A big turkey might be the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving table, but what's even better than enjoying it fresh out of the oven is having plenty of leftovers for the weekend ahead.
And those leftovers especially come in handy when you're too burnt out to cook. Thanksgiving turkey is already cooked to tender, seasoned perfection, so it makes the perfect protein-rich addition to salads, pasta, casseroles, and yes — even pizza.
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But if you're tired of eating it with traditional holiday sides, we rounded up 10 of the best Thanksgiving turkey leftover recipes that transform this savory meat into mouthwatering dishes full of flavor and nutrition.
1. Leftover Turkey Harvest Cobb Salad
If you're left feeling full after your Thanksgiving festivities, this leftover turkey salad is a great way to lighten things up while still offering enough sustenance.
The savory bacon perfectly complements the sweetness of the butternut squash in this leftover turkey recipe, and craisins and pecans give it a delicious fall feel. Topped off with a maple-dijon vinaigrette, you'll be making this salad as long as you have leftover turkey in the fridge.
Get the Leftover Turkey Harvest Cobb Salad recipe and nutrition info from Skinny Taste.
2. Leftover Turkey Tetrazzini
If you're looking for a quick and simple recipe for those turkey leftovers, search no further than this delicious pasta dish.
Tetrazzini is traditionally made with a creamy cheese sauce, frozen peas and mushrooms, and adding leftover Thanksgiving turkey is a great way to give it an extra dose of protein. You can even throw in any other vegetables you have in your fridge that you're trying to use before they spoil. In fact, it's encouraged!
Get the Leftover Turkey Tetrazzini recipe and nutrition info at The Girl on Bloor.
3. Thai Turkey Soup
You'll love the Thai-inspired flavors in this rich, creamy soup. With flavors of garlic, red curry paste, basil, cilantro, and bell pepper, you can count on every bite hitting a different taste bud.
"To make this soup lighter, opt for low-sodium broth and lower-fat coconut milk," says Mia Syn, RDN, of Nutrition By Mia. "While coconut milk is nutrient-dense, it's also high in saturated fat, which you should limit."
Get the Thai Turkey Soup recipe and nutrition info at Salt and Lavender.
4. Leftover Turkey in Creamy Mushroom Sauce
There's nothing better than comfort food come the colder months, and combining lean turkey with meaty mushrooms in a creamy sauce makes for the ultimate cozy dinner.
Syn recommends replacing butter with olive oil for heart-healthy fats. Consider serving this creamy turkey topped with a scoop of cauliflower rice or brown rice, and pair the dish with a side of veggies.
Get the Leftover Turkey in Creamy Mushroom Sauce recipe and nutrition info at Natasha's Kitchen.
5. Loaded Leftover Turkey Panini
Slap some leftover turkey between two slices of bread with melted cheese and toppings, and you've got yourself a hearty lunch that's just as nutritious as it is yummy.
This sandwich makes a super simple midday meal, which is kind of the whole point of leftovers. Bonus: Any cranberry sauce you have left from Thanksgiving has a special place in this recipe, too — it pairs marvelously with savory, rich goat cheese.
Get the Loaded Leftover Turkey Panini recipe and nutrition info at Pinch of Yum.
6. Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Pizza
That's right: You can make a Thanksgiving-inspired pizza with this simple yet absolutely delicious recipe.
A savory gravy sauce tops your leftover turkey in this recipe, and you're called to add any mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce you have left to the mix. (Though the author notes any thanksgiving leftovers you have can work.)
For the simplest preparation, use a homemade pizza crust, canned roll-out dough, or any other ready-to-bake pizza crust from the grocery store.
Get the Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Pizza recipe and nutrition info at The Stay at Home Chef.
7. Crock Pot Turkey Bolognese
It's no secret that pasta and red sauce are a family favorite. This rendition incorporates a slow-cooked bolognese that calls for lean turkey instead of traditional beef or sausage, and Thanksgiving leftovers make a perfect choice.
To keep this meal well-balanced, try serving it over whole-wheat pasta for a hearty dinner or zucchini noodles if you want something more low-carb.
Get the Crock Pot Leftover Turkey Bolognese recipe and nutrition info at The Endless Meal.
8. Turkey Tacos
There really are no rules when it comes to making tacos. With turkey as the star of this dish, you'll only need to add fresh produce like cabbage, avocado, tomatoes and limes to complete it. Turn the avocado into guac by adding salt, pepper, red onions and jalapenos!
If you want to add cheese, Syn suggests keeping it light by limiting the amount you top your tacos with to avoid significantly raising the saturated fat and calorie count.
Get the Turkey Tacos recipe and nutrition info here.
9. Skillet Leftover Turkey Pot Pie
If you love the delicious flavors of a pot pie but don't want to go through the hassle of making it (crust included), you'll love this easy skillet recipe. All the flavors are still present, but the main protein is swapped with succulent leftover turkey.
To lower the saturated fat, simply halve the amount of heavy cream called for and dilute it with water, Syn says.
Get the Skillet Turkey Pot Pie recipe and nutrition info at Savoring Today.
10. Turkey Lettuce Wraps
These turkey lettuce wraps are perfect for a light, low-carb lunch. They're filled with fresh vegetables like mushrooms and scallions and can be served with your toppings of choice (we say go for guac!).
According to Syn, this leftover turkey recipe has some staying power to keep you full for hours.
Get the Turkey Lettuce Wraps recipe and nutrition info here.