15 Ways to Spice Up Thanksgiving Leftovers


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man carving roasted Thanksgiving turkey
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Meals made from Thanksgiving leftovers are such a treat that some cooks actually prepare extra food to ensure that plenty gets packed into the fridge afterward. Yes, there are sandwiches to be made, but also a world to discover beyond that post-Thanksgiving staple. Everything left over can be used to make something else, from budget-stretching soups to dessert. And these 15 recipes are all fairly easy — because after putting together a Thanksgiving meal, no home cook has the energy to go through it all again.

Turkey Soup
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The carcass of the turkey, plus any bits left clinging to it, can be made into soup or a base for other soups. In the morning, throw those bones into a big Dutch oven or soup pot and fill it with water. Add two diced onions, three chopped carrots, three chopped celery stalks, six diced cloves of garlic, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and let simmer all day. At dinnertime, add rice or noodles for a flavorful soup, and serve with leftover dinner rolls.

Fiesta Turkey Soup
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Let's face it, Thanksgiving fare can be a little bland. Spice up the next day's dinner with a Mexican-inspired soup. This recipe uses leftover turkey along with chiles, cumin, and beans. For the broth, use turkey soup made from the carcass and basic soup vegetables and strain out the solids. 

Recipe: Southern Living

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Samosas could be a very filling snack, a small meal with a salad, or an appetizer if another dinner party is in the offing. Wrap leftover turkey and a bit of mashed potatoes in a pie crust with some chutney, and then bake.

Recipe: Real Simple

Turkey, Sweet Potato, and Watercress Salad
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For something light that incorporates several Thanksgiving treats, try this salad. The recipe calls for roasted sweet potatoes, but sliced-up pieces of already baked sweet potato are an acceptable substitute. Follow instructions for preparing the rest of the salad, including roasting an onion, and toss together. The watercress, radishes, and lime juice add a peppery bite and crunch to this refreshing salad. Top with your own homemade or store-bought dressing

Recipe: Martha Stewart

Turkey Bolognese
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When there is still more turkey in the fridge but the thought of another turkey dish is unbearable, turn it into something that can be frozen for another time. A Bolognese sauce, made with a pound of the bird instead of the classic beef, veal, and pancetta, is just the thing. This version yields sauce that can be kept in the freezer for up to a month and used over spaghetti or fettuccine. 

Recipe: Giada De Laurentiis

Turkey and Stuffing Pie
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One of the more common uses for leftover turkey is in a pot pie. Although the stuffing is typically one of the first edibles to disappear, it can become a savory crust if as much as 3 cups remain. This pie incorporates leftover gravy instead of a creamy sauce. If there are any leftover cooked string beans lolling around in the fridge, toss them in, as well.

Recipe: Michael Symon of “The Chew”

Brussels Sprout, Potato, and Turkey Hash
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In some households, Brussels sprouts are adored, and in others they are shunned in favor of other delectable vegetables. If this maligned member of the cruciferous family was not gobbled up on Thanksgiving, it can be used in a breakfast hash with leftover roasted potatoes and turkey, fried up and nicely charred. Further recommendations: Place a fried egg on top and pour some leftover gravy over it all. 

Recipe: Serious Eats

Stuffing Frittata
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For a satisfying and easy brunch before setting out on a holiday shopping spree, whip up a frittata. Heat the stuffing; sprinkle on some cheese; cover with an egg, milk, and herb mixture; and cook it a bit on the stove and then under the broiler until bubbling. 

Recipe: Food Network

Sweet Potato Pancakes
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Although pancakes are usually served as a breakfast option, there's no reason they can't be eaten for lunch or dinner, particularly when made with healthy sweet potatoes. This spin on the classic morning meal incorporates mashed-up baked sweet potatoes with the usual pancake ingredients, plus sour cream for tang and maple syrup for an extra hit of flavor. 

Recipe: Serious Eats

Sweet Potato and Brie Grilled Sandwiches
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Leftover baked sweet potatoes are one thing, but what to do with leftover sweet potato casserole? Here’s an almost sinfully fatty suggestion: Use it in a grilled sandwich with Brie and bacon. Choose a hearty bread that will hold up to the tastes and the mess.

Recipe: How Sweet It Is

Cranberry-Glazed Wings
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Cranberry sauce is sweet and kind of sticky — just the thing to use for a glaze. Wings made with cranberry sauce (canned or fresh), spiced up with jalapeños, and dipped in a creamy feta sauce will hit the spot if football games are on tap for Thanksgiving weekend. 

Recipe: The Daily Meal

Sweet Potato Flan
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If baked sweet potatoes were on the Thanksgiving menu, mash them up into a flan for a weekend dessert. This recipe makes the caramel coating easy: Heat sugar and water until golden and pour into an oil-coated cake pan. Whip together the rest of the ingredients in a blender, pour over the caramel, and bake. Although this recipe has rum in it, vanilla can be substituted. 

Recipe: Cooking Light

Cranberry Sauce and Apple Crisp
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In this autumnal dessert, you’ll mix the cranberry sauce with tart apples and bake with a crunchy crumble topping. The recipe suggests serving with vanilla ice cream, but whipped cream originally intended for pumpkin pie would work just as well. 

Recipe: Just a Taste

Cranberry Turnovers
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These turnovers are presented as breakfast fare, but they would do equally well as a next-day dessert. Assemble pre-made puff pastry, a spoonful or two of a sweetened cream cheese mixture, and a dollop of leftover cranberry sauce and bake. Top with a squiggle of icing. 

Recipe: Country Living

Cranberry Culprit
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For a bit of hair of the dog, mix a bit of languishing cranberry-orange relish with amaretto, bourbon, and ginger ale. Add a twist of lime, imbibe, and return to the post-feast stupor. 

Recipe: Chowhound

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