How to Use Turkey Left Overs

After all that work and preparation, all the feasting, and all the merriment (plus the customary nap), Turkey Day is finally over for another year. Now, you've got mounds of delicious leftovers to deal with. This article will show you how to take that leftover bird, plus some of the other leftovers in your fridge, and turn them into something wonderful.


  1. Image titled Use Turkey Left Overs Step 1
    Make a sandwich. Not just any sandwich, the traditional Day after Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwich! This is the A-Number-One leftover disappearance machine, favored by sandwich aficionados and gourmands everywhere. It's easy, it's individual, and if done correctly, guaranteed to be the messiest sandwich you can wrap your mouth around.
    • Take two pieces of your favorite bread (bigger is better) and toast them.
    • Lay a little lettuce on the bottom piece so it won't get soggy too quickly.
    • Slather some of Aunt Mabel's cranberry sauce on top of that.
    • Put slices of whatever's left of your favorite turkey parts over the cranberry sauce.
    • Spread a layer of mashed potatoes on top of that.
    • If there's any gravy left, you can spread some on the mashed potatoes.
    • Squish some stuffing into the potatoes.
    • If you have candied yams, mash some up and spread it on the top piece of bread.
    • Wear a bib—this is going to be messy!
    • Variations run the gamut from simple "toast and turkey with a little mayo" trifles to the "something from every single leftover bin in the fridge" monstrosities that will require another nap afterwards. Some sandwiches can be so big and messy, eating with a knife and fork is required. The key to the best leftover sandwich on the planet is to not follow directions too closely—use your favorite ingredients, and enjoy!
  2. Image titled Use Turkey Left Overs Step 2
    Make pulled turkey barbecue. Ideally, do this before you put the turkey away after the feast, while it's still a little warm.
    • Peel off pieces of turkey meat, and toss into a bowl. Use as much or as little of the leftover meat as you like. Dark meat is preferred for pulled turkey barbecue because of its richer flavor and higher fat content.
    • Add your favorite barbecue sauce, and mix thoroughly.
    • Spice it up however you like: a little chili pepper, or sriracha sauce can take this to the next level of tasty heat.
    • When you're ready to use it, toast a bun while you warm up the turkey.
    • Put a quarter cup or so on the bun, and top with lettuce or Cole slaw.
    • For an extra tasty sandwich, mash up and spread some of Grandma's spiced baked apples on the bread. Yummy.
  3. Image titled Use Turkey Left Overs Step 3
    Make turkey stock. Often overlooked and discarded after the carnage of the feast, Tom Turkey's bones are still packed with rich turkey flavor just begging to be savored. By making a turkey stock, you can add delicious notes of Thanksgiving when you use the stock to cook rice, or braise a chicken, or anything else that can substitute stock for water.
    • Roast the bones. Peel the bones as clean as you can of any meat, skin, etc. Put the bones on a cookie sheet, and roast at 450 °F (232 °C) until everything is nicely browned.
    • While the bones are roasting, fill a stock pot with a couple halved onions, some celery bottoms (the part you'd normally throw away), a couple of carrots, a bay leaf or two, a couple teaspoons of thyme and sage, and any of the skin, fat, or meat that you peeled from the turkey. Keep everything in big chunks for easy removal when the stock is done.
    • Note: if you have a "real" roasting pan (not a single-use aluminum one from the grocery store), you can make your stock in that, and take advantage of all the leftover fond (browned bits of meat) from the roasting. Not only will that make for a richer stock, it'll help clean the roasting pan!
    • Toss the roasted bones into the pot, and cover it all with water, plus a couple inches.
    • Simmer gently for the day, adding more water as needed. You can also replenish the liquid with a cup of white wine now and then.
    • When you’re ready to decant the stock, strain out all the veggies and meat and bits of this and that with a fine-mesh strainer. Just toss that stuff—it all tastes like rubbery turkey mush now, and all the goodness has gone into the stock.
    • Let the stock cool. The fat will rise to the surface, where you can easily skim it off. Don't worry if you can't get it all: when the stock gets cold, the fat will solidify and you can just lift it off the surface.
    • Use the stock for a more refined soup, and freeze the leftovers. Frozen stock is good for 6 months, which should carry you through the winter!
