12 Great Recipes to Use Leftover Turkey

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Don’t want to just reheat your leftover turkey? Try one of these recipes that use leftover turkey or chicken equally well, making them a great way to use it up, save money, and enjoy good eats.

roast turkey being carved

Got turkey? 

It seems that every year is different. One year you might not have a big enough bird at Thanksgiving and there really are no leftovers to speak of. 

Other years? You might have turkey coming out your ears. Oh boy!

What should you with all that turkey?

Personally, I’ll take slices of turkey breast on rye bread with a slather of mayo and a sprinkling of salt. If you’ve never tried this combo, you must. It’s super simple, but so very good.

But then what?

Once you’ve exhausted the reheat and eat and the sandwich options, whaddya do?

Thankfully, any recipe that calls for cooked chicken can be a great use for cooked turkey. Case in point:

close up shot of cut slice of pot pie

Chicken Pot Pie can easily be made with leftover turkey. Save the gravy and veggies from your dinner and use those for a quick route to a proper pie!

Leftover turkey – tips and tricks

How long is leftover turkey good for in the fridge?

Prepared food is good in the refrigerator, for up to four days. If you cook your turkey on Thursday, it should be safe to eat on Monday.

Can leftover turkey be frozen?

Freezing your turkey leftovers is a great way to avoid waste and give yourself a break from turkey. In a week or two, you can thaw the turkey and use it in your favorite recipes that call for cooked and chopped chicken or turkey.

Can you freeze turkey after 3 days?

The freezer doesn’t magically make food fresher. It only slows the enzyme action. If you freeze your turkey soon after cooking, you should have a solid 2-3 days to use it after thawing.

However, if you freeze your turkey near the end of the 4-day window, you’ll need to make sure you use it immediately when you do pull it from the freezer.

Check out this great guide about Food Safety Basics from the USDA.

turkey and fruit salads for meal prep

What to make with turkey leftovers?

Whether you’re in charge of hosting a large holiday dinner featuring turkey or not, it’s always a great idea to stock up on turkeys when they go on sale in November and December. Having an abundance of meat to use in recipes, purchased at a great price is a savvy way of stretching your grocery dollar.

Here are some of my favorite ways to use leftover turkey from a holiday dinner:

12 Great Recipes to Use Leftover Turkey

Give leftover turkey a Mexican twist.

Make salads or sandwiches with turkey.

You can go standard with turkey and some mayo on rye or you can get a little fancy.

Mix leftover turkey into casseroles, chili, etc.

Turkey leftovers are an easy swap for cooked chicken in any of your favorite recipes. Try these for fresh inspiration!

Freeze Turkey for Later

If you just don't want to deal with it right now, stash it all in the freezer. Trim the meat off the bones and package it well in freezer bags or airtight containers. You can even package the bones to make stock at a future date. Just don't forget you've got it in the freezer.

BONUS! Don’t let the turkey bones go to waste!

What’s YOUR favorite recipe to use up leftover turkey?

12 Recipes Turkey Leftovers | Good Cheap Eats

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Charlotte says

    Turkey and dumplings! I’m waiting tables all day Thu, so we cooked our turkey yesterday… enchiladas tonight and dumplings tomorrow, and turkey wraps for my husbands lunch this week… oh, and bbq nachos with turkey are also good. (We just chop up the meat and warm it up in bbq sauce in a skillet).

  2. I agree completely about stocking up on turkeys now. Each November, I buy as many as my budget allows and my freezer can hold. Leftover Thanksgiving is my favorite, too, until I run out of all the side dishes. I make broth, enchiladas, pot pies, soups, stews, freezer burritos, and sandwiches. We love leftover turkey. Easy and frugal. Thanks so much for sharing your recipes. Your enchilada recipes are some of my favorites. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Jessica!

    • Thanks, Heather! I’m glad you like the enchiladas. They are some of my favorites, too.

  3. janet says

    Some of our favorites include Thanksgiving soup made with leftover turkey and mash potatoes; Kentucky Hot Brown sandwiches; and turkey tetrazinni.

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