Surprisingly Creative Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving Leftovers? Yes, Please!

This year, you may cook for a slightly smaller crowd. No worries, that means more leftovers for you! Sponsored by Campbell's®

Sponsored by Campbell's®.

I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinner for just four people this year, but I’ve decided to buy a whole bird (instead of buying a breast or a few thighs) because I want those leftovers. I love the option of warming up food I’ve already cooked.

Even more fun than microwaving leftovers, however, is finessing them into entirely new meals. Sandwiches are a given (below, we feature yummy turkey sliders with cranberry sauce and gouda), but have you also considered turning your stuffing into waffles and piling it high with yesterday’s toppings? What about transforming mashed potatoes into a turkey-based Shepherd’s pie or creating cranberry, turkey, and stuffing-filled enchiladas?

There are endless opportunities to make yesterday’s leftovers shine. Read on for eight delicious ways to stretch ordinary leftovers into practical, creative new meals.

Turkey and Stuffing Casserole

Casseroles are some of the easiest dishes on the planet to throw together, and they’re even more of a joy when you already have most of the ingredients cooked, seasoned, and waiting in your fridge. This delightful leftover turkey and stuffing casserole only requires a can of Campbell's® Cream of Mushroom Soup, broccoli, milk, and cheese — plus the turkey and stuffing. If you’re like me, you already combine these foods on your plate anyway, so you’ll be right at home with this cheesy, comforting entrée. A little cranberry sauce on the side won’t hurt, either.

Shepherd’s Pie

Mashed potatoes are a Thanksgiving must, but I always end up with more leftover potatoes than I need. This year, I will turn those extras into a Shepherd’s Pie, which is typically made with ground beef or lamb (but I’ll sub in Thanksgiving turkey). In only 30 minutes, you can transform yesterday’s potatoes into an exciting, complete meal — one that’s just as nourishing as Thanksgiving dinner. Tip: Toss in any leftover Thanksgiving veggies (even green bean casserole would work here) instead of — or in addition to — frozen peas or carrots.

Savory Sweet Potato Bake

Candied yams or sweet potatoes are classic Thanksgiving sides, but they'd be mains if it were up to me. You can do so much with these versatile vegetables:

  • Puree them with broth and turn them into soup.

  • Load them up with veggies and top them with eggs.

  • Convert them into a filling, cheesy casserole that can feed you for days.

This Savory Sweet Potato Bake is a delicious way to maximize whatever leftover sweet potatoes or yams you have by combining them with cream of mushroom soup, cheddar cheese and spices. While this recipe calls for five large sweet potatoes, your pre-prepared leftovers will work just fine (and be a cinch to throw together). If you don’t have the equivalent of five sweet potatoes in leftovers, you can either halve the recipe or substitute other fillings, such as leftover veggies or even turkey.

Leftover Stuffing Waffles

These savory leftover stuffing waffles make for lovely, crispy fritters on which you can pile greens, turkey, or even mashed potatoes — or enjoy with gravy or maple syrup — for an exciting, tasty rehash of yesterday’s favorite side. You only need to add eggs to your stuffing for a waffle-ready batter. If you don’t have a waffle iron, just smash your stuffing-egg mixture with a spatula onto a hot, oiled cast iron pan until it sizzles. Let it brown and then flip. If you’re frying your batter in a pan, feel free to thin it out with a splash of turkey (or chicken) broth first for an extra, deliciously crunchy texture.

Turkey Sliders

Upgrade the classic turkey sandwich with leftover cranberry sauce, gouda (or whatever cheese you have available), and stuffing. While this recipe calls for Hawaiian rolls, you can use whatever bread you have on hand for a full-sized sandwich, if you prefer. Or save the stuffing for the stuffing waffles (or fritters) recipe listed above and use that as bread! Either way, the combination of savory turkey, zingy cranberry sauce, and creamy cheese will be worth the effort.

Thanksgiving Leftover Enchiladas

It’s amazing how a few chilies, a pack of tortillas, and flavorful sauce can transform classic American comfort food into an impressive Mexican-inspired dinner. For those of us who are ready for some variety after the Big Meal, we can still get it with leftover turkey and stuffing (and the cranberry sauce, butternut squash, and brussels sprouts crowding our fridges) in the form of enchiladas. With so much of the prep work already done, all we have to do is add our leftovers, plus some sautéed veggies and spices, to tortillas, which we’ll top with enchilada sauce and cheese, and then bake for 25-30 minutes. Feel free to top with sliced avocado and a squeeze of lime for extra flavor!