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These Thanksgiving leftover recipe ideas will help you cut down on food waste, trim your grocery budget, and build delicious meals and snacks all at once.
Whether you hosted Thanksgiving for Two or for an entire house-full, chances are high that you have at least a few recipes that were generous enough to leave you with leftovers. I consider this a total gift to my future self; not only does that make meals for the rest of the weekend easier, but it also means I don’t have to spend more money at the grocery store for a bit longer since the items are already on-hand.
It’s important to ensure that your Thanksgiving leftovers don’t overstay their welcome, though. I always aim to consume all leftovers from Thursday’s meal by the end of the day the following Monday, per the USDA’s food safety recommendations.
Read on for inspiration to make the most of all of your likely leftovers, from turkey and stuffing to cranberry sauce and pie.
Table of Contents
Transform Your Turkey
Since my Perfect Roast Turkey, Make Ahead Roasted Turkey, and even my Roasted Turkey Breast feed 8 to 16 adults, I’m well-versed at Turkey 2.0 ideas. In fact, many Culinary Hill fans say the leftover turkey is one of their holiday weekend highlights! So I’ve already designed some recipes that call for cooked turkey, and have some other chicken recipes that can easily be refreshed with this other white meat.
Repurpose Rolls and Bread
Extra Soft Yeast Rolls make brilliant sandwich buns, and try Homemade Crescent Rolls as the exterior for these fan-favorite Turkey BLT Croissant Sandwiches. Bonus baguette or No-Knead Bread can be dressed up as croutons, in sweet or savory casseroles, or made over into a totally new side dish fit for an Italian Feast.
Expand Your Cranberry Sauce Repertoire
As I mention in my recipes for Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Sauce with Apples, once this condiment has cooled, you can transfer it to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Alternatively, use leftover cranberry sauce instead of syrup at breakfast, to dress up a cake or cheesecake, or as a topping for another type of meat like Grilled Pork Tenderloin or Rotisserie Chicken.
Spiff Up Stuffing
Extra carbs always go fast in my house! When I have Classic Bread Stuffing or Make Ahead Stuffing hanging out in the fridge after the feast, I like to use it as a stuffing for pork chops (simply butterfly the meat and tuck a scoop inside before grilling or roasting). Or try leftover Thanksgiving stuffing as a stuffing for mushrooms, a base for an egg breakfast, or a topping for a cozy casserole recipe.
Make the Most of Mashed Potatoes
If you have yet to cook with the spuds and have some extra fresh potatoes hanging out, I have more than 100 potato recipes in the Culinary Hill archives. Otherwise, if your Thanksgiving surplus is of the already-mashed variety, reheat and use them instead of a whole grain or rice as the base of a grain bowl, put an egg on it (add a Poached Egg and extra Harvest Roasted Vegetables and call it breakfast), or consider one of these hearty leftover mashed potato recipe ideas.
Polish Off the Pie
Talk about one of life’s best “problems” to have: extra dessert! If you’re lucky enough to have leftover slices of Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Pie, or any flavor after the holiday, here are some of my favorite ways to give each slice a new life:
- Blend into milkshakes
- Slice into bite-sized pieces to act as a layer in parfaits or trifles
- Use small pieces instead of chocolate inside s’mores (just add a toasted marshmallow and graham crackers)
- Coat in Chocolate Glaze for a make-shift trifle
- Use as the base, of or topping for, an ice cream sundae
Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.