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What can I Do with Leftover Turkey?

Leftover turkey can be used in making a savory potpie.
Add broth and vegetables to leftover turkey to make turkey soup.
A turkey.
Garlic is used in making turkey stock.
A roast turkey.
Leftover turkey can be mixed with peas and mushroom soup to form the filling for a pot pie.
Turkey may be served in lasagna.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 23 July 2014
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Leftover turkey can actually be turned into many dishes. Some resemble the dinner where turkey was served, but others mask the leftovers and make the remains into economical and reinvented meals. Turkey can easily be made into sandwiches, salads, hash, and casseroles.

Naturally, the first thing that may spring to most people’s mind at the thought of leftover turkey is a sandwich. Some people couldn’t have a Thanksgiving without the promise of a Friday turkey sandwich. Diners can use rolls from the previous night, or fresh sliced sourdough bread as a pleasant accompaniment.

A plain turkey sandwich is often much appreciated, but turkey leftovers can also be the inspiration for a cold curried turkey salad. Using either a mayonnaise or yogurt base, cooks can consider adding a small amount of curry and possibly nuts or raisins. This brings a new taste to the leftovers.

Turkey hash is also a great way to make use of leftover turkey, especially when a cook has extra stuffing. Using cubed turkey, stuffing, onions and celery, and perhaps a little turkey gravy or stock, turkey hash can become a day after turkey breakfast, lunch or dinner. Some people also enjoy fried eggs served over hash.

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Leftover turkey adapts itself well to being used in a variety of casseroles or pasta dishes. For example, finely sliced turkey could be part of a lasagna or enchilada dish. It can also be used like canned tuna would be used to make a turkey casserole inspired dish. Leftovers combined with peas, carrots, and mushroom soup can form an excellent basis for a turkey potpie.

Turkey is also excellent in fine slices or in cubes for turkey tacos or turkey quesadillas. Like turkey lasagna, Mexican inspired dishes using turkey often make economical use of leftover meat, but do so in a way that does not remind everyone of turkey dinner the night before.

If the turkey meat is all gone, there is still use for the turkey carcass. Cooks can boil the remains with a bit of onion, carrots, and garlic to make turkey stock. This can be turned into turkey soup or stored for use later. A fine minestrone soup can be concocted from turkey stock, or turkey noodle soup might be the order of the day.

In all, turkey leftovers offer cooks the chance for varied meals. All leftovers should be used within the first two days after cooking, however. Reheated turkey should also reach 165°F (74°C) in order to be safe to eat.

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Discuss this Article

Oceana
Post 8
@giddion – It is surprising that turkey can be so good with traditionally Mexican dishes. I made a leftover turkey into a soup last year that I normally make with chicken, and it was just as good with turkey.

When I make chicken tortilla soup, I use corn, black beans, cumin, salsa, zucchini, garlic, and chicken bouillon cubes. It has a zesty flavor that you would not expect in a turkey dish, but all you have to do is substitute bits of turkey for a can of chicken.

I crumble tortilla chips on top of this soup, and it is so filling. I make plenty of it, so we can eat it for days to come. Unlike plain turkey, it isn't something that we get sick of eating often, though.

seag47
Post 7

I skimmed over some recipes for leftover turkey, but I wound up putting it in salad instead. If you add turkey to a bowl of vegetables, you can make it an entire meal instead of just an appetizer.

I used spinach, tomatoes, baby corn, and shredded carrots with tiny cuts of turkey. I used Italian dressing to bind the flavors together, and it really moisturized the dry turkey.

The thing about turkey is that it doesn't have much flavor of its own. If you can add both liquid and flavor to it, then you will enjoy eating it more.

giddion
Post 6

You can find so many leftover turkey recipes online. This is a problem that so many of us share, so thousands of people have come up with their own solutions.

My favorite by far is turkey tacos. This recipe uses cumin for that Mexican flavor, along with salsa, black beans, avocado, garlic, and lemon juice.

I had never had such spicy turkey before I tried this recipe. I never would have imagined that turkey could be used in a Mexican dish!

Perdido
Post 5

I got so tired of my mom's leftover turkey meals after Thanksgiving, because she would just reheat sliced turkey in the oven. It was like eating the same meat over and over again for a week at dinner!

I decided to do something totally different with my turkey. I love green bean casserole, but I've often thought it would be even better if it had meat in it.

So, first made the green bean casserole as I normally would. I heated up the turkey in the microwave, and once it was hot enough, I mixed it into the casserole with the spoon.

I didn't want to bake turkey that had already been baked for hours, so I figured just heating it up like this and adding it later would be best. It tasted amazing, because it blended in with the flavor of the french fried onions and cream of chicken soup.

Charlie89
Post 4

You can also make an excellent casserole out of leftover turkey. You can even really get the same turkey taste if you use the gravy as your base rather than a soup.

Of course you have to have a lot of gravy left over, but if you're like me, that won't be a problem!

But if you've got enough gravy leftover, then put all the turkey and gravy in a casserole dish, then top with stuffing (you can pick up an extra pack before your Thanksgiving dinner), bake for about an hour, and enjoy your awesome leftover turkey casserole!

Bon appetite!

StreamFinder
Post 3

I am a huge fan of cooking leftover turkey meals -- probably because my mom always makes an enormous amount of turkey during holidays and we always have a ton leftover.

Out of all of the many leftover turkey recipes that we use though, my favorites has got to be leftover turkey chili or stew. They are basically the same recipe, and you prepare them essentially the same, just with different ingredients.

For the chili, you just make it like a normal chili, except substituting turkey for beef. If you want to change it up a little bit, then mix in primarily white beans, and a little sweet corn. I find that that works well with most parts of the turkey. All you have to do is put it in the crockpot and let it stew for a day.

As far as the turkey stew goes, this is where you can really make use of that turkey carcass. Just break up the leftover bones and meat into pieces about the size of half of your palm or smaller, and then put it in the pot with whatever veggies you like. Again, just let it stew for a while, and a day later you've got an awesome soup!

CopperPipe
Post 2

Wow, great article. I am always stuck with what seems like an endless amount of leftover turkey after the holidays, and I always get sick of eating it before I use it all up. I had actually never thought of the majority of these, so I'm really glad to have read this -- now I can add all these recipes into my turkey leftover repertoire.

One of my favorite leftover turkey recipes that has served me well though is what I call a Thanksgiving sandwich. It's really easy, and if you're still in that Thanksgiving mood it's perfect.

All you do is take your old turkey and slice it thin enough for a sandwich. Toast your sandwich bread (I prefer seeded bread, but anything will do), and then spread cranberry compote or leftover cranberry sauce on the bread like jam.

Then cut a few slices of brie cheese and layer it on top of your turkey. Heat if for just a few minutes, and then you're good to go!

nightlights
Post 1

Turkey enchiladas are a family tradition for me! Very important substitution though, don't use the regular "red" enchilada sauce, find the "verde" (green) sauce instead. The flavor is not as bitter and goes with turkey (or chicken) much better than the red sauce does. Don't forget the cilantro, that with verde sauce and you won't be reminded about thanksgiving dinner at all!

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