New Ways to Use Your Thanksgiving Leftovers
Thanksgiving dinner is nearly as treasured for its leftovers as for the feast itself. In fact, wise cooks cook with the goal of having lots of leftovers left over. The first round of dishes are DIY treats that kids or visitors can fish out of the fridge themselves. But then the cook recovers her or his energy and, staring at a bowl of cold spuds, remembers a wonderful British pub dish called Cottage Pie, based on humble mash. Or recalls the shredded turkey in a spicy Mexican posole from a vacation long ago. Thanksgiving leftovers, being in the best way rather basic foods, lend themselves to internationally inspired twists. Here we dish up more than two dozen delicious, playful uses for those precious Turkey Day leftovers.
Muffin Cup Stuffing "Scotch Egg"
Are you stuffed full of stuffing? Simply press leftover stuffing into muffin cups to make a tasty nest for a cracked egg. Yes, a traditional Scotch egg calls for wrapping sausage around a soft boiled egg and then deep frying, so this recipe is definitely a play on the idea (looking at you, social media). Stuffing isn’t quite an alternative to delicious sausage, but a crispy, cornbread-y blanket around a soft baked egg might be the next best thing. You can use any dressing or stuffing that your family used on Turkey Day, just make sure you add enough stock or water to make a loose, wet ‘batter’ for the cups.
Quick Roasted Turkey Posole
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 Posole is one to keep even after the holidays have passed. 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 posole dreams.
Cranberry Peppercorn & Sage Shrub Soda
Don’t shrub off the best thing that has happened to your cocktail outside your drink of choice: vinegar. A shrub is a fruit-muddled vinegar that adds a sour and bitter punch to your cocktail, perfect for pairing with fresh and floral liquors like gin. Plus, leftover cranberry sauce doesn’t have to get tossed with the last of the turkey; the sweet-tart berries are perfect for a punchy shrub. Top with refreshing club soda for a spritzer or add your favorite liquor to get the party started.
Sweet Potato Casserole "Pancakes" with Maple Glaze
Wherever you are in America, you may or may not have sweet potato casserole on your Thanksgiving table. Our controversial stance: everybody should have sweet potato casserole on their Thanksgiving tables and then again on their breakfast plates! Sweet, vitamin-rich sweet potatoes (or yams—learn the difference) make an ideal treat for the morning after Turkey Day.
Leftover Green Bean Niçoise
Classic salade niçoise gets a big flavor boost from our leftover green bean recipe: Dried cranberries provide unexpected sweet-tart notes, while hazelnuts add lightly sweet, meaty depth.
Roast Turkey Pho
You can substitute unsalted chicken stock for the homemade. If you do, simmer with the water, stock, peppercorns, sugar, star anise, and ginger, and proceed with recipe from there.
Picadillo-Stuffed Mashed Potato Balls
Papas rellenas (stuffed potato balls) are a traditional Spanish dish. Baked instead of fried, they're a healthy and delicious way to make a meal out of leftover mashed potatoes.
Cran-Apple Smoked Turkey Sliders
Let's face it: You have to have a killer leftover turkey sandwich the day after the feast. If you start with our robust Applewood-Smoked Turkey, you need only a few embellishments—namely the juicy snap of tart apple and the extra layer of smoke from the cheddar—to reach to-die-for status.
Dressing-Stuffed Mini Peppers
We love these stuffed peppers as an appetizer, but you can also serve them as a side dish. Be sure to use baby bell peppers and not mini sweet peppers (shaped like jalapeños) so they're big enough to accommodate the filling. As an alternative to broiling, you can char the peppers directly over a gas flame, turning frequently with tongs.
Cauliflower Turkey Tetrazzini
Potato Pancakes with Salmon
LEFTOVER: Mashed potatoes
These little potato pancakes take almost no time to pat together and quickly sauté to golden-brown perfection. Topped with smoked salmon, sour cream, and chives, they're an elegant party nibble.
