In my house growing up, Thanksgiving was less of a holiday and more of a 24-hour eating competition between all 25 members of my family. When your family is that large and most of them happen to be very hungry young men, it’s impossible to not accidentally cook too much food.
I remember one year when one of my cousins brought over a 15-pound smoked ham, and my mom had made two turkeys—one that was 28 pounds (it was literally the biggest turkey any of us had ever seen) and another that was 18 pounds.
I’m not going to list all the numerous sides, pies, cookies, and tins of ice cream that were also devoured at this sumptuous feast, but I will say that we had enough food to feed everyone for three days (seriously. There was no turkey or ham left!).
Everyone likes to have Thanksgiving leftovers the next day, but by day three or four, the turkey doesn’t taste as good, the sides are lackluster, and the pies don’t look as appetizing as they used to.
Wasted food is wasted money, so don’t chuck your leftovers in the bin! Save money by making delicious leftover meals—pie milkshakes, Thanksgiving pockets, potato pancakes, and more—with these easy recipes.
Thanksgiving Leftover Breakfast
My favorite ingredient is the potato because you can do so many different things with it. When I have leftover baked potatoes, I make mashed potatoes, and when I have leftover mashed potatoes, I make potato pancakes.
”Leftover” Mashed Potato Pancakes
- 1 1/4 cups mashed potatoes
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup flour
- Oil (for frying)
- Sour cream, jam or applesauce (for topping)
All you do is take some leftover mash, your egg, and flour, and mix it all together. When your skillet and oil are hot, just drop balls of the mashed potato mix onto it and flatten them slightly.
You can add garlic, bacon bits, cheese, shallots, chives, mustard—whatever you like best—to this basic recipe. Since we’re talking about Thanksgiving here, I recommend adding bits of shredded turkey and cheese to your mashed potatoes, frying the pancakes, and then topping it off with gravy.
You can also go for a sweeter variety by adding a pinch of sugar to the egg, flour, and mash mix, and then topping the pancakes with cheese curd crumbles, cranberry jam, and a pinch of sugar if it’s not quite sweet enough.
To go with your delicious potato pancakes, I highly, highly recommend making this leftover Thanksgiving breakfast casserole from Tasty! It’s an egg-heavy recipe (you need a dozen), but it’s also a great way to use leftover stuffing and turkey, and it makes a pretty calorie-dense breakfast that’ll leave you full throughout the day.
Thanksgiving Leftover Lunch
Some people eat breakfast, some choose to have a big lunch. It varies for me, but, usually, if I’m going to have lunch, I’m going to have a massive lunch, which is why I love this mouthwatering turkey pot pie recipe. I’m a huge fan of pie anyway, but pot pie has a special place in my heart (and stomach), and this recipe is perfect for using that leftover pie dough you have sitting in your fridge. What could be better than your amazing Thanksgiving meal wrapped inside a super flaky, super buttery pie crust?
When I make this recipe with leftovers, I don’t bother with the ingredients I don’t have on hand (for me, that’s usually carrots and celery). I also just mix in the leftover mashed potatoes instead of peeling and dicing fresh potatoes. You can do this, too, but be aware that it may make your pie a little mushy or runny.
This particular recipe doesn’t call for stuffing, but you should definitely add stuffing, and then adjust your liquid based on the overall consistency of the filling (thicker is better, but don’t accidentally make paste!).
If you’re hesitating to make this dish because you don’t have all the listed ingredients, don’t worry—just throw in your favorite parts of Thanksgiving, wrap it in a crust, bake it, and serve it one last time on that Thanksgiving-only china.
Thanksgiving Leftover Dinner
Whenever family would stay over for the holiday, they’d snack on leftovers the next day, but then want something else for dinner (usually because my cousins would be fighting each other for any remaining turkey meat and/or the turkey carcass. Savages). My mom would solve this problem by ordering pizza from my family’s favorite pizza joint, but I’m cheap and don’t like our family as much as my mother does.
Tasty’s Thanksgiving pockets recipe calls for empanada wrappers, which you can buy, but it’s cheaper to just take your leftover pie dough and make the ‘wrappers’ yourself (and who really wants to run down to the local grocery on Black Friday Weekend?).
This recipe is perfect if you have lots of hands to help because it requires rolling out pie dough, cutting out circles from it, stuffing those dough circles with turkey, mashed potatoes, corn—whatever other leftovers you fancy—and then frying the dough in a skillet – cast iron skillets work the best, or you could use a deep fryer. If you’ve ever made fried pies (hand pies), you know how time-consuming it is, so I would either hand this recipe over to your can’t-sit-still-and-must-always-be-doing-something grandmother, or recruit the family members who annoy you the least to help.
Thanksgiving Leftover Dessert
My favorite part of any meal is the part where I get to stuff myself silly with dessert. One reason I really enjoy Thanksgiving is because I love pie (if my recipe choices didn’t make that obvious) and, unfortunately, I now live with someone who doesn’t care for it at all.
I’m not going to eat an entire pie by myself (well…), so I try to get my fill at Thanksgiving. I’m still just one person, however, so I can’t devour a dozen pies by myself (well…). What usually happens is my family ends up with two sweet potato pies, one pumpkin pie, an Oreo pie, and a Nutella pie—all of them untouched.
Pie has a fairly short shelf life, so you kind of need to eat it within a few days (except Oreo pie. It freezes really well and actually tastes better frozen). So what do you do when your pie is on the verge of going “bad”? You make a giant milkshake.
Collin’s Leftovers Milkshake
- 1-2 slices of pie (depending on size of the slice)
- 2 scoops of your favorite ice cream
- Milk or half-n-half (add until you reach your desired consistency)
- Whipped cream
Crumble your pie into your blender and add your ice cream. Blend that together. Add milk or half-n-half until the consistency you like is reached. Pour into a glass and top with whipped cream.
My cousin showed me this recipe using pumpkin pie and vanilla ice cream. He also added a massive scoop of protein powder, two ice cream sandwiches, and heavy cream, which I don’t recommend.
I do, however, recommend making spiked versions of this milkshake for the adults. I personally like to use 1 slice of apple pie, 1-1.5 scoops of caramel ice cream, 2-3 shots of whipped cream vodka (apple, vanilla, and regular work, too!), and milk (unless you’re using some crazy strong vodka, it won’t curdle the milk).
I like to serve this type of adult dessert/beverage in a tall wine glass because it’s really easy to overindulge if you pour it into one cup. Plus, I think it’s a good drink to share with family, especially if everyone is minutes away from falling into a tryptophan induced sleep.
So there you have it, some great ideas for using up those leftovers from Thanksgiving – without resorting to nuking plates of the same exact meal for days in a row!
You’re probably already set for the big eat-a-thon this Thursday, so why not get an early jump on your Christmas shopping? Deals start sooner than Black Friday, and the Christmas Category at TopProducts.com can give you the low-down on the best products for this holiday season.
August Wright, TopProducts Staff Writer