12 creative ways to repurpose your Thanksgiving leftovers
Extend your Thanksgiving feast with these recipes.
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Thanksgiving is over and you may now be heading into your Black Friday shopping spree. But the feast doesn’t need to come to an end yet—there are probably plenty of leftovers from yesterday’s dinner. Especially if you’re opting for a smaller-than-usual gathering, you may end up with a ton of turkey meat, stuffings, mashed potatoes, and dessert.
To help you work through those stacks of full Tupperware and be creative about it, here are some expert-approved recipes you may want to try.
What to do with the leftover turkey
Turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce
This is a Thanksgiving classic that I never get tired of. (I’m drooling even as I type this.) My favorite is the grilled cheese version, which melts everything together and, when accompanied by tomato soup, makes the best post-Thanksgiving meal.
Turkey pot pie
Grab a roll of pastry dough and a pie dish or a cast iron skillet, and you’re most of the way to a turkey pie. We like Molly’s chicken pot pie recipe—it calls for chicken, which makes it easy to substitute with turkey.
Shepherd’s pie with turkey
In the unlikely event you become sick of sweet pies because of Thanksgiving, you may want to refresh your taste buds with a savory one. Shepherd’s pie is one of my favorite winter dishes as it provides warmth and comfort in the dark, chilly months. This shepherd’s pie recipe is designed to combine all the Thanksgiving leftovers—turkey, roasted vegetables, gravy, and mashed potatoes! If you’re trying to kill multiple birds with one stone, this is the way to go.
Chili with leftover turkey
Chili is such a quick, forgiving dish that I’ve never messed it up (knock on wood). This recipe lets you use leftover turkey meat instead of ground turkey and the rest of the process is similar to making a traditional chili. This dish normally freezes well, so you can stash any you don’t eat and defrost for an easy weeknight meal in the future.
Turkey empanadas, potstickers, or dumplings
To make use of your leftover turkey and other side dishes, you may want to fold them into empanadas or potstickers. If you don’t want to make the dough from scratch, you can use the same puff pastry dough used in turkey pot pies. For potstickers, you can buy the wrappers in most large supermarkets or make them from scratch. Additionally, folding leftovers into dumplings can make them more convenient to freeze —whether as a late night snack or an appetizer, you can easily whip up any of these options.
What to make with leftover bread
If you accidentally bought too much bread and ended up with an extra loaf or two, you may want to turn them into delicious croutons that go extremely well with soup. Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook has some of the best recipes on how to make croutons, as well as the classic French onion soup, made the exact same way his New York brasserie prepared them.
It goes without saying that one of the most popular leftover bread dishes is bread pudding. It’s a fairly simple dessert packed with flavors of childhood memories. The process is quite straightforward: Cut the bread into cubes and let soak in a mixture of eggs, milk, and sugar for 15 minutes to 30 minutes. Then bake at 375°F for 40 minutes until the top is golden brown. If you can’t find your grandma’s recipe, here’s a bread pudding recipe that I find easy to follow.
Freeze the bread
Surprisingly, bread freezes pretty well. If you aren’t sure how to freeze your fresh bread, we’ve talked about best practice for extending bread’s freshness.
What to make with leftover veggies
If you’ve got extra roasted vegetables after Thanksgiving day and a handful of eggs to spare, consider tossing them into the pan to make a yummy frittata the next day. You can even customize your frittatas with additional ingredients you love (like cheese or fresh herbs)and we recommend cooking the dish in a cast iron skillet to ensure crispy edges.
Though making a quiche takes more effort than a frittata, the end product is definitely worth it. If you don’t have a roll of pastry dough thawed, I’ve used this recipe over and over again as a pretty foolproof.
What to make with leftover cranberry sauce
If you plan to stack your turkey sandwich with leftover cranberry sauce, try turning the cranberry sauce into cranberry mayonnaise to switch it up. It’s simple and only uses four ingredients that you probably have on hand.
Leftover cranberry sauce bars
If you like making your own granola bars, you may like this recipe for cranberry sauce bars using leftovers.
What to do with the turkey carcass
Though the process is relatively straightforward, you’ll need a large stockpot to make sure there’s enough space for the turkey carcass and other ingredients that needs to be cooked down. Once the stock is made and chilled, you should be able to skim the solidified fat (depending on the surrounding temperature). Then, ladle the stick into an ice tray and freeze them for later uses.
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