Thanksgiving Leftover Ideas
Post updated 11/23/2023
Thanksgiving leftovers are the greatest culinary gift of the year. Here are dozens of recipe ideas to help you breathe new life into leftover turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and other Thanksgiving foods.
No matter how ambitious your friends and family are to devour Thanksgiving dinner, you’re likely going to have leftovers.
This is the perfect opportunity to take a relatively expensive meal and turn it into many subsequent meals by using leftovers.
While simply reheating your turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and other food items is certainly an option, now is the perfect time to experiment with something new for the whole family to enjoy.
The Best Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes
The best part of Thanksgiving dinner are the leftovers – am I right? The key to enjoying holiday leftovers is to make good, creative use of them without spending a lot of extra money on additional ingredients.
Here are a few money-saving Thanksgiving leftover ideas that I think you will enjoy.
Leftover Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry/cream cheese dip – Mix leftover cranberry sauce with a package of softened cream cheese. Mix in a tablespoon or two of sugar. Serve with crackers, pretzels, or graham crackers, put a dollop on top of French toast or pancakes, or spread on a bagel or toast.
Cranberry grilled cheese – Make a grilled cheese sandwich using Brie cheese and a dollop of leftover cranberry sauce.
Cranberry salsa – I have two great recipes for cranberry salsa. This one, using fresh cranberries. And another, using prepared cranberry sauce. For the latter, mix 1 cup of prepared cranberry sauce with juice from 1/2 lime, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce, and one stalk chopped green onion.
Cranberry smoothie – Add a dollop of leftover cranberry sauce to your morning smoothie. Need a recipe? Blend the following:
- 1 frozen banana, cut up
- 2 tablespoons leftover cranberry sauce
- 1/2 orange
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/2 cup almond milk
Wild rice soup: Follow the recipe and substitute leftover turkey for the chicken. Wild rice soup is thick and creamy
Leftover turkey pot pie: This recipe makes delicious use of affordable frozen veggies, leftover gravy and turkey, topped with a simple homemade biscuit crust.
Got leftover turkey bones? Make a batch of turkey stock. You can simmer the turkey carcass with vegetable scraps, herbs, and seasonings.
Leftover Sweet Potatoes
Leftover Mashed Potatoes
Set up a mashed potato bar: Place toppings (such as bacon, sausage, cheese, and roasted vegetables) into individual dishes. Have each person put desired toppings on reheated leftover potatoes. Learn how to set up a mashed potato bar.
Leftover Pie Crust
How To Reheat Thanksgiving Leftovers
Thanksgiving leftovers can be reheated in the oven, microwave or on the stovetop. Here are directions for all methods:
Reheating leftovers in the oven:
- Turkey: Place turkey in an oven-safe baking dish. Add a splash of liquid (chicken broth, gravy, butter or water) and bake at 275F until meat registers 130F. This may take up to 35 minutes.
- Mashed potatoes: Place potatoes in an oven-safe baking dish. Add a dollop of butter on top of the potatoes. Reheat at 275F while the turkey reheats.
- Stuffing: Place stuffing in an oven-safe baking dish. Reheat at 275F while the turkey reheats.
*For maximum ease, place turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing in the same oven-safe baking dish. You can pour gravy over all of these before reheating.
Reheating leftovers in the microwave:
- Gravy: Place desired amount of gravy in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with a paper towel or plastic wrap. Heat for one minute, check temperature, and stir, if necessary.
- Turkey: Place turkey slices on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with plastic wrap. Reheating time will vary depending on how much turkey you have. For a smaller amount (2 servings) start with 1 minute.
- Stuffing and mashed potatoes: Place stuffing and/or mashed potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl or plate. Cover with plastic wrap. Heat for 1 minute for a small serving, and longer for larger servings.
*For maximum ease, reheat turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy
Reheating leftovers on the stovetop:
- Gravy: Place desired amount of gravy in a saucepan. Turn heat on to medium-high and stir gravy as it heats up. Solid gravy? No problem! It will liquefy as it heats up.
- Turkey + gravy: Place turkey in a frying pan and cover with gravy. Turn heat on to medium and cook until turkey is warmed through.
- Stuffing and mashed potatoes: Place a pat of butter in a frying pan and turn on heat to medium. Add stuffing and/or mashed potatoes in frying pan and heat, stirring occasionally, until warm.
Save Money On Thanksgiving Dinner
Don’t forget to implement these 9 tips to help you save money on Thanksgiving dinner.