8 Creative Uses for Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

Today we give thanks for these resourceful recipes.


The dust has settled, but the bird remains, its half-eaten carcass taking up valuable space in the fridge. Despite your best efforts, there are plenty of leftovers: Uneaten mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce sit alongside the bird in cellophaned dishes, just taunting you.

You know what you must do. It's time for Thanksgiving: Round Two.

Sure, you could just toss everything in the microwave for a few minutes, or even feed the remains to your pets. But it's not just about getting rid of the dregs. It's about establishing the fact that you can take down a whole Thanksgiving meal, even if it takes a few days, and a few extra ingredients.

Below is a list of great recipes for turning your Thanksgiving leftovers into delicious meals of their own. Don't just win Thanksgiving—annihilate it!

Turkey Sandwich

There are exactly one million things you can do with leftover turkey, so we're getting the classics out of the way first.

We'll start with the simplest: Slice that meat and squeeze it between two pieces of bread. Some people like to pile on some stuffing and cranberry sauce, but if that's a little too boring for you, try this idea from Martha Stewart. If nothing else, it's an excuse to use that Asian chile sauce you've been meaning to try.

Turkey Soup

[Credit: Flickr user "grandgrrl"]

Making soup is the classic way to recycle leftovers, and for good reason: It's dead simple to do and uses up any leftover vegetables. It's also Carl Weathers–approved.

This recipe from Food Network also includes a way to turn your remaining mashed potatoes into patties to complement the soup. It's an easy recipe to follow that should leave you with very few leftovers remaining, if any.

Turkey Pot Pie

Although this one takes a bit of forethought, no Thanksgiving aftermath list is complete without it.

In order to make turkey pot pie out of Thanksgiving leftovers, you need to have a pie crust prepared for the occasion. Sure, you could head out and buy one the day of, but it's Black Friday out there. You're not suicidal. But if you came prepared, then this simple recipe should keep you safe in the kitchen and far away from the chaos out in the streets.

Mashed Potato Soup

"But we already have a soup on the list," you might be saying. Well, dear reader, this here is mashed potato soup, and it's what you resort to when you've grossly overestimated the popularity of your instant mashed potatoes.

Topped with bacon and melted cheese, we're beginning to wonder if this monument to gluttony should've been a part of the Thanksgiving meal in the first place.

Turkey Samosas

[Credit: Flickr user "firebrat"]

This is another way to kill two birds with one stone, except only one of them was an actual bird.

There are all kinds of things you can bake leftover turkey into: enchiladas, quesadillas, empanadas, and other Mexican words. This recipe for turkey samosas, though, gets bonus points for its ingenious idea of using mashed potato as filling. The outside says, "I am foreign and exotic," but the inside says, "This is what America tastes like."

Stuffing and Turkey Casserole

By now, you should have plenty of ideas as to what to do with the leftover turkey. But what about all that stuffing? Thankfully, there's this recipe for a stuffing and turkey breakfast casserole.

This is also a good way to use up any remaining Thanksgiving sides, like your sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts. The recipe even suggests garnishing with cranberry sauce, but maybe you should save that red stuff for...

Cranberry Sauce Over Pound Cake

Perhaps the sweetest use for leftover cranberry sauce, this recipe from Rachael Ray combines it with apples and pears into a warm, chunky fruit sauce. It is then poured over pound cake and topped with vanilla ice cream, making this the dessert you didn't have room for on Thanksgiving day.

Pecan Pie Milkshake

You can also use pumpkin pie for the milkshakes. [Credit: Flickr user "shastamacnasty"]

No, not the meat-filled kind of pie, you silly Brits. That would make for the worst (or best?) milkshake ever.

The typical journey of leftover Thanksgiving pie begins in the fridge and ends in your mouth, sometimes with a detour through the microwave. But if that's not sweet enough for you, this recipe for pecan pie milkshake should fulfill your calorie requirements for a couple of days. It's perfect for when you don't plan on moving your body very much for an extended period of time.

[Hero image: Flickr user "grigonis"]

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