Can you believe Thanksgiving has already come and gone?! As we revel in the warmth of family gatherings, laughter, and the unmistakable aroma of a perfectly roasted turkey, it’s time to talk about the unsung heroes of the holiday season—leftovers. Let’s face it, we’ve all found ourselves standing in front of the fridge, pondering the fate of that mountain of Tupperware containers. Fear not! This year, we’re turning those leftovers into culinary masterpieces that will make you wish the holidays happened every week.
[Note: while this post discusses Thanksgiving leftovers, this also applies to Christmas and Hanukkah leftovers, too! We’re just here to spare you from excessive food waste!]
1. The Classic Turkey Sandwich Makeover
Let’s start with the basics—leftover turkey sandwiches. While they’re undeniably delicious, let’s elevate them to gourmet status. Swap out that plain white bread for a rustic ciabatta or a hearty multigrain. Layer on cranberry sauce for a burst of sweetness, add a slice of melted brie for creamy goodness, and finish it off with a handful of arugula for a peppery kick. Congratulations, you’ve just transformed a mundane sandwich into a Thanksgiving feast encore.
2. Stuffing Stuffed Mushrooms
Do you have a surplus of stuffing? Turn those savory carb-loaded morsels into the star of the show by transforming them into stuffing-stuffed mushrooms. Simply remove the stems from large mushrooms, stuff them with your leftover stuffing, and bake until golden brown. The result? A bite-sized explosion of Thanksgiving flavors that will have your taste buds doing a happy dance.
3. Mashup Mashed Potato Pancakes
Mashed potatoes have a magical quality that makes them taste just as good reheated. But why settle for the same-old same-old? Give those mashed spuds a second life by transforming them into mashed potato pancakes. Mix in some grated cheese, finely chopped green onions, and a sprinkle of flour. Pan-fry until golden brown, and voila! You’ve got crispy, cheesy potato pancakes that put a creative spin on your Thanksgiving leftovers.
4. Gravy-Topped Shepherd’s Pie
Leftover mashed potatoes aren’t the only thing that can take a delightful detour. If you find yourself with surplus gravy and vegetables, consider creating a Thanksgiving-inspired shepherd’s pie. Layer the bottom of a baking dish with shredded turkey, add a medley of veggies (peas, carrots, and corn work wonders), and top it off with a generous helping of mashed potatoes. Pop it in the oven until bubbly and golden, and you’ve just reinvented your leftovers into a comfort food classic.
5. Cranberry BBQ Glazed Meatballs
Cranberry sauce often gets overlooked after the big feast, but not this year. Give it a new lease on life by turning it into a lip-smacking barbecue glaze for meatballs. Mix ground turkey or beef with breadcrumbs, egg, and seasonings to form the meatballs. While they’re baking, whip up a glaze using cranberry sauce, BBQ sauce, and a hint of hot sauce for a kick. Toss the meatballs in the glaze, and you’ve got a sweet and tangy appetizer that will steal the show at your next holiday gathering.
6. Sweet Potato Pancakes for Brunch
Sweet potatoes are a Thanksgiving staple, and their versatility extends beyond the dinner table. Turn those leftover sweet potatoes into a delightful brunch option—sweet potato pancakes. Mash the sweet potatoes and mix them with flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and a touch of sugar. Cook them up on a griddle until golden brown, and serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a drizzle of maple syrup. It’s like Thanksgiving breakfast in pancake form!
7. Leftover Pie Milkshakes
Now, let’s talk dessert. If you find yourself with slices of pie that no one seems interested in, it’s time to shake things up—literally. Throw a slice (or two) of your favorite leftover pie into a blender with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a splash of milk (if it’s too thick, just add a little more milk until you get the right consistency). Blend until smooth, and you’ve just created a decadent leftover pie milkshake. Pumpkin pie, pecan pie, or apple pie—take your pick and treat yourself to a dessert that feels like an indulgent secret.
8. Turkey and Cranberry Quesadillas
Craving something outside the traditional Thanksgiving flavor profile? Transform your leftovers into a Tex-Mex delight with turkey and cranberry quesadillas. Layer shredded turkey, cranberry sauce, and a mix of your favorite cheeses between tortillas. Pan-fry until the cheese is gooey and the tortillas are golden. Slice into wedges and serve with a side of sour cream. It’s a fusion of flavors that will transport you to a whole new world of deliciousness.
9. Leftover Casserole Extravaganza
When in doubt, throw it all together! Create a Thanksgiving leftover casserole by layering stuffing, turkey, mashed potatoes, and any other leftovers you have in a baking dish. Drizzle gravy over the top and bake until bubbly. The result is a medley of Thanksgiving goodness in every bite—a one-dish wonder that makes cleanup a breeze.
10. DIY Thanksgiving Leftover Kits
Feeling generous? Send your guests home with personalized leftover kits. Fill containers with a variety of leftovers, ensuring each one gets a taste of everything. Include reheating instructions and maybe even a festive napkin for that extra touch. Your guests will appreciate the thoughtful gesture, and you’ll have a clear fridge for your next culinary adventure.
This holiday season, let your creativity run wild in the kitchen. Holiday leftovers are not just a reheated version of the main event—they’re a canvas for culinary innovation! So, roll up your sleeves, put on your chef’s hat, and turn those Tupperware containers into a symphony of flavors that will have everyone asking for seconds. After all, why settle for a one-day feast when you can enjoy the gift that keeps on giving?
How do you use up your Thanksgiving or Holiday leftovers? Tell us! Which leftover idea are you going to try? Let us know how it went! We can’t wait to hear your favorites.