What to do with Thanksgiving leftovers: 25 recipes for the next day
ACROSS AMERICA – Throwing out Thanksgiving dinner leftovers is like doubling the trash cans and landfills into dollar bills.
Grocery costs are on average about 12% higher than this time last year, and a traditional Thanksgiving dinner is estimated to cost 20% more this year.
Why waste a single delicious morsel? We’ve rounded up 21 recipes to turn your Thanksgiving leftovers into something completely different.
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(By the way, the United States has an abysmal record on food waste, especially among people with comfortable lifestyles and healthy diets, according to a report published two years ago by the American Journal of Agricultural Economics Americans waste $240 billion worth of food each year—39.1% of the food brought in from the grocery store.)
Some things to keep in mind when deciding not to waste food this year:
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- As a general rule, Thanksgiving leftovers will keep for three to four days in the refrigerator. If your guests are staying all weekend, most items on your menu should still be good to eat for the entire duration.
- For Thanksgiving dinner, enjoy salads and breads that wilt and dry out quickly.
- According to the Food Network, leftover turkey, casseroles and cooked cereal freeze well for up to three months, provided you use bags specifically marked for storage or freezing.
- Whether refrigerating or freezing leftover turkeys, remove the stuffing from the poultry cavity and store separately.
Of course, reinventing Thanksgiving dinner with creative leftovers can be part of the fun. Below are 25 takes you might not have considered that will turn your leftovers into something completely different.
Cranberry sauce is a dish people want for Thanksgiving, but not necessarily in the days after the holidays.
One way to use up leftover whole bean cranberry sauce is to quickly make Cranberry Brie Bites, a recipe from Ahead of Thyme. You will also need frozen puff pastry (or your own pastry if you are making it yourself), brie cheese, pecans (or walnuts, slivered almonds, pine nuts or pistachios) and fresh rosemary.
For Cranberry Sauce Muffins, a recipe from Foxes Love Lemons, you’ll use many of the basic ingredients that most cooks have on hand – flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and vanilla extract – as well as butter, orange zest, eggs and sour cream.
For Cranberry Turkey Quesadillas, a recipe from Diethood, you will need flour tortillas, slices of provolone cheese, and leftover turkey and cranberry sauce. (Chicken or ham can be substituted.)
Kudos to the cranberries
If none of these recipes do it for you, why not just turn cranberries into a cocktail of cranberry sauce and bourbon? For this recipe from The Roasted Root, you will need homemade or store-bought cranberry sauce, bourbon, ginger beer or club soda, and a wedge of lemon. And, yes, if the sauce is made with whole berries, the cocktail could contain bits of fruit, which the recipe creator says is part of the fun.
This recipe for Brazilian cuisine On board a cocktail of leftover cranberry sauce, you will need cachaça, triple sec, fresh ginger and club soda.
For this recipe for Moscow Mule Cranberry Sauce from Food, you will also need some fresh limes, honey, vodka, ginger beer, cinnamon sticks and fresh cranberries, for garnish.
For Feast and West Old Fashioned Cranberry Sauce Cocktail you will also need a good quality bourbon, bitters (cinnamon, Angostura aromatic bitters, orange bitters or clove bitters) , orange zest and burnt rosemary.
And what’s a fancy cocktail without a platter of charcuterie, anchored by antipasto skewers made from leftover salads and platters of relish? The Food Network tells you how to make them. In advance, get ciliegine mozzarella (cherry-sized balls of mozzarella), fine salami and fresh basil.
We love this idea of leftover mashed potatoes, Louis XVI potato croquettes from Fine Dining Lovers. A light and crispy vegetarian snack, it uses nutmeg, white pepper and parmesan cheese.
Brunch the next day
Cranberry cocktails are also great for brunch, but you’ll need some food.
This crustless ham and leek quiche recipe from Country Living Magazine is a great way to use up leftover ham from Thanksgiving. Besides the leeks and ham, you will also need an onion, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, eggs, fresh cream, whole milk, Dijon mustard, Gruyere cheese, fresh chives and fresh parsley.
