Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes & Ideas

By now, you’ve probably heard about the nourishing properties of bone broths. Lots and lots of calcium which is what kids on the spectrum need. So I feel compelled to implore you to save your turkey carcass! And your friend’s carcasses. It makes wonderful broth which is the basis for one of my favorite holiday traditions – Turkey Soup.

As soon as Thanksgiving dinner comes to a close, I step back into the kitchen and stuff my two turkey carcasses into stock pots, cover them with water, toss in a few vegetables and spices and set them to simmer. Around 2:00 p.m. the next afternoon, family and friends come over, this time in jeans, and we eat Turkey Soup and it’s holiday cousin, Split Pea Soup from the leftover ham bone. I know. Two turkeys and a ham for Thanksgiving – big family.

The day after Thanksgiving is when everybody’s true nature comes out and I spy my husband making a turkey sandwich with stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and mayonnaise, all washed down with a beer. Or when my brother-in-law eats cold Sweet Potato Casserole straight out of the casserole pan. Elliott, my 6’5” 15 year old nephew is a human vacuum who has a love affair with carbs. Everything is haphazard and leftover and I might like the day after a smidge more than Thanksgiving itself.

Even if you can’t fathom cooking any time soon, freeze your carcass. If you have an enormous bird, break it down so it will fit in freezer bags. And trust me, you’ll love the broth that results. You can use it as a substitute for chicken stock in a variety of recipes.

As for leftovers, if you have any type of pilaf, like Holiday Rice Pilaf, it’s amazing heated, served atop baby arugula with a tangy Sweet & Savory Dressing and a few slices of red onion. Same with the Greens and Quinoa Salad – simply toss chunks of turkey in and you have a wonderful blend of holiday flavors. But the leftover I think of most fondly is what my dad called Turkey Shortcake. It consisted of a ball of mashed potatoes, gently hand molded into a thick pancake and browned in butter. Atop that, he ladled a mixture of turkey, carrots, celery and onion in a creamy, flour thickened sauce. Here’s my version of the oddly named Turkey Shortcake, gluten, casein and soy free, served over steamed rice.

If you have a bunch of leftover meat, light or dark, make Turkey Salad, same recipe as  Chicken Salad, only with turkey meat. It’s a good way to use up leftover onions and celery.

And leftover dessert? If you ask my kids, the best way to deal with that is to leave a fork in the pie plate, hidden beneath the foil for easy, convenient snacking. Enjoy your holidays, and who knows? Turkey soup the day after might be a new tradition for your family.

Turkey Stock and Soup










Active time: 25 minutes

Total time: 4 hours

Yield: Serves 12

For Stock:


  • 1 turkey carcass
  • 4 large carrots, cut into thirds
  • 6 stalks of celery, cut into thirds
  • 2 large yellow onions, skin removed, cut in half
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, skin removed
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 15 whole peppercorns
  • 10–12 c. water depending on the size of your turkey
For Soup:
  • 6–7 c. leftover turkey meat, shredded or sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 T olive oil, divided
  • 3 large carrots, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 8 stalks celery, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1–2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp. Hungarian paprika (omit for night­shade allergy)
  • 10-12 c. turkey broth
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced on a diagonal
For Stock:

1.    Cover turkey carcass with water and add onions, carrots, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 3 1/2 hours, periodically skimming the fat from the top of the pot.

2.    Remove carcass with tongs, then pour stock through a fine sieve (or wet cheese cloth) and discard solids. NOTE: I typically make my stock the night before so that once it cools, I can put it in the fridge overnight, then scrap off the solid cold fat that has separated to the top. If you make stock the same day you use it in soup, a short cut to remove the fat from the stock is to cool it in batches in shallow containers like casserole dishes, then pour through a 4 cup fat separator. (Useful in a variety of dishes, turkey stock can be substituted for chicken broth, or frozen for up to 3 months).

For Soup:

1.    Heat oil in large stock pot. Add carrots, celery and onions and saute until translucent and soft, about 8 minutes.

2.    Add half of the salt, pepper and paprika and stir.

3.    Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for 5 minutes.

4.    Add meat and remaining seasonings. Heat through and taste and adjust for seasonings.

5.    When ready to serve, ladle into bowls and top with a sprinkling of scallions.

Amy Waczek writes a gluten-free, casein and soy optional blog featuring a recipe index and resource guide at
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