Thanksgiving Leftovers — Here’s What To Do

by R.B. Quinn and Min Merrell
Thanksgiving leftovers

thanksgiving leftovers

Thanksgiving leftovers. Think of the possibilities. Here’s a problem-solving bunch of ideas for your Thanksgiving leftovers.

Turkey Tacos Top the List (for us, anyway). 

Our favorite Thanksgiving leftover meal, aside from a great turkey sandwich piled with leftover roasted cranberries, is a turkey taco with turkey gravy transformed by red or green chile. Just stir some chile paste or powder into the gravy and heat it up. This alt-gravy is so good that outside of Thanksgiving time we roast turkey parts in the oven (and make turkey broth in the crock pot, see below) just for turkey tacos. Enchiladas can benefit from this red or green chile gravy adaptation as well. 

Set up a turkey taco bar so everyone can combine their own taco fixings — meat, chile, avocado, cilantro, green onion, jalapeños, lime, and some corn tortillas charred on a stove burner for a few seconds.

thanksgiving leftovers

Turkey Posole is Numero Dos on the Leftover List. 

Thanksgiving leftovers

Turkey Posole–We’ve got a great cheater posole recipe in our book Cheater BBQ. Basic idea — throw together the leftover meat with chicken broth, hominy, onions, diced tomatoes, chili powder, and serve with taco toppings.

1 large onion, chopped

2 tablespoons oil

3 cups chopped cheater meat like pork shoulder, beef, chuck, or chicken

One 28 ounces can diced tomatoes

Two 14.5 ounce cans chicken broth

2 cups water

One 30 ounce can white or yellow hominy, drained

1 tablespoon chili powder


Lime wedges

Shredded cabbage

Chopped onion

Sprigs of fresh cilantro

Avocado slices

Crumbed fried corn tortillas

  1. Cook the onions in oil in a soup pot over medium heat until the onions are soft and lightly browned, about five minutes.
  2. Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer about 30 minutes.
  3. Pass bowls of garnishes at the table for everyone to help themselves.

Let’s Round Out the Thanksgiving Leftovers List.

Turkey Nachos–You know what to do. Chips, meat, cheese, jalapeños, whatever you like.

Turkey Lettuce Wraps–Crossover Mexican toppings into Asian wraps. Wrap turkey, hot cooked rice, cilantro, jalapeños, green onion, and add a squeeze of mayo and Rooster sauce.

Dressing Cakes–Form the dressing into patties. Pan fry until crisp. Do the same with your mashed potatoes. Add an egg and a little flour to help them hold together. Great for brunch with fried eggs and the leftover cranberry salad.

Turkey Cranberry Salad–Fold together turkey chunks and your fresh cranberry salad (drain if necessary) with apple chunks and blend with mayo. Serve on a lettuce or a big crusty roll.

Turkey Sandwich Take Two–Turkey, cranberry relish, cream cheese, and lettuce on crusty bread.

Turkey Pie–Turkey, leftover gravy loosened with cream, leftover vegetables in a casserole or individual dishes. Top each with a crown of puff pastry from the freezer section.

Turkey Soup–Make a stock with the turkey carcass by simmering the bones with onion, celery, bay leave and parsley stems.

Here’s how we make delicious turkey broth in a crock pot. Go ahead and click on that link. You can come back and finish this post in a minute. Crock pot broth is yet another reason why the crock pot is such an efficient, economical, safe, great kitchen appliance. The crock pot is a true problem solver (even non- NASCAR models without the carrying case). 

crock pot stock

Cover and simmer a few hours, all day, or overnight. Just make sure there is plenty of water in the crock as it cooks down. Strain the solids and discard them, and allow the broth to cool before refrigerating or freezing. Now assemble your favorite soup with this rich homemade broth (a broth that you know exactly what it is made from). For traditional turkey noodle soup, add chopped turkey, carrots, and celery.

Cheater Chef tip: Cook the noodles separately and pour the broth over noodles in serving bowls. This keeps the noodles from getting soggy.

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