Leftover Turkey Recipes: Soups, Sandwiches, Stir fries and More


Leftover turkey recipes! After the relatives have gone, the dishes have been done and the table linens washed and put away, there’s one thing we all look forward to: leftovers.

Whether you’re the type to quietly enjoy a turkey sandwich all alone in the dining room late at night, or you’re out there planning a post-Thanksgiving Saturday night party with a crowd, we have ideas for you. And if, over your busy weekend of shopping and decorating, you don’t get to use up your leftovers, remember that the turkey carcass can be frozen. Stash it away for January, when you can make turkey soup for an easy, warming meal. Here are lots of ideas for recipes to use up the leftover turkey after Thanksgiving.

Leftover Turkey Recipe: Turkey Carcass Soup


Stir fry. Saute a little garlic and ginger, then toss shredded turkey, green beans and other vegetables into the pan. Season with soy or hoisin sauce and garnish with scallions.

Turkey salad. Blend shredded or cubed turkey with mayonnaise and add whatever else you like. A few combinations: Celery, curry powder and cashew nuts; dried cranberries, thyme and walnuts; apples, grapes and walnuts; dried apricots and pecans.

Soup. My absolute favorite is turkey carcass soup, which uses the bones and every last scrap of meat. It’s light and healthy, perfect for the days after the biggest meal of the year. See recipe. Another favorite: posole, a delicious pork-chili-corn soup from Mexico. (Just substitute turkey for pork in any recipe.)

Enchiladas. Season shredded turkey with cumin and toss with a tomato-chili sauce. Wrap in moist tortillas, top with more sauce and cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted.

Lettuce wraps. Fill butter lettuce (also know as Boston lettuce) with warm, shredded turkey and garnish with chopped scallions and ginger. Serve with rice and hot sauce.

Sandwiches. Try one of these combinations: brie, cranberry; barbecue sauce and coleslaw; bacon, apples and arugula; cheddar, Russian dressing and sauerkraut. Or try the recipe for an open-faced turkey sandwich, slathered in hot gravy.

Pot pie. Use frozen pie crusts, cut to the size you like. Fill with shredded or cubed turkey, gravy and leftover vegetables such as peas, carrots or green beans.


Repurpose as hors d’oeuveres: stuff into button mushrooms, brush with butter and top with Parmesan. If you have a lot left, you can use to make stuffed pork chops or chicken breasts.

Sweet potatoes

Use as a filling in a pie, or shape into patties and fry. Serve with maple syrup for sweet potato pancakes or sour cream for a different take on latkes. (Latkes also work using leftover mashed potatoes.)

Cranberry sauce

Cranberry sauce is terrific with cheese, or add to a mix or recipe for orange-cranberry muffins or scones. Spread it on sandwiches or use it as a topper for ice cream.

Turkey Carcass Soup rcipe, after the jump.

Turkey Caracass Soup
There’s just something so nice about a simple soup supper after all that gluttony the day before. But, if you’re too busy to cook on Friday, or want to save this recipe for a cold January night instead, you have a couple of options: make the stock now and freeze it, or freeze the bones and the extra meat separately and do the whole thing later. The freezer is your friend!

For the stock:
1 turkey carcass, broken into pieces
Any defatted pan juices or gravy that may be left over
12 cups water, or enough to cover the carcass completely
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
2 ribs of celery, diced, with leaves if available
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced well-washed leek (optional)
1/2 cup diced turnip
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt, if desired

Bouquet garni, made by tying in cheesecloth 6 sprigs fresh parsley (or 2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes), 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves and 1 bay leaf

Combine turkey, pan juices, water, onions, celery, carrots, leek, turnip, garlic, salt and the bouquet garni in a large pot. Bring the stock to a boil, then simmer it, partially covering the pot, for 2 to 3 hours. (This stock tastes better the longer it simmers, as long as you don’t cook away the liquid.)

Strain the stock and skim off the fat.

Remove all bones, reserving the turkey meat. Discard the bouquet garni and bay leaf.

For the soup:
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
6 to 7 cups turkey stock
1 teaspoon marjoram or thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup raw barley or rice
1 cup diced turkey meat
Dash hot pepper sauce
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

In a large saucepan, saute the onion and garlic in butter until soft. Add the carrots, celery and mushrooms, and cook the vegetables, stirring, 3 to 5 minutes longer.

Add the flour and cook the mixture, stirring, for another minute.

Add the stock, marjoram, herb mix and barley. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for an hour.

Add the turkey meat and the hot pepper sauce, adjust the seasonings and heat the soup to boiling.

Sprinkle the soup with parsley just before serving.

Yield: 4 servings.

Adapted from “Jane Brody’s Good Food Book” (Bantam, 1985)


About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and lohud.com, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

1 Comment

  1. Great recipes.

    BUT…even better….

    Just fry the stuffing…
    Heat the gravy…
    Heat or fry the mashed potatoes…
    Heat or fry the turkey…
    Lightly toast some white bread…spread mayonnaise on it
    Make a sandwich with the above…add cranberry sauce as desired….


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