Thanksgiving Leftover Roundup!

What are our favorite things about Thanksgiving? The delicious meal and being surrounded by loved ones are at the top of the list, but close behind are Thanksgiving leftovers! Utilizing leftovers is a great way to not only prevent food waste but also to get creative with different recipes. With a plethora of turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, veggie dishes, and much more, it can be tough to decide exactly what to make. We’ve compiled tips and tasty recipes from some of our favorite food bloggers to help you turn your Thanksgiving leftovers into culinary dreams.

Top Tips for Using Thanksgiving Leftovers

1. Don’t Forget About Food Safety

Use the 2-2-4 rule to make sure your Thanksgiving leftovers stay safe to eat.

  • 2 hours: Make sure to refrigerate or freeze food within two hours of cooking. The food safety experts at the USDA note that bacteria in food left out for more than two hours double in number every 20 minutes.
  • 2 inches: To prevent bacteria growth, food needs to be cooled quickly and evenly. Store leftovers in shallow dishes that are around two inches deep.
  • 4 days: Eat leftovers within four days and make sure you reheat to 165 degrees F before eating.

For additional information on Thanksgiving food safety, check out these links:

2. Don’t Forget the Sides

Turkey is often front and center in Thanksgiving leftovers, but many of the side dishes can be repurposed in delicious recipes. Try cranberry sauce as a topping for ice cream or pancakes or use those extra yams in a pie or the stuffing in empanadas.

3. Plan Ahead and Be Realistic

Many Thanksgiving hosts fear they won’t have enough food for all of their guests and end up cooking too much. To find a balance between having some leftovers and not wasting any food, the key is to plan ahead and be realistic about the amount of food you actually need. Here’s a quick guide to help you navigate the portion sizes for different dishes.

4. Utilize Unique Spices and Ingredients

Ethnic dishes and spices can turn leftovers into a fresh new meal. Be creative and try something new!

Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipe Roundup

We asked a few of our favorite food bloggers about their favorite ways to use up holiday leftovers – here’s what they had to share!


Thanksgiving Leftovers Quesadilla (3-Cheese Turkey Cranberry & Sage Quesadilla) – The Cookie Rookie

Becky from the Cookie Rookie says: “I’ve found that the traditional Thanksgiving flavors all blend so well, you can get really creative with using the leftovers! Stack that rice casserole onto a turkey panini, make the cranberries into a reduction and use it on a salad, the list goes on and on. It’s fun to try new things – you can’t go wrong!”

Try Becky’s recipe for Thanksgiving Leftovers Quesadilla.


Cranberry-Turkey Enchiladas – A Dash of Sanity

Sandra from A Dash of Sanity says: “Load up on the Tupperware: Heading over to a friend’s or family for Thanksgiving dinner? Don’t forget the Tupperware so you are sure to leave with some leftovers without leaving with their dishes. If you are hosting, make sure to have a stack on hand; it’s an easy way to send home with guests and not have to worry about getting back your dishes.”

Take your leftover turkey to the next level with Sandra’s recipe: Cran-Turkey Enchiladas


Leftover Thanksgiving Brunch Waffles with Fried Egg & Gravy – Climbing Grier Mountain

Lauren from Grier Mountain says: “Make sure to cool your leftovers down before you refrigerate them. This will help keep leftovers fresh and safe to eat. For faster cooling, separate into smaller, shallow containers.

Turn your Thanksgiving dinner into breakfast with Lauren’s Leftover Thanksgiving Brunch Waffles with Fried Egg & Gravy.

A few other favorites:

Mashed Potato Cakes with Cranberry Chutney from Oh Sweet Basil

Loaded Turkey Panini (for Thanksgiving Leftovers) from Pinch of Yum


Image: “leftovers” by Steve McFarland is licensed under CC BY NC 2.0