These delicious leftover turkey recipes are sure to get you off the couch and feasting once again. Even if you're still feeling full from your epic holiday feast – be that your Thanksgiving or Christmas Day spread – it's now the perfect time to think about all the brilliant ways you can use up that leftover bird...
Because it's quite surprising just how long turkey lasts when cooked and stored correctly in the first place. And if you've got it right, you are in for some really gourmet delights. We're not just talking about turkey sandwiches this year – although we do have top tips from a British celebrity chef that you won't want to miss – as we've included both classic and new, inventive ways to use up turkey below.
From 'traditional' turkey curry, to festive stilton tart and turkey dinos that the kids (and adults) in your household will LOVE, we've rounded up the best recipes for the whole family. And, if you've started to panic about cooking times and the stresses of being in the kitchen once again from just reading this, do not worry as these are all fairly straightforward and quick to make – some more than others – so you won't be exerting yourself too much.
So, whether you're watching the game, Frozen for the tenth time this season or playing a wholesome game of cluedo with the family for the rest of the holidays, keep scrolling for our tasty turkey leftover recipes and be inspired for your next festive meal.
1. Festive turkey bruschetta
Talk about a fancy festive open turkey sandwich! We had to have one right? This toasted turkey bruschetta is sure to hit the spot.
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
- 2 turkey breasts, sliced into escalopes about 120g each
- 4 thin slices of pancetta (or streaky bacon)
- 1 minced anchovy filler
- 10g butter
- 2 tbs chopped chives
- 2 tsp chopped tarragon
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 1 clove of garlic
- 250ml mayonnaise (we use Heinz [Seriously] Good Mayonnaise)
- 2 slices of sourdough bread
- Extra Virgin olive oil
- 1 slice beef tomato
- 1 handful of watercress
1. First mix the mayonnaise with the anchovy and herbs, cover and set aside.
2. Next, lay the pancetta slices in a hot pan and fry until crisp, about five minutes on each side. Drain the excess fat with kitchen paper.
3. Heat a pan to a high heat. Add the olive oil, season the turkey escalopes and lay them in the pan, cooking for 2-3 minutes on both sides. Add the butter and thyme sprigs, take it off the heat and let them rest.
4. Heat a chargrill to high, and toast the sourdough on both sides to get the nice griddle lines and flavor. Then take the garlic clove and rub over both sides. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
5. The you can start to build the bruschetta - spoon over the herby mayo and spread it thickly over the grilled sourdough. Lay on a couple of slices of the tomato, season with salt, and add some watercress.
6. Slice the cooked turkey and add it onto the bruschetta, along with the pancetta.
7. Finally finish with a little more herb mayo, a drizzle of olive oil and a grinding of fresh black pepper.
2. British turkey bubble and squeak!
This is a class British dish that Brits often eat for breakfast or brunch! Bubble and squeak was basically invented using up leftovers from a roast dinner, so it was MADE for turkey leftovers. Give this delicious twist on the classic a whirl.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
- 6 free-range eggs
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- Turkey leg, shredded
- Leftover stuffing, crumbled
- Any leftover greens: beans or other vegetables, sprouts and all
- Leftover roast potatoes, smashed
- Cranberry sauce
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/356 Fahrenheit.
2. Mix the turkey, stuffing, greens and potatoes in a bowl, binding the mixture with two eggs.
3. Season, then heat a medium non-stick frying pan with a little olive oil.
4. Add the mixture to the pan so that it's full and fry it all for 5 minutes, until the underneath side is golden and crispy.
5. As this is frying, fill a separate saucepan with water and bring it to a gentle simmer to poach the eggs.
6. Next, place a plate on top of the pan with the turkey bubble and squeak mixture in, and carefully flip it over.
7. Once the bubble and squeak has successfully come off onto your plate, add a little more oil to the pan before sliding the bubble and squeak back into the pan to fry the other side. Fry for 5 minutes.
8. Then, out it in the oven for 15 mins to ensure that it is cooked all the way through.
9. As the bubble and squeak finishes cooking, poach the eggs for a couple of minutes. If you want some guidance on how to poach an egg, we can help.
10. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and place them on top of your cooked bubble and squeak. Season each egg with salt and pepper. And, for the final touch, heat your leftover gravy, with the cranberry sauce and serve both alongside your bubble and squeak with poached eggs!
