Leftovers – some people love them; some people hate them. The pandemic has my family more willing to eat leftovers than ever, so I’ve been embracing better ways to stretch our food lately. If you are tired of the same old recipes for your Thanksgiving leftovers, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some fresh new Thanksgiving leftover recipe tips to help you use up those turkey (or ham leftovers) in the days following Thanksgiving. Depending on your family’s traditions, you might also enjoy these recipes with your Christmas dinner leftovers!
There are so many things to do with leftover turkey!
Easy Leftover Turkey Recipes
If you want the super quick and easy ways to use up leftover turkey, I am not going to make you work for it. Here you go!
After the meal, cut some of the turkey into cubes or strips for easy use the next day.
Add cubed turkey or turkey strips to alfredo sauce and serve bowtie pasta, penne, or another favorite noodle with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and some steamed broccoli. Crescent rolls or garlic bread complete the dish!
Open-Face Hot Turkey
Create the ultimate open-face sandwich by spreading cranberry sauce on toasted bread slices and topping with warm turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing. Cap it off with a drizzle of gravy over the top. (Let your kids make their own to order if you’ve got picky eaters!)
Turkey Salad Sandwich
Toss cubed turkey, grapes, almonds, and celery with Miracle Whip, mayo, or another dressing of your choice (or skip the dressing altogether). Pile homemade turkey salad high on bread or a croissant.
Turkey Entrée Salad
Skip the carbs and make a turkey salad with delicious tidbits like dried cranberries, walnuts, croutons, cheddar cheese, bacon, and crisp lettuce. Have fun adding other salad toppings your family loves, too. Cubed turkey works so well with all of these flavors and more.
Turkey Skewers or Chef’s Plate
Create a fast and easy snack / appetizer by placing cubes of turkey and cheese on skewers. Serve with a barbecue, honey mustard, or Asian dipping sauce. For toddlers and young children, simply decorate their plate with these yummy bites instead of serving up a skewer.
Turkey Bacon Omelet
What’s not to love about turkey breast for breakfast?! Cut up some small pieces of turkey and add bacon crumbles for a super yummy breakfast. Choose just egg whites for a protein-packed morning meal. (And if you have some extra egg whites, be sure to check out our post for using up extra egg whites!)
More Recipe Suggestions for Thanksgiving Leftovers
We always get a bigger turkey than we need, just to have the leftovers! Thanksgiving dinner is a family favorite and we enjoy the extra turkey all week long. Here are a few other leftover turkey ideas to try.
Turkey Goes Italian
Make a homemade Stromboli or Calzone and add in your leftover turkey, sliced thinly, with some cheese and bacon. My go-to recipes for Stromboli dough are from Fab Food and Sugar Spun Run. They are both winners in our home and our circles — you really can’t beat a homemade Stromboli! I roll the dough extra thin and spread a layer of cheese, a layer of meat, and another layer of cheese. (Our favorite Stromboli is pepperoni, but this versatile dish definitely belongs in your monthly rotation!)
Hot Turkey Sandwiches
Mix the small scraps of turkey and some gravy and then cut up some larger pieces of leftover turkey. Add turkey to the mixture for delicious hot turkey sandwiches on a crusty roll. Don’t forget the gravy fries on the side!
Who says breakfast sandwiches must resort to bacon or sausage patties? One of the best breakfast sandwiches I’ve ever had featured fresh turkey breast, provolone cheese, bacon, and an egg over-hard on a croissant. AMAZING! And so easy!
Soft Pretzel Melts
If you haven’t gotten into the habit of making pretzel melts with your leftover turkey and ham, you’re missing out! This super simple meal works wonderfully for kids and adults love it too. It’s so easy, absolutely delicious and works well with any kind of soft pretzel – homemade soft pretzels, Wawa pretzels or the frozen ones by Super Pretzel. Simply slice open your pretzel, fill with turkey and cheese, and bake for 7 or 8 minutes until the cheese is nice and melty. I promise this leftover turkey recipe is worth your time!
Southwest Turkey Dip or Dinner
Depending on how adventurous your kids are with their palates, you might be able to convince them to try this dip or chili type meal. Toss some leftover turkey in a slow cooker with a can of rinsed and drained black beans, drained whole kernel corn, and diced tomatoes. Mix in a packet of McCormick Fiesta Chicken seasoning and let all the flavors combine, cooking on low for 6 to 8 hours. Serve with Tostitos Scoops for dipping or serve it over white rice. Delicious and a fun way to try a new style of food!
Turkey and Cranberry Sandwiches
Day-after-Thanksgiving sandwiches are arguably some of the best around, hands down. To this day I still remember a delicious Thanksgiving sandwich I enjoyed during a work lunch on a crusty artisan roll, brimming with turkey breast and fresh cranberry sauce. This was more than 15 years ago, so you know that had to be a great sandwich!
To make this dish a little more toddler and kid friendly, try smaller rolls and make Turkey and cranberry sandwiches slider style! You can use leftover crescent rolls or croissants, biscuits, Hawaiian rolls, or so many other delicious breads. Better yet, get an assortment of rolls and fixings and let each family member make his or her own Thanksgiving sandwiches.
We might even take it a step further and toss our sandwiches on a panini press to get them really nice and toasty!
Traditional Favorite Leftover Turkey Idea – Turkey Soup
We make homemade turkey noodle soup every year with our Thanksgiving leftovers. My other half prefers typical chicken noodle soup but the kids love the turkey soup! You can cook down the rest of the bird in some water after you’re done carving to pull together a sort of bone broth. It’s easy – just throw the remainder, bones and all, in a crockpot or pot on the stove to simmer for a few hours.
Turkey Soup Ingredients:
- Turkey Bones
- Carrots, Corn, or desired vegetables
- Cooked Noodles or Potatoes
Turkey Soup Instructions:
- Simmer turkey bones in water to make bone broth and derive flavor. This could take several hours.
- Remove bones and strain to catch and remove any fragments.
- Add “Better than Bouillon” or similar flavoring to taste.
- After broth reaches its desired flavor, add a little salt or other seasonings as desired.
- Gently sauté cut carrots and celery in olive oil or add them to the pot of broth.
- Add bits of cubed or shredded turkey scraps to the broth.
- In another pot, boil some noodles if desired. We use Ditalini. You can also add cubed potatoes instead if you wish – you may wish to boil them separately for best results.
- Add frozen whole corn kernels to the soup.
- Taste test, allow to cool, serve and enjoy!
Leftover Turkey Shepherd’s Pie
A leftover turkey casserole like shepherd’s pie can be a quick hit with everybody. The best thing about using your Thanksgiving leftovers up this way is that you’ve likely already got most of the ingredients in your Tupperwares!
- To make leftover turkey shepherd’s pie, place your cubed leftover turkey and a mix of vegetables in the pan for the first layer.
- If desired, you can add some seasonings to the meat and veggies.
- Top the turkey casserole with leftover mashed potatoes. Use a fork to create peaks that will crisp into a delicious bite of pure comfort.
- Bake your turkey shepherd’s pie in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, until the top looks nicely browned and crispy.
These are just a few leftover turkey recipes to try at home for your family. Freezing leftover turkey is also an option! When you store some of the turkey meat you had leftover in the freezer, you can make a few future dinners in record time!
If you have any favorite tips or ideas for leftover turkey recipes, please share them in our comments below!