What can I do with Thanksgiving Leftovers?

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  • Written By: Athena Hessong
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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For most Americans, the Friday after Thanksgiving holds the promise of at least two certainties: shopping and Thanksgiving leftovers. No matter how hard the cook tries to tailor the meal to the proper portions for all of the guests, there always seem to be turkey leftovers, along with extra mashed potatoes, rolls, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. No one wants to see the remains of the Thanksgiving turkey go to waste, so annually hundreds flock to the Internet and their favorite cookbooks seeking recipes with which to reincarnate their Thanksgiving feast.

Perhaps one of the simplest recipes using Thanksgiving leftovers is what some term the Over the Sink Sandwich. This is typically consumed Thanksgiving night, since no one is in the mood to cook. It calls for piling bits of all of the Thanksgiving leftovers between two slices of bread, or a leftover roll. This sandwich becomes such a mess to eat, that many find themselves consuming it leaning over the sink. While not proper in this form, a sandwich is an effective means of using leftovers from the Thanksgiving dinner. Cranberry sauce can be used as a spread on bread with turkey placed between the slices. Another option would be an open faced hot sandwich with a scoop of leftover stuffing on a slice of bread topped with chopped turkey and gravy poured over it all.


Many people find that they tire of sandwiches, and they are the ones to look for alternative uses for their Thanksgiving leftovers. A casserole is a good way to combine many of the dishes from the Thanksgiving dinner into a new and tasty meal. A turkey divan can be made by combining leftover broccoli, turkey and gravy in a casserole dish and topping it with leftover stuffing and Parmesan cheese. Another popular casserole is shepherd's pie. Traditionally it is filled with lamb, but any leftover meat will work. The hallmark is its topping of mashed potatoes.

While many seek out recipes for turkey, there are still the side dishes that must be dealt with. Thanksgiving leftovers are often side dishes more than turkey, but there are many recipes which can reinvent these dishes to become the stars of a meal. Mashed potatoes can easily be used the following morning for potato pancakes. Cranberry sauce mixed with cream cheese makes a delightful spread on a bagel instead of jam, and leftover rolls and pumpkin pie, crust and all, can be broken up and put into a casserole with a mixture of eggs and milk and made into a bread pudding.

While anyone can make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, it takes a truly creative chef to turn Thanksgiving leftovers into memorable meals. With a little bit of effort and a dose of imagination, the Thanksgiving leftovers will be remembered almost as fondly as the actual Thanksgiving feast.


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