Turkey Meal Inspiration: What To Do With Leftovers

The dilemma hits the day after the big holiday dinner: What to do with all that leftover turkey! There is so much of it to deal with and you can only eat so many turkey buns (which by the way are delicious with mayo, mustard and lots of salt & pepper). Plus don’t forget the carcass–it can be put to such good, flavorful use.

This Recipe Hit List collection features a bunch of ideas I’ve handpicked from around the net to help jazz up all those delicious, tasty morsels waiting for you in the fridge.

I’ve included some traditional faves along with a few new twists and each look mighty delicious.

Next I added some advice for packing away and storing the cooked poultry, a general idea list of frugal ways to cook with the leftovers and then at the bottom of the page, some butter roasting tips (this would be for the uncooked bird).

I try to update this page every season so you may want to bookmark it for future reference, enjoy!

*Note: Many of the descriptions below are quotes from the sources

  1. Pot Pies With Phyllo Crust: Trim the fat and calories from comforting potpie by using flaky phyllo dough instead of pastry crust. These individual-size pies make delicious use of leftover turkey. Country Living.
  2. Savory Herb-Crusted Pot-Pies: This easy-to-make comfort-food classic gets sophisticated with a flaky, herb-scented, puff pastry crust. It’s just like mom’s…only better! PuffPastry.com.
  3. Stove Top Casserole: A no-bake casserole from Parenting.com.
  4. Hand Pies with Apple & Cheddar: Yum! Made with whole wheat pizza dough, diced yellow onion, baby spinach leaves, diced apple, sharp cheddar (shredded), seasonings and more. Etsy.
  5. Pampered Chef’s Cranberry Wreath: Made with refrigerated crescent rolls, mayonnaise, honey Dijon mustard, celery, chopped onion, dried cranberries, Swiss cheese, walnuts and more. Fantastic Family Favorites.
  6. Monte Cristo with Cranberries: Serves 4 and easy to make, ingredients include slices of bread, fontina cheese (grated), whole cranberry sauce, baby arugula leaves, eggs, milk, nutmeg and more. Paula Deen.
  7. Chili: Ingredients include chopped brown onion, green bell pepper, garlic cloves, chili powder, groutomatoes, canned tomoates, kidney beans, tomato paste, chicken stock and more. Kitchen Konfidence.
  8. Stuffing Bake: This mouthwatering dish features all the great flavors of Thanksgiving mixed in a creamy cheese sauce and baked until hot and bubbly – watch as they gobble it up! Betty Crocker.
  9. Tetrazzini: Indulge in a creamy casserole packed with veggies and thin spaghetti. The recipe calls for store-bought Alfredo sauce, cutting preparation time down almost nothing. MyRecipes.
  10. Baked with Noodles In Sour Cream Sauce: It’s ready in minutes, ingredients include milk, flour, instant bouillon, wide egg noodles, sour cream (or plain yogurt), broccoli, cheddar cheese and more. Campbell’s Kitchen.
  11. Pizza Alfredo: Collard greens melds beautifully with commercial Alfredo sauce and nutty fontina cheese, resulting in an easy yet inventive meal. MyRecipes.
  12. Curried Casserole: Serves 6, ingredients include diced yellow onion, minced garlic, whole milk, curry powder, broccoli florets and slices of day-old bread. Martha Stewart.
  13. With Dumplings: Tender, pillowy dumplings nestled on top of a pot pie filling. Quick to assemble. King Arthur Flour.
  14. Croquettes: Mixed with mashed potatoes and served with cranberry sauce on the side. From Martha Stewart.
  15. Homemade Soup With Noodles: (uses the carcass) using the bones for soup is a great way to be frugal, too, and get every last bit out of that turkey. It’s amazing how much meat still comes off the bone even after you’ve already taken what can be carved off. Chickens In The Road.
  16. Moist Casserole Bake: Dotted with pretty cranberries, the satisfying hot dish is a perfect way to warm up chilly winter nights. Taste Of Home.
  17. Enchiladas: Thanksgiving dinner leftovers take on a Mexican spin when shredded turkey and cranberry sauce is tucked into whole wheat tortillas. Better Homes & Gardens.
  18. White Lasagna with Mushrooms: This lasagna turns out to be the perfect solution. It’s creamy and cheesy, with a deliciously earthy filling that includes spinach, leeks and mushrooms. Add a glass of crisp white wine and a simple green salad. From Crumb.
  19. Stuffing Frittata: An easy-to-do frittata for breakfast or brunch. My Last Bite.
  20. Crispy Tostadas: Making your own tostada shells from fresh corn tortillas is easier than you might think—crisp them up in the oven while you prepare the toppings. Eating Well.
  21. Shepherd’s Pie with Mashed Potatoes: Robin Miller’s recipe posted on Food Network.
  22. Potpie with Cheddar Biscuit Crust: This could easily become a year-round favorite—simply substitute supermarket rotisserie chicken for the turkey. And as a special treat for the kids (or the kid in you), make individual-size pies, using eight 10- to 12-ounce gratin dishes. Epicurious.
  23. Chunky Vegetable Soup: A colorful soup brimming with sweet potato, escarole, tomatoes and more. Martha Stewart.
  24. Casserole With Artichoke Hearts: Makes 6 servings, ingredients include chopped carrot, red sweet pepper, sliced green onion, cream of chicken soup (canned), frozen artichoke hearts (thawed), long grain rice (or wild rice), shredded mozzarella cheese, milk, bacon and more. Works well with chicken too. Better Homes & Gardens.
  25. Quesadillas With Guacamole: Enjoy a Tex-Mex spin with this quick and easy dinner. Fine Cooking.
  26. Casserole: Combine your turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and more together in this delicious casserole recipe! Hellmann’s.

