4 Meals You Can Make With Thanksgiving Leftovers

Photo: schmuela

Every Thanksgiving, I plan my family's meal with the intention of having leftovers. It's not just a matter of avoiding waste, though. I've found that a lot of leftover meals — including tasty turkey sandwiches and potato patties — are surprisingly cheap, especially when you factor in all the heavy work has already been done. Depending on how big your turkey is, though, you may want more than just one leftover option — after a few big Thanksgivings, I've come to the conclusion that every cook should have plenty of leftover options. (See also: 8 Fancy Ways to Use Leftover Food)

Turkey Salad

There are thousands of chicken salad recipes and if you have a favorite, I recommend simply subbing in turkey for the chicken (you may need to adjust your seasonings a bit). If not, this is my quick-and-easy recipe.

  • 3 cups cooked turkey, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 4 tablespoons red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sweet pepper relish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients thoroughly. Makes a great sandwich.

Turkey and Stuffing Casserole

My only problem with this casserole is that I can't face eating it the day after Thanksgiving. However, it freezes as well as any other casserole and is great a week or two after the holidays.

  • 4 cups prepared stuffing
  • 2 cups cooked turkey, chopped
  • 2 cups gravy

Butter bottom and sides of a 2-quart baking dish. Place half the stuffing in bottom of dish. Layer half the turkey and gravy on top. Repeat layers. Bake at 350 degrees (Fahrenheit) for 30 minutes.

Mashed Potato Patties

If you've got leftover mashed potatoes, these tasty patties make for a great way to use them up. I've been known to scale this recipe down, based on how much mashed potatoes I have on hand, for a quick lunch. Add a little salt and pepper and a side and you have a meal.

  • 1 quart mashed potatoes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup cheese, grated
  • flour
  • butter

Combine potatoes, onion, egg and cheese. Shape into large balls, roll in flour and flatten. Melt butter in frying pan and brown for approximately five minutes on each side.

Ham and Bean Soup

If you're from one of those families that prepares a ham for Thanksgiving instead of a turkey, my favorite soup recipe is perfect for you. You can substitute the beans easily if you have something else on hand.

  • 1 lb navy beans
  • 1 ham bone
  • 3 cups ham, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 quarts water
  • Pepper to taste

Wash beans thoroughly. Cover beans with 2 quarts water and bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes and remove from heat. Cover and let beans and water stand for one hour. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the onion. Heat to boiling, and let cook for 3 hours. Add onion and cook for an additional 30 minutes.

More Recipes?

If you have any leftover recipes of your own, please add them in the comments. I know I'm always looking for more, and I don't think I'm alone.

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Guest's picture

Turkey wild rice soup. Just use the cooked turkey meat in place of chicken.

Guest's picture

If you have leftover mashed potatoes and turkey, and some vegetables, you can make a turkey version of a shepherd's pie. Or turkey pot pie, if you were smart enough to make an extra pie crust or two. Pot pies especially freeze very well, and the single-serving ones are very popular around here.

I usually par-bake a bottom crust (or line a casserole dish with buttered mashed potatoes and cook until lightly browned), then fill it with diced meat, leftover gravy or a basic white sauce, and whatever vegetables, onions, herbs, etc. I have around, add a top crust, and freeze. Suppose there's no reason you couldn't just cook it right then, if you weren't sick of turkey yet.

Guest's picture

Came here to second the shepard's pie idea. So simple, and the spices and ingredients have basically already been cooked. I like making mini pies and freezing them individually for later.

And you just can't beat a good 'ole turkey sandwich.

Guest's picture

I make Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas, substituting leftover turkey for chicken.

1 sm. can grn. chilies w/ 1 can Crm. Ckn. soup & 1 c. sour crm.
Spread enough sauce to cover the bottom of a lrg. baking dish.
Put diced cooked turkey & monterey jack cheese in a corn tortilla. Roll up and place in baking dish.
Pour remaining sauce on top & add extra cheese if desired.
Bake at 350 for abt. 30 min.

(Make 2 pans & freeze one if you have a lot of leftovers)

Serve with corn or cornbread.

Guest's picture
Anonymous Coward

I second (or third?) the leftover casserole. Here's my twist:

Cover bottom of casserole dish with stuffing. Top with turkey and leftover veggies. Pour gravy over everything, then add mashed potatoes on top. Butter the potatoes, then bake.

Or, just take a handfull of whatever leftovers you have, add some shredded cheese, onions, and peppers, and roll up into a flour totrilla. Great for lunch!

Guest's picture

I love turkey salad, when I make it, I use mayo, celery, chopped onion, red grapes cut in half, mandarin oranges and toasted slivered almonds.

Guest's picture

Turkey Tetrazzini