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Leftover Recipes: What to do with Turkey After Thanksgiving

Beat the leaftover turkey blues and think beyond the sandwich with casseroles, turnovers and salads.

Turkey Day is over—now what? Thanksgiving leftovers can become a blessing or a curse. Turkey sandwiches can be good for a while, but they get boring fast.

Leftovers should begin with a plan. Pick recipes that are easy to make while creating a new dish that isn't immediately recognized as including leftovers. Food historian Suzanne Corbett offered some tasty ideas during last year's Thanksgiving holiday. 

Here are a few options:

Turkey Croquettes

Mix two parts of leftover dressing with one part finely chopped turkey. Moisten with beaten egg and a little milk, broth or leftover gravy. Shape into balls and roll in Panko-style crumbs. Place on a baking pan, lightly spray with oil and bake at 375 degrees until browned and crisp. Serve with leftover cranberry sauce.

Turkey Casserole

  • 4 cups leftover prepared stuffing, divided
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped leftover cooked turkey (about 1 pound)
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise, divided
  • 1/4 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 8-inch baking dish with no-stick cooking spray. Spoon in 2 cups stuffing, then top with turkey. Combine 1/4 cup mayonnaise with cranberry sauce; evenly spread over turkey.

Combine remaining 1/2 cup mayonnaise, potatoes and cheese in large bowl. Evenly spread on turkey. Top with remaining 2 cups stuffing.

Bake 40 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. If desired, garnish with dried cranberries. Serves 6.

Blushing Cranberry and Pear Turkey Salad

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce or cranberry relish
  • 4 cups torn romaine lettuce leaves
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves or mixed salad greens
  • 2 cups diced cooked turkey
  • 1 medium pear, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

In medium bowl, combine mayonnaise and cranberry sauce; set aside. In large bowl, combine romaine, spinach and turkey. Just before serving toss with mayonnaise mixture. Top with pear slices, pecans and onion.

Garnish, if desired, with dried cranberries.

Turkey Turnovers

  • 2 cups shredded cooked turkey
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 cup chopped cooked broccoli
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) refrigerated crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine all ingredients except crescent rolls in large bowl. Separate each package crescent rolls into 4 squares; press diagonal perforations to seal.

Spoon turkey filling onto center of each square, then fold dough diagonally over filling to form triangles; press edges firmly to seal. Arrange turnovers on baking sheet; brush tops lightly with additional mayonnaise. Bake 12 minutes or until golden. Serve warm. Serves 8.

Turkey Fiesta Salad

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup prepared salsa
  • 6 cups torn romaine lettuce leaves
  • 2 cups diced cooked turkey
  • 4 slices bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled

Combine mayonnaise and salsa in small bowl; set aside. Mix remaining ingredients in large bowl. Just before serving toss with mayonnaise mixture. Serve, if desired, with your favorite salad fixings, such as chopped tomatoes, black beans, shredded cheese, sliced pitted ripe olives, sliced green onions and/or tortilla chips. Serves 4.

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