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These leftover recipes will make you sad if there is no extra food

These leftover recipes will make you sad if there is no extra food

  • Updated

Thanksgiving leftovers — is there anything better? We asked readers to send recipes and as they came in we sensed a prevailing theme.

Whether it’s turkey pie, turkey soup or a casserole, most local cooks just pile everything that was left over from the feast into the pot, pie shell or casserole dish.

These recipes may have you flipping a coin to see who gets to keep the leftovers when the family disperses after the big feast.

Turkey layer packets

These are easy to make and provide great dinners for people to take to work or who just want an easy dinner.

  • Turkey slices
  • Cranberry slices
  • Stuffing slices
  • Gravy

On a piece of aluminum foil place a slice of turkey breast. On top place a slice or flattened piece of stuffing, on top of that a slice of cranberry sauce (more if you like cranberry), then top with a slice of turkey. Fold foil to seal. You can put packages in a freezer bag for future use or fridge for use over the next few days. Take packages from fridge and place on cookie sheet in 350-degree oven and heat about 30 minutes (more if necessary). Heat gravy on stove top while heating packages. Open package, transfer to plate and top with gravy. If using frozen packages, defrost in fridge before heating. A perfect side dish with this is french fries. They are so good dipped in the gravy.

Linda Trozzi

Hot turkey salad

Serves 3-4.

Set oven to 450 degrees.

  • 2 cups cooked and cubed turkey (or chicken)
  • 2 cups sliced celery
  • Small amount of onion, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped toasted almonds

Combine the above in a bowl.


  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt — or less

Mix dressing ingredients together and then toss lightly with the turkey and other ingredients.

Pile into individual baking or custard cups or into a small casserole.

Shred ½ cup cheddar cheese and sprinkle over each baking cup along with 1 cup of crushed potato chips.

Bake for about 10 minutes-or slightly longer depending on your oven.

Serve with leftover cranberry sauce and fruit salad. If you have leftover rolls, heat them, too.

Carol W. West

Turkey soup with everything

My sister-in-law Susanna made this after a couple of family Thanksgivings and it’s simple for those of us who make the usual leftover turkey soup.

After the turkey soup was finished simmering I was shocked to see Susanna go to the fridge, bring out leftover green beans, stuffing and mashed potatoes and add it all to the soup. It looked a little different but oh, so flavorful and filling. We sopped up the soup with warmed leftover rolls.

The next year Susanna did the same but in addition added leftover cranberry sauce, which we both DO NOT recommend ─ too sweet.

Mary Saylor

Hot turkey salad

(All ingredient amounts are approximate and to taste)

  • 6 cups chopped or shredded cooked turkey (white and dark meat)
  • 2 to 2½ cups Miracle Whip (it MUST be Miracle Whip for the flavor)
  • 1½ to 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 to 1½ cups chopped onion
  • 2 to 2½ cups shredded mild cheese *optional (I’ve used mild cheddar or Swiss)
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Juice of one lemon

Mix thoroughly and pour into casserole dish prepared with a non-stick spray.

Top with crunchy Chinese noodles (crushed potato chips can be used but reduce the salt to ½ teaspoon).

Cover and bake in a 400-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes.

*I say it’s optional as I’m the first generation to add the cheese.

Robert Ulsrud

Turkey pie

Leftover turkey has never been a problem in our family. In fact, we have to remember to save a little to eat with the other leftovers. The rest goes into turkey pies. The day after Thanksgiving is pie-making day. This is my grandmother, Angeline LaHaie’s recipe.

Ingredients are for one pie.

  • 2 pie crusts (she made her own but frozen are more convenient)
  • approximately 2 lbs. cooked turkey meat
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 quart turkey or other gravy (We always have to supplement with store-bought gravy mixes)
  • Acadian turkey dressing, cubed (Optional, recipe below)

The meat is easiest to remove from the bone while the turkey is still warm. You can make several pies, depending on how much meat you have. We usually get an extra-large turkey to have plenty left for pies. The pies freeze well for easy meals later, so there’s no need for a turkey overload after the holiday.

To make: Blind bake the bottom crusts for as many pies as you want to make. Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat the turkey meat with carrots and enough gravy to cover. Fill the bottom pie shells with the meat mixture and dressing. I add some frozen peas at this point. Don’t precook peas. Cover with the unbaked top crust, or with strips of crust in a lattice pattern.

If you are going to freeze the pies, let cool first, then cover with an inverted pie pan to protect the crust. For long storage, wrap the pies in waxed paper then a double layer of foil. This is put into the plastic bags the crusts came in, then into a large zipper-type freezer bag, two pies per bag.

When you’re ready to cook the pie, bake it frozen at 350 degrees for about an hour and a half or more if deep dish, until thoroughly heated. It may be necessary to cover the top edges loosely with foil to prevent crust from getting too brown.

We traditionally would serve it with a side dollop of plum preserves. It adds a nice flavor to the turkey. It’s even good with ketchup or just by itself.

Acadian turkey dressing

This is an old French-Canadian recipe and is the dressing we serve with turkey. The leftovers go into the pies.

