Learn creative things to do with Thanksgiving leftovers.

Get Creative with Your Thanksgiving Leftovers!

Get creative with your Thanksgiving leftovers this year. It’s easy! Everyone loves a good turkey sandwich, but check out these creative leftover twists.

Thanksgiving is the most wonderful time of year for good food, family and friends, but what happens when you’re stuck with all those Thanksgiving leftovers and you just don’t want to have turkey sandwiches or microwaved plates of smaller versions of dinner anymore? A good turkey sandwich is a thing of beauty, but it’s not difficult to get creative with your Thanksgiving leftovers and make some fun twists on them.

Let’s start with cranberry sauce or cranberry jelly. Whether you’ve used canned or made your own, you will have leftovers.  I like to use it up in muffins and cakes, but a new family favorite this year has been the shortbread bar with cranberry topping.  I’ve made the shortbread bars before but I’ve always used blueberry or raspberry to top them; cranberry has blown my taste buds away.

Cranberry Shortbread Bars

Bars: Topping:
2 Cups flour 3 cups Cranberry Sauce or Jelly
1 cup unsalted butter softened
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract


Heat oven to 350 degrees F

In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar and beat until light and creamy.  Add vanilla and slowly mix flour in until just combined.

Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper. Leave an overhang on each side for easy removal later.  Press crust into the pan and bake 15-18 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

Spread leftover cranberry sauce/jelly over top of the crust, return to oven and bake another 7-8 minutes. Cool completely in pan before cutting into squares, using parchment paper edges to lift them out of the pan. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Turn Thanksgiving leftovers into cheesy mashed potato bites

Turkey and mashed potatoes are two staples of the traditional Thanksgiving meal and therefore two of the most plentiful Thanksgiving leftovers. They make a fantastic combination with a little creativity and with the help of a few onions and some cheese.

Turkey and Mashed Potato Bites

1 cup turkey, chopped into small pieces 2 cups breadcrumbs, seasoned with salt, pepper, dried thyme and sage
3 cups mashed potatoes 2/3 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 cup scallions, finely chopped Cranberry sauce or gravy for serving
2 large eggs Vegetable oil, for frying

In a large mixing bowl, combine turkey, mashed potatoes, scallions, cheddar cheese and the eggs. Place the bread crumbs in a second bowl.

Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop about 3 tablespoons of mashed potato mixture and roll it into a ball, then roll the ball in the breadcrumbs and set aside.  Repeat until all mixture is used up.

Line a baking sheet with paper towels.  In a large saucepan or deep fryer heat oil until it reaches 360F.  Add a few of the mashed potato bites at a time. Fry until golden brown, turning occasionally. Set on paper towels to drain.

Serve with leftover warmed gravy or cranberry sauce for dipping.

Woolton Pie (our variation) – Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

Some people make a lot of yummy vegetable dishes for dinner – there never seems to be a shortage of food on the dinner table.  For a nice vegetarian dish of Thanksgiving leftovers, why not make a Woolton Pie?  It’s a yummy use of leftover vegetables and it’s a great meatless option for those who want a break from the turkey portion of Thanksgiving.  I have to admit I get tired of turkey rather quickly so the Woolton Pie is a great meal!

Woolton Pie is a wartime vegetable dish named after Lord Woolton, England’s Minister of Food during the Second World War.  Due to the war, strict rations were placed on the public with meat being one of the scarcest of ingredients. With hopes of making the pie seem more appealing to the war-weary public, the chef at London’s Savoy Hotel was employed to create the dish. Woolton pie was promoted as a way for housewives to feed their families by using leftover vegetables.” – Zoomer.com 

2 cup leftover cauliflower 1 large diced onion
2 cup leftover rutabaga or turnips 1 teaspoon vegetable bullion
2 cup leftover parsnips 1 tablespoon oatmeal
2 cup leftover carrots Mashed potatoes for topping
2 cup diced potatoes (not mashed) – we always have afew boiledd potatoes that don’t get mashed just for this dish.  

Chop all cooked leftover vegetables up into bite-size pieces.  If you haven’t cooked these vegetables, you can certainly start from raw and just cook them until tender.  Mix vegetables with the tablespoon of oatmeal and the vegetable bullion. If your leftover veggies are kind of dry, you can skip the oatmeal – it’s meant to thicken the liquid from the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste

Transfer to a pie or casserole dish, top with mashed potatoes and top with grated cheese if desired. Bake in a 375F oven just until the potatoes are nicely browned and cheese has fully melted, about 15 – 20 minutes.

Turn thanksgiving leftover rolls into bread pudding

!Now we’ve all eaten pumpkin pie, apple pie and the multitude of sweet dessert dishes for the big meal, but what do you do with all those leftover dinner rolls?  Bread pudding of course!  It’s a  great breakfast/brunch option as well as dessert and a perfect use of Thanksgiving leftovers. Try this version, based on one from The Boston Globe.

Bread Pudding 

Leftover rolls (1 dozen) 1 ½ cups cream
8 apples peeled, cored and sliced ½ tsp salt
2/3 c brown sugar 1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup butter ¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla 1 cup white sugar
1 ½ cups milk 4 eggs + 3 egg yolks

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 x 8  pan.

Tear or cut buns into bite-size pieces and toast in oven until lightly browned, about 10 minutes (check every few minutes – they go from browned to burned in seconds!). Place bread in large bowl and set aside.

Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add brown sugar and a pinch of salt, and stir until dissolved.  Add apples and sauté over medium heat until apples are caramelized and sugar has become a thick syrup.  Set aside.

In another large saucepan, combine heavy cream, milk, vanilla, ½ teaspoon salt and bring to simmer over medium heat.

In a separate bowl, mix egg yolks, eggs and white sugar. Remove milk from heat and slowly add to the egg mixture a little bit at a time, whisking constantly so the eggs don’t scramble.  Whisk in cinnamon and nutmeg.

Pour the egg/cream mixture over the bread cubes and combine.  Stir in the caramelized apples and combine well. Let sit for about 1hour to allow the liquid be absorbed into the bread.

Pour into the baking dish. Bake 45-60 minutes, until the custard is set and the bread is golden brown.  Serve warm, topped with caramel sauce, whipped cream or ice cream.