list of leftover turkey recipes to help use up any tough turkey meat

What to do with tough turkey meat? (37 Leftover Turkey Recipes)


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Turkey is a holiday staple that lends itself to being the centerpiece of Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for many families. If you’re like most Americans, you went out and bought a HUGE butterball turkey in fear of not having enough to feed everyone. Only to have it get half-eaten, and now you’re left with 10lbs of cooked turkey meat, and 5lbs of leftover stuffing, taunting you. What do you do with all the leftover turkey meat? Pawn it off on family? Freeze it so it can be even more dry and tough later on? Put it in the fridge and pretend it will get eaten as is before going bad?

So many possibilities! If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having too much leftover turkey, don’t fret! There are plenty of tasty recipes out there for any type of dish or craving.

Dealing with Tough, Dry Turkey Meat

Most people find that their turkey ends up dry and tough after storing it in the fridge. This tends to happen because turkey is such a lean piece of meat, especially the breast. Due to this, it likes to dry out and can happen very easily when reheated. If your turkey was already on the verge of being dry/tough on the first use, you’d want to avoid using it to make sandwiches.

To keep your leftover turkey from turning into turkey jerky, stick to cooking it in broth or stock instead of eating it on its own.

One great way to use up leftover tough turkey is by making some delicious soups. If you’re lucky and ended up with a super moist turkey, go for something fun like deep-fried thanksgiving bites… yes, you read that right! And if you’re looking for more ideas on how to repurpose your tough, dry, and boring pieces of leftover turkey into something new and exciting, then look no further than these 37 flavorful dishes!

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How Long is Leftover Turkey Good For

Your leftover turkey will be good for about four to five days in the fridge. After that, it will start to spoil and should not be eaten. It is important to keep the leftover turkey in a sealed container to avoid any bacterial contamination.

What can I do with leftover turkey?

There are plenty of things you can do with leftover turkey! While the idea of eating it as is may not appeal to you, you’d be surprised at the unique and interesting recipes that call for it. Like an Asian-inspired turkey noodle bowl, cranberry BBQ turkey pizza, turnovers, enchiladas.. seriously, you can make so many yummy recipes that go way beyond the norm of soups, stews, casseroles, and pot pies!

Can I freeze leftover turkey?

If you’re not in the mood to make any leftover turkey recipes before it’s shelf-life is up, then you can freeze it. Make sure you wrap your turkey in tinfoil tightly and then place it in a freezer-safe bag or storage container. The last thing you want to set in is freezer burn.
You’ll want to avoid freezing it if your turkey is already tough and dried out. You’ll just be taking up freezer space with it as we both know you’re never going to use it again.

tough dry turkey sits in an aluminum baking tin

What to do with dry inedible, beyond tough turkey?

If you have animals, like dogs or cats, you can make them a healthy homemade dog or cat food. If you do not have any animals, you can ask around to friends or family to see if they do. Another option is making bone broth for the leftover turkey carcass and the meat. Just throw the whole thing in a big pot and enjoy freshly made broth at home!

37 Recipes That Answer Your Question “What To Make With Leftover Turkey?”

From traditional turkey soup to turkey curry, these recipes will take your leftover tough and dry bird meat and transform it into something new.

Leftover Turkey Wild Rice and Fennel Soup

This Turkey Wild Rice and Fennel Soup is an easy and delicious way to make use of those Thanksgiving leftovers!
Check out this recipe
leftover turkey, wild rice and fennel soup

Asian Inspired Turkey Noodle Bowl

Think outside the box and use your leftover turkey to make an Asian inspired noodle bowl. With fresh lime and chili’s your family is sure to love it!
Check out this recipe
asian inspired leftover turkey noodle bow with fresh lime

Leftover Turkey Cranberry Sliders

These leftover turkey sliders are delicious paired with tart cranberry sauce, swiss cheese and sweet Hawaiian rolls. The make the perfect lunch, snack or dinner turkey sandwich!
Check out this recipe
leftover turkey cranberry sliders on Hawaiian bread

Classic Turkey Tetrazzini

If you’re dealing with dry, tough leftover turkey this creamy, oh so delicious Turkey Tetrazzini casserole recipe will help you use it right up!
Check out this recipe
Classic Turkey Tetrazzini

Deep Fried Thanksgiving Bites

These deep fried Thanksgiving bites are amazing! Take leftover turkey and stuffing and deep fry them to dip in gravy. It’s the BEST way to eat leftovers!
Check out this recipe
deep fried leftover thanksgiving turkey bites