  • 1 long loaf white bread, dried completely. (Dry in advance.)
  • 1 lb. ground pork, cooked and drained. (I use pork sausage.)
  • 2½ lb. lean ground beef (uncooked)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • 1½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon poultry seasoning (optional). I often add a bit of rosemary, thyme and oregano and avoid the sage.

Put dried bread in a large bowl of water. (My grandmother used milk.) Soak it until it is soft, then squeeze out the liquid. Mix bread with all other ingredients in a large bowl. Use mixture to stuff turkey or just bake in a pan at 350 degrees for about an hour and a half.

I have sometimes added green and/or red chiles to the dressing for a nice variation.

Matt Finstrom

Turkey soup

Serves 8.

Remove large pieces of breast meat from the carcass before cooking. Chop and add back at the very end to just heat through.

  • 4 quarts turkey stock, from cooking the neck and giblets, plus any left from the roasting pan. Drain away fat in the pan and add a cup or two of water to dissolve the drippings.
  • 6 cups turkey light/dark meat, already roasted, including meat from neck
  • 1 cup turkey gravy, if leftover
  • 2 cups bread stuffing, leftover
  • 4 medium carrots, sliced
  • ½ pound green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces, or any leftover veggies
  • 1¾ cups brown rice, long-grain
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 rib celery, if available
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 5 green onions, if available or chopped onion

Break the turkey carcass in half. Put all except the rice, but including the neck, in a large soup pot. Cook slowly for about an hour to an hour and a half, and then remove the carcass and neck.

By that time, the meat should be easy to remove from the bones. Chop into bite-sized pieces, reserving the breast meat, and add back to the pot along with enough rice to make a thick soup/stew. Cook about an hour and add back any additional breast meat in the last few minutes.

If not thick enough, add more rice and keep cooking. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If time permits, cook ahead, chill and remove any fat from the top.

Mary Hahn

Leftovers Pie

I am personally ─ and modestly ─ famous for my holiday pie.

Once we’ve had enough of the leftovers, I defrost two frozen pie crusts, pat down one in my favorite deep-dish pie pan, and artfully arrange in it (read: dump in layers if possible) everything still in the fridge from the Thanksgiving feast, which includes dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, vegetables and even, if there are any left over, scalloped oysters. I include all those little pieces of turkey I don’t know what to do with, but can’t bear to throw out.

I then mound cold gravy and cranberry sauce over all, put on the top crust, seal it down and pierce it. The pie goes in a 375-degree oven on a cookie sheet until the crust is brown and contents bubbly. It’s delicious right out of the oven, and it keeps well.

Reheat a slice, eat it cold or freeze it. There will come a day when you desperately need comfort food, and the leftovers pie will be waiting for you.

Carmen C. Christy

Chez le stables turkey enchiladas

Serves 6.

  • 2½ cups chopped cooked turkey
  • 1½ cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 cans (14oz.) (about 3½ cups) enchilada sauce
  • 1 can (4oz.) diced green chiles or 2 fresh jalapeños chopped
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 can (2¼ oz.) sliced black olives
  • 12 flour tortillas
  • ¾ cup grated medium cheddar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Combine the turkey, 1 cup of the Monterey Jack cheese, 1 can of enchilada sauce, chiles, sour cream, sugar, cumin and olives in a bowl. Put about ⅓ to ½ cup of mixture along center diameter of each tortilla, gently roll and place the tortilla seam side down in the dish. Pour remaining sauce over and top with remaining Monterey Jack cheese and the cheddar. Loosely cover with foil and bake until bubbly — about 30 to 35 minutes.

Ann Stables

Southwestern turkey congee

(Or as I call it “Wake up your turkey taste buds” recipe!)

Serves 3 to 4.

Congee is regarded as the ultimate Chinese comfort food. This recipe for a “Southwestern style” turkey congee is simple and satisfying and most important, the additions can be added for each person’s taste. Serve it for the day after Thanksgiving as an Arizona-style breakfast or brunch. It is a fresh and exciting way to use leftover Thanksgiving turkey. No more turkey sandwiches, turkey salad, turkey noodle soup, etc. And use some of the turkey bones with a little onion and carrots to make your own turkey stock, although chicken stock will do just fine.


  • 2½ quarts turkey (or chicken) stock
  • ¾ cup long grain rice
  • 1 cup plus shredded leftover white and dark turkey meat

Accruements for serving to taste

  • Soy sauce (light or full)
  • Sesame oil
  • Thinly sliced spring onions or scallions, green parts only
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
  • Thin 1-inch long strips of a serrano chile
  • Thin 1-inch long strips of a red Fresno chile
  • Thin 1-inch long strips of jicama
  • Vietnamese fish sauce or anchovy paste
  • Sesame oil to taste


Rinse and drain the rice.

Put the rice in a pot with the turkey chicken stock and bring to boil. Give the rice a good stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking, then lower the heat and half-cover the pan. Simmer gently for 1½ to 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes, until the grains have burst open and you have a thick congee. Add water to keep the amount of stock equal to the starting level. The water evaporates, maintaining the flavor of the stock. Keep an eye on the pot to make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom. Toward the end of cooking, when the stock has become integrated with the rice and is the consistency of oatmeal, season lightly with salt to taste.

Serve the congee with shredded turkey, sprinkling of soy sauce, spring onion and other accruements.

Don Luria

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