5 Recipes to Make the Most of Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

We all know that a lot of work goes into a Thanksgiving dinner and there’s so much anticipation and excitement for the taste of those comforting fall flavors. And of course, at the end of the day, it’s really about that time around the table with your friends and family. But… once the meal’s over, the leftover situation gets very real.

In this season of gratitude, you don’t want to be wasteful, so you end up storing all the extra turkey, stuffing, potatoes and veggies into Tupperware containers. Which is a good thing! But then, most of us end up reheating random assortments of Thanksgiving dinner’s former glory. It gets… old.

But you can easily switch things up and truly enjoy those Thanksgiving leftovers! These are our favorite creative ways to use up what’s left when your guests go home — without feeling like you’re sitting down for another Thanksgiving meal 4 days in a row.

5 Creative Ways To Use Up Thanksgiving Leftovers

Turkey Soup

If you’ve hosted, this is the classic way to use up your turkey carcass (gosh, if only there was a better word for that). Have some random vegetables hanging out in your fridge on the Friday after? Toss them in too!

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Ingredients for the broth: 

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • Turkey carcass, all meat removed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery

Ingredients for the soup:

  • ½  cup carrots, diced
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • 2 cups shredded turkey (dark and white meat)
  • 1 cup diced squash or sweet potato
  • 1 cup leftover green beans or peas
  • 1 cup quick-cooking pearl barley
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Feel free to add any other seasonings or ingredients you’d like to your soup!

How to make it: 

  1. Add the turkey carcass, chicken broth, water, bay leaf, carrot, celery stalk, and sweet onion diced into quarters to a large soup pot and bring to boil. 
  2. Once boiling, return to a simmer and allow to cook for about an hour. 
  3. After the hour, strain out the broth using a fine sieve, just retaining the liquid (which will be so delicious). 
  4. In a fresh pot, add a drizzle of olive oil along with the diced carrots and celery and cook for about 5 minutes, or until starting to soften. 
  5. Add your homemade broth to the pot along with the shredded turkey, squash or sweet potato, and green beans or peas. (You can easily substitute other leftovers in here as well!)
  6. Bring to a simmer and add the fresh rosemary, bay leaves, salt and pepper — along with any other seasonings you want.
  7. Let cook for 20-30 minutes so the flavors can set. Be sure to remove the rosemary sprigs before serving. 

Hint: Freeze portions of the soup in reusable containers for quick dinners on busy weeknights throughout the winter months.

Thanksgiving Bowl with Crispy Stuffing Breadcrumbs

Are you getting tired of turkey? Or are you a vegetarian who feels a bit left out of the Thanksgiving dinner fun? We feel you. This wholesome and protein-packed bowl is the perfect easy dinner or bring-to-work lunch option.

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Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • Mashed squash or sweet potato (mashed)
  • Stuffing/dressing
  • Roasted brussels sprouts
  • Cranberry sauce

How to make it: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F (190˚C) and spray a sheet pan with cooking oil.
  2. Prepare the quinoa according to instructions on the package.
  3. While that’s cooking place your leftover stuffing on the sheet pan and break up to form small breadcrumbs. 
  4. Place stuffing in the oven for 5-10 minutes to reheat and then turn oven to Hi Broil for 2-3 minutes to crisp it up. 
  5. Serve up your bowl with quinoa, mashed squash, and roasted brussels sprouts and top with your crispy stuffing breadcrumbs and a scoop of cranberry sauce. Simple, delicious.

 

Sweet Potato & Beet Breakfast Hash

Put a festive twist on corned beef hash and eat your turkey for breakfast! This is perfect is you have leftover baked potatoes or sweet potatoes.

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Ingredients: 

  • 2 large baked potatoes (or baked sweet potatoes)
  • 3-4 cooked beets
  • 1 cup shredded dark meat turkey 
  • ½ cup caramelized onion
  • Butter for cooking
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

How to make it: 

  1. If you don’t have caramelized onions, you can quickly make them by dicing 1 small sweet onion and adding to a pan with 1 TBSP butter on medium-high heat. Let cook for about 5 minutes until they start to brown slightly. Add ⅓ cup of water cook until water boils off — about another 10-15 minutes. 
  2. Peel your baked potato and coarsely grate. 
  3. Grate the beets using a finer grater. 
  4. Take your shredded turkey and chop roughly. 
  5. Add 1-2 TBSP butter to a pan on medium-high heat and add the shredded potato, beets, caramelized onion, and shredded turkey. Let cook for about 10-15 minutes for flavors to mix. You can flip your hash 2-3 times but you want it to get a bit crispy on the bottom.  
  6. Once you have a nice crispy turkey hash, remove from heat. Serve with a poached or fried egg for a delicious post-Thanksgiving breakfast. 

 

Gobbler Grilled Cheese

The Thanksgiving turkey sandwich is always a classic, but this spin on a grilled cheese sandwich is a great option if you want a little something different.

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Ingredients: 

  • Sourdough bread
  • Havarti cheese
  • White meat turkey
  • 1 apple, sliced (perfect if you have apples that didn’t make it into an apple pie!)
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Sprouts (optional)

How to make it: 

  1. Butter the outsides of your sourdough bread and place them both in a pan on the stove on medium heat to start crisping.
  2. Add a slice of Havarti cheese to one slice, then top with turkey and close the sandwich. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side until the cheese has melted and turkey is warm. 
  3. Remove from heat and take the top slice off to add cranberry sauce and sprouts (best avoided during pregnancy just as it’s difficult to thoroughly wash them). 
  4. Replace top of sandwich and enjoy!

 

Everything & The Kitchen Sink Quesadillas

It’s been almost a week since Thanksgiving, and you’ve found yourself left with some turkey scraps, half a baked potato, a few bites of stuffing, and way too much green bean casserole (and there might still be cranberries in the back of the fridge, too). You don’t have to call it a day and toss them though! Throw them in a quesadilla and make the quickest, easiest meal your kids will actually eat!

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Ingredients: (a mere suggestion, honestly… just use up what you’ve got!)

  • 4-6 whole-wheat tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1-2 cups turkey breast
  • 1 cup green bean casserole/mashed potatoes
  • Roasted veggies (any amount)
  • 1/2 cup cranberry sauce
  • Fresh sage, chopped
  • 1-2 TBSP olive oil

How to make it:

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle with olive oil
  2. Place one tortilla in the bottom of the skillet and top with 1/2 a cup of turkey, a large dollop of green bean casserole or potatoes, a generous helping of veggies, a drizzle of cranberries, and top with a handful of shredded cheese and some sage
  3. Put another tortilla on top and cook for about 5 minutes on each side (until tortillas are golden brown and cheese is melted)
  4. Remove from heat, cut into triangles, and serve. Maybe use your leftover gravy as salsa? What the heck, it’s the holidays!

 


Share your favorite Thanksgiving leftover ideas in the comments below!

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