10 Ways to Love Up Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

You put a lot of love into making Thanksgiving dinner. Nicole McLaughlin, aka NicoleMcmom, shares 10 easy ways to enjoy those delicious leftovers beyond the usual reheat-and-eat.

1. Soups and Stews

Turkey Posole in a white bowl with limes on the side
Allrecipes Magazine

The classic way to use up the turkey carcass and extra meat is to make turkey noodle soup, but try turkey posole, turkey chili or turkey and dumplings, too. Add leftover gravy to savory soups as an instant flavor boost, and turn mashed potatoes into loaded potato soup. Sweet potatoes can turn into sweet potato soup, and you can add them to chili.

2. Stuff Stuff

Use refrigerated crescent roll dough to roll up turkey, Brie cheese, and cranberry sauce, bake the rollups, and you have savory little hot sandwiches. You could also use store-bought pizza dough to make turkey pizza or calzones. Roll leftovers in a tortilla with spicy peppers and cheese for an easy burrito or fold it and fry it for a quesadilla. Try this recipe for Cranberry-Turkey Pinwheels.

3. Fried Fair Food

Fried Mac and Cheese Balls

Turn leftover macaroni and cheese into Fried Mac and Cheese Balls? Yes, please! And check out these fried Loaded Mashed Potato Cakes — another great excuse to make extra mashed potatoes.

4. Layer the Leftovers

Leftover turkey lasagna is an efficient way to use up loads of turkey and vegetables. Or try this Mashed Potato-Topped Turkey Pot Pie. You can also use turkey instead of chicken in any chicken casserole recipe.

5. Flip the Flavor

Turkey Enchiladas in a baking dish

To help leftovers taste like something completely different try using leftover roasted veggies, sweet potatoes, turkey and green beans in Asian stir fry or curry. Spicy Mexican enchiladas using leftover turkey and veggies is a no-brainer, and how about using leftover roast turkey instead of chicken in this Italian risotto? For another easy way to flip the flavor, try this recipe for Day After Thanksgiving Turkey Pho.

6. Fancy Sandwiches

Turkey sandwiches are obvious musts for using up leftover turkey, but there's no reason why you can't make them fancy with flavored mayonnaise. Try these recipes for Basil Aioli and Honey-Mustard Dressing that simply stir flavorings into prepared mayonnaise to create delicious sandwich spreads. Or add some creamy imported cheese and press your turkey sandwiches in a hot grill to make turkey paninis. You can even turn leftover turkey into BBQ sandwiches. The gravy can be added to meat to create a flavorful burger or meatloaf sandwich. Try this recipe for Kentucky's famous Hot Brown sandwich made with roasted turkey.

7. Breakfast

You can turn anything into a hash! And add a fried egg on top for the perfect protein-packed breakfast. Or try frittatas and quiches with leftover veggies and turkey; breakfast sandwiches, too.

8. Milkshakes

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Pie Milkshake in a mug with whipped cream

No, not turkey and dressing milkshakes! But all that leftover pie makes decadent milkshakes. Try this recipe for Quick and Easy Pumpkin Pie Milkshake.

9. Apps and Snacks

serving bowl full of mini cocktail meatballs
Allrecipes Magazine

The weekend after Thanksgiving is a good time to kick back and snack on all the turkey-day leftovers, because who wants to cook? Cranberry sauce and gravy make great starters for cocktail meatballs. Put some leftovers out with cheese, crackers, and nuts to make a great snack dinner or charcuterie board. Try spooning leftover cranberry sauce on cream cheese for a creamy/sweet/tart dip, turn turkey into turkey salad, etc. And how about a mashed potato bar that uses up just about every leftover you have.

10. Cocktails

Two glasses of Caramel Apple Cider with cinnamon sugar rim
Allrecipes Magazine

Speaking of kicking back, leftover cider you don't use in turkey brine can be turned into a fall-flavored punch or hot cider. Cranberry sauce can be the starter for amazing bellinis or margaritas. And those herbs you bought make easy simple syrups to be poured over ice with vodka and soda.


You can connect with Nicole as NicoleMcmom on Allrecipes and on Instagram @nicolemcmom.

Was this page helpful?
You’ll Also Love