Easy Ways to Make the Most of Your BBQ Leftovers

You made hot dogs, hamburgers and steak for a family of 12—but only have a family of four. It happens! Here's what to do with your barbecue leftovers.

I don’t know about you, but every time my family hosts a BBQ, we’re laden with leftovers—and that’s after sending our guests home with as much as they can carry. Fortunately, no matter what you throw on the grill, you can use those BBQ leftovers to whip up countless dishes later in the week.

How to Make the Most of Your…

Leftover Burgers

Crumble your burger meat to add to a hearty chili or add some protein to your favorite mac and cheese. You can use leftover burgers to make stuffed peppers or other classic comfort foods like cottage pie, casseroles and pasta. Personally, I love using leftover burgers to make sloppy joes.

Of course, you can also reheat burgers for quick lunch. Just add a slice or two of bacon to help your burger stay juicy!

Lasts for: 3-4 days in the fridge, 2-6 months in the freezer

Leftover Steak

The day after a barbecue, combine steaks with leftover greens for an effortless steak sandwich or steak salad. For a crowd-pleaser, you can’t go wrong with steak tacos. For folks on the keto diet, add steak to a cauliflower rice bowl or zucchini noodles. Here’s a quick tip: If you plan on freezing leftover steak, make life easier and slice it before you store it.

Lasts for: 3-4 in the fridge, 2-6 months in the freezer

Leftover BBQ Chicken

There is so much you can do with leftover chicken. The smoky flavor from the barbecue is a killer addition to Mexican dishes like fajitas, tacos, quesadillas or chicken tortilla soup. For a quick, low-effort meal, chicken is also great in a stir-fry or lightly seasoned and served up as a wrap. If you’re short on time during the week, use bone-in chicken as a dinner shortcut. It’s brilliant for busy nights or evenings when you’re too tired to cook.

Lasts for: 3-4 in the fridge, 2-6 months in the freezer

Leftover Pulled Pork

Pulled BBQ pork is a favorite in our household! I always make a bit extra to make sure I have leftovers. Use it to jazz up a grilled cheese or quesadilla. There are dozens of incarnations of the pulled pork sandwich, and all of them are worth trying: sweet and spicy, Italian, Cuban, Southwest, Asian, Cajun, bahn mi, subs. The list goes on! Add it to pasta or baked sweet potatoes, and definitely try it over nachos. The combo is stellar.

Lasts for: 3-4 in the fridge, 2-6 months in the freezer

Leftover Hot Dogs and Sausages

Mix up a batch of homemade pizza dough and sprinkle it with sliced leftover sausage. You can make pasta bakes or stews—or break out the skillet and whip up a quick sausage hash.

Lasts for: 1 week in the fridge, 1-2 months frozen

Leftover Vegetables

Leftover veggies can be tossed into a stew (that char from the grill will add another dimension of flavor) or made into fritters. Corn and zucchini are excellent candidates! Serve up any leftover potato salad as a side dish the next night, but be sure to enjoy within two or three days—that’s not something you’d want to freeze.

How to Safely Store Leftovers

Let your BBQ leftovers cool down slightly before refrigeration. Then, be sure pop ’em in the refrigerator within an hour or two. Your barbecued chicken, steak and pulled pork have a lifespan of about three to four days in the fridge.

In the freezer, most cooked meats will last about two to six months. Here’s the gear you need to freeze foods and keep them organized.

Camille Berry
Part of the third generation in a family of restaurateurs, Camille was born with a passion for cooking and food. She embarked on a career in hospitality where she excelled as a sommelier and wine director. This hospitality experience has given her a wealth of first-hand knowledge about how to pair all manner of drinks with food—plus some serious kitchen skills. These days, she's hung up her wine key in favor of a pen and covers all aspects of food and drink.