3. Leftover turkey curry
Everyone is a fan of turkey curry and it's a great Boxing Day meal that you can whip up quickly and with minimum effort. Plus, it's a really efficient way of using up Christmas leftovers.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
- 450g cooked leftover turkey meat
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 400ml full fat or low fat coconut milk
- 1 large onion – finely chopped
- 1 green chilli – deseeded and finely chopped
- 5g fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tbsp mango chutney
- 30ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or coconut oil if preferred
- 20ml lemon juice
- 100ml boiling water
- 1 chicken stock cube
1. Heat the olive oil in a wok or a pan and sauté the chopped onion until softened for 2-3 minutes.
2. Next, stir in the chilli and the curry powder, cooking gently for a few minutes.
3. Then add the tomatoes, coconut milk, lemon juice and mango chutney. Crumble and dissolve the chicken stock cube into the boiling water then add this is also.
4. Stir well and let it simmer for 20 minutes, at which point you can add your turkey meat and heat it through.
5. Once hot through, serve it with rice, naan – and maybe the turkey samosas below – then add a sprinkling of the shopped coriander on top.
This recipe was courtesy of Aldi.
4. Leftover turkey, cranberry and stilton tart
What a beautiful way to use up any Thanksgiving turkey or classic Christmas turkey leftovers, right? This is a savory dish while the cranberry adds the perfect tart sweetness it needs for a real festive flair! It's also SUPER easy and quick to make!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 55 minutes
- Shortcrust pastry (shop bought is fine)
- 300g leftover turkey meat
- 200g leftover Stilton
- 75g leftover cranberry sauce
- 4 eggs
- 350ml double cream
- 150ml milk
- 1 head of celery, peeled and sliced at an angle
- ½ red onion, finely sliced
- 85g walnut pieces
- Juice of 1 orange
- 2 tbsps Extra Virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic syrup
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/356 F. Line an 8-inch tart case with the pastry and blind bake it for about 15 minutes or until it is firm.
2. Scatter the leftover turkey, crumbled Stilton and cranberry sauce into the baked tart case.
3. Whisk the eggs together with the cream and milk. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Pour the mixture into the tart case and bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes until set and golden.
5. Whilst the tart is baking, combine the celery, onion, orange, olive oil and balsamic vinegar together in a bowl, season this salt and pepper then enjoy it with your warm tart!
5. Turkey samosas
Yes, we have managed to do a turkey leftovers list without the ubiquitous turkey curry, but we aren't ashamed to include this popular Indian side dish. Be it a snack or an addition to a New Year's Eve buffet, these bad boys will quickly see off those last bits of turkey meat.
If you have some filo pastry to hand, you can make them with that – but this easy veg samosa recipe from Tescoc features the easiest homemade pastry and all you have to do, is swap out a third of the veg, for your turkey leftovers and voilà. The best thing is it can be made in a combination microwave oven, making it perfect for those days when you have filled every shelf of your oven and need some quick-win party food options.
6. Leftover turkey enchiladas
Tex-mex recipes are an easy way to use up leftovers – as long as you have some tortillas knocking about (or flour to make your own if you have time), you can make nachos, quesadillas, or wraps with the addition of just a few basic store-cupboard ingredients. The spicy flavors will be a welcome change after eating turkey and stuffing sandwiches for a few days.
Turkey enchiladas can be prepared and put in the fridge to be cooked through when you need them, so they really are the perfect dish for the busy Christmas holidays. Add peppers, onions, sweetcorn or beans to bulk them out. Most recipes use cheddar or a similar style of cheese for the top, so it is also a way to use up scraps from your festive buffets.
1. Mix the turkey (and veg) into a basic tomato, onion and garlic sauce (homemade if you can but we won't just you for using shop-bought).
2. Season to taste with chilli powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, smoked paprika and salt and pepper.
3. Divide the mix between your tortillas, roll them and place in an oiled, ovenproof dish.
4. Cover with more tomato sauce and grated cheese then bake until the cheese is bubbling and golden.
7. Pulled turkey burgers
Add some oomph to a homemade burger with a pile of gravy-soaked, shredded turkey on top. We have been inspired by this beasty from New York Best – looks like it is definitely worth a trip to the Big Apple for, but if that isn't on the cards it is super simple to make at home.
1. Using a fork in each hand, gently pull your turkey then mix with leftover gravy (and a dollop of BBQ sauce if you wish).
2. Top your favourite burger with a slice of brie then heap with more festive favorites like crispy, smoked bacon and cranberry sauce. Bit of stuffing too? Why not.
8. Turkey and avocado salad with a cranberry vinaigrette
Fancy something light and fresh with your leftover turkey? Then give this flavorsome salad from A Sweet Pea Chef a go. With candied pecans, cranberry dressing and goat's cheese, it includes plenty of festive flavors to keep the Christmas spirit alive, but without the fullness and indigestion of a massive turkey dinner.
The good thing about salad is that as long as you stick to a good balance of flavors and textures, you can make substitutions with whatever is in the fridge. We like to make sure we have something creamy, sweet/piquant, salty and crunchy on top of our chosen leaves. You could crumble some stilton on instead if you have no goat's cheese – it works perfectly cut the sweetness of pomegranate and cranberry. Nuts are another thing we seem to have in abundance at Christmas too, so if you don't have pecans, trade in some walnuts or even hazelnuts instead.
