15 Ways to Use Turkey Leftovers to Cut Down on Food Waste
Making new recipes with turkey leftovers after Thanksgiving keeps your fridge (and the landfill) clear. Start with these delicious options.
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 this leftover turkey? Well, that's where these turkey leftover meals come in.
The holidays are all about indulgence, and there's nothing wrong with sitting down to a wonderful meal with your friends and family. However, Americans throw away 108 billion pounds of uneaten food every year. After Thanksgiving, that's 200 million pounds of turkey 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 our turkey leftovers by the time December rolls around.
Here are some tried-and-true ways to use your turkey leftovers this holiday season.
15 Recipes for Using Up Turkey Leftovers
1. Turkey Chilaquiles
Photo: Ends + Stems
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.
2. Turkey Tetrazzini
Photo: The Pioneer Woman
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 two helpings and freeze one casserole!)
3. Turkey Stock
Photo: Garlic & Zest
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. Turkey Leftovers Quiche
Photo: Sizzling Eats
Pair eggs, a quick crust, and your turkey leftovers for a creative and scrumptious new main dish. This recipe also incorporates leftover sweet potato casserole and stuffing for a seriously low-waste feast.
5. Kentucky Hot Brown Turkey Sandwich
Photo: Serious Eats
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 with turkey leftovers? This recipe has you covered.
6. Turkey Enchiladas
Photo: Isabel Eats
Enchiladas from scratch might not be a task you're up to taking on after a Thanksgiving meal, but you can prep this simple recipe that uses turkey leftovers in 10 minutes flat.
7. Turkey Tortilla Soup
Photo: Little Broken
Soups are a quick and easy way to make a filling and diet-friendly meal. This one packs a lot of punch. For an extra kick, add lime juice in at the very end!
Reusable Bowl Covers Set
Shop All Food & Kitchen
Skip the aluminum foil and plastic wrap this holiday season. These reusable bowl covers save money and reduce waste.
8. One-Pot Turkey Parmesan Pasta
Photo: The Chunky Chef
Making a true poultry-based parmigiana is time-intensive and typically calls for chicken. In this recipe, you can save time by swapping in leftover turkey instead.
9. Thai Coconut Turkey Soup
Photo: The Endless Meal
Bringing Thai flavors to holiday eating in an exciting way, this soup melds Tom Yum flavors with a creative way to reuse turkey leftovers.
10. Turkey Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
Photo: A Sweet Pea Chef
If you're looking for something a little lighter after indulging, this salad packs a powerful punch and brings in flavors that will leave you wanting to recreate the recipe year-round.
11. Turkey Skillet Mac and Cheese
Photo: Running to the Kitchen
Believe it or not, mac and cheese tastes even better with a little leftover turkey added in. This one-pot recipe is sure to be a family favorite after the holidays.
12. Leftover Turkey Pizza
Photo: Upstate Ramblings
Leftover turkey makes the perfect pizza topping. Shred it up and combine it with your other favorites: cheese, veggies, and maybe even some leafy greens if you're feeling fancy.
13. Turkey and Dumplings Soup
Photo: Completely Delicious
Turkey pairs perfectly with homemade broth, potatoes, carrots, and fluffy dumplings. It's a must-try meal on the next chilly day.
14. Leftover Turkey Patties
Photo: Healthy Recipes Blog
Skip the ground turkey and DIY some patties with your leftovers. Combine turkey with Greek yogurt, almond flour, mustard, eggs, and some spices for a quickie dinner.
15. Turkey and Mashed Potato Croquettes
Photo: The Spruce Eats
Leftover turkey and mashed potatoes are the stars of the show in this croquette recipe. Serve them with leftover gravy for a delicious post-Thanksgiving meal.
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