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Suggestions for Leftovers-Thanksgiving

Updated on January 8, 2017

Heritage Turkey, Thanksgiving

By TurkZilla (almost dinner) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By TurkZilla (almost dinner) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Blessing of Leftovers

OK. The party is over, for now. The whole world is finished crashing in your living room. The house is quiet. The extended family has all gone home.

You cooked for an army and then some. Your mother and your sisters all brought their signature dishes, and half the extra food was left at your house. What are you going to do with all that food?

Leftovers are really a blessing. Anything that you don't want to keep can be donated, given to a friend, used as a goodwill offering, fed to the animals, and in some cases, returned to the earth to recycle as fertilizer.

But the stuff that you like, and that fits in your diet plan,can be saved for reuse in very many ways. This can help heal the hole that big holiday dinners can leave in your budget, and maybe even stretch it a little.

First of all, many traditional Thanksgiving dishes can be frozen as is and reheated later. If necessary, they can be refreshed by the addition of some wine, spices, butter or broth so that no one will ever know that they were leftovers from a bygone party.

Then you can take what's left in the refrigerator and turn it into any one of a number of wonderful dishes to get you through the week to come.

This page will present you with many ideas for your leftover feast. Enjoy!

Emeril Lagasse's Leftovers

Leftover side dishes

There are also many things that you can do with the side dishes that are traditionally served at Thanksgiving. Here are just a few suggestions:

  1. Mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes, along with some peas, chopped turkey, and a pie shell can be turned into a shepherd's pie. Add some grated onion and an egg to a bowl full of mashed potatoes, then form them into flat cakes and fry in butter to make potato cakes. These can also be seasoned with chili seasoning for spicy cakes, or sprinkled with cinnamon sugar for a sweet treat. For added pleasure, top potato cakes with sour cream. Mashed potatoes can also be made into potato pancakes by adding eggs, milk, and a few spoons of flour or pancake mix. Spoon onto hot pan or griddle and fry, turning once, until brown on both sides, Finally, you can take spoonfuls of mashed potatoes, roll them in breadcrumbs or grated cheese and bake or deep fry them to make delicious potato balls.
  2. Sweet potatoes. We all know that sweet potatoes can be made into pie, and if they can be made into pie, they can be made into tasty little tartlets. Sweet potatoes can be made into a sweet potato salad with a little mayonnaise and some diced apple and celery. You can make a wonderful sweet potato soup . Just mash them and slowly add some cream while warming them over low heat. Then you can add sweet or savory spices until you reach a flavor that you can enjoy.
  3. Corn on the cob. Corn on the cob is a very versatile side dish. One thing you can do with it is to baste it with barbecue sauce or rub it with dry rub and grill it. You can cut the kernels away from the cob, and mix it with some chopped onion and chillies to make a wonderful corn salsa. And you can even mix it with canned potato soup, then add some grated Parmesan for a wonderful corn chowder. Just heat according to the soup directions.


Finally, here is a wonderful use for your leftover apple and pumpkin pie.

Get some nice desert cups You will need your leftover pumpkin and apple pies, some cherries, some vanilla ice cream, some chopped nuts and some caramel or hot fudge sauce.

Chop up the pie leftovers until they are in bite sized pieces. Then make a layer of apple pie, a large spoonful of ice cream, some nuts and cherries, and a layer of the ice cream sauce. Then add a layer of pumpkin pie, a large spoonful of the ice cream, nuts and cherries. Add a layer of the ice cream sauce, top with whipped cream if desired, Then garnish with a sprinkle of nuts and one cherry. This is a wonderful parfait.

