Wondering what to do with Thanksgiving turkey leftovers? Not to worry—here are some recipes to use up that holiday turkey, whether you need a quick dinner idea or just a simple sandwich or soup recipe. Plus, find more Leftover turkey tips below.
“This is a great way to finish up a holiday turkey,” says Peggy Key of Grant, Alabama. “At times, I use chicken if I have that on hand instead. Try sprinkling grated cheese over the top of each helping for extra flavor.”
Ann Hanel of San Jacinto, California whips up this dish in the microwave. “Everyone loves this creamy casserole, and it’s a great way to use up leftover rice and turkey,” she says. “I like to serve it with a hot vegetable, rolls and fruit for dessert.”
From Pleasant Hill, Oregon, Ann Wood shares this tasty treatment for leftover turkey. The creamy dish comes together in a snap with a package of au gratin potatoes, some seasonings and a handful of kitchen staples.
Julia Hainsworth first made this recipe when she was home on maternity leave with her third child. “I needed to rely on quick-and-easy recipes that were kid-friendly, too,” she writes from Mt. Morris, New York. “We all loved this dish, and it cleared up a bunch of turkey leftovers.”
“I created this sandwich after sampling a similar one at a nearby restaurant,” says Jeanne Imbrigiotta from Pennington, New Jersey. “At first, my husband turned up his nose. But after one bite, he was converted!”
Bobby Langley from Rocky Mount, North Carolina may not recall where she got this recipe, but it’s her all-time favorite turkey soup. “Everyone who has tried it agrees,” she adds. “The sweet red pepper is what gives the soup its distinctive flavor.”
Leftover Turkey Tips
- My husband always smokes our Thanksgiving turkey. Leftover dark meat gives great flavor when cooked with pinto, northern or lima beans. We think it tastes even better than ham used the same way. —Shyrel C., Hampton, Florida
- To use up leftover turkey, I make a simple and satisfying soup. First I saute onion and green pepper in oil, then add chicken broth. I puree leftover mashed potatoes and vegetables, then stir that into the broth with the chopped turkey. —Marion S., Chicago, Illinois
- For a new entree, combine leftover turkey, gravy and dressing. Put it in a greased baking pan and bake at 350° until golden. —Millie K., Elyria, Ohio
- I put leftover Thanksgiving turkey in a slow cooker and add some minced garlic, barbecue sauce and a dash of hot sauce. When it’s heated through, I serve the meat on warmed hamburger buns. My family looks forward to these sandwiches every year. —Stacy A., Twin Falls, Idaho
Leftovers Safety Guidelines
Follow these guidelines from the Taste of Home Test Kitchen to ensure that the leftovers you keep will be safe to eat:
- “When in doubt, throw it out” is a good rule of thumb, whether you’re questioning the safety of food you’re about to store or of food you’re taking out of the refrigerator or freezer to eat.
- Stock up on plastic storage bags and containers so you’re prepared to store leftovers soon after the meal. Having storage supplies ready also makes it easy for others to help out in the kitchen.
- Immediately after cooking, remove stuffing from the turkey, chicken, duck or goose. Within 2 hours, carve all meat off the bones. Place the meat and stuffing in separate containers and refrigerate. For faster cooling, don’t stack the containers.
- Leftover turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days.
- Meat combined with gravy and gravy stored by itself should be used within 1 to 2 days.
- Cranberry sauce and relish can be stored in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days.
- Cooked vegetables should be eaten within 3 to 5 days.
- Freeze any leftovers you won’t eat within 3 days. Frozen cooked meat and gravy should be used within 2 to 3 months.
- When reheating leftovers, bring gravy to a full rolling boil and all others foods to a temperature of 165°.
More Turkey Recipes»