Celebrity chefs share 7 delicious ways to enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers

Thanksgiving is here and we are all planning epic dinners for our family and friends. From turkey and stuffing to mashed potatoes with gravy and a variety of pies, there will be plenty of food. That means there will be leftovers.

We can continue to eat plates of turkey for dinner for days after Thanksgiving, but it can also be a lot of fun to take these different leftovers and turn them into entirely new dishes. No one knows how to do this better than celebrity chefs, and they have some delicious ideas for how to enjoy leftover turkey and side dishes for days to come.

A sandwich

The leftover sandwich is a classic for a reason, and it can be enjoyed in so many ways. “Always a sandwich! I know it’s been done before, but it’s the best way to enjoy all of your Thanksgiving leftovers at once, and the flavors really complement each other perfectly. I use fig jam instead of cranberry sauce and instead of sauce, I include my Edy’s Grocer hummus or sometimes Greek yogurt for a Lebanese touch,” said Chef Eddie Masih.

Fried rice

Fried rice is also a delicious option. “I love leftover turkey fried rice…I often smoke my turkey or sometimes just turkey legs and the leftovers make the absolute best fried rice and completely transform leftover turkey into a different dish. I also add some diced leftover green beans since I usually make it cold as a salad and don’t have to worry about it being overcooked. Add some chestnuts or roasted carrots for extra credit,” said chef Brooke Williamson.

Biscuits and gravy

Make the cookie dough in advance and freeze it. “The morning after Thanksgiving, bake the biscuits and serve with leftover gravy and cranberry sauce for breakfast. This will keep the party going for everyone celebrating with you. Packaged well, cookie dough lasts at least a month in the freezer, so it’s something you don’t have to stress about when you’re thinking about preparing all the food for the holiday,” said Alon Shaya, Chef-Partner, Pomegranate Hospitality.

Turkey Tinga

Leftover turkey can sometimes feel pretty unexciting, but not when you add a lot of flavor. “Make turkey tinga and serve it on store-bought tostadas—it’s a great and flavorful way to use up your leftovers. “Simmer shredded turkey in a mixture of sauteed onions, garlic, corned beef and canned tomatoes, then top the tostadas with crema, crumbled cotija cheese and shredded iceberg lettuce,” said Ana Castro, executive chef at Lengua Madre in New Orleans.

Waffles with filling

Plan a leftover brunch. “I love recreating meals with holiday leftovers. One of my favorite things that my family loves is when I make my Holiday Stuffed Waffles for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving from leftover filling,” said HUNGRY VX Executive Chef Tregaye Fraser.

Freeze for later

Leftovers can always be thrown in the freezer and enjoyed later. “My best advice for Thanksgiving leftovers is to not rush to use them right away. You can freeze turkey, dressing, greens, and macaroni and cheese! That way, you can repurpose them much later…even for Christmas and New Years!” said chef Lisa Brooks of Charlotte, North Carolina.

These scraps can be used in many ways. “You can make a great turkey pot pie for a quick dinner, collard green quiche for New Year’s brunch, or fried macaroni and cheese balls for a holiday appetizer! The possibilities are endless!” said Brooks.

Brooks says it’s best to freeze in freezer-safe Ziploc bags that you label and lay flat so there’s no air in them. “It protects the quality and also they stack up well in the freezer,” says Brooks.


“My favorite holiday of the year is Thanksgiving. There is nothing I love more than spending time with my family and cooking all day. The best thing about Thanksgiving is that there are always leftovers. I like to take the leftover turkey, cut it up and mix it with the stuffing and add some dried cranberries. Then I take some puff pastry, cut them into squares or rounds, add some of the mixture and make them into pastelitos. To top it off I glaze my turkey pastelitos with honey or maple syrup. Mmmm! It’s the perfect way to reinvent the way we eat Thanksgiving leftovers,” said Chef Cesar Zapata of MiMo’s Michelin Bib Gourmand Viet-Latin Restaurant and Bar, Phuc Yea.

Repurposing a pie

Don’t forget dessert! “For a leftover sweet treat, I like to slice up a slice of Mountain Rose Apple Pie, which is baked with homemade pie crust, almost 2 pounds of Mountain Rose apples, and topped with oatmeal streusel and mix it into a few scoops of vanilla ice cream, then add a drizzle of caramel sauce. If it’s delicious, I’ll add candies from the rest of the nuts and mix them in for a little crunch and top with a little whipped cream,” said celebrity pastry chef Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar in Houston, Texas.

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