Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Thanksgiving is one of the most anticipated meals of the year. But the day after? Leftover central. Once you’ve had your fill of next-day turkey sandwiches, try a couple of these delicious recipes that will make your leftover turkey, sides and sauces taste absolutely nothing like the holiday.
Stuffing, mashed potatoes, veggies, and turkey can come together for a quick Shepherd’s Pie that clears out multiple side dishes all at once. And unlike pot pies, there’s no need to roll out a crust—just top with extra gravy for a complete meal.
Roasted Turkey Pozole
After everyone is done with the white meat for the sandwiches, what’s a cook to do with all the leftover bits? Soup is always the answer, and this Southwestern-inspired Turkey Pozole is one to keep even after the holidays are just a sweet memory. Hominy might be new to some, but the chewy texture of this thick corn kernel gives this soup more texture to hold up to the tangy broth. Feel free to mix and match your toppings, the ingredients indicated are only limited to your own Pozole dreams.
Stir-fry can easily be tailored to whatever leftovers you have in the fridge. Turkey and Brussels sprouts work well together, but any vegetables will do. Leftover wine can be used as a turkey marinade, making use of half-empty bottles that could otherwise go bad. The key to making a great Leftover Stir-Fry is having a hot pan, and using meat that has warmed at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
Hosting family or friends for the entire holiday weekend? There’s no need to worry about having extra snacks or appetizers on hand. Turn leftover beans or Sweet Potatoes into spreadable, hummus-style dips by blending with olive oil and seasonings of your choice.
Uneaten green beans don’t have to sit in the fridge. Instead, toss in a cornmeal batter before frying for a Crunchy Leftover Snack. As many Midwestern state fairgoers know, the deep-frying doesn’t have to end there. Get creative and toss leftovers into oil for a hodgepodge of Thanksgiving fritters. Don’t forget the ranch dip!
Put that turkey (or goose, or whatever bird you ate on Thanksgiving) into a Five-ingredient Quesadilla. Place the turkey, Monterey jack cheese, and some leftover veggies like green beans and mushrooms into a tortilla and melt it. If you’re feeling adventurous, serve it with a side of Cranberry Salsa. Or, for a more gourmet quesadilla, add sage & cranberry sauce.
Roasted turkey is easy to add to anything – including tortilla chips. While you can opt for traditional nachos with melted cheese and a turkey garnish, there’s another option to clear out your fridge even faster: a Thanksgiving-Style Nacho using leftover gravy, potatoes, and stuffing. Mashed potatoes take the place of refried beans, and gravy is substituted for melted cheese, while stuffing creates a thicker base layer (along with the chips).
The famous Waldorf salad, which NYC’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel first created in 1896, is a perennial favorite for salad lovers. Turkify it and add seasonal apples, grapes, nuts, and celery root to the mayo-yogurt dressing. The salad is certainly healthier than drinking straight gravy (and it tastes so good).
Sweet Potato Flan
Not enough Americans serve baked Spanish custard for the holidays, but they can remedy that and reuse Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Rum at the same time. Plus, it’s a nice alternative to pie.
After a day or two of gut-busting meals, salads can help clear out your system. Leftover greens need to be used up before they wilt, and when topped with shredded turkey, nuts, and veggies like roasted carrots, this post-Thanksgiving salad just needs a stellar dressing to top it off. Luckily, using up leftover cranberries to make a Vinaigrette takes about 10 minutes and clears the fridge at the same time.
These recipes are all easily assembled during the holiday weekend with ingredients on hand and what’s left of your family’s traditional holiday dishes and must-haves. So reduce your waste and fill your bellies with these delicious recipes that make leftovers taste so good!
This story was originally published by Mental Floss in 2018; it has been updated for 2021, and offers more great ways to ‘repurpose’ your Thanksgiving leftovers.