The Best Ways to Use Thanksgiving Leftovers

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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.

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.

A gray bowl filled with leftover turkey noodle soup.


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!
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2 hot turkey sandwiches piled on a plate.


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.
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Or try turkey in these chicken recipes

Chicken wild rice soup in a brown bowl.


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.
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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

Croutons on a parchment lined baking sheet.


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!
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Or make sliders with extra buns

A baking dish of ham and cheese sliders.


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!
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If all else fails, make bread crumbs

Homemade breadcrumbs in a white bowl with a spoon.


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.
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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 on a piece of parchment paper over a cooling rack.


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!
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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 over mashed potatoes in a white bowl.


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!
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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 assembled in a trifle dish.


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.
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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