Thanksgiving Leftover Ideas You’ll Actually Be Thankful For

The day after Thanksgiving means two things: Black Friday deals and lots of leftovers.

If you don’t have leftovers after cooking your Thanksgiving dinner, you did it wrong. Come on, give thanks for the excess. The best way to express your gratitude is to do more than simply microwave the leftovers for the next several meals. You can take those dishes and transform them into something entirely new. Consider it upcycling your food. Or magic. Either way, Thanksgiving leftover recipes are the best part of the holiday. Here’s proof.  

Related Reading: The Best Containers for Storing Thanksgiving Leftovers

Alarmingly, a recent Instacart survey, in addition to identifying the worst Thanksgiving side dishes, also found that many Millennials did not want Thanksgiving leftovers. If you feel the same, we think you’re just a little uninspired. Allow us to help.

To make it easier to find what you want (or at least what you need), we’ve broken it down into specific categories of leftover below.

When You Have a Little Bit of Everything Left Over

And you don’t mind mashing it all up together…

Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich

Chowhound

The classic method: Pile all your favorite bits and pieces onto bread—bonus if it’s a leftover dinner roll. You don’t really need instructions for this, but still, get our Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich recipe if your food coma is making it hard for you to think straight (and yet you’re strangely compelled to eat again anyway).

Thanksgiving Turkey Nachos


Who doesn’t love nachos? Transform your turkey leftovers into a Mexican-inspired mixture of zesty lime turkey topped with cranberry salsa. This dish is easy to customize, and kids absolutely love it. Get our Thanksgiving Nachos recipe.

Thanksgiving Leftovers Pizza

Chowhound

A store-bought crust, smeared with straight-from-the-fridge gravy, spread with leftover turkey, cranberry sauce, and sausage stuffing. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese, then pop in a hot oven for 15 minutes. What emerges is the most unusual, and also surprisingly tasty, leftovers creation. Get our Thanksgiving Leftovers Pizza recipe.

Related Reading: How to Hack Pizza Dough Into New Dishes

Leftover Turkey Recipe Ideas

There always seems to be a lot of turkey left, so there are a lot of leftover turkey recipes, all of them delicious.

Roast Turkey Galette with Bacon and Cream Cheese

Christopher Hirsheimer

A galette is basically the most casual pie ever; you simply fold the dough around the filling, which in this case is roast turkey enriched with bacon, cream cheese, sauteed leeks, herbs, and gouda. Even better: The dough itself is speckled with everything bagel seasoning. Get the Roast Turkey Galette recipe.

Turkey Hash Patties

Chowhound

Leftover turkey and mashed potatoes become the best-ever fried breakfast patties, crisp on the outside, soft in the middle. The turkey is shredded, and diced carrot, onion, and celery give the patties a little extra crunch and flavor. Serve these topped with a fried egg and hot sauce. Get our Turkey Hash Patties recipe.

Leftover Turkey Spring Rolls

Chowhound

This recipe is written to use duck confit, but it works beautifully with shredded dark meat left over from Thanksgiving dinner too. These take a little work, but they taste way better than the Chinese takeout you were planning to order on Black Friday. Get our Leftover Turkey Spring Rolls recipe and adapt it as described.

Leftover Turkey and Sweet Potato Frittata

Chowhound

A simple frittata recipe that uses up leftover turkey and sweet potatoes, plus it includes mozzarella cheese for extra richness, but you can use gruyere if you prefer (maybe you have some left over from this savory bread pudding?). Get our Leftover Turkey and Sweet Potato Frittata recipe.

Crispy Turkey Enchiladas

Chowhound

These real-deal enchiladas are spicy and flavorful. Though they are more commonly made with pork or chicken, we swapped in turkey and doused it all in a Red Chile Sauce that’s great to snack on with chips. Get our Crispy Turkey Enchiladas recipe.

Turkey Pad See Ew

Chowhound

The Thai noodle dish pad see ew is usually made with anything from beef to pork to chicken. We filled ours with turkey and won thumbs-up from our pad see ew–obsessed former Multimedia Producer Meredith Arthur. Get our Turkey Pad See Ew recipe.

Turkey Tetrazzini

Chowhound

Leftover turkey also takes well to Italian-style noodles. It gets gussied up with bacon, mushrooms, and a creamy sauce in this dish. Get our Turkey Tetrazzini recipe.

Turkey Pot Pie

Chowhound

Pot pie is a common way to use up turkey, but subpar versions are often chalky, gummy, and bland. Ours starts things off right with Creamed Turkey that’s good enough to eat on its own; then you pack it with vegetables, and top it with store-bought crust to avoid dough-making headaches. Get our Turkey Pot Pie recipe.

Curried Turkey Salad

Chowhound

Another throwback recipe that we improved upon, this salad has tartness from yogurt, sweetness from raisins, and crunch from shards of toasted coconut. It takes a minimum of effort and will renew your interest in big bird leftovers. get our Curried Turkey Salad recipe.

Turkey Posole a la Guerita

Chowhound

Posole is one of those slow-cooked dishes that result in a beautiful meld of flavors. Figuring that you won’t want to be slaving away with your leftovers after having just orchestrated the big meal, we came up with a shortcut version we coined a la Guerita, a.k.a. white-girl style. Get our Turkey Posole a la Guerita recipe.

Turkey Mulligatawny Soup

LauriPatterson / E+ / Getty Images

Mulligatawny is an old Anglo-Indian dish, from the days of British rule. It’s a soup with coconut milk and spices that charmed British cooks back home in Europe. Ours is a rich, heady soup, laced with spices and coconut milk, yes, but based on the leftover holiday carcass. Get our Turkey Mulligatawny Soup recipe.

Basic Turkey Stock

Chowhound

Last but not least, let’s not underestimate the ease and deliciousness of having homemade stock. If the big day left you in a food coma, then you’re probably not enticed to do much beyond clicking the remote. This stock recipe requires minimal effort and makes eight quarts, perfect for freezing and using later. Get our Basic Turkey Stock recipe.

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