Surprising Ways To Use Up Thanksgiving Leftovers

Surprising Ways To Use Up Thanksgiving Leftovers
Image: iStock

Surprising Ways To Use Up Thanksgiving Leftovers
iStock

We mean no disrespect to the classic day after Thanksgiving treat: the leftover sandwich. It's a time-honored tradition to layer hot mashed potatoes, gravy, pieces of turkey, cranberry jelly, and a chunk of warmed-up casserole onto one big white bread sandwich, and eat it with abandon. We're not judging this tradition at all. But for those of us who end up with way, way too many leftovers, Thanksgiving side dishes and turkey can get really old really fast. After all, we love turkey on Thanksgiving Day, but a few days later, we're pretty sick of it. Although classic casseroles -- throwing all the leftovers together in a casserole pan and baking! -- or a classic turkey soup are delicious, we wanted to come up with some less-expected ways to use up those leftovers this year. 

When it comes to true Thanksgiving treats, we love learning about other people's traditions. Check out favorite Thanksgiving recipes from celebrities to discover some recipes that might work just as well on a regular person's table. For a serious time saver, check out Thanksgiving recipes to freeze ahead. We can't think of anything that reduces stress less when family is in town visiting than knowing that most of the Thanksgiving dishes have already been prepared. Those who struggle with the basics might want to explore classic Thanksgiving dishes or easy Thanksgiving sides made in 30 minutes or less, which really take the hassle out of cooking. Really turn down the stress level with one-pot Thanksgiving dinner recipes or share the responsibility with tips and recipes for a Thanksgiving potluck.

  • Turkey, Cranberry, and Brie Egg Rolls

    1
    Turkey, Cranberry, and Brie Egg Rolls
    iStock

    Using premade egg roll wrappers, these turkey, cranberry, and brie egg rolls are as incredibly simple to put together as they are delicious -- and a tasty treat to serve. The addition of the brie really changes the flavor profile from Thanksgiving dinner.

  • Sweet Potato Cheddar Drop Biscuits

    2
    Sweet Potato Cheddar Drop Biscuits
    iStock

    These sweet potato cheddar drop biscuits use up leftover sweet potato casserole, which we love on Thanksgiving but which gets old quickly the day after -- and the day after that. Add some cheddar, and they're an easy, tasty biscuit to go with any breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

  • Thanksgiving Croquettes

    3
    Thanksgiving Croquettes
    iStock

    As the author of this recipe puts it, "What’s not to love about deep fried potato-y things?" These Thanksgiving croquettes use up all sorts of leftovers in one little fried ball, including stuffing, mashed potatoes, and turkey -- that's a win!

  • Turkey Sliders With Chipotle Cranberry Barbecue Sauce

    4
    Turkey Sliders With Chipotle Cranberry Barbecue Sauce
    iStock

    We love these turkey sliders with chipotle cranberry barbecue sauce, especially when topped with the suggested crunchy apple poppy seed slaw, which is really easy to make and adds so much interest to this already very flavorful dish.

  • Leftover Cranberry Sauce Bars

    5
    Leftover Cranberry Sauce Bars
    iStock

    These cranberry sauce bars are one of our favorite things -- they're so delicious, they're an easy dessert to pack into lunchboxes, and they use up one of the leftovers that we always have on hand after Thanksgiving -- cranberry sauce.

  • Leftover Cranberry Sauce Muffins With Oat Streusel Topping

    6
    Leftover Cranberry Sauce Muffins With Oat Streusel Topping
    iStock

    Leftover cranberry sauce muffins with oat streusel topping are so incredibly delicious, they almost make us want to make cranberry sauce the rest of the year -- just as an excuse to make these tasty little treats.

  • Leftover Turkey Tacos

    7
    Leftover Turkey Tacos Recipe
    iStock

    When we're just sick to death of turkey-flavored turkey, it's time to spice things up. This recipe for turkey tacos helps mask the plain turkey flavor with plenty of bold spices like cumin while being incredibly tasty -- and relatively healthful.

