Thanksgiving Leftovers: Creative Recipes Beyond Sandwiches

While Thanksgiving Day inevitably brings joy, laughter, and a table packed with delicious foods, it’s the plethora of leftovers that often prove challenging the day after. Most of us default to the humble turkey sandwich, but with a little inventiveness, those remnants from your Thanksgiving feast can be transformed into a variety of meals that defy the mundane. In this post, we delve into creative recipes to give your leftovers new life.

Thanksgiving Leftovers Pizza

Thanksgiving Leftovers Pizza
Thanksgiving Leftovers Pizza


  • 1 pizza dough (or pre-made crust)
  • 1 cup leftover turkey (shredded into small pieces)
  • 1 cup leftover cranberry sauce
  • 1 cup leftover stuffing
  • 1 cup leftover mashed potatoes
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Leftover gravy (optional for drizzling)


  1. Preheat the oven to 475°F (245°C) or as directed by your pizza dough/crust instructions.
  2. Stretch out your pizza dough on a floured surface, about 12-14 inches in diameter. If using a pre-made crust, place it on a flat surface.
  3. Spread the cranberry sauce evenly over the stretched out dough or crust, leaving about a 1-inch border for the crust.
  4. Layer the shredded turkey next, spreading it evenly across the pizza.
  5. Drop spoonfuls of stuffing and mashed potatoes across the pizza. Try to distribute them evenly.
  6. Sprinkle the cheese evenly all over the pizza.
  7. Bake the pizza in the preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden, and the crust is golden brown.
  8. Optional: Once the pizza is out of the oven, drizzle over some warmed-up leftover gravy right before serving.

Turkey and Stuffing Muffins


  • 2 cups of leftover turkey (diced into small pieces)
  • 2 cups of leftover stuffing
  • 1 large egg
  • Leftover cranberry sauce or gravy for serving
  • Cooking spray or butter for greasing the muffin tin


  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and grease a muffin tin with cooking spray or butter.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the diced turkey and leftover stuffing.
  3. Crack the egg into the bowl, mixing thoroughly until everything is well combined and the egg is evenly distributed. The egg will help everything hold together.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the greased muffin tin, filling each to the top for big, rounded muffins. Press down slightly to ensure the mixture is packed well.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown and crispy on top.
  6. Let the muffins cool in the pan for a couple of minutes, then remove to serve.
  7. Serve these savory muffins with a side of leftover cranberry sauce or a hearty drizzle of gravy.

Turkey Fried Rice

Turkey Fried Rice
Turkey Fried Rice


  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 1 bell pepper (diced, any color)
  • 2 cups of leftover turkey (chopped into bite-sized pieces)
  • 3 cups of day-old cooked rice
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce (or to taste)
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 2 large eggs


  1. Heat the cooking oil in a large wok or non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the diced onion and bell pepper to the heated oil. Stir-fry until the vegetables are tender and the onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped turkey and cooked rice to the skillet. Stir well to mix with the vegetables.
  4. Pour in the soy sauce, stirring to make sure the rice and meat are evenly coated.
  5. Add the frozen peas and stir well. Continue to stir-fry the mixture for 2-3 minutes until the peas are heated through.
  6. Push the rice mixture to one side of the skillet. Beat the eggs in a small bowl then pour into the open space in the skillet.
  7. Scramble the eggs, stirring continuously, then mix them into the rice.
  8. Continue to stir-fry for another 1-2 minutes until everything is well combined and heated through.
  9. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more soy sauce if needed.
  10. Serve hot.

