Thanksgiving leftover recipes: What to do with Thanksgiving leftovers

As satisfying as a well-constructed sandwich made with leftover Thanksgiving turkey can be, it's not the most exciting way to eat Thanksgiving leftovers. Without having to go to the store again, there are plenty of tasty spins that can be made with dishes from the holiday.

Whether there are heaps of mashed potatoes, an extra bowl of stuffing or just a few handfuls of turkey meat in the fridge, it's possible to reinvent the leftover foods into dishes that will help almost any host who is entertaining family all weekend.

Here are seven delicious recipes that are made with Thanksgiving leftovers and will keep the crowd pleased after the big feast.

Thanksgiving leftover recipes

TODAY

Cook time: 25 minutes

Prep time: 10 minutes

Servings: 6

Turn Thanksgiving leftovers into slow-cooker Buffalo turkey dip.

Ingredients

    • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
    • 1/2 cup Ranch dressing
    • 1 cup Buffalo wing sauce
    • 2 cups turkey, shredded (leftover)
    • 2 cups Colby-Jack cheese, shredded
    • Tortilla chips or celery and carrots, for serving

Preparation

Combine all ingredients in Crockpot on low to medium heat. Stir frequently as the cheese melts. Serve with favorite tortilla chips or celery and carrots.

Having some snacks ready to pass around the living room during a family game of charades is always a good idea. This Buffalo turkey dip is perfect because it only requires 2 cups of shredded turkey, which may be all that's left after the big meal. Throw everything in a slow cooker for just 25 minutes and get back to that family fun time.

Zach Pagano/TODAY

Take yesterday's mashed potatoes from boring to brilliant by turning them into cheesy, crispy potato pancakes. Use these to make sandwiches, serve them up as another savory side or a wonderful snack all on their own.

Ingredients

    • TK heaping cups mashed potatoes
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • Salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
    • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella
    • Oil, for frying
    • Milk, as needed
    • Sour cream (optional)

Preparation

1. In a bowl, mix all ingredients very well. If it is too dry adjust the consistency with a little milk.

2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a couple of tablespoons of oil.

3. Pour 1/4 cup batter into hot pan; brown on both sides.

4. Garnish with a bit of parsley and top with sour cream, if using.

These savory pancakes transform leftover mashed potatoes into a soft, crispy snack. Serve them as an appetizer or for breakfast along with fried eggs and bacon. They're also a great side dish that may be even better than the taters that were served on Thanksgiving.

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

Use leftover Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole and cranberry sauce to make these easy sweet potato biscuits with cranberry butter for brunch.

Ingredients

  • Sweet Potato Biscuits

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 3 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces (2 ounces)
    • 1 cup leftover sweet potato casserole (or mashed sweet potatoes)
    • 1/8-1/4 cup milk (or more, if needed)
  • Cranberry Butter

    • 1 cup salted butter, room temperature
    • 2/3 cup leftover cranberry sauce

Preparation

For the sweet potato biscuits:

1. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or spray with cooking spray)

2. Mix dry ingredients in food processor. Pulse butter into flour mixture until all butter has been blended into flour. Process in the sweet potatoes to the flour mixture, just until fully combined with flour.

3. Add 1/8 cup of milk to mixture. Add more milk, a tablespoon or two at a time, if necessary to achieve a ball of dough in your processor. Dough should be soft and smooth, not dry or too wet. If you end up with dough that is too wet and sticky, add a bit more flour so that it can be handled and rolled. If too dry, add more milk.

4. Roll dough on your surface so that it is approximate 1/2-inch thick. Cut in 2-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter. Place rounds on prepared baking sheet. Re-roll remaining dough and continue cutting rounds until all dough is used. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.

For the cranberry butter:

Add butter to a medium sized bowl. Beat with a hand mixer until fluffy. Add the cranberry sauce and beat until incorporated into the butter and the mixture is light and airy. Serve immediately. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Fill up on these tasty treats before hitting the shops on Black Friday. The biscuits are made with leftover Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole, and the creamy butter is flavored with extra cranberry sauce. The beautiful pop of color from both the biscuits and the butter will bring any brunch to life.

Tyler Essary / TODAY

This recipe works best with basic stuffing that doesn’t include large pieces of vegetables or meats such as sausage. It also helps to warm the stuffing slightly prior to mixing it with the eggs and broth so that the mixture is easier to stir. Don’t repeatedly open the waffle baker while the waffle is baking or it will lose its shape. 

Technique tip: Stuffing waffles do take longer to cook than regular waffles, as the egg must be completely cooked throughout. Don’t be afraid to let the waffle bake until they're golden brown and crispy. 