Thanksgiving in a Blanket

Thanksgiving in a Blanket is the most genius way to eat leftovers as it combines shredded turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce all wrapped in a crescent roll for a simple and delicious way to enjoy your Thanksgiving leftovers the next day!
Check out this recipe
Leftover turkey recipe for thanksgiving in a blanket filled with cranberry, turkey and stuffing

Turkey Pot Pie Soup

Homemade turkey pot pie soup is an easy recipe that is tasty with any protein and a good mix of vegetables. This comforting creamy soup is a wonderful way to use up leftover dry and tough turkey.
Check out this recipe
Turkey pot pie soup recipe

Leftover Turkey Chili

Put that leftover thanksgiving turkey to good use with this healthy turkey chili recipe. It’s filled with vegetables and a delicious broth that will leave you wishing for more leftovers.
Check out this recipe
paleo turkey chili recipe

Turkey Bone Broth (Stock): Instant Pot + Stovetop

Don’t toss that turkey carcass! Use it to make a delicious, nutrient rich, immune boosting turkey bone broth (stock). Perfect for sipping, soups, stews and gravy!
Check out this recipe
slacked jars of turkey bone broth made with leftover turkey meat and carcass

Cheesy Baked Turkey Enchiladas

Turkey Enchiladas are a cheesy baked Mexican inspired rolled tortilla dish made with leftover turkey, salsa roja and a three cheese blend. They are the perfect way to use up leftover turkey!
Check out this recipe
leftover turkey enchiladas a Mexican twist on traditional leftover thanksgiving day recipes

Turkey Turnovers with Cranberry and Cheese

A tasty and delicious recipe to help you use up turkey leftovers! Small hand pies made with puff pastry, cranberry sauce and Swiss cheese.
Check out this recipe
turkey turnovers

Turkey Pot Pie — Great for Leftover Turkey!

Made in a cast iron skillet with seasonal sweet potatoes, fresh rosemary and a hint of smoked paprika, this Turkey Pot Pie is the perfect way to use up the last of your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers!
Check out this recipe
leftover turkey pot pie with fresh vegetables

Cranberry BBQ Turkey Pizza Pie

When Thanksgiving leftovers, bbq pizza, and pie make a baby you get this (better than Thanksgiving dinner) Cranberry BBQ Thanksgiving Leftovers Turkey Pizza Pie.
Check out this recipe
bbq cranberry turkey pizza recipe

Monte Cristo Sandwich

A Monte Cristo Sandwich is made with layers of bread, ham, turkey, and swiss cheese that are dipped in an egg batter, pan fried (or even deep fried) and dusted with powdered sugar!
Check out this recipe
monte cristo sandwich made with swiss cheese with a cranberry dipping sauce

Leftover Air Fryer Turkey Burgers

How to make turkey burgers in the air fryer from leftovers. A delicious healthy air fryer turkey burger that is easy to meal prep and tastes amazing.
Check out this recipe
leftover air fryer turkey burger recipe

Turkey Brie Bites

Make this unique and delicious easy turkey brie appetizer with leftover turkey. This crostini recipe only takes a few minutes to throw together.
Check out this recipe
turkey brie bites using leftover thanksgiving turkey

Sweet Potato Apple Turkey Bake

Sweet potatoes, turkey and apples are layered and baked with gravy in the casserole. It’s delicious, simple, and a perfect way to use Thanksgiving leftovers.
Check out this recipe
sweet potato apple and leftover turkey dinner bake

Turkey Tacos with Mango Salsa

Leftover turkey is perfect for tacos. Topped with mango salsa, it’s completely reinvented and a unique way to get the last bits of turkey out of the fridge!
Check out this recipe
turkey tacos

Mini Quiche Appetizers – Turkey & Feta

Appetizers are a great way to use leftover turkey. These mini quiche with turkey and feta, served with a cranberry dip, are sure to disappear fast.
Check out this recipe
leftover turkey feta with mini quicke

Leftover Turkey Curry

This leftover turkey curry recipe is easy and delicious and perfect for spicing up those dull, dry turkey leftovers. Serve with rice for a satisfying meal!
Check out this recipe
turkey curry recipe

Leftover Turkey Fried Rice Recipe

Tired of the same old leftover turkey dishes? Try this easy turkey fried rice recipe! With peas, red pepper and green onion you won’t want to stop eating it!
Check out this recipe
turkey fried rice made with leftover turkey

Turkey Fricassee (with Leftover Turkey)

A very quick and creamy turkey fricassee made with leftover turkey. A spin on a classic recipe that you will make over and over again.
Check out this recipe
Fricassee turkey and mushroom soup

Leftover Turkey Banh Mi Baguette

This turkey banh mi baguette is the ultimate leftover turkey sandwich! With zingy pickled carrots, crunchy cucumber, and fresh coriander, it is a simple and delicious way to enjoy leftover turkey.
Check out this recipe
left over turkey banh mi sandwich

Holiday Turkey Hash uses turkey, stuffing & gravy leftovers!

