Talkin’ Turkey: Recipes for Thanksgiving Leftovers

Food & Drink

Thanksgiving dinner is one of the most anticipated meals of the year. People spend hours, even days, preparing a lavish meal to satisfy neighbors, friends, family members who can’t hold their liquor or tongues. Stress is high—will the bird taste good? Will everyone get along? Will Uncle “One-Armed” Willie make the kids hunt for his hook?—and then it’s done. All the guests go home (hopefully) and the host is left with a bunch of dishes and Thanksgiving leftovers to deal with. It would be a shame, not to mention against the great tradition of Thanksgiving, to let a single bite go to waste. In that spirit, we present our list of Thanksgiving leftover recipes that will clear out the cupboard while keeping holiday spirits high. Gobble, gobble.

Mangia, Turkeys

According to the National Turkey Federation, nearly 90% of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving. Not so in Italy, where the bird is all but forgotten and also they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. But everyone loves Italian food, so make a delicious marriage of bird and bolognese with this leftover turkey recipe.

Thanksgiving Bolognese

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 pound shredded cooked turkey (preferably dark meat)
  • 1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes, crushed or roughly chopped
  • 1 6-oz. can tomato paste
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp. oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
  • Freshly grated Parmesan

Heat the oil in a heavy, large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and saute about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the turkey and saute about 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend, stirring often. Stir in the basil and oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, with your other two hands, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water for about 8 minutes, until tender but still firm to bite. Drain and add to the sauce and toss to coat. Top with Parmesan. Serves 6.

This meal deserves to be made with the best of pastas. The Pasta Craft Crate, among the finest gifts for men who proudly embrace their love of gluten, has all the ingredients, tools and techniques needed to create a meal that will make you thankful your turkey wasn’t one that got pardoned.

For Whom The Bell Tolls

When one thinks of Ernest Hemingway, things like daiquiris, Pulitzer Prizes and Key West come to mind. And the Sloppy Joe. No? It may not be the first thing one thinks of when considering Papa Hemingway, but it was in his favorite bar in Havana that this sandwich reportedly originated. And it was Hemingway who encouraged it to be made in the U.S., in his favorite Key West bar. So raise a toast to Hemingway when creating this Thanksgiving recipe.

Turkey Sloppy Joes

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. mustard
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound turkey, chopped
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 4 to 6 buns
  • Lettuce leaves

Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add onions, green pepper and garlic and cook until soft. Mix in tomato sauce, ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, red pepper flakes and salt and cook for another minute. Stir in turkey, then stir in cheese until melted. Remove from heat. Slice buns and toast insides. Add a layer of lettuce and spoon in turkey mix. Let the sloppiness ensue. Serves 4–6.

The Stuff of Dreams

Arguably the champ of the Thanksgiving meal, stuffing is as delicious as it is mysterious. Is it stuffing? Is it dressing? How can it possibly taste that good? To that we say, who cares? This beloved item should not be questioned, just appreciated.

Fried Stuffing Bites

  • Leftover stuffing
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • 1 cup cranberry sauce
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup pecans
  • Oil for frying

Preheat oil to 350°F. Form leftover stuffing into bite-sized cubes and set aside. Whisk eggs and milk in a small bowl. MIx bread crumbs and parmesan. Coat each stuffing bite with egg wash, then dredge in the bread crumb/parmesan mix until fully coated and set aside. Blend the cranberry sauce, pepper and pecans in a food processor. Once oil is at temperature, fry each piece of stuffing until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Drain on a paper towel and serve with cranberry mixture. Serves 4–6 very lucky eaters.

Git Along Lil Turkey

Pat Garrett supposedly once said of Billy the Kid, “Anybody that eats chili can’t be all bad.” Well, he still shot the Kid, but Pat clearly knew what was up with chili. This recipe may not resurrect ghosts of the Old West, but it will surely help with Thanksgiving leftovers and result in some doggone good chili.

Turkey Chili

  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. ground cayenne
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 or 4 cups leftover turkey meat, white and dark combined, chopped or pulled into ¾-inch pieces
  • 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 28-oz. can pinto beans
  • Sour cream, chopped scallion and grated cheese for serving

Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper, stir occasionally and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 6 minutes. Stir in the jalapeno and garlic and cook until they soften, about 1 minute. Get your stirrin’ hands warmed up. Stir in the chili powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne, oregano, ½ teaspoon of salt and some pepper. Add the turkey and stir until well coated in the spices. Pour in the tomatoes and chicken broth and scrape up any spices that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Bring the chili to a simmer on medium-low and cook uncovered for about 1 hour, until the liquid reduces by a few inches and the chili has thickened. Drain about ½ of the bean liquid out of the can of beans and add the beans plus the remaining bean liquid to the pot and heat about 10 minutes until the beans are warmed through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in bowls with sour cream, chopped scallions and cheese. Serves 8.

Nature makes everything taste better. Mostly. Those planning on taking their Thanksgiving leftovers feast outdoors will want to bring along the Dutch Oven Kit, one of the most versatile cooking gifts for men, to get ultimate outdoor flavor.

Sauced and Stuffed

The origin of Eggs Benedict is somewhat shady—some say it was a hungover stockbroker, some think it was a traitor and some suggest it was a pope who created this heavenly meal. Either way, it’s a breakfast and brunch staple. This leftover recipe combines the mother of all sauces, hollandaise, with the best of Thanksgiving recipes—stuffing!

