IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Thanksgiving Bacon Melt

Nathan Congleton / TODAY
Cook Time:
20 mins
Prep Time:
10 mins

Chef notes

I love this confit turkey recipe because it cuts the time by about half, which makes me thankful for being that much closer to eating it. As for the bacon melt, who doesn't love a built-up grilled cheese? It's a great way to use those Thanksgiving leftovers.

Technique tip: Letting the confit set overnight is vital to securing the tenderness; trust the process.

Swap option: Feel free to play around with different breads and cheeses. How about something crustier like sourdough? Don't like Swiss? Use cheddar. Want something with a little heat? Try pepper jack.


Confit Turkey
  • 2 leftover turkey legs
  • 20 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 quarts olive oil, or enough to cover
Cranberry Aioli
  • 1/4 cup cranberry sauce
  • 2 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Thanksgiving Bacon Melt
  • 3 strips thick-cut bacon
  • 3 ounces confit turkey (recipe above)
  • 2 slices thick-cut challah
  • 2 tablespoons cranberry aioli (recipe above)
  • 3 tablespoons caramelized onions, hot
  • 2 slices Swiss cheese
  • 2 slices American cheese
  • 2 teaspoons pan drippings, plus more as needed


For the confit turkey:


Preheat oven to 250 F.


Add all ingredients to a Dutch oven, making sure there is enough oil that the turkey is completely covered.


Turn burner to medium and heat the olive oil to 180 F. When ready, cover the pot with a lid and place in oven for 2 hours. When time is up, remove from the oven and let cool.


Place in the refrigerator overnight, then the next day, pick the meat from the bones in preparation for the Thanksgiving bacon melt.

For the cranberry aioli:

Combine all ingredients and adjust seasoning to taste.

For the Thanksgiving bacon melt:


In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat to your desired doneness. When bacon is about halfway through cooking, add turkey to the pan and brown evenly on both sides.


Remove the bacon and turkey from the pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess drippings. Strain the drippings from the pan to be used later.


Build the sandwich: On the bottom piece of challah, spread the cranberry aioli, then top with bacon, turkey, onions and cheeses, and finally top with the remaining challah.


In a large pan over medium heat, add the drippings to the pan and spread around. Once sizzling, add the sandwich and move around to ensure it is evenly coated in the bottom, then gently press. Let cook for about 5 to 6 minutes or until golden-brown, then flip and add more drippings as needed.


Once both sides are beautifully golden-brown, then cut to your liking and enjoy, thankfully.