Holiday Turkey Hash is an indescribably delicious turkey leftovers recipe. You’ll look forward to as much as the original holiday meal!
Check out this recipe
using leftover thanksgiving turkey to make a breakfast hash

Jalapeno Turkey Noodle Soup

Jalapeno Turkey Noodle Soup takes classic comfort food up a spicy notch. An exciting use for turkey leftovers or to warm up a chilly day!
Check out this recipe
Turkey noodle soup made with leftover dry turkey

Leftover Turkey Ramen (Instant Pot)

This Leftover Turkey Ramen is the perfect way to use that leftover turkey, and ready in 30 minutes in the Instant Pot! Fresh turkey bone broth, spicy chili sauce and cubes of Velveeta are what makes this cheesy turkey ramen the BEST EVER.
Check out this recipe
leftover turkey ramen bowl with a boiled egg and chives

Turkey Ranch Mac-n-Cheese Recipe

This Turkey Ranch Mac-n-Cheese is a great recipe to make when you have a lot of leftover turkey. With three types of cheese, ranch dressing, and bacon, everyone in your family will love this pasta dish.
Check out this recipe
Leftover turkey casserole with ranch and mac and cheese

Cheesy Broccoli, Turkey, and Rice Casserole

Cheesy Broccoli, Turkey, and Rice Casserole is a simple way to use holiday leftovers! Creamy and rich this casserole is packed with fresh broccoli, chopped turkey, and brown rice.
Check out this recipe
broccoli and cheese casserole made with leftover turkey

Turkey Cranberry Apple Salad (Leftover Turkey Recipe)

Turkey Cranberry Apple Salad is a delicious for an easy lunch or quick dinner. Filled with turkey, dried cranberries, tart apples, crisp celery, and tossed in a creamy poppy seed dressing makes a delicious recipe using leftover turkey!
Check out this recipe
Turkey Cranberry Apple Salad

Simple Thai-Style Leftover Turkey Green Curry

Simple Thai Style Leftover Turkey Green Curry! Swap out that turkey sandwich, for a flavorful & easy green curry! Filled with fresh veggies and authentic flavors!
Check out this recipe
Simple Thai-Style Leftover Turkey Green Curry

Savory Turkey muffins (Gluten free, AIP, paleo)

These savory muffins can either be made with leftover roasted turkey or leftover roasted chicken. They are super easy to make and are perfect for a grab and go meal.
Check out this recipe
savory turkey muffins

Empanadas Turkey Leftover Recipe

Wondering what to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers? Make EMPANADAS also know as hand pies! Use Thanksgiving leftover turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, or dressing/stuffing baked into homemade or store-bought pie crust.
Check out this recipe
Empanadas Turkey Leftover Recipe

Leftover Turkey Stroganoff with Mushrooms & Cranberries

This is a creamy and flavorful leftover turkey recipe. By taking your extra turkey from Thanksgiving, you can make a delicious and easy stroganoff recipe.
Check out this recipe
Leftover Turkey Stroganoff with Mushrooms & Cranberries

Turkey Salad Recipe The Ultimate Way to Rescue Boring, Leftover Turkey

Loaded with great flavors and textures, this turkey salad may just have you making EXTRA turkey next year! Lots of serving sides, too – you don’t just have to stick with two slices of bread on this one!
Check out this recipe
Turkey Salad Recipe Leftover Turkey

“Cheater” Leftover Turkey Pot Pie

Ready in less than 20 minutes, this super-easy recipe has all the comforting, homestyle goodness of a traditional pot pie. But making it as an open-face “sandwich” is so much quicker!
Check out this recipe
no pie crust turkey pot pie for dry leftover turkey

Healthy Turkey & Rice Stuffed Bell Peppers

All the flavors of a holiday dinner wrapped up in a healthy, sweet red bell pepper. These turkey and rice stuffed peppers are a guilt-free comfort food indulgence!
Check out this recipe
Turkey & Rice Stuffed Bell Peppers

Turkey Noodle Soup

This creamy Turkey Noodle Soup is easy to make with leftover turkey and tastes great with whatever noodles and vegetables you have on it! This is a budget friendly freezer meal that your family will
Check out this recipe
creamy turkey noodle soup perfect for dry tough turkey

What Will You be Making With Your LEftover Turkey?

There are a lot of yummy leftover turkey recipes that are anything but traditional. Remember, if you have tough, or dry turkey stick with recipes that use broth or stock to moisten it up and add flavor. Do you have a go-to recipe that isn’t on the list above? Share it in the comments!

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