Tasty Ideas for Those Thanksgiving Leftovers

by Wendy Allen

Nov. 12, 2020

by Wendy Allen

“What can I do with my Thanksgiving leftovers?” It’s a common refrain the day after Thanksgiving when the mounds of dishes are washed and cooking something new is the last thing you want to do.

Of course, you can always plate up Thanksgiving Dinner Part 2, but we think it’s more fun to repurpose everything into interesting dishes that will inject a little interest and even more flavor. With these Thanksgiving leftovers recipes in your back pocket, you’ll never ask “what to do with leftover turkey?” ever again!

Give Mashed Potatoes New Life

If you mash up real potatoes for your Thanksgiving feast, then you know how potatoes can get dry and crumbly after they’ve been refrigerated. An easy way to refresh mashed potatoes is to heat them slowly on a stovetop with a little Organic Valley Milk or Butter, then whip to fluff.

Or how about cheesy mashed potato pancakes! These were one of my favorites as a kid. My mom would freeze them for easy and healthy future side dishes, and we kids could microwave one for a snack whenever we wanted. This “recipe” is, of course, entirely customizable based on how many leftovers you need to use up, but it’ll give you a guide to start with.

A plate of potatoe pancakes, using leftover mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving dinner.

Take 3 cups mashed potatoes, half a package of Organic Valley Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese, finely chopped scallions or onion, and large pinches of salt and pepper. Get your hands (or your kids’ hands) in there and mix it all together. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed, then mix in 1 beaten egg. If your taters are really dry, you can add a little milk to help it come together. Divide into 10 or 12 balls and flatten each to a half-inch thick. Heat Organic Valley Butter or Ghee in a nonstick pan and fry up your potato patties until lovely and brown. You can serve them immediately, or they freeze beautifully layered with wax paper.

Pie Time

Tossing things into a Thanksgiving leftovers pie is a classic solution, and that extra gravy is the key for an easy, recipe-free pot pie.

Mix 2 cups of chopped turkey, a cup or so of leftover corn and/or frozen mixed vegetables, and add enough leftover gravy to bind it all together. Pour into a premade pie crust and top with a second crust. Leftover stuffing could even be folded into the filling to give your pie a drier, sturdier texture if you prefer. Bake at 425 F for 35 to 45 minutes. Unbaked pies can be frozen for later, too!

Shepherd’s pie is an even easier Thanksgiving casserole. Simply mix up your pot pie filling, spread in a pie plate, and top with leftover mashed potatoes or stuffing. If you give your mashed potato topping some interesting peaks, they will brown nicely in the oven, and stuffing as a topping will gain a lovely crunch.

A slice of shepherd's pie site on a plate, made with Thanksgiving leftovers.

Here are a few recipes we love:

Comforting Soups and Snacks

Soups—especially slow-cooker soups—are great for the day after Thanksgiving, when the last thing you want to do is spend any more time in the kitchen. Your leftover turkey and veggies can easily sub into some of these excellent soup recipes, and you can transfer them to a slow cooker to keep warm all day. Warm up some leftover dinner rolls, and let your family serve themselves whenever they feel peckish.

Two bowls of Slow Cooker Chicken Wild Rice Soup.

Easily use your leftover turkey in thisSlow Cooker Chicken Wild Rice Soup by the Real Food Dietitians.

Enjoying a big game over the weekend? Toss some turkey onto these Easy Cheesy Nachos. They’re also delicious with cubed, cooked sweet potatoes or squash.

And Now for Something Completely Different: Savory Thanksgiving Waffles

Here’s a fun one for the family! Give your waffle iron a new job the day after with Leftover Thanksgiving Waffles.

Take around 4 cups stuffing (or dressing, whatever you prefer to call it) and mix in 2 beaten eggs and a couple tablespoons of milk to thin the batter a little. If your stuffing isn’t strongly seasoned, then add a pinch of salt, pepper, thyme, and a clove of minced garlic. Grease your preheated waffle iron, add a large dollop of your stuffing batter, and cook until crispy!

For breakfast, you could serve them with fried Organic Valley Eggs and leftover gravy with a little real maple syrup mixed in. (Trust me! It works!) Or for dinner, top your crispy stuffing waffles with some turkey slices, mashed potatoes, and gravy. They’re also delicious plain or with cranberry sauce too!

Savory waffle using leftover stuffing and topped with a fried egg.

Leftovers for Breakfast? You Bet!

Egg bakes and stuffed omelets are highly customizable venues for all kinds of leftovers. The term “egg bake” covers several styles of baked egg dishes that we know and love, like frittatas, stratas, and quiches make excellent Thanksgiving casseroles. They all involve mixing various ingredients into beaten eggs followed by a stint in the oven.

For an easy strata with Thanksgiving leftovers, line a greased baking dish with torn leftover dinner rolls, then add chopped turkey and whatever veggies you need to use up—even things like Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and squash taste great in eggs. Keep seasonings simple, or spice it up with red pepper flakes or cayenne. Then pour on six to 12 beaten eggs (whatever looks right) and generously top with your favorite Organic Valley Thick-cut Shredded Cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until it’s just barely jiggly in the center. Here’s the most important part that most people skip: Let it rest covered for 10 minutes after baking. This allows the residual heat to finish cooking the eggs. Serve as-is or with a dollop of cranberry sauce.

Plate of egg bake with fresh fruit.

Who knew there were so many fun and delicious ways to use up Thanksgiving leftovers? We hope you’re feeling inspired to turn your post-Thanksgiving leftovers into something your family will enjoy!

Posting Your Post-Thanksgiving Creations?

Tag @OrganicValley and tell us what you thought of these ideas, or share a Thanksgiving leftovers idea of your own!