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12 Delicious Ideas for Thanksgiving Leftovers

By Megan Myers, November 24, 2015  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Megan Myers

Cranberry Bakewell Tart

Cranberry Bakewell Tart

At my house, we go all out for Thanksgiving. Even though there are only two adults and two children, we usually do up a whole turkey and all the standard fixings. Why do we make so much food? One word: leftovers! 

While leftovers might not be appealing for everyone in the family, I view Thanksgiving leftovers as a challenge to making the most creative recipes I can.


Almost everyone has leftover turkey, so view this as your time to shine in the kitchen. Remove all the meat from the carcass the night of Thanksgiving, portion it into freezer-safe bags, and freeze what you won’t use within a couple of days. This will help reduce pressure on using things up, and give you a stash for future recipes!

 Turkey Nachos with Cranberry Salsa

Turkey Nachos with Cranberry Salsa Recipe

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is great spread on toast or paired with Greek yogurt, but take it a step further and pump up some salsa or create a glaze for chicken wings. Leftover whole cranberries can be used for this Cranberry Bakewell Tart.


Cooked potatoes can be repurposed for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Add extra milk or butter when reheating mashed potatoes to keep them creamy. Use mashed sweet potatoes to make these Sweet Potato Gnocchi.


If you’ve got a bit of leftover pumpkin purée, try Pumpkin Chile Con Queso or a Pumpkin Dutch Baby Pancake.

Want to go all out? Check out our ultimate Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich in this video:

Need some more ideas? Try these recipes on for size.

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Turkey Pumpkin Chili Recipe

Savory Stuffing Cakes

Savory Stuffing Cakes Recipe

Five-Spice Cranberry Glazed Chicken Wings

Five-Spice Cranberry Glazed Chicken Wings Recipe

Curried Turkey and Rice Casserole

Curried Turkey and Rice Casserole Recipe

Butternut Hash with Leeks and Turkey

 Butternut Hash with Leeks and Turkey Recipe

Turkey with Sweet Potato Dumplings

Turkey with Sweet Potato Dumplings Recipe

What do you make with Thanksgiving leftovers? Share in the comments!

Category: Food & Recipes, holiday




Lauralee Hensley says ...
Like your idea of stuffins. I will freeze left over turkey for casserole dishes later in the year. Like a layered casserole dish of Thousand Island Dressing, brown rice, drained sauerkraut, turkey, another layer of thousand island dressing, then swiss cheese.
11/08/2012 9:16:36 PM CST
Dixie Trelite says ...
These are simple, innovative uses for traditional left over items. I've shied away from cranberry sauce for years because everyone expects to see on a holiday table but only a few seem to partake. This year I'll serve the glazed chicken wings the day after while everyone watches the big games! Thanks Sharon!!!
11/09/2012 12:03:09 PM CST
patti says ...
Leftover cranberry sauce can be used to make turnovers / pastries. Mix cranberry sauce with cream cheese and ricotta plus some sugar. Use refrigerated pie crust, rolls (the kind in a can--roll flat first), or similar, spread cranberry-cheese mixture on half and fold the dough over. Cut slits in top and bake until golden. You can make a big one (strudel) or several smaller ones. Non Appetit had the recipe several years ago. Always a big hit.
11/09/2012 2:27:55 PM CST
Rona Baizer says ...
Yum! My kids are going to love the Stuffins! And the cranberry glazed chicken wings are a great idea! I think I'll make mine a little spicy. And love the cranberry mustard idea. It'll be perfect on a sandwich with my smoked turkey. All great ideas. Thanks for sharing!
11/09/2012 7:10:30 PM CST
Linda Benton says ...
I like to give our after -Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches a special twist. Using the freshest whole grained & nutty bread, I spread one slice of bread with low fat cream cheese, top it with a few thin slices of crisp apple, smear it with leftover whole berry cranberry sauce, add a piece of red leaf lettuce and the other slice of bread and Viola!-- A savory/sweet sandwich loaded with goodness.
11/14/2012 8:41:44 AM CST
Gwen says ...
We skip the canned cranberry sauce in favor of fresh cranberry-orange relish. It's so addictively good, and easy with a food processor. Just follow the instructions on a bag of cranberries, and make it a day or two ahead to save your sanity and let it mellow. I've always added a grated apple to the cranberries and orange. It smooths out the flavor and stretches the portions too. For my sons, it's not Thanksgiving without cranberry-orange relish. As for turkey leftovers, Turkey Tetrazzini is de rigeur at our house. The Joy of Cooking's recipe gets raves every time. It's a little rich, so I serve tossed salad alongside and a fresh fruit salad with apples, pears, oranges and a few raspberries for dessert. I feel healthier already. Linda, I'll have to try your sandwiches -- they sound great!
11/14/2012 10:45:01 PM CST
Jodi Fischer says ...
left over pumpkin puree? i like to mix 8oz with 1/2 gallon of softened ice cream and pour into a graham cracker crust (if you make your own just make sure to cook or chill the crust before pouring) can add cinnamon and ground ginger, brown sugar if you feel it needs it, can buy the crust and make it even easier). result -a pumpkin ice cream pie. it's lighter than pumpkin pie or cheese cake and so delish.
11/19/2012 11:04:52 PM CST
Mary says ...
These look good.
11/23/2012 8:44:02 AM CST