9 Creative Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes to Relish

October 2, 2023

Thanksgiving, a period of plentifulness and indulgence, often gifts us with a bounty of delightful thanksgiving holiday spirit that carry the potential of prolonging the festive cheer beyond the designated day. These leftovers, encapsulating the spirit of the holiday feast, present an excellent opportunity for culinary creativity. In this gastronomic venture, we’ll delve into each of the 9 best leftover recipes, mastering the skill of morphing ordinary remnants into extraordinary culinary delights that will excite your taste buds well after the last slice of pumpkin pie has been enjoyed.

1. Turkey and Cranberry Quesadillas

This recipe’s harmonious dance of flavors transforms leftover turkey into a Tex-Mex masterpiece. Picture tender turkey slices, tart cranberry sauce, and gooey melted cheese sandwiched between two tortillas. As you press it to golden perfection on a skillet, the ingredients meld together, creating a symphony of tastes that encapsulate the essence of Thanksgiving with a spicy twist.


  • 2 flour tortillas
  • 1/2 to 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Turkey
  • 1/4 c. cranberry sauce
  • 1 T. butter
  • chopped parsley for garnish


1. Kickstart by spreading a generous layer of Swiss cheese on one side of a tortilla. Follow with scattering the shredded turkey atop, lending it a hearty meaty essence.

2. Now, a delightful twist. Lavish a spread of cranberry sauce over the cheese and turkey, introducing a sweet and tangy note to the evolving flavors.

3. Who can resist more cheese? Blanket another layer of Swiss cheese, ensuring every bite will have a gooey delight.

4. Cap it off with the second tortilla. Your quesadilla is now a fusion artwork ready for the skillet.

5. In a skillet, let the butter melt over medium heat. As it starts bubbling slightly, usher the quesadilla into the skillet. Covering with a lid is a good hack to evenly warm it through. Await that golden crispness before you flip it for the other side to attain its golden glory. A few minutes is all it takes.

6. Once crispy perfection is attained, transition your quesadilla to a cutting board, allowing it to sit for a brief spell. This pause ensures the cheese’s gooey essence is maintained as you slice it into wedges.

7. A sprinkle of parsley isn’t just aesthetically pleasing, but it brings a fresh herby note to your quesadilla endeavor.

2. Mashed Potato Pancakes

In a magical twist, leftover mashed potatoes become an innovative breakfast or brunch sensation. Blending mashed potatoes with grated cheese, chopped herbs, and a hint of garlic, you form a savory batter that sizzles in a pan to create golden, crispy pancakes. With their crunchy surface and creamy interior, these pancakes are a perfect comfort dish.


  • 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons chives, minced
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil, or butter, for frying
  • Sour cream, for serving


1. Crafting the Batter:

Begin your journey by mixing the mashed potatoes, egg, flour, chives, cheese, salt, and pepper in a medium-sized bowl. The mixture should have a gentle stickiness to it—just enough to mold into a patty by hand. If it’s excessively sticky or runny, fear not! Simply add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until you achieve a workable consistency.

2. Prep Your Station:

Set up a welcoming station for your soon-to-be pancakes by lining a large plate with paper towels. This will be the resting spot for your pancakes post their golden fry session, absorbing any excess oil to ensure a perfect crispness.

3. Sizzle and Fry:

Bring out a large skillet and place it over medium heat, caressing it with your choice of oil or butter. Wait for that gentle sizzle at 325°F, signaling it’s time for your pancakes to dive in. Moistening your hands slightly will help in forming the pancakes and avoiding a sticky situation. Measure about 1/4 cup of the mixture, gently mold it into a half-inch thick disk, and let it slide into the skillet. Continue the process until you have a merry gathering of 4-5 pancakes sizzling together. Each side deserves 3-4 minutes to reach a golden brown zenith before flipping, and an additional 3-4 minutes to crisp up the flip side.

