There’s a famous scene in the movie A Christmas Story, after the neighbor’s dogs have destroyed his family’s holiday turkey, when the narrator cries out, “No turkey sandwiches, no turkey salad, no turkey gravy! Turkey hash, turkey a la king, or gallons of turkey soup!” It shows perfectly how passionate people get about their Thanksgiving leftovers. But after cleaning up and doing what seems like the millionth round of dishes, you may be wondering what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers.
You’re probably familiar with all the traditional leftover turkey ideas, but this is the year to try something new! We’re sharing easy leftover turkey recipes that are full of flavor. And, if you have leftover mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce — we’ve got those covered too!
How to Use Leftover Turkey
Turkey is the star of the show, so consider yourself lucky if you have leftovers! Here are a few unique ideas for using up leftover Thanksgiving turkey:
- Thanksgiving Ring — Elevate your traditional Thanksgiving sandwich by layering all your leftovers — turkey, cranberry, stuffing, and potatoes — in a crescent roll ring.
- Turkey Pot Pie — For a twist on a classic winter comfort meal, substitute the typical chicken with your leftover turkey. Extra points for using up any leftover carrots and peas as well!
- Turkey Bacon Avocado Grilled Cheese — This is far from a boring grilled cheese sandwich. The addition of avocado, bacon, and your Thanksgiving turkey introduces immense flavors.
- Turkey Enchiladas — Put a Mexican spin on your Thanksgiving leftovers with a spicy, cheesy dinner.
Storage Tips: Start by removing any stuffing from the turkey. Carve the remaining meat from the bones and separate it into smaller pieces. Don’t be tempted to cram all your turkey in a single, large container. Instead, divide it among multiple shallow containers or plastic bags. This will help when it comes time to eat your turkey because you can reheat only the portion you plan to eat. In your fridge, the leftover turkey should last for 4 days.
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Best Uses for Leftover Mashed Potatoes
You can never have too many potatoes on Thanksgiving day! Here are some delicious ways to use your leftover mashed potatoes.
- Cheesy Mashed Potato Egg Skillet Casserole — Thanksgiving leftovers are perfect for breakfast too! Try this filling leftover Thanksgiving casserole.
- Mashed Potato Donuts — Leftover mashed potatoes replace much of the flour needed for a typical donut recipe, resulting in a light, fluffy treat.
- Mashed Potato Cheese Soup — Most of the work is already done when you use leftover mashed potatoes as the base for this creamy, cheesy soup.
- Mashed Potato Puffs — Leftover mashed potato puffs feature all the flavors of loaded potato skins, in an easy, handheld bite.
Storage Tips: Refrigerate leftover potatoes in an air-tight container within two hours of cooking. Use a separate dish, not the serving dish you used during your meal. In your fridge, leftover mashed potatoes will last for 3-5 days. For long-term storage, here’s a genius way to save your leftover mashed potatoes in the freezer from Cook’s Illustrated:
- Use a large ice cream scoop or 1-cup measuring cup to scoop up mashed potatoes.
- Make individual piles on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- When you’ve portioned out your potatoes, place the baking sheet in the freezer.
- Once they’re frozen, place the pre-portioned mashed potatoes into a freezer bag. Remove and reheat as much as you’d like.
What to Do With Leftover Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is a Thanksgiving staple, but people tend to love it or hate it. If you’re a cranberry fan, here are ways that you can use leftover cranberry sauce days later:
- Cranberry Oatmeal Bars — Whether for breakfast or your child’s lunchbox, these bars are the perfect mix of sweet, salty, and nutty.
- Cranberry Meatballs — Slow cooker meals are perfect for the hurried holiday season! With just 5 ingredients, this is a no-stress recipe for using up leftover cranberry sauce.
- Brie, Pear, & Cranberry Flatbread — Do your hosting duties expand past Thanksgiving day? Use your leftover cranberry sauce to create this impressive appetizer when guests come calling again.
Storage Tips: Cranberry sauce can be stored in your fridge in a jam jar or mason jar for up to 10-14 days. To freeze any leftover sauce, pour it into an airtight container or freezer bag. Although it will last long-term, to enjoy it at its best quality, use it within two months.