If you’re anything like me, then you know the best part of a Thanksgiving meal doesn’t always happen on Thanksgiving. For many of us, myself included, the real highlight is the Thanksgiving leftovers. Of course, knowing what to do with all of those leftover goodies can sometimes require a little creativity.
To help you plan ahead for what comes after Thanksgiving, we’ve scoured some of our favorite sites to find delicious recipes that will help you make the most of your leftover feast. Each of the following recipes will help you make sure that nothing goes to waste, from turkey to stuffing to sweet potato casserole.
We chose our favorite recipes based on the following criteria:
- Easy to make
- Main ingredients come straight from the Thanksgiving table
- Traditional flavors that the whole family will love
Take a look at our favorite Thanksgiving leftovers recipes and try a few out. You might even find one or more you’ll want to make part of your post-Thanksgiving tradition. In the meantime, if you have any ideas for Thanksgiving leftovers, let us know. Send us your favorite Thanksgiving leftovers recipe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cooking time: 75 minutes (plus 15 minutes for prep)
Thanksgiving leftovers used: Turkey, veggies, stuffing, mashed potatoes (optional)
Most of us are familiar with soup made from leftover turkey—or as my mom always called it, “Turkey Bone Soup.” You use the turkey carcass to make a broth, then add leftover turkey meat, veggies, noodles, and other odds and ends. This recipe offers a twist on that age-old tradition by starting with another traditional dish: chicken and dumplings. Here, you use turkey as the base and leftover stuffing to make dumplings. Not only is this soup warm and comforting, but with its familiar flavors, it’s sure to be a hit with the whole family.
Why we love this recipe: This soup, featured on the cooking blog, Katie’s Cucina, makes sure that nothing goes to waste. Using the turkey carcass, along with veggies you most likely already have on hand (carrots, onions, and celery), it’s easy to make a rich, flavorful broth. But the best part? Definitely the dumplings. If you’re a sucker for traditional chicken and dumplings, then you’ll love the familiar structure of this dish, as well as the added flavors that “stuffing dumplings” provide. Be sure to save your leftover mashed potatoes to serve as a side—or serve them with soup poured over the top.
Cooking time: 30 minutes (plus 15 minutes for prep)
Thanksgiving leftovers used: Turkey, gravy, veggies, potatoes
Shepherd’s Pie gets its name from the fact that, traditionally, it calls for lamb or mutton as the main ingredient. While we realize that shepherds don’t usually include turkeys in their flock, once you taste this turkey-based take on an old European classic, you won’t mind a little creative license with the name. Warm, comforting, and completely delicious, this baked “pie” (which is really more of a casserole) uses leftover turkey, gravy, and veggies, with a healthy dose of mashed potatoes on top. Serve with some leftover rolls, and you’ll have a Thanksgiving do-over that you might find yourself re-creating throughout the year.
Why we love this recipe: Cooking often requires creativity—if not always with the methods, then often with the ingredients. This is especially true when you’re working with leftovers. We love this recipe from Baked by Rachel because it allows you to use what you have on hand. For example, when it comes to veggies, you can certainly switch things up. Don’t have peas? Add green beans. Or perhaps, you didn’t make as many mashed potatoes as you thought but have plenty of sweet potatoes or yams left. Try those as a topper instead. In fact, you could even throw in some stuffing and cranberries if that suits your palate. Be creative—we’re pretty sure it’s going to be amazing no matter what.
Cooking time: 15 minutes (plus 5 minutes for prep)
Thanksgiving leftovers used: Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and cranberries
There’s quite literally nothing I don’t love about this recipe. Even the name sounds like a warm holiday hug. Plus, it’s simple, quick, and uses all your favorite Thanksgiving staples. While many families serve traditional dinner rolls with their Thanksgiving meal, this recipe calls for crescent rolls. If that happens to be what you like to offer on the Thanksgiving table, all the better. Just be sure to buy an extra pack or two and you’ll be all set for Thanksgiving-leftover-paradise on Friday!
Why we love this recipe: Easy, easy, easy. That pretty much says it all. Simply roll out uncooked crescent rolls, fill them with all of your Thanksgiving favorites—turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and cranberries, roll them up, then bake for 12 to 15 minutes. That’s it. This recipe, compliments of Delish, also lends itself to versatility, so if want to mix up the ingredients, then feel free. But what really sold us was the “dipping sauce,” which, of course, is gravy. And as we all know, gravy makes everything better.
Cooking time: 25 minutes (plus 15 minutes for prep)
Thanksgiving leftovers used: Turkey, gravy, stuffing, potatoes (optional)
Hash is one of the dishes I associate with my grandfather. I can still remember him standing in the kitchen on cold winter mornings cooking up a skillet of corned beef hash. We would eat it over toast and it never failed to be satisfyingly delicious. Perhaps that’s why I love the idea of a post-Thanksgiving breakfast or brunch featuring Turkey Hash. Or maybe it’s how easy it is to make. Or perhaps, it’s the fact that it’s the perfect way use up leftover Thanksgiving food. Whatever the reason, this recipe is destined to become part of your day-after-Thanksgiving repertoire. Serve it with a fried egg on top, on top of toast, or with leftover mashed potatoes or home fries. You simply can’t go wrong with this tasty dish.
Why we love it: We instantly fell in love with this recipe, which was found on the food blog, Boulder Locavore, and authored by Toni Dash. Why? Because it’s easy. Because it’s delicious. And most of all, because it solves the age-old question: what am I going to feed all of the people still in my house? The simple fact is that it’s hard to come up with the energy to make another large family meal once you’ve exhausted your culinary energy on Thanksgiving Day. But, if you have family or friends staying over…they’re going to want to eat again, no matter what they said after Thanksgiving dinner. This recipe lets you use all the things you already have, turkey, gravy, potatoes, etc., in a creative way that will satisfy a crowd. You can always ask someone else to host next year, but for now, thank goodness for Turkey Hash.
Turkey and Waffle Sandwiches (made with waffled stuffing)
Cooking time: 3-5 minutes to make the waffles, plus a few minutes to assemble
Thanksgiving leftovers used: Stuffing, turkey, potatoes, gravy, cranberries
If you thought “Chicken and Waffles” was the greatest culinary invention since sliced bread, then prepare to have your taste buds blown. Using leftover turkey and waffles made from stuffing, you can dish up a quick, easy, and absolutely delicious breakfast, lunch, brunch, or dinner. This recipe by Matt Robinson at Real Food by Dad doesn’t leave any leftover behind. Designed to be served as a sandwich, it could also be served open-faced. But no matter how you eat it, it will leave you wanting more.
Why we love this recipe: Waffles…made from stuffing. What’s not to love? But more importantly…ok there’s nothing more important than waffles MADE FROM STUFFING. But, there’s a lot to be said for the way that you can mix and match your leftovers in this dish. After making your stuffing waffles, it’s easy to assemble this Thanksgiving sandwich with turkey, potatoes, cranberries, and gravy. But that being said, if you have additions or subtractions you’d like to make to the line-up, go for it. And, naturally, the same goes for everyone in the family, resulting in a custom-made meal that doesn’t require you to do any extra work. It’s a win-win for everyone.