Gordon Robertson's turkey leftovers

The Turkey

The Thanksgiving turkey is one of the easiest leftovers to use. The meat is very adaptable to all sorts of recipes. Here are a few:

  1. Snacks. You can take biscuit dough, filo or puff pastry dough and create imaginative hors d'ouvres by filling them with chopped turkey meat and cheese, chillies, tomato and onion. You can make mini turkey pizza rolls from crescent rolls, tomato sauce, turkey and cheese. Or you can stuff some turkey pieces with cream cheese and pineapple inside some puff pastry and bake it to a golden brown to make a sweet and savory treat. You can also take a wonton wrapper and a mix of chopped turkey and spices and make some fantastic dumplings.
  2. Soups. You can easily make a variety of turkey based soups by using any part of the turkey. To make a very good turkey noodle soup, take the entire backbone and place it in a large pot of water or broth. Add onions, celery, garlic and carrots, along with some chopped fresh parsley and about three bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and reduce heat to about medium low. Simmer for about 45 minutes. Then strain out the bones and the bay leaves,and add cubed breast meat, mixed vegetables and your favorite noodles (which should have been previously cooked until chewy) and then simmer, covered, until done to your liking. Season with salt and pepper to taste. To turn it into a cream soup, leave out the noodles and add come cubed, cooked potatoes instead. Then create a slurry by adding about two tablespoons of flour or cornstarch to a cup of cold milk or cream. Add this to the broth and boil gently until it thickens, stirring all the while. Serve with a little grated Parmesan cheese. For some very fast turkey soup, add some diced turkey meat to canned mushroom soup and cook according to the package directions. Finally, you can substitute turkey in any recipe that calls for precooked chicken.
  3. Meat pie or pot pie. To make a turkey pie, mix turkey pieces, vegetables and gravy and pour the mixture into a premade pie crust. Put the second half of the crust over the top and cook according to the package directions. Make sure you slit the top crust in order to vent the pie. To make pot pie, prepare a pot of turkey soup, as described in the previous section, but replace noodles with large strips of uncooked pie dough and gently boil until the dough reaches the right consistency. You can use the premade dough; just unroll it and cut it into large strips or triangles. You can also make turkey and dumplings. You just follow the pot pie instructions, but use a tube of the smaller biscuit dough instead.
  4. Sandwiches. Again, you can use any recipe that you would use for chicken. You can make turkey salad sandwiches, turkey fajitas, turkey wraps, turkey paninis, grilled sandwiches, turkey with bacon and salad on Texas toast. You can mix turkey and gravy and pour on top of some crusty artisan bread.
  5. Main course entrees. You can make turkey fried rice. Put some olive oil and diced onion into a frying pan or wok. Turn the heat on medium and cook until the onions brown. Throw in a couple of beaten eggs and scramble. Add diced turkey, rice and peas, and quickly stir fry while tossing the ingredients together. Season as desired with additional spices, soy sauce or terryake sauce. To make a delicious casserole, precook your favorite pasta until al dente. Grease a casserole dish and pour the drained noodles into it. Mix in some chopped broccoli, some bite sized turkey pieces and about 2 cups of grated cheese. Top with bread crumbs, french fried onions or a layer of biscuits. Spray the topping with cooking spray and bake until the topping is brown and the cheese is melted. The timing depends on the ingredients, but on average (@350F) would be about 30 minutes. You can take the turkey legs and wings and put them in a slow cooker for a couple of hours covered in barbecue sauce.
  6. Salad. With some mayonnaise, some apples, grapes, celery and walnuts you can make a turkey Waldorf. You can make a delicious salad by placing some sliced turkey on a bed of lettuce with some mandarin orange slices and some sliced almonds. Top with blue cheese dressing and some croutons and bacon bits. Make a hot turkey salad by tossing some shredded cabbage in sesame oil, then stir fry until the cabbage is caramelized. Then throw in some turkey chunks and some sesame seeds. season lightly with salt and black pepper, and sprinkle with lemon juice. You can add whatever additional seasonings you want, then serve while still warm.

There are thousands of turkey recipes out there. Enjoy!

Cranberry Sauce pie

These are just a few of probably millions of ideas for ways to use all of your holiday leftovers. For still more ideas, check out the videos and links that I have attached to this page. You can also go to websites like,, and search for recipes by the ingredients that you used. Or just type in "leftovers" and see what you get.

In any case, there is so much diversity out there that there is no reason to be concerned about having too many Thanksgiving treats.

10 Minute turkey soup

Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich open faced

By Marshall Astor (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Marshall Astor (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


By Ben Franske (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Ben Franske (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


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