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What to Do with Thanksgiving Leftovers

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Looking for ideas for how to repurpose your Thanksgiving leftovers? You’re not alone! One of the most common questions we get is “how on earth can we make our leftovers interesting enough so they don’t go to waste?” The good news is that for every leftover item, there is a veritable flow chart of creative ways to use it up! Here are some of our favorites:


  • Sandwiches are perhaps the most common of the Thanksgiving leftovers, but we encourage you to get creative and customize your leftover turkey sandwich to your own personal taste. You may not enjoy a turkey sandwich topped with all of the same fixings you just ate at Thanksgiving, so top it with something that will make you love it  like yogurt tzatziki, pickled chilis, or crispy bacon!

  • Soup, like this turkey posole, is an easy way to turn cooked turkey meat into a savory dish that will keep you warm once the Christmas music kicks in. Who can say no to homemade soup around the holidays?

  • Tacos are a comforting way to turn that turkey into a crowd-pleasing meal with a refreshingly different taste than the usual Thanksgiving spread.

Turkey tip: Reheating proteins like turkey can dry them out, so we recommend serving them with plenty of sauce if you’re making a sandwich or taco. You can also serve them in soup or stew to bypass the moisture question entirely. Be sure to save your turkey bones to make stock!

Mashed Potatoes

  • Dumplings are the food equivalent of a hug from grandma. For this reason alone, they’re a truly stellar use of your mashed potatoes, which already feel like an unapologetic embrace of carbs and butter.

  • Fritters solve the problem of potential potato boredom by performing textural jujitsu. They turn your creamy, smooth leftovers into crispy nuggets of root vegetable goodness that just beg for dipping sauce. If you master the fritter, no root vegetable will intimidate you ever again!

  • Shepherd’s pie is the kitchen sink answer to leftovers. It can easily use up an entire batch of mashed potatoes and creates an even more comforting, homey, carb-y delight of a dish in the process.

Mashed Potatoes Tip: Leftover mashed potatoes will be at their best for about four days in your fridge. Experts recommend reheating them with some extra butter or milk to keep them moist.


  • Frittata is a workhorse dish that can use up extra turkey as well as roasted sweet potatoes.

  • Breakfast hash is a hearty and filling way to combine leftover protein with whatever assorted vegetables you still have around.

  • Stir fry is one of our evergreen ways to use up any veggie leftovers and Thanksgiving is no exception. As with frittata and hash, stir fry can easily adapt to whatever vegetables and proteins you need to use up.

Vegetables tip: If you’re still feeling overwhelmed or uninspired by your leftover vegetables, try making a pureed soup using items like carrots or sweet potatoes. This works especially well with sweet vegetables like onions, leeks, and fennel and starchy ones like potatoes, celery root, and parsnips. The one types of vegetables that won’t work well for this approach are members of the cabbage family like Brussels sprouts and kale, since they have a strong flavor that can easily overpower a soup.

Everything else

  • In the unlikely event that you have leftover pie, try making these pumpkin pie pancakes.

  • Leftover cranberry is the unexpected star of these yogurt parfaits.

  • Even leftover beverages like red wine can get a second life! Our friend and scrappy chef Joel Gamoran uses it to marinate chicken and make a juicy, delicious dinner.

Tip: When in doubt, look to a hearty brunch as the ultimate way to use up your Thanksgiving leftovers. Breakfast burritos are a lovely way to put a fresh spin on ingredients you might otherwise grow tired of.


  • Adam Saenz
    December 9, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    I received an email titled "What’s the deal with persimmons?", yet none of the articles in the email have anything to do with persimmons… I thought maybe there might be some mention of it buried inside this article, but NOPE!! So I guess the email title was just click bait; annoying…

  • Mike Belles
    November 26, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    I see a Brussel sprout dish at the top of this article. But no recipe? Like the previous commenter said. Click bait.

    November 27, 2020 at 9:54 pm

    Persimmons? Check out James Beard’s persimmon bread. It is righteous!

    • Imperfect
      December 3, 2020 at 9:28 pm

      We’ll take a loaf please 😛


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