9 Ideas For Using Thanksgiving Leftovers

a close up of a sandwich filled with thanksgiving leftovers like cranberry sauce, stuffing and turkey

Don’t fret about what to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers. Below are 9 different ideas for using all that Thanksgiving leftover goodness. You might even turn Thanksgiving Part Deux into something your family will ask for next year.

I reject the whole “oh–no–not–more–leftovers–idea.” I like to think of leftovers as an opportunity, really.  An opportunity to share with family and friends, to be creative, to encourage my family to try something new, and to plan ahead a bit for the cold winter months lurking around the corner. Below are a few suggestions you might like, too.

9 Ideas For Using Thanksgiving Leftovers

  1. Assess the situation and make a plan. For instance, I know I’ll want to make Turkey and Sausage Gumbo, so the first thing I’ll do is cut the meat off the bone and portion it out.  The carcass and about 1/2 pound of meat will be set aside for that.
  2. Next, share. Send some turkey and fixin’s home with family and friends. I like to make each guest a “turkey bag,” with a bit of everything from dressing and cranberry-cherry compote to green beans and pie.  It’s a nice way to send it home with them because they end up with an entire meal that can be reheated and enjoyed later. Some in my family make what they call a “kitchen sink” sandwich, which is basically a taste of everything between two slices of bread. They swear by it. I’m dubious.
  3. Then, portion remaining leftovers into manageable serving sizes, such as for sandwiches.
  4. Freeze whatever’s left to enjoy later. Once you freeze your leftovers, it’s a good idea to keep track of what you have on hand.  Especially if you have quite a bit leftover, as I expect to have this year, a list will help you make the most of it.  When portioning up your turkey leftovers, think about what you’ll use it for. Example, wings will make a great broth for cooking a pot of collard greens or a delicious soup base. Breast meat can be sliced and used in pasta or chili.
  5. Think outside the box. Replace the beef normally used in traditional dishes like lasagna with turkey and add a little health to your new year.
  6. Tired of the turkey sammy? Try something new like the spicy blend of southern and Asian influences in Turkey-Ramen.
  7. Have turkey for breakfast, but not your ordinary turkey hash — instead try Thanksgiving Leftover Breakfast Sandwiches. This recipe puts all that leftover goodness to good use.
  8. Want something completely different? Try Herbed Turkey and Waffles! It’s a unique dinner featuring crunchy waffles and a creamy parmesan cheese sauce. Topped with cranberry relish, it’s a wonderful week night change of pace.
  9. Last but not least, and I know this is a routine suggestion, but don’t ever throw out those wonderful turkey bones. Put them in a large pot of water along with some carrot, celery and onion, a little sage and thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and let simmer for an hour or so. Strain out the solids and use for your favorite soup, stew or as a base for cooking vegetables. Or fill an ice cube tray with the broth and freeze for later use. One ice cube is equal to about 2 tablespoons of broth.

Now that you have some good ideas of what to do with all those leftovers, you might want to run out an d get a bigger turkey.  Or maybe not.

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