10 Simple Recipes to Reuse Turkey Leftovers

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"Creatively reusing leftovers is an easy way to start generating less waste, but it takes some practice. We've got some easy tips for you to start with!"

So you just enjoyed yourself with friends and family, but every time you open the fridge, you ask yourself the same question: what am I going to do with all of this leftover turkey? The holidays are all about indulgence, and there’s nothing the matter with sitting down to a wonderful meal with your friends and family. However, Americans throw away about $165 billion in uneaten food every year – and $293 billion of that waste happens on Thanksgiving alone.

Getting creative about cutting back on food waste is a way to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, and we’re here for it at Brightly. As a matter of fact, my family treats leftover reuse as a competitive sport and we give each other high fives if we can successfully get rid of all of our turkey by the time December rolls around. Here are a few tried-and-true turkey leftover recipes, curated by our staff.

1) Turkey Chilaquiles

If you’ve never had chilaquiles, you’re missing out. This Mexican staple defines creative leftover usage by traditionally using day old tortillas combined with eggs to create a mouthwatering, hearty breakfast meal. This Thanksgiving-edition combines your fall poultry of choice with tradition.

From the Pioneer Woman

2) Turkey Tetrazzini

Far from the cafeteria nightmare of yesterday, turkey tetrazzini is a great way to use up leftover poultry and we love this option from the Pioneer Woman. (Bonus: make 2 helpings and freeze one casserole!)

3) Chicken or Turkey Stock (Video)

The next time you roast a humanely treated, sustainably sourced bird, don’t forget to use every part of the animal to create a delicious bone broth or stock.

4) Leftovers Quiche

According to Food52, “the happiest ending for leftovers is quiche.” Pair eggs, a quick crust, and whatever you have leftover in the fridge into a creative and scrumptious new main dish. If you’re vegan, you can substitute eggs for tofu (we recommend checking out the Minimalist Baker’s tips on creating a vegan quiche!)

5) An Epic Sandwich

We’re not talking about the late-night Hawaiian roll with cranberry sauce variety (although there’s nothing wrong with that!) – have you ever thought to create a Kentucky Hot Brown, pesto-and-sundried-tomato, or Greek-inspired panini with your holiday leftovers? Country Living has you covered with 35 creative spins on the humble turkey sandwich.

From Mexico in My Kitchen

6) Quick Enchiladas Suizas

Enchiladas from scratch might not be a task you’re up to taking on after a Thanksgiving meal, but using store-bought verde sauce makes this a fast and easy way. The original recipe from Mexico In My Kitchen calls for chicken, but substitute turkey for the apres-Thanksgiving version.

7) Turkey Tortilla Soup

Soups are a quick and easy way to make a filling and diet-friendly meal. This one from Simply Recipes packs a lot of punch – for an extra kick, add lime juice in at the very end!

From the Chunky Chef

8) One-Pot Turkey Parmesan Pasta

Making a true poultry-based parmigiana is time intensive and typically calls for chicken – in this recipe from the Chunky Chef, skip the first steps about cooking chicken and add in your leftover turkey at the end!

From the Endless Meal

9) Thai Coconut Turkey Soup

Bringing Thai flavors to holiday eating in an exciting way, this soup from the Endless Meal melds Tom Yum flavors with a creative way to reuse turkey.

From the Spruce

10) Asian-Spiced Turkey Salad

If you’re looking to cut back on carbs after overindulging during an epic meal, this salad from the Spruce packs a powerful punch and brings in flavors that will leave you wanting to recreate the recipe year-round.

Leftover Love: General Tips + Best Practices

Our friend, chef Alison Montford from Ends and Stems, put it best when she said “I don’t usually crave leftovers… but I do hate seeing my time and money going in the compost bin by being too picky or too lazy! To eat my leftovers so I employ a few techniques to avoid it as much as possible.” See her tips here.

Creatively reusing leftovers is an easy way to start generating less waste, but it takes some practice. We've got some easy tips for you to start with!

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