How to Use Up Turkey Day Leftovers

Heather says:

Unlike many households, we purposely make too much turkey. Why? The cost per pound is often significantly cheaper than other meats, including beans. Why? Turkey is often sold as a loss leader in many grocery stores. If they can get you in to buy the turkey, chances are you won’t go somewhere else to buy all the trimmings.

We take advantage of the loss leaders, buying as many turkeys as we can store. Then we cook the turkeys and freeze the meat for use in other recipes.

Guidelines for how long leftovers are good and serving suggestions  are below this handy table of ideas for using leftover cooked turkey.

Leftover Turkey Recipes
Turkey Pot Pie Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
Turkey Bog Enchiladas
Turkey Soup Pilau
Turkey Salad Jambalaya
  • Turkey should be frozen or used within 2 – 6 days.
  • Frozen cooked turkey should be used within 2 months and should be cooked thoroughly, immediately after thawing.
  • If you have gravy or leftover mashed potatoes they should have been used within 1 – 2 days after Thanksgiving. Use them today or toss them out.
  • Leftover gravy is an excellent addition to “Mustgo Soup,” mashed potatoes are, too. Both thicken and add flavor.
  • Cranberry sauce can be stirred into yogurt, served over ice cream, or it makes a nice accompaniment to pork chops, ham, chicken, or fish. It should be used within 7 days. (The sugar acts as a preservative.)

How about it, Home Eccers, do you have any suggestions?



    9 Comments

    1. ~M on December 6, 2010 at 11:40 am

      We froze a bunch of our leftover hand-torn turkey since we left town for a few days. I was wondering whether it's OK to use this turkey in chilis or casseroles or some other dish and then re-freeze (for after our new baby arrives!). Thanks!

      • HeatherSolos on December 6, 2010 at 12:02 pm

        Absolutely, that's a great idea.

        • Muggle on December 6, 2010 at 12:13 pm

          I thought you were not supposed to re-freeze food….

          • HeatherSolos on December 6, 2010 at 12:19 pm

            You don't refreeze uncooked food. If you cooked the turkey, then froze the leftovers, that is completely safe.
            You do not thaw turkey, then refreeze, skipping the cooking step.

    2. @awakeatheart on December 1, 2010 at 12:22 am

      Thanksgiving Pie! Pie crust with layers of turkey, stuffing, veggies, and mashed potatoes, with the leftover gravy globs on top of the turkey & stuffing layers. Put the other crust on top and bake at 375 until browned. My husband loves it even more than turkey, and that's saying something 🙂

      This year I had to make extra external stuffing to bring to thanksgiving, and I bought 3 drumsticks and a wing to put on top, to give the stuffing more real "stuffing" flavor. Those pieces made awesome turkey & brown/wild rice soup, about 6 pints for $6.

    3. Shelley on November 30, 2010 at 5:21 am

      We had a party and cooked for 35; due to the weather, only 9 people showed. We have loads of turkey leftover! I've portioned it into 1-2 cup servings and will pull out for stirfry, wrapping in tortillas, turkey sandwiches, any recipe that calls for poultry. My cornbread stuffing put into ice cream scoop portions (v. fattening, it is) and frozen on a cookie sheet and then moved to ziploc bags. Mashed potatoes frozen in small containers. Pumpkin pies wrapped in Saran wrap and frozen until Christmas when the family gathers. We're set for winter if needed! With the weather being more and more unpredictable, don't think I'll be cooking for a week only to have the party snowed out again. Next year's challenge will be to learn how to cook for t-w-o, not 50.

    4. Alice Dick on November 29, 2010 at 6:15 pm

      I've never thought of buying loss-leader turkeys, but it's a great idea! I will keep my eyes open at Christmas and see if the stores have any good deals on turkey then.

    5. Jenny on November 29, 2010 at 3:17 pm

      Was it really only a few days ago?? Glad to know I wasn't the only person scarfing up turkeys at $.60/lb. I have added mashed potatoes to home made bread dough, turned them into pancakes, or deep fried them (after adding onion and rolling into balls with a panko crust). Sweet potatoes can make a yummy quick bread along the lines of pumpkin bread. The potato pancakes, and breads can then all be frozen for use later. When I was working in restaurant any of the left over meats were thrown into the "BBQ" pot. It sounds gross but it really wasn't bad.

    6. Paul on November 29, 2010 at 1:25 pm

      Mashed potato's can be frozen and then brought back to life by adding a small amount of milk while heating them on the stove. They are as good as they were on Thanksgiving and tasty with meat loaf or any other meal that you would normally serve them with. No peeling, washing or cubing. Ready in minutes. Some people enjoy potato pancakes with the leftovers also.

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