Thanksgiving Dishes That Make The Best Leftovers

What is your favorite part about Thanksgiving? Is it the turkey or are you more a fan of the side dishes and desserts? Maybe the football games are more your thing, or perhaps you really are all about the family togetherness. It could be that you enjoy spending the day plotting your strategy and resting up for the Black Friday fracas you'll be facing the next day at dawn's early light. If you are like 70% of those who responded to a Harris Poll taken a few years ago, you agree that the leftovers are one of the highlights of this holiday (via Winsight Grocery Business). They're also the main thing that makes hosting Thanksgiving dinner worthwhile, as opposed to going over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house instead.

While everyone has their Thanksgiving favorites, not all of the dishes lend themselves equally to being repurposed. It's not all that easy to think of things to do with leftover green bean casserole, after all, and marshmallow-topped yams tend to be a one-and-done dish. Salads are something that needs to be eaten on the day, since they go limp pretty quickly once the dressing's on. However, a few of the classic Thanksgiving sides, as well as the main dish itself, can be reworked in a number of different ways.

You can never have too much turkey

What can't you do with leftover turkey? It's so delicious and versatile that even those whose Thanksgiving gatherings consist of just one or two people may still opt to cook a 20-pounder. Our absolute favorite way to use up leftover turkey is in a club sandwich with plenty of bacon and mayo. Turkey and cheese melts are also amazing. You could also reunite the turkey with cranberry sauce and stuffing to recreate Ross' famous "Moist Maker" from "Friends."

Moving beyond the turkey sandwich, you can also use leftover turkey to make a pot pie, soup, or to top off a salad. How about turkey nachos, a quesadillas, or maybe even turkey hash? Try the latter with a fried egg for an early morning Black Friday power breakfast. Leftover turkey can be used in a quick stir fry, or you can fancy it up with cream sauce and cheese to make a pasta dish known as turkey tetrazzini.

There's a lot you can do with leftover stuffing

Apart from using it as a sandwich topper, leftover stuffing is something that many people just don't see the possibilities in. The fine folks at the Butterball Turkey Talk Line, however, are looking to change all that. In this new video from TikTok, they show how to make leftover stuffing into a waffle that can be used as the "bread" for a day-after-Thanksgiving sandwich. You could also top a Thanksgiving leftovers pizza, a shepherd's pie, or casserole with stuffing as well. You could even use some stuffing to fill up some stuffed peppers. Stuff the stuffing. Then, for breakfast, why not fry up stuffing patties and top them with fried eggs?

If you'd like a little taste of summertime in the middle of late fall, however, here's an idea: One of the all-time favorite foods on a stick at the Wisconsin State Fair is Rupena's Fine Foods' fried stuffing balls and gravy (via Facebook). While Rupena's also sells the stuffing balls in their freezer case, you can easily make them at home from your own leftover stuffing.

You'd be surprised what you can make with mashed potatoes

Leftover mashed potatoes are pretty much a slam dunk when it comes to repurposing. Using them to make potato pancakes is super easy, and the pancakes themselves can be topped with cheese, ham, eggs, or even leftover turkey to make for a quick and easy breakfast or light supper. For something a bit heartier, shepherd's or cottage pies are the perfect way to use up any mashed potatoes you have on hand. Mashed potatoes can also be molded and fried to make homemade tater tots, and they're one of the best things you can use to thicken soup.

While none of the above ideas may be new to you, here's something you may not realize –- leftover mashed potatoes can also be put to good use to make desserts as well! White potato pie, a Thanksgiving favorite from Maryland's Eastern Shore, is made with mashed potatoes. The recipe, courtesy of the Maryland Office of Tourism, is easy to follow. You can also take mashed potatoes, peanut butter, and powdered sugar to make a super easy and surprisingly tasty, no-cook candy using this recipe from Spicy Southern Kitchen. Settlers from Moravia, a region whose borders lie within today's Czech Republic, according to Carolana, used mashed potatoes to make a delicious sugar cake that is a regional delicacy today in both Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Here is a recipe provided by the Idaho Potato Commission.

Leftover cranberry sauce can also be put to good use

Got cranberry sauce leftover from Thanksgiving dinner? This ingredient is more versatile than you might think. Of course, you can slather it on as a turkey sandwich topper, but you can also put it to good use in some pretty healthy ways. Try mixing cranberry sauce with a little olive oil or yogurt to make a sweet and tangy salad dressing or layer it with yogurt and granola to make a delicious breakfast parfait.

You can also use cranberry sauce as a flavoring for baked goods, including muffins, quick breads, bar cookies, and bread pudding (via The Spruce Eats). It can also be used to make a sauce for roast pork, chicken, or even turkey. Perhaps our very favorite use for cranberry sauce, however, involves a trip to IKEA to pick up a bag of those amazing frozen meatballs. Cranberry sauce, after all, tastes almost exactly like the lingonberry jam that accompanies the meatballs you get in Ikea's restaurant.

Just in case you have leftover pie, here are a few things you could do

Pie, we feel, hardly counts as a leftover. As with most baked goods, it's the kind of thing you make to be eaten over the course of a couple of days. It is just as good, if not even better, after a day or so in the fridge as it is when fresh out of the oven.

In the unlikely event that you tire of eating pie as-is, though, we do have a few suggestions as to how to transform it into a different dessert. You can easily take a page out of Dairy Queen's playbook and make a pie shake: Put a few scoops of vanilla ice cream, a splash of milk, and a slice of pumpkin, apple, or pecan pie in the blender. You will need to drink out of a boba straw since a standard straw will be way too narrow to allow those pie chunks to pass through. You can also take that pie and make it into the cutest little "piecaken" cupcakes. Just mix up some cake batter, and fill each cupcake liner 1/3 of the way with it. Add a spoonful of pie, top with more batter, and bake. Voilà! A brand new -– and very original — dessert.