10 Frugal Ideas For Using Up The Meat

*First Published: November 21, 2006 (Moved here for convenience)

  • Use the carcass to make soups and stocks. Both can be frozen in sealed containers.
  • Dice the cooked poultry and prepare pies and freeze for future meals
  • Hot sandwiches are delicious! All you need is a thick slice of toasted bread, pile on the poultry (either shredded or sliced) then top with a good scoop of gravy, yum!
  • Pull out your favorite tuna casserole recipe–replace tuna with turkey
  • Gumbo–Heat up a skillet full of left over vegetables and chunks of leftovers, drizzle hot gravy over top
  • Prepare your favorite chicken & pasta dish and instead of tossing in chicken, use turkey. I haven’t come across a dish yet that didn’t turn out well
  • Pitas, Burritos & Wraps–Just add your favorite wrap ingredients and these will be gone in no time flat
  • BBQ Slice–Fry up onions and add cooked turkey and bbq sauce, heat thoroughly. Server over top slices of thick & crusty French or Italian bread.
  • Easy Quesadillas–Spread grated cheese over tortillas, top with cooked diced poultry & chopped green onion, top with another tortilla and heat both sides thoroughly in a skillet (use cooking spray)
  • Substitute turkey for chicken in chicken fried rice

Nothing fancy–but darn good eatin ;).

Tip: You can freeze slices in freezer bags to use within the next month–just make sure you remove all air from the bags.

How To Pack & Store For Future Use

  1. Remove all the stuffing from the bird, store in an airtight container and refrigerate separately. Use within a couple days.
  2. Remove all meat from the carcass. Package in freezer bags (meal sized portions). Refrigerate what you can use within the next couple days then freeze whatever is left.
  3. Save some to dice and make into meat pies. Do this within a couple days of cooking it. Once pies are made, they can be frozen. The ready made pie shells you can buy in the grocery store turn out just fine if you don’t have the time to make your own.
  4. Wrap the carcass in plastic or put in a clean plastic bag. Refrigerate. Use this within a couple days to make stock or soup. You can also freeze this to use later.

10 Steps For Butter Roasting

  1. Completely clean and rinse the bird inside and out. Pat dry.
  2. Rub seasonings inside the cavity and outside all over the skin.
  3. Fill neck area with stuffing then fasten neck skin to back with skewer. Stuff the cavity lightly.
  4. Push drumsticks under band of skin of tail, or tie them to tail.
  5. Place the bird breast side up on rack in shallow open pan.
  6. Brush with melted butter.
  7. Place a large piece of aluminum foil over the bird, tucking it down around the sides.
  8. Roast according to timetable instructions.
  9. While it’s cooking, lift the aluminum foil 2 or 3 times to brush skin again with melted butter.
  10. Remove foil during last 40 minutes of roasting time if it’s not browned enough.

Stuffing Tip: Place dressing in a piece of clean cheesecloth and tie end with string before stuffing into the cavity. This will help remove all the dressing easily and cleanly.

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What Readers Are Saying: 2 Comments
  1. K @ Prudent and Practical says:

    I’ve been dying to share this! Sesame Turkey (instead of chicken). The longer you let it cook on low, the more sauce the turkey soaks up. I’ve made the recipe with chicken before and was desperate to think of a new turkey recipe. I found it off of RecipeZaar.


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