Five tasty ways to enjoy those Thanksgiving turkey leftovers


White chili made with leftover Thanksgiving turkey can be a perfect autumn dish for a post-holiday gridiron marathon.

White chili made with leftover Thanksgiving turkey can be a perfect autumn dish for a post-holiday gridiron marathon. Photo by: Photo from


Turkey alfredo pizza

Turkey alfredo pizza
Photo by: Photo from


Turkey macaroni casserole.

Turkey macaroni casserole.
Photo by: Courtesy photo



Jan Swoope



The big day is tomorrow. In many homes, the dining table's extra leaves are being inserted and more chairs rounded up from outlying rooms. Silverware is being cleaned, serving dishes lined up, and Thanksgiving meals are in the making. This holiday, more than any other, celebrates food as a focal point that draws us together. Yep, tomorrow the eating will be good.


But just for a minute, let's think ahead to Friday, when -- if we're lucky -- we've got leftovers from that succulent turkey to enjoy. The lean meat is low in fat and an excellent source of protein, so don't let it go to waste. Sure, we all love a turkey sandwich, but first consider these five delicious alternatives for stretching Thursday's main course into a second and even third mouthwatering meal.


A savory white turkey chili, rich with blended flavors, makes a great food for weekend game-watching. Top it with cheeses or sour cream and serve with tortilla chips for a filling lunch or supper.



Or maybe a cream of turkey and wild rice soup would whet your appetite. Today's soup recipe is a healthy twist on a classic. Serve it with crisp romaine salad and whole-grain bread.


Pizza, anyone? Leftover turkey and collard greens meld deliciously with Alfredo sauce you can get at the grocery store. Add a nutty fontina cheese for a change from the norm.


For a bit of a gourmet twist, try's turkey and Swiss radicchio cups. These low-carb bites are just 100 calories and get their flavor burst from combining turkey with tart Granny Smith apple strips, tangy Dijon mustard and creamy Gruyère cheese.


We finish our five recipes with one for a turkey macaroni casserole topped with toasted almonds that, hot out of the oven, should fill the kitchen with an aroma that's as good as a dinner bell.


Still hankering for that leftover turkey sandwich? Well, sure, go ahead. But try adding some dressing and a little cranberry, too, for a hint of deja vu.


Whatever form your Thanksgiving meal takes -- big family dinner or quiet dining alone -- take time to reflect on blessings. That's the most important ingredient of all.






1 red bell pepper, diced


1 small to medium yellow onion, diced


1/2 celery stalk, diced


2 good sized garlic cloves


1 pound leftover turkey (white and dark), cubed


1 1/2 Tablespoons chili powder


2 teaspoons ground cumin


1/2 teaspoon oregano


1/2 teaspoon ground coriander


1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste - may need more/less depending on turkey)


1 15-ounce can black beans


1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes and green chilis


1 8-ounce can tomato sauce



Suggested toppings:


Jack cheese


Sour cream




Crushed tortilla chips



  • Sauté the onion, bell pepper, celery and pressed garlic cloves in olive oil over medium heat until translucent 5-7 minutes.


  • Add the cubes leftover turkey an all the spices.


  • After the spices are fully incorporated, add the beans, tomatoes and tomato sauce.


  • Cook until fully hot and serve with chopped cilantro, jack cheese or sour cream and crushed tortilla chips.


    (Source: Lina Dickinson,





    Total time: 35 minutes


    Makes 4 servings



    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


    2 cups sliced mushrooms, about 4 ounces


    3/4 cup chopped celery


    3/4 cup chopped carrots


    1/4 cup chopped shallots


    1/4 cup all-purpose flour


    1/4 teaspoon salt


    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


    4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth


    1 cup quick-cooking or instant wild rice


    3 cups shredded cooked turkey (can use chicken), 12 ounces


    1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream


    2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley



  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, celery, carrots and shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more.


  • Add broth and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Add rice and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the rice is tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in turkey (or chicken), sour cream and parsley and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes more.


    (Note: Quick-cooking or instant rice has been parboiled to reduce the cooking time. Conventional wild rice takes 40-50 minutes to cook. Be sure to check the cooking directions.)








    1 tablespoon reduced-fat mayonnaise


    1 tablespoon cider vinegar


    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard


    1 1/2 ounces Gruyere cheese, cut into matchsticks


    1 Granny Smith apple, cut into matchsticks


    6 ounces peeled jicama, cut into matchsticks


    1 small celery stalk, cut into matchsticks


    8 radicchio leaves (from 1 small head)


    6 ounces cooked sliced smoked turkey


    Fresh chives, for garnish



  • Stir together first 3 ingredients (through mustard) in a medium bowl. Add cheese and next 3 ingredients (through celery), and toss to combine.


  • Fill the radicchio leaves evenly with the apple mixture and turkey slices. Garnish with chives, if desired, and serve immediately.








    2 cups cooked chopped turkey


    2 cups uncooked macaroni


    2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup


    1 -1/2 Cups chopped celery


    1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper


    1/2 cup chopped onion


    1/4 cup butter


    2/3 cup milk


    2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


    1 jar chopped pimiento, drained


    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


    1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds


    1/2 teaspoon salt



  • Cook and drain macaroni according to the package directions.


  • Take a saucepan and melt butter over medium-low heat.


  • Cook them till tender.


  • Now add soup, milk, and shredded cheese, mix well.


  • Cook until cheese is melted, keep stirring.


  • Combine the cheese mixture with macaroni, leftover turkey, pimiento, salt, and nutmeg.


  • Place it to a buttered 3-quart casserole, top with toasted sliced almonds.


  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes till hot and bubbly.







    Makes 6 servings



    1 cup shredded cooked turkey breast


    1 cup frozen chopped collard greens or spinach, thawed, drained, squeezed dry


    2 teaspoons lemon juice


    1/2 teaspoon salt


    1/4 teaspoon black pepper


    1 garlic clove, halved


    1 (1-pound) Italian cheese-flavored thin pizza crust (such as Boboli)


    1/2 cup light Alfredo sauce (such as Contadina)


    3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded fontina cheese


    1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper



  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.


  • Combine the first five ingredients; toss well. Rub cut sides of garlic over crust; discard garlic. Spread Alfredo sauce evenly over crust; top with turkey mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and red pepper. Bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes or until crust is crisp. Cut into 6 wedges.


    (Note: Rubbing the pizza crust with a halved garlic clove imparts lots of flavor with little effort and no chopping. You can substitute cooked chicken for turkey.)





  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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