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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.

A Thanksgiving Leftovers sandwich.
A Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich, no recipe required.

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
  1. Transform Your Turkey
  2. Repurpose Rolls and Bread
  3. Expand Your Cranberry Sauce Repertoire
  4. Spiff Up Stuffing
  5. Make the Most of Mashed Potatoes
  6. Polish Off the Pie

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.

Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup
Put your leftover turkey to work in this quick and easy Turkey Noodle Soup. It's simple but delicious and perfect year-round. Also great with chicken!
A gray bowl filled with leftover turkey noodle soup.
Hot Turkey Sandwiches
These slow cooker Hot Turkey Sandwiches start with a can of beer and end with a stick of butter. So great for your next party! Or serve the shredded turkey for a fuss-free, delicious holiday meal any time of year.
2 hot turkey sandwiches piled on a plate.

Or try turkey in these chicken recipes

Chicken Wild Rice Soup
Chicken soup is the epitome of comfort food, and this easy Chicken Wild Rice Soup is among my favorite variations on the theme. Ready in just 40 minutes, this big-batch soup recipe is crowd-pleasing and perfect for meal prep or parties.
Chicken wild rice soup in a brown bowl.

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.

Favorite recipes for leftover bread

How To Make Croutons
Learn how to make croutons in the oven or on the stove. They're ready in just 15 minutes and add the perfect crunch to all your favorite soups and salads!
Croutons on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Or make sliders with extra buns

Ham and Cheese Sliders
These family-friendly Ham and Cheese Sliders are the ultimate hearty party snack. Make a tray (or two) for your next gathering and watch them disappear!
A baking dish of ham and cheese sliders.

If all else fails, make bread crumbs

How to Make Bread Crumbs
An easy recipe for how to make breadcrumbs: fresh, dried, fried, or panko-style. 1 slice of bread is about ¾ cup crumbs, so this recipe for 4 slices bread yields about 3 cups. Nutrition information is for fresh and dried styles with no added fat.
Homemade breadcrumbs in a white bowl with a spoon.

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.

Cranberry sauce as a fantastic topping

Cranberry Cheesecake Galette
This Cranberry Cheesecake Galette is an easy free-form tart with a rich cheesecake filling and cranberry sauce. Keep things easy with store-bought pie crust and your leftover cranberry sauce from the holidays!
Cranberry cheesecake galette on a piece of parchment paper over a cooling rack.

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.

Pile it atop or inside…

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.

Try them as a base or topping for…

Midwest Pepper Steak
Pepper Steak, updated with a sweet and spicy gravy and served over mashed potatoes, becomes the ultimate comfort food when it’s made in the Midwest. Hearty and filling, your family will love this meal any day of the week!
Midwest pepper steak over mashed potatoes in a white bowl.

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
Oreo Brownie Trifle
Layers of brownies, chocolate pudding, whipped topping, and crushed Oreo cookies star in this Oreo Brownie Trifle that's easy enough for any day but elegant enough for a holiday dessert.
Oreo brownie trifle assembled in a trifle dish.
Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

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.

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