4. Drain, Serve, and Indulge:

Once cooked to a golden crisp, escort your pancakes to the paper towel-lined plate, allowing for a momentary respite before diving in. When all the pancakes are ready and waiting, adorn with a gentle dollop of sour cream, and let the feast begin!

3. Cranberry Turkey Panini

Elevate the art of sandwich-making by crafting a Cranberry Turkey Panini. Each layer is carefully curated, beginning with slices of leftover turkey, a dollop of tangy cranberry sauce, a sprinkle of stuffing, and a layer of cheese. Once grilled to perfection, the panini unveils a delightful interplay of textures and flavors that harmoniously bring together Thanksgiving favorites.


  • Panini press
  • Grill pan


  • (2 Slices) Ciabatta, focaccia, or baguette
  • (2 Slices) Muenster, Fontina, Provolone, or another melting cheese
  • (2.5 ounces) Leftover turkey or chicken breast slices
  • (2 tablespoons) Luxurious whole cranberry sauce
  • (1/4 cup) Fresh baby spinach leaves
  • (2 teaspoons) Sweet honey mustard
  • (1 teaspoon) Olive oil, the Mediterranean touch


1. Crafting Your Sandwich Art:

Start by laying a slice of bread as your canvas, and embark on your culinary masterpiece. Begin with a blanket of cheese, followed by the succulent turkey slices. Elevate with the cranberry sauce and the earthy touch of spinach. Crown with another slice of cheese. On your second bread slice, lavish it with the honey mustard spread, and complete your sandwich.

2. Toasting to Perfection:

Warm up your Panini press or dive into the traditional grill pan over medium heat. Anoint the outer surface of your sandwich with olive oil for that golden crust. In the embrace of the Panini press, let it cook for 3-5 minutes, watching for the crispy exterior and molten cheese. Alternatively, the grill pan or skillet can be your stage, where a weighted second skillet adds pressure, creating a Panini-esque masterpiece. Each side deserves 1-2 minutes of sizzle and toast.

3. The Grand Finale:

Serve your Panini sliced in half, showcasing its sumptuous layers, steaming and inviting.


  • A heated grill is key! Those coveted grill marks are a sign of Panini mastery.
  • Olive oil’s touch ensures the crunchiest crust, a contrast to the gooey interior.
  • Shield the bread from moisture! Nestle any juicy ingredients between cheese and meat, safeguarding the bread’s integrity.
  • Panini press absentee? No fret! Use a grill pan or skillet. Place your Panini, add a weighty skillet on top, and replicate the Panini press magic. Or, think outside the box with a waffle maker – the grooves add an interesting texture!

4. Thanksgiving Pizza

Venture into the realm of culinary fusion with Leftover Pizza. Begin with a canvas of dough and layer it with a gravy or cranberry sauce base. Then, arrange generous portions of turkey, stuffing, and any other favorite Thanksgiving toppings. A sprinkle of cheese crowns the creation, which emerges from the oven with bubbling deliciousness and endless possibilities for flavor exploration.


  • 1 ready to bake pizza crust
  • 1/2 cup McCormick Simply Better Turkey Gravy
  • 1 cup turkey diced
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 cup stuffing
  • 1/2 cup cranberry sauce
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley


1. Preheat your oven to a hot 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Embark on this culinary journey by spreading a layer of rich gravy over the pizza crust, reserving a small crusty edge for that classic pizza appeal.

2. Gracefully arrange the diced turkey over the gravy, cloaking it with a generous layer of mozzarella cheese to keep the tender turkey moist and flavorful.

3. Distribute small spoonfuls of creamy mashed potatoes and savory stuffing across the canvas, ensuring a taste of Thanksgiving in every bite.

4. Artfully drizzle cranberry sauce over the pizza. If needed, a quick warm-up in the microwave for 30 seconds will achieve that perfect drizzling consistency.

5. Let the pizza bake in your preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, awaiting the sight of bubbling cheese and a hint of golden brown hue.

