Thanksgiving dinner is nice, but the leftovers are arguably the very best part of this food-filled holiday. Perhaps you're happy to experience a second, third, or even fourth repeat of your Thanksgiving feast. But for those of you who want something different, there's a world of possibilities for the leftover turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, greens, and more.
From classic leftover vessels like soup, stew, and sandwiches to fresh twists on recipes you know and love, here are our 21 most popular ways to put your Thanksgiving leftovers to work.
Breakfast and Brunch Ideas
For some of us, the marathon of post-Thanksgiving meals usually begins with a slice of pie for breakfast. Consider that pie the gateway to a world of morning meals made possible by Thanksgiving leftovers.
Rustle up the leftover sweet potatoes (even Brussels sprouts, green beans, and winter squash can be tossed in), toss with cooked sausage, and top with eggs for a winning post-Thanksgiving breakfast or brunch.
Use leftover stuffing for the base of this strata-inspired breakfast casserole. In fact, make an extra batch of stuffing so you can make sure this is on Friday's menu.
Leftover cranberry sauce isn't just used for a topping — it also gets stirred into the mix of this seasonal breakfast stack.
Soups and Sandwiches
Soups and sandwiches are where Thanksgiving leftovers shine brightest. From a classic chili to a few new takes on a turkey club, this how to turn leftovers into fast and hearty meals.
Traditionally made with chicken, leftover shredded turkey is swapped into this hearty cold-weather essential. Add a dollop of Greek yogurt before serving.
Treat a few cups of leftover turkey to warm broth laced with pureed chiles, garlic, lime juice, and fresh herbs. Don't forget to finish it off with your favorite tortilla chips.
Look beyond the traditional turkey noodle soup to make use of that leftover meat. This simple stew combines shredded turkey with bacon, kale, and smoked paprika for a hearty meal.
Give turkey new life by mixing it into this filling yet light lentil soup.
Whether they're roasted, candied, or even mashed, repurpose sweet potatoes in a creamy chowder. You have a leg up on the recipe since your potatoes are already cooked, so after adding them to the pot, feel free to speed up the cooking process a little.
Swap shredded turkey for the oft-used chicken in the super-comforting and creamy meal. This is a great dish to serve after flag football.
Inspired by the traditional club sandwich, this one gets a seasonal twist with leftover turkey, Brussels sprouts, and cranberry sauce.
If you're ready to repurpose your leftover turkey beyond the traditional sandwich, the Hot Brown is just the way to do it. Sliced turkey, bacon, and tomatoes are piled on thick, buttery bread, then smothered in a cheesy, creamy Mornay sauce.
This classic sandwich with a twist stacks oven-roasted tomatoes between layers of turkey, crisp bacon, and soft white bread.
Let's call this sandwich what it really is: a classed-up grilled cheese. Except instead of the cheese taking the lead, it shares the stage with shredded turkey and sliced apples.
Make It in a Casserole Dish
Want to know the easiest way to turn Thanksgiving leftovers into a next-day meal? Add a casserole dish. Whether it's a showstopping lasagna that uses everything in the fridge or enchiladas you make for dinner, grab your trusty 9x13 for Friday's dinner.
Shepherd's pie is like the dumping ground (in the best way possible, of course) for all your Thanksgiving leftovers. This version puts the turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and other veggies to work.
You love chicken enchiladas, right? Swap in turkey to give your leftovers a fresh spin.
This combo is a bit unexpected, but it totally works. Fill tender, cooked shells with a mixture of shredded turkey, sweet potato, chopped roasted Brussels sprouts, even a touch of cranberry, and some ricotta cheese. Bake and spoon creamy béchamel over top to serve.
Leftover stuffing gives you a major head start on this savory bread pudding. Mix the stuffing with chopped Swiss chard, cooked sausage, and a mixture of cheese, then bake for about 30 minutes or until everything is just heated through.
Take everything you love about Thanksgiving — namely the mix of food and flavors mingling on your plate, and transform them into this post-Thanksgiving pasta masterpiece. Like any good lasagna, it's highly customizable.
The New Classics
Every year someone invents a new way to enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers. These three recipes are the ones we're going to be making for years to come.
These super-crunchy fritters are our favorite way to eat leftover stuffing — no contest. If you're feeling really industrious, you can quickly prep them while putting away leftovers so all that's left to do is fry them up.
Relive Thanksgiving dinner, kabob-style. From turkey and Brussels sprouts, to sweet potatoes and stuffing, arrange leftovers on a skewers and use cranberry sauce or gravy for dipping.
There's always going to be that one last slice of pie that looks all mangled in the pie plate. Stuff it into a fat slice of challah bread for the best-ever stuffed French toast.