Thanksgiving Leftover Ideas

Thanksgiving dinner is a meal many people look forward to all year; the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and pecan pie or pumpkin pie for dessert. What could be better than that? The Thanksgiving leftovers, of course! If you would like to go beyond the turkey sandwich topped with a little cranberry sauce, you’re in luck – we’ve got some fantastic ideas for what to do with all that uneaten food after the big day this year.

Let’s start with a delicious recipe for flaky golden delicious tarts stuffed with turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, and cranberry sauce and drizzled with gravy. These amazing treats from our friends at The Butter Half aren’t the pop tarts you’re used to, but they make a wonderful snack the day after, and kids will love them, too.

Thanksgiving Leftover Pop Tarts


  • 3 cups gluten free flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter cubed and cold
  • 1/4 cup shortening cold
  • 1/2 cup ice cold water
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Stuffing
  • Turkey
  • Gravy
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon water


Pour the flour, sugar, cold butter and shortening into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse it about 12 to 15 times, or until the butter is pea-sized and the dough looks crumbly. Then, slowly add in the ice-cold water, pulsing the food processor until the dough pulls from the sides into a large ball. Be careful not to over-mix.

Roll out the pie dough into a large rectangle measuring about 28 inches x 12 inches, and about 1/8 inches thick. Cut off the excess edges using a pizza cutter. Next, cut the dough into 8 rectangles that measure about 7 inches x 5 inches. Roll out the excess scraps into a smaller rectangle that’s about 14 inches x 10 inches and cut out 4 more rectangles. You should now have a total of 12 rectangles. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Remove the chilled rectangles from the refrigerator, along with your Thanksgiving leftovers. Spoon 1 tablespoon of cranberry sauce onto a rectangle. Then, layer on 1 tablespoon of mashed potatoes, 1 tablespoon of stuffing and small bits of turkey. Cover the tart with another dough rectangle and pinch the edges together to seal. Repeat this step with all of the rectangles until you have 6 pop tarts.

Use a fork to make lines along the edges of the pop tarts (cut off uneven edges to make a clean edge, if desired). Place the pop tarts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use a toothpick to poke several small holes in each pop tart to let the air out when they bake. Beat together the egg and 1 teaspoon of water in a small bowl and apply an egg wash on each tart. Bake on 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Once the pop tarts are done baking, drizzle them with leftover gravy that’s been reheated. Serve while warm and enjoy!

Next up, a mouthwatering recipe from the folks at Half Baked Harvest. When you’re looking for something to do the day after the holiday besides zone out in front of the television for a movie marathon, this recipe will be worth spending a little more time in the kitchen. Get started in the morning and by lunchtime you’ll have a culinary masterpiece that just might become a new family tradition. This heartwarming bowl of Thanksgiving leftover goodness is so yummy it will have you coming back for seconds (or leftovers of the leftovers!)

Turkey Gumbo


  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large red pepper diced
  • 1 large yellow pepper diced
  • 1 cup brussels sprouts thinly sliced/shredded
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic minced or grated
  • 1 onion diced (optional, original recipe does not call for it)
  • 1 ounce large can diced tomatoes 14, I like to use fire roasted
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon creole seasoning rounded
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (less if you do not want it too hot more if you do)
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt + a teaspoon more if needed
  • 8 cups turkey or chicken broth two 1 quart cartons
  • 1 1/2 pounds andouille sausage sliced + halved again into half circles (NO substitutions)
  • 1 1/2 -2 cups leftover shredded turkey
  • 1/2 cup leftover gravy optional
  • 1/2 cup leftover cranberry sauce optional
  • leftover mashed potatoes or rice for serving


In a large bowl combine the chopped peppers (red and orange), shredded brussels sprouts, chopped celery, garlic and onion, set aside. In a small to medium size bowl combine the oregano, thyme, basil, creole seasoning, chili powder, cayenne pepper, pepper and salt, set aside. Before you begin the next step, make sure you have completed steps 1 and 2. It is very important to have all your ingredients prepped and ready go. Grab a seat. You cannot walk away from the roux over the next 20-30 minutes.

Heat a large heavy bottom soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the canola oil and flour to the pot and whisk to combine. Stir the roux EVERY 60 SECONDS. You will be able to smell the flour starting to brown. Continue to gently brown the flour without burning it until the mixture turns the color of peanut butter or a dark caramel. This can take 30 minutes or so but it is the heart of the recipe. If you burn it, start over. This time just keep stirring and keep an eye on it!

Once you have your roux made, add all your vegetables (everything in the bowl). The roux will bubble and thicken up immediately into a paste which coats the vegetables. Let the veggies cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring every couple minutes or so. Sprinkle spice mixture over the vegetables, stir and cook 3-5 minutes longer.

Add turkey broth, canned tomatoes and sausage to the pot. Bring the gumbo to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for at least 3 hours or up to all day (the longer the better for flavors to blend). Stir in the turkey, gravy and cranberries (if using). The gumbo should be the consistency of stew. If too much of the liquid evaporates, add water to thin and if there is too much liquid leave the top off the soup and cook 30 minutes longer. Serve over leftover mashed potatoes or rice.

If you’re looking for something lighter, try this recipe from A Sweet Pea Chef for an irresistible salad incorporating the very best of your Thanksgiving dinner leftovers.

Leftover Turkey Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette


For The Cranberry Dijon Vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup prepared cranberries
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • *optional: 2 tbsp. water to loosen
  • For The Candied Pecans:
  • 1/4 cup raw pecans
  • 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • For The Salad:
  • 6 oz diced Thanksgiving turkey
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 3 oz crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 avocado diced
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds


To make the vinaigrette dressing, in a blender, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, prepared cranberries, Dijon mustard, a small garlic clove, sea salt, and ground black pepper. Blend until very smooth, then set aside. If you’d like the consistency to be a tiny bit looser, you could add 1-2 tbsp. water, if desired.

To make the candied pecans, heat a pan over medium heat and add the raw pecans and pure maple syrup. Stir the pecans consistently and you’ll start to see the maple syrup crystallize and coat the pecans in a sugary coating. This should take about 5-8 minutes. Once the syrup has crystallized, remove from heat, allow to cool, and then chop.

To assemble the salad, begin with a bed of fresh baby spinach, then top with diced Thanksgiving turkey, crumbled goat cheese, diced avocado, the candied pecans, and some pomegranate seeds.

Drizzle with the cranberry Dijon vinaigrette and enjoy.