Product Corner: 5 Ways to Use Thanksgiving Leftovers

Ways to use Thanksgiving leftovers

Welcome to our series, Product Corner, where each month our Product Manager, Rachel Haynes, will cover a food-focused topic. The series will feature everything from kitchen tips and food myths to the inside scoop on favorite products. (And that’s just a quick taste of what to expect!)


Thanksgiving dinner (linner? My family always ate at two or three in the afternoon, and everyone was passed out by dinner time) is great and all, but for me, the leftovers are where it's at. I remember watching people eat turkey, and hoping they wouldn't go back for seconds and thirds because it meant more turkey for leftover creations. And don't you dare get seconds on mashed potatoes! Food hoarding aside, there's a ton you can do with Thanksgiving leftovers, and these are just a few of my personal favorites.

1. Turkey Stock

Don't throw away the bones and other leftovers after the turkey is carved! Pick all of the meat clean from the turkey, then put everything in a large stockpot with an onion or two that have been quartered, four or five stalks of celery (cut to fit in the pot), four or five carrots, a teaspoon or so of whole black peppercorns, and a few sprigs of your favorite herbs (rosemary, thyme, and parsley work well). 

Add enough water to cover (usually around a gallon, but just eyeball it!) and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, simmer, simmer! I usually let it go from about four to five hours, but at minimum, let it go for three. Using a large bowl and fine mesh strainer, remove any large pieces, set aside, and pour the stock through a strainer into a bowl. Cool, then divide between smaller, sealable containers.

Discard everything that was strained out. The stock will keep fresh in the refrigerator for one week or frozen for three months (if it lasts that long!). I make soups, sauces, and rice with the stock and it just adds a much deeper flavor than canned broth! We also make turkey noodle soup with leftover turkey, the stock, egg noodles, and carrots.

2. Fried Mashed Potato Patties

I love these. Love, love, love them. I make mashed potatoes sometimes just to refrigerate them to make these the next day. Honestly, they're great with marinara and a fried egg for the perfect breakfast, lunch, or dinner. My favorite recipe is here, but just use that as a base. There are a few mix-in ideas in the recipe.

3. Simple Turkey Pot Pie

This one is a double whammy! Use up leftover turkey, gravy, AND that last sheet of puff pastry with a simple pot pie. Dice an onion and a couple of carrots, and toss in a skillet with a couple of tablespoons of butter. Sauté over medium heat until soft (about eight minutes), then add about a cup and a half of shredded leftover turkey. Add a couple of tablespoons of flour, pepper to taste, a dash of garlic powder and rubbed sage, and stir to coat. Add a cup and a half of chicken or vegetable broth (OR some of the tasty turkey stock you made from the above recipe!), and a 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream. Stir until thickened, and then take off the heat.

Take a nine-inch pie pan, and place it upside down on a sheet of puff pastry. Using a fine point knife (I like a paring knife for this), trace the pie pan and cut out a circle of puff pastry. Dump the turkey mixture into the pie pan, and place puff pastry over the top, tucking the edge inside of the pie pan. Cut two slits in the pastry to allow steam to leave, then pop in the oven at 400F for about 18 to 20 minutes.

4. Stuffing Meatballs

A great way to amp up and moisten your meatballs is to add stuffing in place of breadcrumbs! Take a cup and a half of stuffing and chop on a cutting board to create smaller pieces. Add a pound of ground beef (or turkey!), and one egg. Mix thoroughly with hands then roll into an inch and a half balls. Bake at 400F for 20 to 25 minutes or until meatballs read 160F when pierced with a thermometer. Serve with leftover mashed potatoes and gravy for a Thanksgiving twist on Swedish Meatballs.

5. And then there's the Cranberry Sauce...

I'll admit, cranberry sauce had me stumped. Other than open-faced turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce and cream cheese (which are great and I encourage you to try it!), I wanted something a little differently. So, I took to Google to find interesting and tasty ways to use up all that cranberry sauce that you bought (and no one ate). Some of my favorites are listed below:

  • Cranberry Hot Wings
    Think about this one, a little tangy, a little sweet, add in some spice and it's the perfect hot wing glaze.
  • Cranberry Bog Bars
    Cranberry sauce is the perfect way to balance the sweetness of brown sugar in these oat-based bars!
  • Fruit Pancakes
    Cranberry isn't the first berry I'd reach for when making fruit pancakes... But it just might be one of my favorites (if you haven't tried cranberry syrup, do it!).

How do you use up all your leftovers? Or do you have any at all?


About Rachel Haynes

Rachel joined the Smith Brothers Farms IT department, but made the switch in 2018 to marketing when the opportunity became available to do all the things she loves outside of work: cook, eat, photography, and learn about food. Now she’s in charge of determining what great products to bring on next. Additionally, Rachel leads our recipe development, focusing on fresh, local ingredients and simple preparation. She enjoys creating dishes that inspire readers to try new ingredients and cooking methods.