Sweet Potato Pancakes


  • 2 cups leftover sweet potatoes (mashed)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk (you may need a bit more if batter is too thick)
  • Cooking spray or butter for the griddle
  • Maple syrup and butter for serving


  1. In a large bowl, combine the mashed sweet potatoes and eggs. Stir until the eggs are well incorporated.
  2. Gradually add the flour into the sweet potato and egg mixture, mixing just until combined. If the mixture is too dry, add in the milk a bit at a time until you reach a pancake batter consistency. Do not over mix.
  3. Heat a griddle or non-stick skillet over medium heat. Coat with cooking spray or melt a bit of butter on it.
  4. Drop 1/4 cupfuls of the batter onto the heated griddle. Spread it out slightly with the back of your spoon. Cook the pancakes until the edges are set and bubbles form on top, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Flip the pancakes using a spatula and cook on the other side until golden brown, another 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Transfer the cooked pancakes to a platter and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  7. Serve the sweet potato pancakes warm with a drizzle of maple syrup and a pat of butter.

Turkey Enchiladas

After Thanksgiving Turkey Enchiladas
After-Thanksgiving Turkey Enchiladas


  • 3 cups leftover turkey (shredded into small pieces)
  • 1 cup leftover corn
  • 2 cups enchilada sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (such as cheddar or Monterey Jack)
  • 8-10 soft tortillas
  • Cooking spray or butter for the baking dish


  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and grease a large baking dish.
  2. In a bowl, combine the shredded turkey and corn.
  3. Lay out a tortilla on a flat surface, spoon a portion of the turkey and corn mixture down the middle. Roll the tortilla tightly around the filling and place seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling.
  4. Pour the enchilada sauce evenly over the filled tortillas in the dish.
  5. Sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly over the top.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling, and the edges of the tortillas are slightly crispy.
  7. Let the enchiladas cool for a few minutes before serving.
  8. Optional: Serve with your favorite enchilada meal accompaniments such as guacamole, sour cream, and salsa.

Leftover Stuffing Waffles

Leftover Stuffing Waffles
Leftover Stuffing Waffles


  • 2-3 cups of leftover stuffing
  • 1-2 large eggs
  • Chicken broth or cream (if needed to reach preferred consistency)
  • Cooking spray or butter for the waffle iron
  • Leftover turkey and gravy, for serving


  1. Preheat your waffle iron to a medium-high setting. Grease it well with cooking spray or butter.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the leftover stuffing and eggs. Stir until the mixture is evenly combined. If the mixture is too dry, add chicken broth or cream, a bit at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.
  3. Distribute the stuffing mixture onto the preheated waffle iron, spreading it out to evenly cover the surface.
  4. Close the waffle iron and cook until the waffle is golden brown and crispy. This will likely take longer than cooking regular waffles, possibly about 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Carefully remove the waffle and keep warm. Repeat the process with the remaining stuffing mixture.
  6. Serve the stuffing waffles warm with leftover turkey and a good drizzle of gravy.

Cranberry Sauce Smoothie

Cranberry Sauce Smoothie
Cranberry Sauce Smoothie


  • 1/2 cup leftover cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (or more as needed for desired consistency)
  • Optional add-ins: honey or maple syrup for added sweetness, ice to thicken the smoothie, or a scoop of protein powder for extra nutrition


  1. Peel and freeze the banana at least 2 hours in advance or use an already frozen banana.
  2. In a blender, combine the cranberry sauce, Greek yogurt, frozen banana, and orange juice.
  3. Blend on high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy. If the smoothie is too thick, add a bit more orange juice and blend again. If the smoothie is too thin, add some ice and blend to achieve your desired consistency.
  4. Taste the smoothie to check the sweetness. If you prefer a sweeter smoothie, consider adding honey or maple syrup to taste and blending again.
  5. Pour the smoothie into a glass and enjoy it right away as a tart and sweet breakfast or snack option.

Bottom Line

Embracing these inventive ways to enjoy your Thanksgiving leftovers not only reduces food waste but also prolongs the festive sentiment of your holiday feast. Each of these recipes provides the opportunity to relish the Thanksgiving flavors in a completely new and exciting meal. So why resort to plain sandwiches when you can dish up a culinary encore of Thanksgiving with a creative twist?

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