We know, you haven’t even roasted the Thanksgiving turkey yet, and already we’re talking about leftovers. But we thought we’d give you a heads up on some ideas, in case you want to throw a pear or an extra block of cheese in your grocery today. Yes, pear and brie are involved. So are cranberry relish and stuffing. Get the Thanksgiving leftovers recipes below.

Using Up Leftover Turkey: Make Panini!

We’re all for the classic leftover turkey sandwich. In our house, they’re usually open-faced, with stuffing and gravy on top—the same components of the Thanksgiving meal, just rearranged.

But the idea of a pressed, grilled, cheesy turkey sandwich sounds even better. And if your turkey has dried out a little, these panini pile on some other flavors that will perk it up.

We love the idea of adding fruit (pears or apples). One of the recipes below even uses cranberries and dressing. And remember: You certainly don’t need a panini maker to create these sandwiches. Just put the sandwich in a skillet (or on a grill pan) and weigh it down with another medium-sized pot or pan.

In Praise Of The Humble Turkey Sandwich

I have a confession to make. Even though I enjoy turkey with all the trimmings, my favorite part of the holiday meal is being able to make a turkey sandwich afterwards! I crave them late at night, and pad into the kitchen in my pajamas, pulling all the leftovers out of the fridge. The turkey sandwich will always be a classic. I’m sure there are hundreds of different ways to make a turkey sandwich. How do you construct your post-holiday turkey sandwich?

Turkey Leftovers? Make Salvadoran Pane Con Pavos

Here’s an interesting take on the turkey sandwich from Saveur!

Plain turkey gets dressed up with a fragrant sauce of garlic, pumpkin seeds, and light beer. Piled into a crusty baguette with a handful of greens, this spicy sandwich sounds like exactly what we need after the richness of Thanksgiving.

The only trick is adapting the recipe to leftovers. Here is how we’re planning to do it.

The original recipe from Saveur has you braise turkey legs in a pureed sauce, then later simmer it down to make a dressing for the pulled meat. Sounds delicious, but we’d rather use up the leftover turkey still in our fridge.

We’re thinking of reversing the directions. We’ll sauté the onions and peppers used in the second half of the recipe until they’re soft. Then we’ll mix in the tomatoes plus all the spices from the first half and let that cook until everything is fragrant and bubbly.

Pureed in a blender with just enough beer to make it into a sauce, we think this would be perfect for tossing with our leftover turkey.

Post-Thanksgiving Recipe: Cranberry Buttermilk Pancakes

My mother is famous for her raw ginger, lemon, cranberry relish. It’s so pungent and flavorful. On Friday morning, my preferred method of eating it is straight from the fridge, off the end of my fingertip as I contemplate my 9 am Thanksgiving sandwich. That is until one year, I threw the extra relish into a batch of buttermilk pancakes. Now I squirrel away a little of that jewel–like topping for exactly this purpose, and I suggest you join me with this Thanksgiving leftovers recipe of Cranberry Buttermilk Pancakes.

If you are thinking of going light after the day of feasting, I suggest you do it after a plate of these heavenly pancakes. I’m all for balance, but these fluffy puppies are about as good as breakfast indulgences get. They may even give my leftover sandwich a run for its money. The pancakes are rich, yet airy, as only the most old-fashioned breakfast foods can be: biscuits, scones, waffles—they are all miraculous, awe–inducing, sublime vehicles for butter if you ask me.

These pancakes, however, may spawn a whole other Thanksgiving tradition, the morning after! They are that good.

Cranberry Buttermilk Pancakes
(makes about 8 medium or 16 small pancakes)


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup cranberry sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter (plus extra for greasing the pan)

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. In a medium–sized bowl, mix all the wet ingredients until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring until just incorporated (resist the urge to over–mix!). On a large griddle or pan, melt a little butter on medium heat. Make pancakes as large or small as you like; I love ‘silver dollar’ (small) pancakes. Keep warm in a 200 degree oven until all batter is used up. Delicious with extra whip cream, cranberry sauce and maple syrup.

How To Turn Third Day Leftovers Into Hand Pies

Our bellies are still groaning from all the indulgences of our last few days of feasting. Thanksgiving itself was packed with explosions of flavor and there’s nothing better than a turkey sandwich on day two, but by day three—turkey and all the trimmings can be the last thing on your mind. Turn your tasty, yet redundant leftovers into hand pies!

We’re pretty sure that we’re able to eat turkey until our head falls off, but not wanting to actually test that theory, but the third day after the initial holiday feast, we’re done with the whole massive feast idea. One of our favorite ways to keep the leftovers pulling double duty, even when we’re a little lackluster about them is to make them into hand pies.

We like anything in pie form and these are no exception. With bits of each left over layered into the tender crust, each bite, whether eaten straight from the oven, or thawed after being frozen for a few months, provides a burst of flavor along with the memories of a day spent with friends and family.

Our hand pies usually last 6 months or so when wrapped tightly in plastic and then foil (or a seal-a-meal bag), although truth be told, they never really get a chance to last that long. They’re perfect for a quick meal on nights we don’t want to cook and are too tired to go out, plus they’re easily packed for lunches and taken to work.

Leftover Handpies
yields 10-12 pies

Make a recipe of Pâte Brisée. Double up the recipe to make extras, it’s amazing how far leftovers will stretch with this method. Just make sure to keep dough chilled until ready to use.

Make sure meats and vegetables are cut into bite size pieces and set out along side other remaining leftover dishes. Most things go great inside hand pies, everything except mashed potatoes that is. They make things a little dry and starchy. All other veggies, stuffings, meats, gravies and sides are welcome to the hand pie party.

Roll out Pâte Brisée into a 1/8″ thick round. Cut (we used our cracker jar lid as a template) 6-7″ circles. If your circles still feels a little thick, go over it a few more times with your rolling pin.

Add 2-3 Tablespoons of each ingredient to one half of dough circle, adding the filling in long stripes, so each bite of the finished product contains a small amount of each addition.

Fold remaining dough over fillings and crimp and roll dough up on itself as you work your way around the edge. Cut three small slits in the top of your dough to allow steam to vent while cooking.
Combine 1 egg and 3 tablespoons milk in a small bowl and brush onto the tops of each hand pie, making sure to coat the crimped edges as well.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-25 minutes (sometimes the more moist ingredients will retarded the crisping and browning process), checking every 5 minutes after the 25 minute mark.

If you’ll be freezing them, make sure you allow them to come to room temperature before wrapping and storing in your freezer. They’re a perfect bite of Thanksgiving anytime you have a craving and are a perfect way to finish up the leftovers hanging around your refrigerator! Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Leftovers

There you have it! Our delicious and easy do it yourself Thanksgiving leftovers recipes. Perfect for lunch at the office and perfect for the kid’s school lunches for the next couple of days.

Harold D. Aguirre

Harold D. Aguirre

Staff Writer at OC Foodie Fest
Hi there! I love writing about Orange County and all the wonderful things it has to offer. When I am not writing, I spend time with my loving wife, beautiful son, and our friendly Pitbull, Brooklyn. If you ever see me around, feel free to say hi, we can sit down and have coffee.
Harold D. Aguirre

Latest posts by Harold D. Aguirre (see all)