How to Use Thanksgiving Leftovers Like a Recipe Developer

Go beyond turkey sandwiches with these next-level ideas.

November 23, 2020

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Let’s be honest; you don’t need me to tell you what to do with all that leftover turkey. There are a million and one articles about that already. And, on top of that, I’ve got a tip for you: any recipe that calls for rotisserie chicken can also be made with leftover roasted turkey.

So, instead of turkey, I thought I’d focus on ways to use up four of my favorite Thanksgiving leftovers. These are the things that I make sure to make WAY too much of every year.

Let’s start with my favorite Thanksgiving leftover: stuffing. I make enough to eat for a week after Thanksgiving. My guilty pleasure is some stuffing, nuked in the microwave with extra gravy and cranberry sauce on top. I eat it for days on end.

Another way to use up leftover stuffing (although I just told you about the greatest way to eat it 😉) is to make a stuffing frittata. Break up large crumbles of stuffing, mix it with eggs and bake in a casserole dish or skillet until puffed and golden. You can also use stuffing to top a turkey pot pie (pictured above) — just skip the crust. You can always press the stuffing into a muffin tin and reheat for stuffing muffins. Or, sauté it with some parboiled potatoes and top with eggs for an easy hash. You can even roll the stuffing into balls then bread and fry for croquettes. Serve with cranberry sauce for dipping!

And, speaking of cranberry sauce, have you ever made your own from scratch? It’s easy AND delicious. I like to think of cranberry sauce as a seasonal jam. I scent mine with vanilla beans and orange peel. And, like I said, I make a whole lot of it — and eat it all throughout the holiday season.

In addition to adding a dollop to every plate of food I eat for about 2 months straight, I also use it in place of store-bought jam or jelly: in PB&Js, on pancakes, atop toast, etc. I also stir it into yogurt, oatmeal, salad dressings, and marinades. Trust me, a little homemade cranberry sauce comes in handy!

True story: every Thanksgiving I make two pumpkin pies. One for my family and one just for me. And to the pumpkin pie naysayers I say, “Good! More for me”. If I’m being honest, I usually just eat the pie until it’s gone. (Pro tip: serving pie with a dollop of vanilla yogurt makes it appropriate for breakfast. You’re welcome.)

However, on occasion, when I get a little tired of pie, I make a pumpkin pie milkshake. If you’ve never had a pumpkin pie milkshake, let me educate you. Basically, you blend a large slice of pumpkin pie with vanilla ice cream and a splash of milk or cream. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. It’s pretty life changing. When I don’t feel like making a milkshake? I mash the pie and swirl it into my favorite ice cream. Chocolate ice cream and pumpkin pie is an unlikely (but delicious) pair. And, speaking of pumpkin and chocolate, try my chocolate pumpkin slab pie from the November 2020 issue of Food Network Magazine. It would make a GREAT milkshake!


Ok, lean in close. I’m going to give you some advice. Make extra gravy. ALWAYS! Why? Because reheating Thanksgiving leftovers can sometimes dry them out, so it’s a good idea to have some sauce. (See also, cranberry sauce.)

Sometimes I’ll swirl a bit of leftover gravy in a skillet with sauteed mushrooms, cream, and sour cream and then toss it with egg noodles for a faux stroganoff. Gravy is delicious over scrambled eggs with hot sauce, as a dipping sauce for French fries, as a base for soup or stew (just add broth!), served over biscuits, or added to sandwiches. And, though I haven’t tried this next tip myself, soaking a piece of break in gravy and then putting it in the middle of a turkey sandwich is supposed to be delicious. 🤯

I can’t wait to have lots of these leftovers on hand to repurpose into new recipes — and I hope that, with these tips, you feel the same! Remember: when in doubt, just make yourself a plate, nuke it and think about all that you are thankful for.

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