  • Turkey Tetrazzini

    8
    Turkey Tetrazzini
    iStock

    Turkey tetrazzini is similar to a pasta casserole, but is more elevated (although it's in no way harder). This one calls for Thanksgiving turkey, sherry wine, and fresh-sliced mushrooms -- although breaking up the mushrooms by hand can add a more interesting texture.

  • Thanksgiving Turkey Gumbo

    9
    Thanksgiving Turkey Gumbo
    iStock

    This Thanksgiving turkey gumbo recipe makes use of not just a ton of shredded turkey, but also the bones of the turkey to form the basis for the stock, creating a zero-waste holiday! (It also uses up brussels sprouts, which is awesome.) 

  • Leftover Turkey and Stuffing "Enchiladas"

    10
    Leftover Turkey And Stuffing
    iStock

    This delicious recipe for turkey and stuffing "enchiladas" uses up turkey (which we always have tons and tons of), as well as stuffing and turkey gravy. It's a fun play on the classic Thanksgiving turkey sandwich.

  • Thanksgiving Leftover Turkey Nachos

    11
    Thanksgiving Leftover Turkey Nachos
    iStock

    Looking for an effective way to change the flavors in a traditional Thanksgiving dinner leftover? Add a little heat! These turkey nachos are so quick to put together, but don't just taste like reheat versions of the classic Thanksgiving dinner, thanks to new spiced. 

  • Holiday Green Beans

    12
    Leftover Holiday Green Beans
    iStock

    Pretty much however we cook green beans for Thanksgiving -- but especially if we just do simple, steamed green beans -- they can be reimagined as leftover holiday green beans (with bacon!) on the days that follow the holiday. 

  • Green Bean Tart

    13
    Thanksgiving Leftover Green Bean Tart
    iStock

    This green bean tart uses frozen puff pastry dough, so it takes about two minutes of prep time to put together -- perfect for when folks drop by and we want to serve up something quick and tasty. It serves double duty as a quick way to use leftover green bean casserole.

  • Thanksgiving Turkey Pizza

    14
    Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Pizza
    iStock

    If there's one way to get young people to eat leftovers, it's Thanksgiving turkey pizza. Throw some leftover green beans and brussels sprouts on top of these, and they'll get their veggies in too. 

  • Irish Colcannon with Leftover Mashed Potatoes

    15
    Irish Colcannon with Leftover Mashed Potatoes
    iStock

    Colcannon is a very traditional Irish dish -- typical on St. Patrick's Day -- and it's incredibly tasty. Irish colcannon with mashed potatoes is a delicious way to reimagine mashed potatoes left uneaten on Thanksgiving Day.

  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Pasta

    16
    Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Pasta
    iStock

    Looking for a super-simple recipe to use up some brussels sprouts and not work too hard after days and days of cooking a Thanksgiving feast? Roasted brussels sprouts with pasta is just the ticket. It's tasty, relatively healthful, and incredibly easy to make.

  • Turkey and Cranberry Barbecue Sauce Pizza

    17
    Turkey and Cranberry Barbecue Sauce Pizza
    iStock

    Turkey and cranberry barbecue sauce pizza is another pizza variation that creates a sweet-and-savory flavor combination by pairing cranberry sauce with premade barbecue sauce. It's even more delicious than it sounds.

  • Turkey Thai Curry

    18
    Turkey Thai Curry
    iStock

    Turkey Thai curry is an imaginative way to use leftover turkey without keeping any of the traditional Thanksgiving turkey flavors. For families who get bored of eating turkey over and over, this recipe is definitely the ticket -- everything tastes new and exciting again.

  • Leftover Brussels Sprout Hash

    19
    Leftover Brussels Sprout Hash
    iStock

    Leftover Brussels Sprout Hash is one way to get some veggies into youngsters -- and those who are not so young -- at breakfast time. The dish also uses up a bunch of leftovers from Thanksgiving. It's so simple, it practically cooks itself.

  • Spicy Sweet Potato Hummus

    20
    Spicy Sweet Potato Hummus
    iStock

    Got leftover sweet potatoes in the fridge post-Thanksgiving? This recipe for spicy sweet potato hummus is an incredibly tasty, totally healthy way to reuse leftover sweet potatoes. Serve with vegetable slices that can scoop up hummus, such as carrots, celery, bell pepper, and zucchini.

More Slideshows