Ingredients

    • 4 cups leftover stuffing, crumbled
    • 2 large eggs
    • Chicken broth or turkey stock, as needed
    • Leftover cranberry sauce, for serving
    • Leftover gravy, for serving
    • Leftover turkey, for serving

Preparation

1. Preheat your waffle iron and grease it with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the leftover stuffing and eggs. Add ¼ cup of chicken broth and mix well until well combined. Continue adding chicken broth as needed until the mixture is well-moistened

3. Scoop half of the stuffing mixture into the prepared waffle maker, spreading it evenly. (The stuffing will not spread or expand like regular waffle batter as it bakes so it’s important to arrange it in an even, thin layer). Close the lid and let the waffle bake until golden brown and the egg is cooked throughout.

4. Transfer the waffle to a serving plate then repeat the filling and baking process with the remaining stuffing. Serve the waffles with leftover turkey, cranberry sauce and warm leftover gravy. 

Here's a fun way to add some excitement to leftover stuffing. Waffle it! It's a savory spin that's delicious for any meal after turkey day. Just be sure to warm the stuffing a bit before mixing it up and putting it in the waffle maker.

Tyler Essar / TODAY

Can't decide which pie to eat? No problem! This recipe combines all of your leftover pies into one beautiful, layered trifle. 

 

Ingredients

    • Leftover pie, any kind will do but we recommend pumpkin, apple and pecan
    • 2 cups soft vanilla ice cream
    • 4 cups heavy cream
    • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 cup caramel sauce
    • 1 cup pecans

Preparation

1. In a stand mixer combine heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat with a whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. Remove from mixer and set aside

2. In clear glass trifle bowl or clear glass decorative bowl, layer leftover pie in the bottom, drizzle ¼ cup of melted ice cream, sprinkle ¼ cup caramel sauce, spread 2 cups of whipped cream over first layer and repeat this process 4 times.

3. Store in the fridge until you're ready to serve then scoop out and enjoy. 

When everyone wants some leftover pie, but there isn't enough to go around, make trifles. In small glasses, layer a little bit of pie, melted vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce and whipped cream. If several pies are leftover, consider combining all of them into one beautiful layered trifle.

Zach Schiffman / TODAY

Servings: 8-10

This easy recipe calls for cooked turkey so it's perfect for Thanksgiving leftovers. It can be put together in just a few minutes. It needs to simmer for approximately 30 minutes but would also do incredibly well in a slow cooker.

Ingredients

    • 1 pound shredded, cooked turkey
    • 1 cup red onion, small dice
    • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
    • 1 tablespoon chili powder 
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin  
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil  
    • 1/4 cup tomato paste  
    • One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes  
    • One 14-ounce can black-eyed peas  
    • One 12-ounce bottle dark beer  
    • 2 cups turkey or chicken broth  
    • 1/4 cup canned chopped green chilies  
    • 2 teaspoons salt  
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Preparation

Heat a dutch oven or other pot over medium heat, then add the olive oil. Add the garlic and onions and sauté until translucent. Add the tomato paste and cook for approximately 2 minutes, stirring. When the tomato paste begins to caramelize, add all of the remaining ingredients. Stir and bring to a simmer. Simmer for approximately 30 minutes.

This chili is a win-win, no matter which team everyone's rooting for during Thanksgiving weekend. Using shredded turkey, instead of ground beef, is a nice way to lighten up the often heavy dish. Also, the spices are a nice kick to the tastebuds after all that turkey and gravy. It feeds up to 10 people, so it's also a great dish to serve if family is staying through the weekend.

Tyler Essary / TODAY

Too much leftover Thanksgiving turkey? There's no such thing! These mini sandwiches make the perfect end-of-day snack or football party finger food. 

Ingredients

    • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
    • 12 Hawaiian rolls or party rolls
    • 1/2 cup sliced leftover turkey
    • 12 slices Swiss cheese
    • 2 1/2 cups leftover cranberry sauce
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • For the topping

    • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    • 1/2 cup butter, melted
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
    • 1/2 teaspoon Worsterchire sauce

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and spread it evenly over the bottom of 9-inch by 9-inch baking dish.

2. Without separating the rolls, slice the package of rolls in half. Place the bottom half of rolls in a baking dish. Top with 6 slices of the Swiss cheese, follow with the turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce. Top with 6 more slices of cheese, then add the other half of rolls on top.

3. Spread the remaining cranberry sauce evenly over the rolls and cover with foil and let sit for 10 minutes. Then put in oven until cheese is melted. 

4. Serve on a large platter so guests can rip apart individual sandwiches as desired.

If everyone's demanding a turkey sandwich, but there's only a little bit left, consider whipping up a batch of these sliders. They can feed a bunch of people since they're mini. Topped with Swiss cheese and leftover cranberry sauce, they're also easy to bake all at once.

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