Thanksgiving deserves another day — it’s as simple as that.
For those of us who love to cook, it goes by in the blink of an eye. We spend all day (nay, days!) cooking, and before we’ve put our feet up, it’s over.
Everyone has plates piled high, they’re gathered around the TV and settled in for a cozy marathon. That’s why we like to make the most of the holidays with these Thanksgiving leftover recipes.
Our Top Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes
Some are ideas for how to use up that extra cranberry sauce and others to get you started on the holidays ahead.
Give Your Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes A Boost
Here are some ideas for Thanksgiving leftover recipes to make the most of your leftovers while still keeping your spirits bright.
Make Some Healthy-ish Recipes
We understand if you’re determined to reset after Thanksgiving (while still using up leftovers). Here are some ways to do just that:
- Lighten things up and make this healthy-ish Turkey Cranberry Waldorf Salad (pictured)
- Ditch the leftover turkey sandwiches and try this Turkey Tortilla Soup
- Opt out of takeout and instead try a turkey version of this Chicken Noodle Miso Soup
- Tailgate in your living room while using up sweet potatoes with this Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili
- Right (almost) any wrongs (and fight off illness) with this Citrus Coconut Electrolyte Drink
And be sure to check out our full list of 20 Healthy Winter Recipes to Help You Eat Better This Holiday Season.
Thanksgiving Cocktail Ideas
If you’re taking the long weekend, you’ll likely be mixing up a drink or two. Here are some seasonal cocktail ideas that use leftovers:
- Mix up this Spiced Persimmon Old Fashioned Cocktail
- Use leftover apple cider in this Pomegranate Ginger Apple Punch (pictured) or this Smoked Whiskey Apple Cider Cocktail
- If you have loads of citrus, char it briefly for this Charred Citrus Margarita Cocktail
- Swap the simple syrup for leftover cranberry sauce in this Spiced Cranberry Pear Bourbon Cocktail
Or peruse our classiest cocktails for holiday entertaining for more inspo!
Take On A Weekend Cooking Project
We say turn the weekend after Thanksgiving into its very own occasion. Make it two days focused not on shopping but on lounging and cooking.
As in creatively working through leftovers and taking on a few only-at-the-holidays projects. Maybe try your hand at those candy wrapper pasta (then freeze them for Christmas Eve) or make your own ricotta and then use it to make homemade ravioli. And be sure check out our pasta making tips to make your cooking project a success!
Get A Head Start On Christmas Cookie Making
If you’re like us, you’ll start getting requests for holiday cookies as soon as December starts. Use the extended holiday weekend to get a head start on cookie baking. Either bake recipes all the way through or make the cookie dough now and freeze it for later.
Make Aged Eggnog
Haven’t heard of aged eggnog? Well, now you have, and things will never be the same come mid-December in your house.
After a minimum of 14 days (some people age it for years!) in the fridge, this eggnog takes on a perfect smoothness, the sweetness mellows out, and the alcohol softens.
It’s just the thing to toast the holidays with, and it’s the perfect excuse for a Black Friday leftover party.
That’s exactly what goes on in Aida Mollenkamp’s house: she makes an annual event of it, throwing in the Black Friday towel, reclaiming the kitchen, mixing up some eggnog for edging, then bringing her family back to feast on second, third, and fourth helpings of leftovers — revamped in their own delicious, but easy ways.
Get Your Snack On
Perhaps all you can manage right now is snacking and that’s perfectly okay. Here are some recipes for easy and (pretty) healthy snacking:
- Queue up Netflix and snack on this Coconut Kettle Corn (pictured)
- Get away from those uber Thanksgiving flavors with these Lime And Chile Mexican Bar Peanuts
- Or make a modern take on Chex Mix with this Cocoa And Chile Spiced Plantain Snack Mix
- Use extra sweet potatoes in these Baked Sweet Potato Fries With Avocado-Cilantro Sauce
Make A Big Breakfast
Since you have a few days off, you could do breakfast in bed, a big brunch, or just a lazy Sunday cook session.
- Up your seasonal toast game with this Toasted Brioche With Asian Pear Compote (pictured)
- Take breakfast to new heights (sorry, couldn’t help ourselves!) with this Dutch Baby Pancake
- Switch it up with this Austrian-Style Rum Raisin Shredded Pancake
- Or use up the leftover canned pumpkin in this Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Smoothie
Get Your Bake On
Finally, if you’re making a culinary beeline for December, you’ll likely want to bake and bake some more. But if you’re not quite ready to make holiday cookies, here are some other ideas:
- Use up leftover pumpkin puree in these Apple Cinnamon Pumpkin Muffins
- Mix extra pears and baking ingredients to make these Spiced Pear Fritters
- Get rid of extra carrots with these Pistachio Spiced Coconut Carrot Muffins (pictured)
- Try your hand at homemade Swedish Cinnamon Rolls
- Make a classic focaccia that works as well for breakfast as for sandwiches
Opening photo by Kevin Gilgan