10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Thanksgiving Leftovers
Plus all the tools you need to get the most out of your holiday feasts.
One reason why Thanksgiving is the best day of the year? It’s the meal that keeps on giving! After all of your hard work pulling together a flawless feast, don’t let one scrap of those precious leftovers go to waste. Give them a second life as tomorrow’s breakfast or a feel-good salad. To make sure you make the most of this year’s leftovers, we've rounded up our favorite satisfying ways to repurpose that turkey, stuffing and roasted vegetables, plus all the equipment you need to make it happen.
1. Pack Them Up
First things first, make sure your extras are packed up and easy to access in your refrigerator. This year, we’re all about less plastic and convenience. Skip the Tupperware or resealable plastic bags and invest in a good set of Pyrex glass storage dishes. They last longer, are easier to clean, plus you can remove the top and pop the glass base right in the oven or microwave for easy reheating.
Before your guests head out, be the gracious host that you are and send everyone home with a doggy bag for the weekend. Avoid extra plastic waste and having to track down your nice dishes from your sister-in-law and try compostable containers.
What you’ll need: Eco-Friendly Compostable Food Containers (set of 50), $29 from amazon.com
3. Shred Turkey in 15 Seconds
The possibilities of what you can do with leftover turkey are endless. Make it easy for you to throw turkey into soups, salads, or grain bowls by shredding it ahead of time. Shredding poultry can be messy and time consuming, but this simple hack from Food & Wine Mad Genius Justin Chapple calls for tossing the (boneless) chunks of meat into the bowl of a stand mixer and letting the beater do it for you in 15 seconds flat.
What you’ll need: KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Qt. Stand Mixer, $279 from amazon.com
4. Turn into Tomorrow’s Breakfast
Leftovers go beyond turkey. This versatile casserole calls for butternut squash, but you can throw in any leftover root vegetables or squash you have hand – even ones that are already roasted! It’s also a great way to use up spare loaves or slices of bread from Thanksgiving dinner. Serve this eggy casserole-meets-bread pudding for breakfast with fresh fruit and hash browns, or for dinner with a simple green salad. Assemble it in a handsome baking dish so the casserole can go right from the oven to the table.
What you’ll need: Emile Henry 9-by-13-inch Baking Dish, $70 from surlatable.com
5. Hash it Out
Leftover turkey is transformed into a 25-minute weeknight dinner in this filling Reuben-inspired hash with sauerkraut, grated potato (an excellent use for any spare spuds!), scallions and caraway seeds. You’ll want a heavy-duty cast-iron skillet that gets extra hot so you get all of the crispy browned bits you crave from a hash. This beauty from Smithey Ironware also doubles as a serving dish.
What you’ll need: Smithey Ironware No. 10 Cast Iron Skillet, $140 from smithey.com
6. Keep it Light
Understandably, you might still be recovering from your food coma after Thanksgiving. This light and crisp salad has all of the flavors of your favorite stuffing, but in a bright, crunchy and refreshing package. If you have any spare apples, celery ribs, bits of fennel or bread ends leftover from your stuffing prep, this is the time to use them. Chunks of turkey make this salad dinner-worthy, especially when tossed up in a large bowl for the whole family.
What you’ll need: Large Cherrywood Salad Bowl, $29 from amazon.com
7. Try a New Soup
Soup is always a leftover go-to, but your family won’t expect this quick curried turkey stew with coconut milk, fresh herbs and a healthy dose of lime juice. This recipe calls for kabocha, but you can use any squash you have on hand (hey, maybe even those decorative gourds from your tablescape?). This 4-quart cocotte from Staub is the perfect size for a quick weeknight soup for four people, plus it comes in this very chic new turmeric color which will add a pop of color to your kitchen when perched on your stovetop.
What you’ll need: Staub Round 4-Quart Cocotte in Turmeric, $99 from food52.com
8. Bake into Dessert
Cranberry sauce is one of those Thanksgiving leftovers that sits in your fridge and never seems to get fully eaten. This year, think of your cranberry sauce like jam! Swirl it into yogurt, spread it on toast with your go-to nut butter, or use it for these jammy streusel-topped bars. This recipe uses ingredients that you likely already have on hand and they last in an airtight container for up to a week.
What you’ll need: Nordic Ware 8-inch Square Baking Pan, $13 from amazon.com
9. Blend It
Turn that last (albeit, slightly stale) piece of pie into an entirely new dessert: The Pie Milkshake. Toss any bits of pie (crust, filling, all of it) into a blender, add a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream and a splash of milk and blend away. Seriously, this “recipe” works with any pie: Pecan, Pumpkin, Apple – even that quince galette your aunt insisted on bringing!
What you’ll need: Cuisinart Hurricane Blender, $107 from amazon.com
10. When in Doubt: Sandwich
Sometimes, you just want the classics. This epic sandwich from chef Barbara Lynch is piled high on cushy white bread (feeling motivated? Try making your own!) and is held together with a thick smear of squash puree. Not in your leftover arsenal? Mash any roasted squash or sweet potatoes with a fork and pile on top. If you’re bringing your sandwich to work on Monday, make sure it’s wrapped up tightly in something worthy of the precious cargo inside.
What you’ll need: Bee’s Wrap Sandwich Wrap, $11 from amazon.com