Another quiche option: leftover stuffing and cheese quiche, from Insanely Good Recipes. You will need butter, milk, eggs, cheese and a little leftover turkey or other meat.
For people who really like turkey dressing, leftover stuffed waffles are another option. You will need a waffle maker for this recipe, also from the Food Network, as well as eggs and parsley. Top with warmed mashed potatoes and gravy and a dollop of cranberry sauce.
Sweet potato pancakes are also perfect for brunch. Besides the mashed sweet potatoes, you will need sour cream, milk, eggs, maple syrup, flour, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon for this Serious Eats recipe.
Not Grandma’s Leftovers
Let’s move on to the rest of the day. This Thanksgiving Leftover Casserole recipe from Favorite Family Recipes started as a way for the creator to avoid having a fridge full of plastic containers. Best of all, you’ll get most of what you need, but you need to make sure you have some cheddar on hand.
The Spruce Eats offered a turkey burrito smothered in gravy. You will need leftover turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy, as well as flour tortillas, sour cream, cheddar cheese and chopped parsley, for garnish. Cranberry sauce can also be added.
For Leftover Turkey and Stuffed Pepper Stuffing, a recipe from Delish, you will need leftover turkey and stuffing, eggs, red and yellow peppers, shredded mozzarella, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and fresh parsley, for garnish.
Butterball Foodservice offers this recipe for Moroccan-spiced turkey salad. In addition to the leftover turkey, you will need plain Greek yogurt, cumin seeds, slivered almonds, lemon zest, honey, cinnamon, dried apricots and salt. Serve it on rye bread with watercress or baby arugula.
For the Coconut Turkey Curry, another recipe from Ahead of Thyme, you will need leftover turkey, onion, garlic and ginger, coconut milk, turkey broth, sugar, lime juice, a green pepper, fresh cilantro and steamed rice to serve.
This recipe for a Thanksgiving Turkey Po’ Boy sandwich shared a few years ago in The Washington Post is based on the concoction served once a year at the Parkway Bakery & Tavern in New Orleans. You will need Leidenheimer French loaves (or any other New Orleans-style 11-inch French loaf), 7 ounces of turkey, 12 ounces of stuffing, 4 ounces of sauce, and 4 ounces of whole cranberry sauce .
Sweet Potato Soup with Blue Corn Tortillas, another Food Network recipe, also calls for low-sodium chicken broth, ground ginger, allspice, freshly grated nutmeg, sour cream, mashed adobo, black pepper and fresh cilantro and crushed blue corn tortilla chips For garnish.
If you’re planning on making a casserole of string beans and anticipating leftovers, get some puff pastry sheets from the frozen aisles of the supermarket, so you can make a main course, Second Day Turkey and String Bean Pot Pies, also from the Food Network. Besides leftover casseroles and pastries, you’ll need milk, broth, and turkey.
This Thanksgiving pizza recipe from The Gunny Sack gets rid of a lot of your leftovers all at once. You will use leftover mashed potatoes, corn, green bean casserole, turkey, and stuffing and this recipe. He also calls for a sheet of puff pastry, cheddar cheese, fried onions, freshly ground pepper and basil, parsley or thyme, for garnish.
Pumpkin Pie S’mores, another recipe from Delish, offers a different take on a staple Thanksgiving dessert. Make sure you have marshmallow sticks handy. You will also need graham crackers, Hershey’s chocolate bars, marshmallows and hot caramel for drizzling.
Speaking of dessert, you probably didn’t see it coming: leftover mashed potatoes are stuffed for a savory imitation of Heavenly Homemakers Peppermint Homemade Patties. Besides the leftover potatoes, you will need butter, peppermint extract, powdered sugar, chocolate chips, and coconut oil.
Who knew there were so many sweets using potatoes? Mashed Potato Brownies, an offering from Farmer’s Wife Rambles, calls for unseasoned (i.e. no garlic or pepper) mashed potatoes, butter, unsweetened chocolate squares, sugared eggs, vanilla extract, salt, flour and, optionally, semi-sweet chocolate chips and chopped walnuts or pecans.
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