9. Turkey and cranberry rolls
Another crowd pleaser for your party, this recipe takes around 30 minutes if you have some ready-roll puff pastry in the fridge.
1. Mix your diced turkey with a bit of gravy and mix in dried herbs like parsley or thyme. If you have a bit of stuffing leftover, you can add this instead.
2. Cut your pastry in half lengthways then spread some cranberry sauce down the middle of each length.
3. Spoon the turkey mix on top and brush the edges of the pastry with an eggwash, before rolling around the turkey mix to create a long sausage. Repeat this for the other length then chill in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.
4. Preheat an oven to gas mark 7 or 200ºC fan, and cut the pastry rolls into six to eight mini rolls.
5. Spread on a baking tray, brush with eggwash and cook for 15 minutes, or until golden.
10. Juice turkey ramen
Ramen is a wholesome Japanese dish of noodles, veggies and some form of protein in a broth. Thanks to the flavor profiles it is another meal that will be a nice surprise for a palate tired of the taste of Christmas dinner and it feels a little bit healthier than the mounds of cheese you might have been grazing on. It is also a great way to use up odds and ends from the fridge and while it works best with classic oriental vegetables like spring onions and pak choi, you can easily trade these out for a spare sprout or two.
1. To make, cook udon noodles (although any noodles will work well) in a well-seasoned broth – the broth could be the stock made from your boiled up turkey carcass.
2. Then top with shredded turkey, thinly sliced spring onions and lightly cooked vegetables.
Top tip: It is nourishing and filling, but should you be particularly hungry, add a soft boiled egg at the end, too.
11. Turkey and goats' cheese tartine
Yes, we know that we've advocated against the ubiquitous turkey sandwich. However, the tartine (Belgian in origin) elevates the humble sarnie to a higher gastronomical level. The key to success is a mixture of fresh ingredients and high-quality bread. We recommend using sourdough or a fresh wholemeal loaf.
1. Lightly toast or grill the slices in your over or a good toaster.
2. Then layer sliced turkey, salad leaves, crumbly goat's cheese, and cranberry sauce on top. Yum – and achievable in five minutes.
12. Leftover Christmas turkey nuggets
A brilliant leftover turkey recipe for kids and adults alike, turkey chicken nuggets (or dinos if you're making these with little ones) are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Easy to make, this is a little treat with heart as your leftovers simply won't go to waste!
- 250g cooked turkey can be white or dark meat or a mix of the 2
- 2 slices white bread
- 50ml milk
- 5g parsley – finely chopped
- 1 shallot – peeled and finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove – peeled and finely chopped
- 1 free range egg
- 50g flour
- 60g panko breadcrumbs
- Vegetable oil (for frying)
1. Place the bread in a shallow dish, pouring over the milk and setting this to one side for it to absorb. And if you want to oven bake these, preheat it to 200C/180 Fan/Gas 6.
2. Next, heat a pan over a medium heat with a little olive oil. Meanwhile, add the garlic and shallot, frying this off for 2-3 minutes along with the parsley until the mixture is translucent.
3. Meanwhile, add the soaked bread, onion and garlic mixture along with the turkey and a generous pinch of salt and pepper to your best food processor. Blend until fairly smooth.
4. Crack open the egg into a shallow bowl and whisk well.
5. Add the flour with seasoning to one plate, then put the panko breadcrumbs on another.
6. To make your turkey nuggets, use 1/6th of the turkey mixture at a time and shape them into a rough nugget shapes, coating each in the flour and tapping off any excess before dipping them into the beaten egg. When coated, firmly press the nugget into the panko breadcrumbs for an even coating.
7. Next – if frying – heat the oil in a wide non-stick frying pan and fry off the nuggets for 2-3 minutes on each side until crispy and golden brown.
8. Put some kitchen towel on a plate, and add the nuggets when you remove them from the oil to soak up any excess and to cool a little before serving.
9. Alternatively you can cook these in your preheated oven by placing them on a baking tray with a drizzle of oil and baking for 20 minutes.
10. Serve with homemade chips or leftover roasties and veg from your roast dinner!
This recipe is courtesy of Gousto.
13. A Chef's turkey sandwich
Yes we did somewhat boycott turkey sandwiches but what if we told you that we've got some great tips on how to make and build yours from Chef, Joseph Denison-Carey? You got it, this is one turkey sarnie we will allow this year.
14. Turkey tacos
Complete with slaw and a super healthy alternative to ground beef tacos too, try this recipe out for a light, zesty treat and you're sure to make turkey tacos the latest modern addition to your regular festive menu.