14 Genius Ways to Transform Thanksgiving Leftovers
Trust us, you can never have too much turkey and mashed potatoes.
Truth: almost as exciting as the meal itself is the knowledge that you’ll have leftovers to enjoy on Friday. After waking up at the crack of dawn to peruse Black Friday sales online, there's nothing better than diving into a second Thanksgiving meal.
And why shouldn’t we? We spent hours chopping, sautéing, roasting, and baking to create a fabulous meal we look forward to all year. This year, we're suggesting you skip the sad microwave-soggy reheated stuffing and make one of these delicious Thanksgiving leftover recipes instead, like turkey pot pie, Brussels sprout pizza, or zucchini and black bean-stuffed sweet potatoes. After all, most of the work's already done. We're honoring our favorite meal of the year in the proper way, because repurposing the ingredients gives us the perfect excuse to eat it all again.
Don't let those roasted Brussels sprouts go to waste. This seasonal flatbread feeds a crowd, which makes it a delicious, veggie-packed option for brunch the morning after your meal.
Here, you'll use your leftover turkey inside a delicious Vietnamese sandwich known as a Bahn Mi. It's traditionally made with pork, but this variation is a smart way to use your leftover bird. Simply sandwich inside a toasty baguette with and add pickled veggies, creamy mayo, fresh herbs, and a little squeeze of Sriracha.
Cold weather have you craving comfort food? Here's one extra-warming way to put your leftover turkey to work: Turkey Pumpkin Chili. Simply swap the ground turkey with your extra meat from the holiday meal—it'll pair perfectly with the beans, pumpkin, and smoked paprika.
The morning after a heavy meal, you'll be grateful for these healthy sweet potatoes topped with black beans and fresh zucchini. Of course, you can also opt to dress them up with sour cream, cheddar cheese, and crunchy tortilla chips.
Although it tastes indulgent, this cake is packed with good-for-you ingredients. The base of the cake is filled with whole grains and fresh zucchini—both of which can be repurposed ingredients from the night before. And the rich chocolate frosting is made almost entirely from your leftover sweet potatoes. Genius? We think so.
The options are practically endless here. In addition to your extra turkey, this recipe easily uses up leftover cooked vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, green beans, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, peas, and winter squash. We used carrots, green beans, and Brussels sprouts in this version. This hearty dish is a great way to put leftover roast chicken (at any time of year) to work, too.
If you have extra pumpkin puree and/or pumpkin pie spice cluttering your kitchen, let this Pumpkin Spice Martini save the day.
A puffy, golden Dutch baby is an unbelievably easy and impressive centerpiece for breakfast or brunch—and the only equipment it requires is a sturdy 12-inch skillet. (We love cast iron.) Tip: Take care to coat only the bottom of the pan with melted butter, as getting butter on the sides will prevent the batter from climbing the sides of the pan. And no peeking! Opening the oven door during baking puts your pancake at major risk of deflating. This version uses leftover cranberry relish, but your favorite jam or preserves could easily take its place.
Here, you'll combine your leftover grains (farro's great but brown rice, quinoa, or barley also work) with crispy Brussels sprouts, sweet-tart pomegranate seeds, and ricotta salata. The result? A satisfying leftover grain salad that's as delicious as it is forgiving.
Puttanesca is a lightning fast, bold sauce that is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. For a hint of spice, try adding a pinch of crushed red pepper to the sauce before adding the pasta. As fresh tomatoes aren't in season, you can opt to replace them with your favorite store-bought marinara sauce instead.
This is a fun way to use up a variety of Thanksgiving leftovers. Here, cranberry sauce fills in for the duck sauce that’s typically served with egg rolls to add tang to the dish. Any mixture of finely chopped vegetables can be used in place of the carrot and Brussels sprouts. Be creative!
This Polish-style dish is endlessly adaptable, and would be equally tasty made with mashed butternut squash or sweet potato in place of (or combined with) the mashed potato. Tossing the dumplings with browned butter and crispy sage leaves is simple and delicious—though, if you’re after something a bit more luxurious, you could also pair them with warmed turkey gravy or a healthy dollop of creme fraiche. Look for fresh lasagna sheets in your supermarket’s refrigerator section.
Stuffing and mashed potatoes replace English muffins in this post-Thanksgiving version of the brunch classic. If your family serves creamed spinach for Thanksgiving, that would also be a tasty substitute for the fresh baby spinach leaves—just reheat it gently and place a dollop on top of the potato and stuffing cakes. And, if making poached eggs for a group sounds a little daunting, using fried or sunny-side up eggs would be equally delicious.
These delicate, subtly sweet muffins are a great way to make use of mashed sweet potatoes from your feast. If all you have are cooked, cubed sweet potatoes, simply mash them into a smooth paste before proceeding. Tip: Brown butter lends the muffins a rich nuttiness.