    • Hint: use ice cube trays to freeze the stock, then store in a freezer bag—you'll have ready-made turkey flavor, an ice-cube at a time. Put 4 ice cubes into a mug, heat in the microwave, and you have a very satisfying and nourishing broth to sip on during cold winter nights (or winter nights with a cold).
  4. Image titled Use Turkey Left Overs Step 4
    Make turkey and stuffing dumpling soup. Here's a way to use your stock, and some leftover stuffing to make a hearty, yummy soup:
    • Put turkey stock into a pot, and bring to a boil. Use one or two cups of stock for each serving—depending on the serving size.
    • Add turkey, diced as large or small as you like.
    • With an ice cream scoop (or with your hands), make balls of stuffing, and lower the balls into the pot of boiling soup.
    • Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
    • Turn off heat and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
    • Serve.
  5. Image titled Use Turkey Left Overs Step 5
    Make turkey casserole.
    • Mix together two cups of leftover turkey with as much stuffing as you like.
    • Place in a greased casserole dish.
    • Mix a can of cream of mushroom soup with 1/3 cup white wine (or milk, if you must), and pour on top of the turkey and stuffing.
    • Decorate with thin slices of turkey and bread crumbs.
    • Bake, covered, at 400° for 15 minutes.
    • Broil, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until the top is browned.
  6. Image titled Use Turkey Left Overs Step 6
    Make Turkey pot pie. Who doesn't love pie on a cold winter night? Answer: nobody!
    • Make a double (bottom and top) pie crust.
    • Bake the empty bottom of the crust for 12 minutes.
    • Meanwhile, dice and sauté onions, chopped carrots, celery, and potatoes until just tender.
    • Add some frozen peas and corn, and your leftover gravy and turkey.
    • You can also add some herbs and spices (salt & pepper, thyme, sage, etc.)
    • Adjust the consistency as needed make a very heavy, thick mixture. You can even add some leftover stuffing to make it thicker, if you like.
    • Pour it into the baked pie shell, add a top crust, and bake at 350ºF/180ºC for 30 minutes, or until bubbly.
  7. Image titled Use Turkey Left Overs Step 7
    Make breakfast! While we tend to think of turkey dinners as being evening fare, there's nothing like starting your day with a delicious reminder of the feast. Here are a couple tasty ways to use those leftovers the morning after:
    • Make turkey hash.
      • Take some turkey meat and dice it, and fry it in a hot pan until brown.
      • Add equal parts stuffing, mashed potatoes and yams, and again fry until brown, stirring occasionally.
      • Place on a plate, drizzle some leftover gravy on it, and top with a fried or poached egg for a wonderful breakfast.
    • Make a turkey omelette or frittata for a delicious breakfast.
  8. Image titled Use Turkey Left Overs Step 8
    Make light meals. Turkey Day was a feast, for sure—but you might be hungering for lighter fare for the next few days after that. Here are some ideas to keep the calories down but the flavor up:
    • Make cranberry and cheddar turkey snacks. Get out the left over cranberry sauce, a box of crackers and some turkey and enjoy!
    • Make a turkey salad. Mix the leftover turkey with boiled potato cubes, chopped hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, chopped celery, chopped onion, and mix. For a green salad, top a bed of lettuce or spinach with the leftover turkey along with fresh cranberries, cucumber slices, cashew nuts, and a cranberry or honey mustard dressing.
    • Make turkey tacos. Follow the steps in How to make crockpot chicken tacos, but substitute the leftover turkey instead of the chicken. It'll get soft in the slow cooker and shred easily.
    • Make turkey fried rice. Take some turkey meat and dice it up in some fried rice for a delicious flavor.
  9. Image titled Use Turkey Left Overs Step 9
    Freeze the left over Leftovers. Follow the steps in How to prevent freezer burn and make sure you eat the turkey within 6 months for best flavor.[1]
  10. Image titled Use Turkey Left Overs Step 10
    Make turkey curry. A curry is a mouth-watering way to use those turkey leftovers and those Asian spices that sometimes get dusty in your spice drawer.


  • You can also throw the leftover turkey onto a pizza. One option is to coat the turkey in barbecue sauce beforehand.

Things You'll Need

  • Turkey leftovers
  • Various items needed for cooking or preparing the foods

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Thanksgiving Cooking | Turkey Dishes