Eggs Bennie on Stuffing Cakes


  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch cayenne

Stuffing Cakes

  • 2 cups leftover stuffing
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 slices canadian bacon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature


  • Hollandaise
    Vigorously whisk egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel bowl until the mixture is thickened and doubled in volume. Place the bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water (or use a double boiler). The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Still whisking rapidly? Good. Be careful not to let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to whisk until sauce is thickened and doubled in volume. Remove from heat, whisk in cayenne and salt. Cover and place in a warm spot until ready to use. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving. Whisking is the solution to just about any problem.
  • Stuffing cakes
    Place stuffing in a large bowl, breaking up any large clumps. Add the eggs and breadcrumbs and stir to combine, making sure all of the stuffing is evenly coated with the eggs. Scoop stuffing into your hands and shape into a patty about 3 inches wide and ½-inch thick. Repeat to make 6 stuffing cakes. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat and cook the cakes, two at a time, 2 or 3 mins. per side or until golden brown. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and repeat with the remaining cakes. Loosely cover with foil to keep the cakes warm.
  • Bacon
    Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook bacon about 4 minutes on each side, until browned and crispy. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.
  • Eggs
    Fill a skillet half full of water. Add white vinegar to the cooking water and bring to a slow boil. Very close to the surface of the water, crack the eggs and gently drop into the water. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook 3½ minutes until the egg white is set and yolk remains soft. Remove with a slotted spoon, allowing the egg to drain. Repeat with the remaining eggs.

To serve, place one stuffing cake on a plate, top with 2 slices of bacon, a poached egg and a generous drizzle of hollandaise sauce. Serves 6.

Hair of the Turkey

As with most overindulgences, the best cure for consuming too much turkey is more turkey. Throw in some gravy and eggs, and perhaps a Bloody Mary, and this meal will eliminate any traces of turkey hangover.

Turkey Hash with Country Gravy

  • ½ pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • ½ cup chopped green pepper
  • ¼ cup red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups leftover stuffing
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups diced turkey meat

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble sausage into skillet and add onions and peppers and cook, stirring often, until sausage is cooked through, about 6–8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Heat oil in a pan. Add stuffing, eggs and turkey to sausage mixture and stir to combine. Add this mixture to the heated pan and press down until the bottom of the skillet is covered with hash. Brown for 5–7 minutes untouched. Flip hash over and cook another 5–7 minutes. In the meantime, heat leftover gravy in a saucepan over medium heat. As gravy heats up, whisk in milk to thin to desired consistency. Top hash topped with a poached egg and serve with warmed turkey country gravy. Serves 6.

Potatoes + Pizza = Paradise

Nothing beats a warm pile of mashed potatoes, except maybe a warm pile of mashed potatoes on a pizza. This recipe will hit every starchy pleasure center in the brain. The Pizza Grilling Crate will help create the crispy crust this pie is crying out for. 

Mashed Potato Pizza

  • 1 cup mashed potatoes
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 3 sliced scallions
  • Pizza dough
  • 1 cup shredded cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cook bacon in a large deep skillet over medium heat until crisp. Drain, crumble and set aside. Spread pizza dough out and spread mashed potatoes over the dough, leaving a small crust around the edge. Sprinkle the cheese, scallions and bacon evenly over the potatoes. Bake the pizza about 20 minutes until cheese is melted, bubbly and a soul-warming golden brown. Let cool for 2 minutes, then slice and serve.

Dy-No-Mite Leftovers

In science speak, TNT, refers to Trinitrotoluene, an explosive chemical compound. In non-science speak, it may refer to a Norwegian hard rock band, an album by AC/DC, an album by Tanya Tucker (who knew she had so much in common with Angus Young?) or a delicious leftover Thanksgiving recipe combining turkey and toast.


  • 2 cups diced turkey meat
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp. chopped green onion
  • 8 pieces bacon, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sliced avocado
  • Toasted bread

Whisk mayonnaise, chives and salt and pepper together and spread on toasted bread. Place turkey, sliced avocado and bacon on top and drizzle with olive oil. Serves 8.

When Vegetables Happen

It is likely that the highest concentration of Thanksgiving leftovers will be of the vegetable variety. This is not to suggest that veggies are not good, but when going head-to-head against meat and starch, they just don’t have a leg to stand on. Give leftover Thanksgiving veggies the honorable exit they deserve with this flavorful frittata recipe.

Leftover Veggie Frittata

  • 2 cups mixed cooked leftover vegetables
  • ½ cup stuffing
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese

Beat eggs, milk, parsley and salt and pepper. Add stuffing and vegetables. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in an ovenproof 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the egg mixture and cook 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, top with grated parm. Sprinkle on the paprika like you mean it and cook 10 minutes. Broil 3 minutes, then slice.

Not-So-Humble Pie

Ah, the pot pie, that old bird-filled favorite. Time has luckily improved this treat, by, among other things, eliminating the use of live birds, which would be unsettling, to say the least. This turkey pot pie recipe relies solely on already dearly departed birds and will make Thanksgiving leftovers a thing of the past, you know, like a pot pie with a live bird in it.

Turkey Pot Pie

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 4 tbsp. flour
  • I ¾ cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups shredded turkey
  • 2 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
  • 1 prepared pie crust
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt butter in saucepan and cook onion until tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth and milk and bring to a simmer. Add potatoes and simmer until tender. Stir in turkey, parsley and mixed veggies. Pour mixture into a casserole dish and top with pie crust and brush with egg. Bake for 30 minutes until crust is golden. Dig in.