6. Remove from oven and adorn with a sprinkling of fresh parsley. Slice into this beautiful relic of Thanksgiving, serve hot, and let the flavors dance in a grand celebration on your palate.

5. Sweet Potato Hash

Unearth the hidden potential of sweet potatoes by transforming them into a hearty hash. Chopped and sautéed with diced turkey, onions, and bell peppers, the sweet potatoes caramelize to perfection, imbuing the dish with their comforting warmth. Crowned with a sunny-side-up egg, the hash becomes a breakfast marvel that delivers a balanced fusion of flavors.


  • 6 cups of diced sweet potatoes (sourced from 2-3 sizeable ones)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Up to ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 whole garlic head (approx. 12-15 cloves), minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped


1. Begin by preheating your oven to a roaring 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Pour your meticulously diced sweet potatoes into a clear, inviting casserole dish.

3. Lovingly shower your sweet potatoes with the spices: garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, pepper, salt, and that hint of paprika.

4. Gracefully drizzle olive oil over the potatoes, ensuring each piece gets its glossy coat.

5. Give everything a gentle toss, ensuring that each cube is kissed by the spices.

6. Let the magic unfold in the oven for 55-65 minutes. Don’t forget to stir 3-4 times to guarantee that golden perfection without any charring.

7. When your sweet potatoes are about 15 minutes away from their grand reveal, it’s time for the garlic and onion. Gently sauté these flavor dynamos in a skillet with a hint of olive oil till they turn soft, with a caramelized golden hue.

8. As the sweet potatoes make their grand exit from the oven, unite them with the caramelized garlic-onion duo.

9. Mix everything with love, ensuring the flavors meld seamlessly.

6. Turkey Pot Pie

The classic comfort of a pot pie meets this heartwarming creation’s remnants of a Thanksgiving feast. Leftover turkey, vegetables, and a ladle of gravy join forces, becoming the star filling within a buttery, flaky crust. With each bite, the combination of flavors evokes nostalgia and coziness, offering a perfect remedy for chilly evenings.


  • 2 cups of both frozen peas, carrots, and green beans
  • 1 cup fresh celery slices
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup flour for binding
  • 1 tsp each of salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp each of celery seed, onion powder and Italian medley
  • 1 3/4 cups soulful chicken broth
  • 1 1/3 cups fresh milk
  • 4 cups cubed, pre-cooked turkey
  • 2 packages (14.1 oz. each) of 9-inch double-crust pie pastry


1. Set your oven to a sizzling 425°F (220°C).

2. In a deep saucepan, combine the frozen delights (peas, carrots, and beans) with celery. Pour water just enough to immerse them. Once boiled, let it whisper in medium-low heat until the celery softens, roughly 8 minutes. Drain the love.

3. In the meantime, let the butter dance in another saucepan over medium heat. Introduce the onions, letting them become see-through in about 5 minutes. Infuse with flour and all seasonings, whisking to a pasty joy. Elegantly blend in the chicken broth, followed by milk. Let it reach a soft bubble, continually whisking till it thickens, spanning 3-5 minutes.

4. Off the heat, unite the sauce with our tender veggies and delectable turkey. Mix till every piece feels the love.

5. Two pie dishes (9-inch) await. In each, spread a pie pastry on the base. Fill them halfway with our creamy mix. Top them with the remaining pastries. Seal the edges, melding the top and bottom. With precision, carve tiny slits atop to let the steam sing.

6. Slide them into the oven. After 15 minutes, inspect. If the tops flirt with browning too soon, a foil cloak will protect them. Let them stay till golden and lively, another 15-20 minutes.

