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  • Writer's pictureJill Devine

Thanksgiving Leftover Meals

Photo courtesy of @jediahowen on Unsplash

Thanksgiving is over and you severely overestimated how much turkey your family was going to be able to eat...again. Sure, you can have a good old fashioned second helping like it’s Thanksgiving 2.0, but what else? Fear not! Below I have a list of some of the best recipes you can make with all your leftover fixin’s. Who doesn’t like the leftovers better than the main meal anyway?

Turkey Broth Soup

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 2-3 people


2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium white onion ( finely diced)

4 garlic cloves (minced)

1 tsp. dried thyme

3 medium carrots (peeled + finely diced)

3 celery sticks ( finely diced)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Turkey broth ( homemade)

2 pounds cooked turkey meat in large chunks (about 4 cups)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Chopped flat-leaf parsley, lemon wedges, and red pepper flakes (for garnish)

If you don’t boil down your leftover turkey bones once all of the meat is picked off, you’re not using all of your turkey. The start of this recipe calls for you to make your own homemade turkey broth! Sure, you can buy some, but you literally have the best ingredient to make your own at home! And it’ll make quite a lot to last you a good long while. It’s simple! All you need to do is:

  1. Use kitchen shears (optional) to help cut into the turkey so you can tear it into 4 or 5 smaller, more manageable pieces.

  2. Boil the turkey carcass pieces with any spices you would like (celery, parsley, garlic, etc.) in cold water (around 7 quarts). Once boiling, reduce heat to a medium low and let simmer for 2 hours. Make sure to occasionally skim the foam/fat buildup from the top.

  3. Pour broth through a mesh strainer to ensure all solids are removed. Let cool and that’s it! It’ll last you up to 3 days in the fridge or 2 months in the freezer.

With that out of the way, you can make the best turkey soup ever! And it’s even simpler once you have the broth. You need to:

  1. Heat the extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat before adding onion and garlic until they are translucent ( 3 minutes).

  2. Add thyme and cook until fragrant ( 2 minutes).

  3. Add carrots and celery until translucent (3 minutes).

  4. Add the flour and cook for 3 minutes, making sure to stir constantly so all vegetables are coated.

  5. Slowly add in your homemade (or store-bought, I don’t judge) turkey broth while constantly stirring to ensure all the flour clumps are broken up.

  6. Add turkey meat and season to taste.

  7. Bring to a boil before reducing heat and letting simmer for 20 minutes. Liquid should have reduced slightly and the soup should be thickened.

  8. Ladle a helping into a bowl and garnish for that photo-op!

Turkey Sandwiches

I think it’s safe to say that whenever I think of turkey sandwiches, I think of the one Monica Geller made in F.R.I.E.N.D.S. which, sadly, I will never be able to have. However, I have two very close seconds.

Turkey, Brie, Bacon, and Cranberry Sandwich

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 Minutes

Serving Size: 2 sandwiches


4 slice rye bread

4 tbsp. cranberry sauce

4 oz. sliced turkey

2 oz. Brie

4 piece Crisp bacon

1/2 c. baby spinach

This might be the easiest recipe on the entire list. All you need to do is:

  1. Place rye bread in a broiler-safe baking sheet before topping 2 slices with cranberry sauce, sliced turkey, and brie.

  2. Broil until the cheese melts (about 1 minute).

  3. Top the cheesy side with crispy bacon and baby spinach before sandwiching the remaining bread slices.

  4. Enjoy!

Turkey Salad Cranberry Sandwich

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: None

Serving Size: 6 people


4 cups cooked turkey (diced)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tsp. dijon mustard

2 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Salt + black pepper (optional)

I take it back, this recipe might be even easier than the other sandwich! All you need to do is mix all the ingredients together thoroughly, spread onto some bread, and devour! The hardest part might be trying to make yourself one before it’s all gone.

Cranberry Brie Bites

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 12 people


1 sheet frozen puff pastry

Nonstick cooking spray

4 oz. brie cheese

1/2 cup cranberry sauce (homemade or canned)

3 tbsp. raw shelled pistachios (chopped)

Salt + pepper (optional)

One of the hardest ingredients to try and repurpose is by far the cranberry sauce. Even as my personal favorite staple on Thanksgiving, I can agree that there’s not much use for it the other 364 days of the year. That was, of course, until I tried these little cranberry brie bites. They take a decent amount of time, but they’re really fun and simple to make! All you need to do is:

  1. Thaw your puff pastry and set oven to 400℉.

  2. Spray your mini muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.

  3. Place brie in freezer for 20 minutes or until firm to the touch.

  4. Flour your surface well and begin to roll your puff pastry into a 10x15 in. rectangle.

  5. Cut the pastry into 4 strips long-ways. Then, cut the pastry perpendicular into 6 strips, creating 24 squares. Press the pastry squares into each well of the muffin pan, letting the excess stick up over the edges.

  6. Cut the firm brie into 24 (½-inch) slices. Place a piece in the center of each pastry square. Top each with about 1 teaspoon of cranberry sauce. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios.

  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden brown on the edges and the cheese is bubbly. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes.

  8. Remove the bites from the pan and garnish with sea salt and pepper, if desired.

Thanksgiving Leftover Balls

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Serving Size: 2-3 people


2 cups stuffing (broken up if chunky)

3/4 cups turkey, finely chopped

3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

3 tablespoon chopped parsley

4 -5 cups mash potatoes (cold)

1 cup flour

1 large egg. (lightly beaten)

2 cups panko crumbs

1 1/2 - 2 cups of gravy (for dipping)

Now this might be the weirdest entry on the list, but it uses the most leftovers in one and it tastes like a complete Thanksgiving meal with each bite. Just make sure you don’t burn yourself as you:

  1. Combine stuffing, turkey, parmesan cheese, and parsley in a large bowl. Mix until well blended.

  2. Using your hands, form 1 1/2 inch balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Continue forming remaining balls and placing them on baking sheet.

  3. Transfer baking sheets to the freezer and let set for 30 minutes (this step isn’t necessary but it does make forming the mash potatoes around it easier).

  4. Set up an assembly line that includes four bowls lined in a row. Fill the first bowl with mashed potatoes, the second bowl with flour, the third bowl with the lightly beaten egg and the fourth bowl with panko crumbs.

  5. Remove stuffing balls from freezer and wrap about 4 tablespoons of mashed potatoes around it. Make sure you are working with cold mash potatoes for easy handling! Gently roll ball in flour and then transfer it to the egg bowl. Using your hands or a fork, roll the ball around to cover it in egg. Finally dip and cover the ball in panko crumbs. Place ball on parchment lined baking sheet and continue forming the remaining balls.

  6. Fill a pan with enough oil to submerge the Thanksgiving leftover balls and heat to 365℉.

  7. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Working in batches, drop 2-3 balls into the oil and fry until balls are golden brown (about 3-4 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to paper-towel-lined parchment baking sheet to drain. Continue deep frying remaining balls Adjust heat as needed to keep oil at a consistent 365 degrees F. Serve immediately with gravy.

  8. Optional: garnish balls with parsley, additional finely grated parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.

Morgan Galvez is a freelance writer and editor with a BA in English (with a concentration in writing, rhetoric, and publication) from the College of Charleston. She is currently building her freelancing career through positions at Brainfuse and Fiverr.

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