Some believe the best part of Thanksgiving begins the night of … or at the very least, the next morning. I’m not sure I agree with them. I absolutely love Thanksgiving dinner — the food, of course, but all of the other intangibles that go along with it… the customs and traditions. However, because the feast is so tantalizing, it only stands to reason that Thanksgiving turkey leftovers are equally amazing.
Traditions, however, can also extend to the night of, or the morning after. My mom would be in that bunch. Her favorite tradition is a bite of pumpkin pie… Friday morning. Do you have any leftover traditions?
I’m still working on mine. But I will tell you that I always, always make a big pot of Turkey Chowder. What’s your favorite way to use Thanksgiving leftovers?
The staff of Cooking Light Magazine weighed in with their leftover traditions…
“I always make a turkey stock and leave my parents with a nice turkey minestrone soup.”
– Mary Kay Culpepper, Editor in Chief.
“I make stock and freeze it in ice cube trays. Then it’s ready to go when I need it later.”
– SaBrina Bone, Test Kitchens Professional
“My aunt does that and makes gumbo.”
– Mike Wilson, Test Kitchens Professional
“Since Thanksgiving is so American, it’s fun to go international.”
– Julie Grimes, Associate Food Editor
“I like to do jook. It’s a rice porridge dish, and you can just throw in a turkey wing.”
– Kathy Kitchens Downie, Associate Food Editor
Here are a few ideas we found that are both imaginative and delicious.
Healthier Turkey Tetrazzini
“Tetrazzini is one of those dishes that practical cooks love: It makes delicious use of leftover chicken or turkey and is bound to please your crowd. The traditional dish is a cozy casserole for sure, but with a rich cast of characters—cream, butter, cheese, pasta—that packs 670 calories and a day’s worth of sat fat into just one helping. The New Year calls for a new casserole. How about the same comfort-filled yum for just 435 calories?”
Easy Turkey Pho
“Just an extremely flavorful (understatement of the century) Easy Turkey Pho that starts with a turkey-based broth with heaps upon heaps upon heaps of steamy rice noodles and every possible topping in the universe including but not limited to heavy-handed dousing of sriracha even if that’s not totally authentic.”
Healthier and Reinvented Turkey Potpie
“Here’s an elegant and easy way to use leftovers from your turkey dinner. Our savory pie is filling, with all the creaminess you expect. Plus, it’s packed with the earthy, sweet flavor of healthy root veggies.”
Leftover Turkey Spring Rolls
“These are phenomenally delicious, and such a nice, crunchy contrast to all the rich Thanksgiving food. It’s only 8:34, we’re heading out to work calves, but I’m craving one of these for breakfast right now.”
Turkey Noodle Soup
“Enjoy comforting Turkey Noodle Soup full of tender egg noodles, fresh veggies, and tender shredded turkey in just 35 minutes.”
Turkey, Brie and Cranberry Mustard Panini
“After Thanksgiving comes Thanksgiving sandwiches, which is possibly the best part of Thanksgiving. Or even better, Thanksgiving turkey paninis! All the work is done. Everything is clean and put away. And there are all those leftovers to eat. That’s the time to pull out a few slices of turkey, grab some leftover cheese, and make a simple cranberry mustard to put it over the top. A quick flip in your grill pan, then relax and eat and think about that slice of pie you are going to have next.”
Creamed Turkey with Sweet Potato Biscuits
“Tasty, saucy, savory creamed turkey (enhanced with a little leftover gravy) is the result. You could serve this with freshly baked fluffy buttermilk biscuits, but because you’re apt to have some leftover sweet potato, you may as well make them Southern-style sweet-potato biscuits.”
Turkey Philly Sandwiches
“Have the deli slice your turkey paper-thin for the most authentic “cheesesteak” experience. You can use leftover cooked turkey instead if you like: Freeze up to an hour until firm but not frozen solid, then slice as thinly as you can and cook with the pepper and onion for the last two minutes to warm through. For extra flavor, spread a little prepared horseradish on the bun halves before assembling the sandwiches.”
Turkey Leftover Handpies
“Not everyone loves leftovers so the secret is to transform them into something new and delicious. With these hand pies, all of the goodness from holiday leftovers is wrapped up in flaky puff pastry and baked to perfection. Cranberry sauce combined with gravy adds a savory sweetness to your turkey, stuffing and veggies. It’s like holiday dinner in every bite.”
Turkey Cobb Salad
“You can mix and match the listed ingredients to create your own version of this salad. We used store-bought roasted turkey, but chicken also works well.”
Turkey Barley Soup
“Use that leftover turkey from Thanksgiving dinner to make a comforting barley soup. Make broth from the turkey carcass, and herbs that you already have on hand. A light and healthy soup to help you recover from your mashed potato coma. I know you.”
Turkey Alfredo Pizza
“To be a great use of Thanksgiving leftovers, a recipe needs to reuse more than one left over item. This dish does just that, topping a pizza with turkey and greens (you can use creamed spinach, collards, or really just about any green side). You could even go really crazy and spread leftover cranberry sauce on the crust, though the Alfredo in this recipe works very nicely. If it’s not Thanksgiving, leftover chicken works just as well as turkey.”