7. Once out, let them rest for a breath (10 minutes) before you embark on the flavorful journey.

7. Cranberry Muffins

Embrace the art of repurposing cranberry sauce by infusing it into muffin batter. The tart cranberries create bursts of flavor within each bite, harmonizing with the moist muffin base. These muffins, adorned with a slightly tangy glaze, encapsulate the essence of Thanksgiving mornings in a portable, delightful form.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar magic
  • 2 tsp baking magic (powder)
  • 1/2 tsp soda’s baking touch
  • A pinch (1/2 tsp) of salt
  • 1/2 cup nature’s oil (vegetable)
  • 3/4 cup milk or the creamy half and half
  • 2 farm-fresh eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond essence (or choose the classic vanilla)
  • 2 cups cranberries, fresh or preserved in cold
  • 3 Tbsp shimmering sugar crystals (optional)


1. Set your oven to a cozy 350°F and prep a 12-cup muffin tray with butter or adorn with liners.

2. In a vast bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking essentials, and salt with a spirited whisk.

3. Pour in the vegetable oil, milk, eggs, and that almond whisper. Integrate until the melody is harmonious.

4. Introduce the cranberries, ensuring they’re evenly embraced by the batter.

5. Allocate the mixture to the muffin molds, sprinkling them with the sparkling sugar for a touch of glamour. Let them rise and shine in the oven for roughly 25 minutes, capturing a slight golden hue.

6. Once baked to perfection, allow these beauties a moment in the tin, then free them to cool.

8. Leftover Cranberry Parfait

Invite leftover cranberry sauce to shine in the spotlight as it interlaces with creamy Greek yogurt and crunchy granola. Combining cranberries’ tart sweetness with the smooth creaminess of yogurt, this delicacy strikes a nice balance between flavor and nutrition.


  • 2/3 cup of either plain or vanilla infused non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of your leftover cranberry sauce
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey, fine-tuned to your preference
  • Your favorite granola or cereal


1. In your chosen parfait vessel, start by lovingly placing half the yogurt, followed by honey’s golden drizzle, a generous amount of cranberry sauce, and a sprinkle of your chosen crunch.

2. Elevate the experience with another round of layers, replicating the first set. Once done, dive into your masterpiece!


  • Preservation: Should you wish to save some for later, ensure it’s snugly covered and placed in the fridge. It remains fresh and delectable for up to 3 days.
  • Chilling Longevity: If you’re planning for the distant future, seal it well and keep it frozen. When the craving strikes, let it thaw overnight in your fridge and indulge the next day.

9. Turkey and Stuffing Waffles

Witness the fusion of two Thanksgiving essentials in Turkey and Stuffing Waffles. Leftover stuffing is ingeniously incorporated into the waffle batter, resulting in a savory and slightly crispy exterior. Crowned with shredded turkey and drizzled with gravy, each bite encapsulates the quintessential holiday flavors in a unique and delectable way.


  • 4 cups stuffing (classic or cornbread to suit your taste buds)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup diced cooked turkey meat
  • 3 tbsp chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1. Start by crumbling the stuffing gently to bid adieu to any clumps.

2. In a welcoming mixing bowl, introduce the crumbled stuffing, eggs, charismatic Parmesan cheese, and hearty diced turkey to each other.

3. Drizzle the chicken broth evenly atop the mixture, stirring tenderly until a harmonious blend is achieved.

4. Pre-warm your waffle maker, pampering the grates with a bit of grease if they fancy.

5. With a gentle spirit, scoop your mixture onto the waffle maker, pressing them tenderly yet firmly, allowing the waffle maker to embrace the mixture until a golden brown, crispy wonder emerges.


The magic of Thanksgiving isn’t confined to a single day—it lingers in the art of culinary reinvention. Each of these 9 recipes showcases the boundless creativity that can be unlocked from leftovers. From savory quesadillas to comforting pot pies, and sweet cranberry-infused delights, the artistry lies in how we reimagine the remnants of our feast.

So, let the joy of Thanksgiving unfold as you transform your leftovers into unforgettable culinary creations. These recipes offer a flavorful journey that honors the spirit of abundance and celebration, reminding us that even after the last slice of pie has been enjoyed, a world of delicious possibilities is still waiting to be explored.

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