Your plans for your leftover turkey are almost as important as your plans for Turkey Day. Read on for our best ideas for enjoying Thanksgiving just a little bit longer.Jump to Recipe
Best Leftover Turkey Recipes
I love all the classic Thanksgiving food. When the third Thursday of November comes around, I pile my plate high with turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, green beans, macaroni and cheese, salad, and, in my Puerto Rican family, rice, and beans. Then I pass out because that’s a lot of carbs.
The day after Thanksgiving, we all circle up at my Mom’s house again and line up by the microwave. This is Thanksgiving- light. We choose a few of our favorite leftover sides, make a Turkey sandwich, and get on with our day.
But it’s on the Saturday after Thanksgiving that my turkey dreams really come true.
Pampered Chef Turkey Cranberry Wreath
Saturday is for the Turkey Wreath. We discovered this recipe years ago when my mom hosted a Pampered Chef party. The crescent rolls filled with turkey and cranberry filling, shaped in a wreath, are pretty, festive, and show off Pampered Chef products such as the round baking stone.
And the Turkey Wreath is hands down the best destination for your leftover turkey. It’s as if the turkey meat finds new life. It lives again. Yes, even in its day-old state, your leftover turkey discovers a new calling, one that even appeals to those less enthusiastic Thanksgiving leftover fans.
I’m not going to say it, okay I’ll say it. This leftover turkey recipe might be turkey at its best. Am I saying the Cranberry Turkey Wreath upstages Thanksgiving sliced turkey? No. Yes. Maybe? Just try it. And then cook it year-round (with chicken even) if you want to keep Holiday Turkey in its place.
Turkey Cranberry Wreath
- 2 packages refrigerated crescent rolls
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp honey dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 cups (or 12 oz) cooked turkey chopped
- 1/2 cup sliced celery
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley snipped
- 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
- 1 cup ( or 4 oz) shredded Swiss cheese
- 1/4 cup walnuts coarsely chopped
- 1 egg
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Unroll crescent dough; separate into 16 triangles. With wide ends of triangles towards the center, arrange 8 triangles in a circle on a baking stone. Corners of wide ends will touch and points will extend 1 inch beyond the edge of the baking stone. Arrange remaining 8 triangles in the center, matching wide ends. Seal seams using the rolling pin. (Points will overlap in the center. Do not seal.)
- Place mayonnaise, mustard, and black pepper in a mixing bowl. Chop turkey, slice celery, and snip parsley. Add turkey, celery, parsley, and cranberries to mixing bowl. Grate cheese into the mixing bowl. Mix filling and then scoop over seams of dough, forming a circle.
- Coarsely chop walnuts, sprinkle over the filling.
- Beginning in the center, lift one dough triangle across the filling mixture. Continue alternating with outer triangles, slightly overlapping to form a wreath. Tuck last end under first.
- Separate egg over small mixing bowl using an egg separator. (Discard yolk or set aside for another use.) Lightly beat egg white; brush over the dough using a basting brush.
- Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Leftover Turkey and Swiss Panini
Leave it to the Pioneer Woman to design a leftover hot turkey sandwich that oozes with cheese and goodness. Also, points for serving a different, hot lunch, with your leftover bird. These delightful paninis are the perfect family-friendly post-holiday meal. Three cheers for a crowd-pleasing alternative to some of your weirder leftover options. (No child of mine has ever asked for turkey soup.)
Turkey Pot Pie and Biscuits
Mom on the Street Amy Raines‘s Turkey Pot with Biscuits is a flavor-packed, colorful finale to your Thanksgiving weekend. It’s also Paleo and Gluten-Free, so you can continue to accommodate a family with preferences. (Also, let’s be honest, it could be good to end the weekend on a lighter, but no less delicious, note.) Plus: bacon. I’m done.
Leftover Turkey + Sauce = Deliciousness
This might not necessarily be the “best leftover turkey recipe,” but if you’re looking for the easiest way to give your turkey leftovers new life, try adding some sauce to the mix. Here are a few quick and easy favorites you can use as a dip or marinade.
- Barbecue sauce- Bold and zesty barbecue sauce can give your turkey an extra boost of flavor.
- Hot sauce- turn up the heat!
- Fish sauce- for a saltier, Asian-inspired turkey leftover option. Add in a little stir-fry rice and enjoy your meal!
- Creamy mushroom sauce- this white sauce is a comforting and delicious complement to your turkey meal.
So, yes just adding your favorite sauce to leftover turkey won’t necessarily win you any cooking awards, but it’s a perfect add-on for a comforting family meal.
Leftover Turkey Spaghetti
Gotta love a leftover spaghetti dinner! Add some leftover turkey to your favorite red sauce (or green if you’re a pesto fan or even a creamy white alfredo sauce). Then combine with a box of spaghetti noodles for an easy post-Thanksgiving family dinner. You could even make it a double leftover win by combining leftover spaghetti pasta with leftover turkey. And if you’re not a big fan of spaghetti noodles, try another type of pasta like tortellini or little shells.
Or if you’re feeling extra ambitious, use those leftover spaghetti noodles in turkey tetrazzini. For this one, you want to use a creamy white sauce, and the specifics don’t really matter. You could use simple cream of mushroom soup, or make your own white cheese sauce with mozzarella, half-and-half, and chicken broth. Don’t forget to add some parmesan for a crispy topping for a hearty meal the whole family will enjoy!
Thanksgiving Leftover Turkey Chili
I just finished Ruth Reichl’s memoir Save Me the Plums. She describes her experience on September 11, 2001, in Manhattan, where she was editor of Gourmet Magazine. Her staff, families, and chefs from across the city gathered in the Gourmet test kitchen to cook meals for the rescue workers at Ground Zero.
They made tray after tray lasagna and this Turkey Chili – a taste that brought tears to the eyes of an ash-covered firefighter. He told Reichl, “Thank you for this taste of home.” She has served it as part of her Thanksgiving menu ever since, but this cozy concoction is perfect for the days following, and a reminder to live daily with gratitude.
Leftover Turkey for Days
Thanksgiving is one day, but the food tends to last longer. These recipes give you an excuse to keep gathering, and the perfect way to turn Turkey Day into Turkey season.