Spicy Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Here's a low-carb twist on a taco: shredded white-meat turkey dressed with sweet-tart cranberry sauce spiced with adobo and chipotle. Tuck it all into tender lettuce leaves.
Cranberry-Hoisin Turkey Buns
LEFTOVER: Turkey and cranberry sauce
With its zippy, tangy flavor, cranberry sauce makes a natural partner for sweetly spiced hoisin sauce. Add quick-pickled cukes and pillowy Chinese buns, and the bird takes a delicious detour East.
Make the most of day-old wine by turning it into a lightly spiced, brandy-enhanced punch. Throw in some fresh fruit to soak up the flavors, and you have a happy, crowd-pleasing concoction.
Savory Harvest Vegetable Tart with Toasted Quinoa Crust
LEFTOVER: Roasted vegetables
The brilliant use of whole-grain quinoa for a press-in-the-pan tart shell hits all the right marks. Toasting the grain adds nutty crunch to the foolproof crust. Peppered goat cheese and a colorful crown of caramelized veggies make this dish simply spectacular.
Crispy Green Beans with Sriracha Mayo
Day-old veggies become irresistible crunchy munching sticks thanks to a coarse breadcrumb coating. Tangy chile dip takes flavors to the spicy edge.
Buttermilk-Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
This has to be the coolest way to serve pie "à la mode." Churn creamy spiced pumpkin pie into a rich custard for an all-in-one ice-cream treat. What a great way to stretch those last couple of slices into a festive new dessert.
Chocolate Pecan Pie Truffles
LEFTOVER: Pecan pie
This rich confection is a mash-up of cocoa and pecan pie, plus a little hooch for good measure. Rolling the truffles in dry-roasted almonds adds just the right amount of salty crunch along with each luscious bite.
Mexican Turkey Stew from Leftover Turkey
While usually an ingredient in moles, roasted pumpkinseed kernels add another layer of nutty flavor to this posole-style broth. Look for them in specialty markets and health-food stores. Substitute ancho chile powder if guajillo is unavailable.
Turkey Arepas from Leftover Turkey
Arepas are corn cakes popular in Latin American countries. Look for arepa flour in the international food section of large supermarkets or in an ethnic market. Don't substitute masa harina or cornmeal for the arepa flour, which is precooked. Store the flour in an airtight container in your freezer to extend its shelf life.
Flan from Leftover Sweet Potato
This flan—Spanish baked custard—is best when made with leftover sweet potatoes that have been simply prepared and minimally seasoned. Use ground nutmeg in place of grated whole nutmeg, if you prefer.
Three More Ways to Use Grated Whole Nutmeg
1. Add a dash or two to sautéed spinach to build complex flavor.
2. Mix 1/4 teaspoon into spice rubs for meats.
3. Use it to top chai tea, cappuccinos, or eggnog.
Salad from Leftover Green Beans
Serve this Mediterranean-flavored side dish with roasted, simply seasoned chicken, pork, beef, or fish.
Kir Royale from Leftover Cranberry Sauce
Leftover cranberry sauce helps concoct a lightly sweet homemade cranberry liqueur in this twist on a classic French cocktail. Allow four days to steep the liqueur. Garnish with cranberries, if you like.
Cottage Pie from Leftover Mashed Potatoes
Leftover mashed potatoes are mixed with white cheddar cheese to form the top crust for this British pub-food staple. Ground beef is traditionally used, but lean ground turkey will work, as well. Brown the crust under the broiler for a minute or two, if you like.
Samosas from Leftover Mashed Potatoes
This dish uses leftover mashed potatoes in a big batch of Indian-inspired snacks—great for parties.
Three More Ways to Use Garam Masala
1. Stir it into cooked lentils.
2. Add to curry dishes.
3. Sprinkle onto roasted or sautéed butternut squash for an exotic, fragrant flourish.