Homemade is Better—Turkey Leftovers

When I was in culinary school one of the lessons that stuck with me was to always use your leftovers in something different.  I think it’s probably fair to say that we all struggle with ways to use our leftovers, and I am no different.  In my family, these holiday meals end up being these big feasts, and I’m some would agree that some of us eat too much during these holiday meals.  But I’m not here to shame anyone; I’m here to help you figure out ways to use those leftovers in healthy and maybe fun ways!  This article is going to be a plethora of recipes for you to use the turkey, stuffing, cranberries, potatoes, and that gravy.

First, mashed potatoes make great gnocchi.  Not sure what gnocchi is?  It’s a potato pasta, and it super easy to make!

Mashed Potato Gnocchi


Leftover mashed potatoes
1 egg
1-2 cups all-purpose flour
1 large pot of boiling salted water

  • Warm up your potatoes slightly in the microwave or oven.
  • Mix the mashed potatoes with the egg, mix to combine.
  • Add just enough flour until it forms a dough. Your dough shouldn’t be sticky, so keep adding flour a little bit at a time until it comes together.
  • Split the dough up into relatively equal pieces.
  • Roll each piece out into a long string, about ¼ inch wide.
  • Cut the dough into 1-inch pieces and put them into the boiling water.
  • Cook them for about 1 minute then move them to a strainer.
  • Add some butter and parmesan cheese.

Another recipe I like to use involves my turkey carcass.  Nothing beats warm soup on a cold autumn day!  I’m writing this article on Thanksgiving and the forecast for this coming week says there is a chance of the four-letter word that’s cold, but it is feeling like a decent fall.

Roasted Turkey Stock


1 turkey carcass
2 carrots – roughly chopped
2 ribs celery – roughly chopped
1 medium onion – roughly chopped
5 cloves of whole garlic
3 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried parsley
5-6 peppercorns

  • Put your carcass into a pot large enough to hold it with extra room
  • Pour in enough water to cover the carcass
  • Put the pot onto the stove top, and bring the water to a boil
  • Meanwhile, wash, but do not peel, the carrots. Then chop them into 1 – 2-inch-long pieces.  Repeat with the celery.
  • Cut your onion in half, then quarter each half.
  • Once your water starts to boil turn it down to a simmer and add the veg and the rest of the ingredients.
  • Let it cook about 8 hours. If you’re cooking it overnight, make sure you check on the water level just before bed and do not let it boil.  It should be a gently simmer and should not loose much water.  Add more water if your pot is looking lower than 2/3s.
  • After 8 hours or so, strain it into another container and put aside for the next recipe.

Turkey Vegetable Soup


2L Turkey stock (if your stock made more that’s okay, you can freeze it)
2 cups diced thanksgiving turkey
2 whole carrots – diced
2 celery ribs – diced
1 medium onion – diced
½ cup white wine
2 bay leaves
2 tsp parsley
1 tsp thyme
Kosher salt – to taste
Black pepper – to taste
¼ cup butter

  • Grab a soup pot and put in the butter and onion, turn the heat to medium high.
  • Once the onion starts to heat up and turn more translucent add the carrots and celery.
  • Stir until the veggies start to soften.
  • Add a pinch of kosher salt, and a ¼ tsp of black pepper.
  • Add the white wine and let it cook until it reduces by about ½ to ¾.
  • Add in the turkey and stir.
  • Add the stock, and herbs and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about an hour.
  • Taste it and add more salt as needed. If you brined your turkey you will notice you don’t need much more salt, but you would need pepper.

My last recipe is a classic solution for lunches!  I think most people do this with their leftover bird.

Turkey Sandwiches


2-3 pieces of turkey
2 slices of bread or a bun
1 tsp mayo
1 tsp butter
1 TBSP stuffing
1 tsp cranberry sauce

  • Butter one slice of bread and put mayo on the top piece.
  • Place your turkey on it, then stuffing, the cranberry sauce.
  • Add some lettuce if you’d like, then put the sandwich together.
  • Enjoy!