi

Combine 2 cups repurposed mashed potatoes, 4 cups flour and 2 eggs in a large bowl. Knead until dough forms a stiff ball. Shape small portions of the dough into ropes about 1/2″ thick.

On a floured surface, cut ropes into half-inch pieces. Roll each piece off the tines of a fork. (My kids like to do this part.)

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in gnocchi and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until gnocchi rise to the top, then drain. You can serve these topped with melted butter and sauteed garlic, or in marinara sauce, or in soup.

You could also make potato rolls or shepherd’s pie with your leftover mashed potatoes.

Thanksgiving leftovers

 

 

Leftover Stuffing Recipes

I don’t have any leftover stuffing recipes of my own, because we so rarely have leftover stuffing. My husband eats it voraciously, and what he doesn’t eat Thanksgiving day, he eats for breakfast the next. I do usually hide a ziploc of leftover stuffing for my Turkey Shepherd’s Pie casserole (recipe above). But then it’s gone!

Stuffing Waffle

I did see this interesting Stuffing Waffle recipe where you butter your waffle iron, load it up with stuffing and press it into a waffle. I think I’ll try that this year because I feel a little disturbed watching someone dig into cold, leftover stuffing. I might feel better about it being hot and shaped like a waffle. Or maybe not.

Stuffin’ Muffins

And I also found these Stuffin’ Muffins, which look like something my family would love! I’m going to have to intentionally make a double batch of stuffing this year so I’ll have some actual leftover stuffing to make them with.

thanksgiving leftovers

 

That’s How You Use Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

From the dregs of the creamy, mashed potato bowl to the picked-clean turkey carcass, these are scrumptious recipes to use up your leftover turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and everything else. There is no reason to waste your Thanksgiving leftovers.

Just think! You could eat meals created from your Thanksgiving leftovers for an entire week or more! And all of the money you save on groceries can be used toward Christmas.

Thanksgiving leftovers have never tasted better!

But be forewarned: all of these delicious Thanksgiving leftovers are likely to induce another tryptophan hangover!

 

 

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