Thanksgiving Leftovers, Upcycled: 4 Ways to Reuse Turkey, Stuffing, Pumpkin, and Cranberry Sauce 

Last Update: May 15, 2024

Picture this: The feasts are over, the work week is about to begin, and the fridge is still packed with Thanksgiving leftovers. You’re facing a fate of sad turkey sandwiches and dried-out stuffing, eating the same meal again… and again… and again… 

But not this year! Hang onto those Thanksgiving leftovers — even half-used cans of pumpkin purée and cranberry sauce — and we’ll show you how to turn them into four new, delicious recipes worthy of a holiday all their own. We promise they’ll leave you saying “Thanksgiving who?” 

4 Upcycled Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes

We worked with Aubrey Devin, endlessly talented recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist, to craft four recipes that give new life to Thanksgiving leftovers. (It helps that they’re her favorite foods.) 

Get the recipes: 

  1. Leftover Turkey Carnitas 
  2. Leftover Stuffing Savory Waffles
  3. Leftover Pumpkin Purée Hummus
  4. Leftover Cranberry Salad Dressing & Fall Salad

Thanksgiving Leftovers Shopping List 

Other than a handful of fresh and frozen ingredients, your pantry is probably set with everything you need to upcycle leftover Thanksgiving foods. Here’s a checklist that covers what you’ll need for all four dishes. 

Thanksgiving leftover ingredients:

1 lb leftover turkey, bone-in and dark meat preferred 
2 cups leftover stuffing (Need a recipe idea? Try this plant-based recipe or this gluten-free one.) 
⅔ cup Thrive Market Organic Pumpkin 
¼ cup Thrive Market Organic Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

Pantry ingredients: 

Thrive Market Organic Bay Leaves
Thrive Market Organic Paprika
Thrive Market Organic Ground Cumin
Thrive Market Mediterranean Sea Salt, Fine Ground
Thrive Market Organic Whole Black Peppercorns
Thrive Market Avocado Oil 
Thrive Market Avocado Oil Spray
Thrive Market Organic Olive Oil
Thrive Market Organic Red Wine Vinegar or Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
Thrive Market Organic Turkey Bone Broth 
1 10-oz pouch Thrive Market Organic Garbanzo Beans 
Thrive Market Organic Creamy Tahini
Thrive Market Organic Robust Maple Syrup or Organic Date Syrup 
Thrive Market Organic Stone Ground Mustard or Organic Dijon Mustard
Thrive Market Organic Walnuts, or Organic Raw Almonds 

Fresh and frozen ingredients: 

1 large orange
2 limes
2 lemons
1 small shallot
2 cups arugula or Tuscan kale
1 head radicchio
1 small fennel bulb
3 tablespoons dill
¼ cup mint
1 small yellow or white onion 
1 head garlic
4 oz crumbled feta or grated/shaved parmesan  
1 egg
Frozen spinach
Thrive Market Organic Breakfast Chicken Sausage

How to Store Food So It Lasts Longer 

Want to make sure your leftovers are in prime shape for reusing? Once the big feast is over, the USDA and the FDA both have easy guidelines for storing leftovers and keeping them safe:

  • Stick to the two-hour rule. 

Cooked food can sit for up to two hours at room temperature, or one hour if the air temperature is above 90° F.

  • Store promptly. 

There’s no need to wait for leftovers to cool to room temperature before storing. To maintain freshness, divide cooked food into smaller portions in shallow containers, and get your feast to the fridge or freezer. 

  • Keep your fridge at 40° F or below. 

Check on it occasionally (an appliance thermometer makes it easy) to make sure food is being stored at the proper temperature.  

  • Leave room for air circulation. 

Make sure not to crowd food too tightly in the fridge (or freezer) so you’re leaving room for the cold air to do its job and keep the food safe. 

  • Track timing.

Leftover cooked food will last for three to four days in the fridge or roughly two to six months in the freezer. If you end up freezing leftovers and see freezer burn when you defrost your food, taste might be affected but safety is not — freezer burn just means your packaging might not have been air-tight enough.  

More Ways to Reduce Food Waste Over the Holidays 

Here’s How to Reduce Waste in Every Room in Your Home
What To Do With Thanksgiving Leftovers
Kitchen Hack: Best Way to Store Fresh Fruits & Vegetables
Composting 101: 10 Questions Answered
How to Prevent Freezer Burn

This article is related to:

Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Recipes

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Laura Levin

Laura Levin is Thrive Market’s Associate Director of Content. Her kitchen is always stocked with at least 6 bottles of Thrive Market Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

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