What to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers

Ready the plastic containers for leftovers because Thanksgiving gatherings are expected to be smaller this year leaving more turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie for after the big meal.

In preparation for this increase in leftovers, checkout these recipes that put a creative spin on Thanksgiving classics.




Turkey stock

Making turkey stock is a great way to use what you have on hand post-Thanksgiving. It’s easy and economical: Almost all leftover parts of the bird can be put to use, including the bones, the skin, and small bits of meat attached to the carcass.

Turkey sandwiches

No recipe needed for this one. Just pile on the cranberries and the stuffing and anything else you love with your turkey and you are set to go. Or grill it up in a panini press with this recipe for a Cuban style turkey sandwich.

Turkey fried rice

Leftover turkey can be given new life in fried rice.

Use cold rice and a large wok or deep pan to make this recipe.


Grain bowls

Along the same lines as a burrito bowl, grain bowls are a versatile blank slate for using up turkey and vegetable leftovers. Specifically, we recommend Brussels sprouts and roasted sweet potatoes here.

While any grain will work as a base for a grain bowl, farro, quinoa and brown rice are some of the most popular. Top a generous spoonful of grains, either warm or at room temperature, with leftover vegetables. Add any other greens like kale and a protein like chickpeas.

For dressing ideas, raid the fridge or make something new — try a lemony Dijon for brightness or a maple tahini version that’s nutty and sweet.

Turkey noodle soup

During a cold and rainy November day, turkey soup may just be the leftover recipe out there.

Check out this 30-minute recipe.


Turkey enchiladas

Many of us turn to ground turkey as a healthier option in a variety of recipes. But it’s just as easy to chop up leftover Thanksgiving turkey and sneak it into non-holiday comfort food. Start by adding it to your favorite enchilada (or taco or burrito bowl) recipe.

Try these turkey black bean enchiladas, and feel free to substitute a quality canned or jarred enchilada sauce if you don’t have it in you after the big day to make your own from scratch.

Still have more turkey to dispatch after making a pan of enchiladas? Freeze extra portions of leftover meat and use them in any recipe where you’d typically turn to rotisserie chicken.

Pumpkin pie smoothie

Take that leftover slice of pumpkin pie and turn it into a smoothie with unsweetened almond milk, Greek yogurt and nutmeg.

Try this recipe from Shape magazine.


Cranberry sauce cocktails

Why does there always seem to be more cranberry sauce after the meal than there was at the start of it? Use it up in these two quick shake-together cocktails inspired by the Cosmopolitan and the Manhattan.

For two cocktails: Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice, then add 2 ounces vodka or gin, 1 ounce Cointreau or other orange liqueur, and a healthy spoonful of cranberry sauce. Close and shake, then strain into two chilled martini glasses or coupes.

Or substitute bourbon or rye for the vodka and maple syrup for the Cointreau and make it an extra-seasonal drink.

Turkey pot pie

One way to use up leftover turkey — and any loose carrots and celery in the crisper drawer — is to cover it in a blanket of buttery pastry.

The Food Network offers a number of recipes including this one.

And remember, the more butter the better.

Stuffed portobello mushroom caps

If you have more stuffing than you know what to do with, stuff it into some mushrooms for an easy appetizer.

Find the recipe, and others from The Associated Press, here.

Cajun-style stew with andouille and turkey

Transform your leftover turkey into something new, entirely. This rich and spicy stew will give you all the energy you need to get through a holiday weekend with the in-laws.

Find the recipe from the Culinary Institute of America.

Turkey hash

When in doubt, put an egg on it. A hot skillet, some leftover potatoes and turkey make for a great Friday morning breakfast. And don’t forget the hot sauce.

Find the recipe for a turkey hash on Saveur.

Turkey Bolognese

If your taste buds have had it with all the traditional Thanksgiving flavors, try something Italian.

The Food Network’s Giada De Laurentiis has a recipe for turkey Bolognese. Her recipe favors the dark meat, if you have any left.


Turkey ramen 

Lots of people use leftover turkey to make soup. So why not make ramen?

Find the recipe for turkey ramen on Epicurious.


Stuffing muffin

This recipe is perfect for the a few day after Thanksgiving when only a little stuffing, turkey, ham and spinach are left.

Throw it all into this stuffing muffin recipe.

Turkey Frittata

Within 20 minutes, a turkey frittata can become a reality with just a half-dozen eggs, turkey and a cast-iron pan.

Check out Food Network’s Thanksgiving spin on the frittata.

Green bean casserole quiche

Here’s a tip: Buy an extra frozen deep-dish pie crust before Thanksgiving, then bring it out over the weekend to whip up a quick quiche with the rest of your green bean casserole.

Follow the basic quiche ratio of 4 large eggs, 1 cup dairy (whole milk, half-and-half or cream), 1 cup shredded cheese and 2 cups vegetables or other mix-ins to fill your pie crust.

Pre-bake the pie crust shell according to package directions, then fill and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 to 60 minutes, until the quiche no longer jiggles in the center. Let rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

Turkey with Napa cabbage salad

After a big Thanksgiving dinner, green is good. This crunchy salad will use up your holiday leftovers and leave you feeling a little lighter.

Find the recipe from The Associated Press here.

Turkey Waldorf salad

This is another great recipe for using up turkey meat, plus all the other veggies (and apples) you likely have from Thanksgiving cooking.

Find a recipe for Waldorf turkey salad on Food Network.

Mashed potato fritters

Even the most ardent mashed potato fan has to admit that after a few days, the idea of eating a reheated pile of potatoes loses its charm. Enter the fritter to make things sizzle once again.

Corn and cheddar mashed potato fritters are a two-in-one way to use up any corn left over from the feast. If you also want to finely chop any extra roasted cauliflower and add it to the mix, that works, too.

Or go for indulgence and make poutine-style potato fritters by topping them with warm gravy and small cubes of white cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese.

CNN Wires contributed to this report.

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