Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipes from Top Chefs

thanksgiving leftover recipes

You’re doing it! You’re surviving Thanksgiving! No amount of heartburn, football or awkward family political “discussions” could thwart enjoying your delicious meal!

Despite the traditional overindulgence, there are usually leftovers. This year, chefs from some of California and Texas’ best restaurants gave us their favorite ideas and recipes for repurposing those leftovers.

Meat Mac n’ Cheese and Turkey Shepherd’s Pie

Chef Jose “Junior” Melendez from BOA Steakhouse in Los Angeles

“When I have Mac n Cheese leftover from Thanksgiving and the dark meat of the turkey or ham, I like to dice up the meat and reheat the mac and cheese with milk or cream, then add the meat, and put in a casserole dish, add more cheese on top, and bake until golden brown.  

Another fun thing is making Turkey Shepherd’s Pie with the leftover mashed potatoes and turkey meat with gravy. You heat up the turkey with the gravy (you can also add leftover mushrooms or Brussels sprouts if you like) and put that mixture in a casserole dish, then place mashed potatoes on top, sprinkle parmesan cheese and chopped parsley, and bake until golden brown.  

I also like to take my turkey meat and reheat with my leftover mushrooms and serve with a side of creamed spinach that I reheat and add a little Parmesan cheese too.”

Turkey Porchetta

Chef Denis Dello Stritto of Vinoteca at the Four Seasons, Beverly Hills

turkey porchetta

“Pork Porchetta is a traditional Christmas dish in Rome,” explains Chef Denis. “But I usually use the same technique to make turkey Porchetta after Thanksgiving.”

  • Turkey
  • Fennel
  • Pepper
  • Rosemary
  • Salt

“I’ll debone my turkey, pound it out into a large sheet, and season the inside with traditional Roman spices for Porchetta—like fennel, black pepper, and rosemary. Then I’ll grind the turkey scraps, roll them up inside the pounded turkey (with the skin facing out), and roast the entire bird for 3 to 4 hours at 300°F. Once it cools, you can then make thinly sliced turkey Porchetta sandwiches and grill them on a plancha. you can serve the meat cold and sliced very thinly for sandwiches or sliced thicker for sandwiches that you can make on a grill or plancha.”

Thanksgiving Pot Pies

Head Teppan Chef Michael Monzon from ROKU (West Hollywood)


“I like to put all the Thanksgiving leftovers in a giant bowl and mix them together. I’m talking everything—vegetables, turkey, potatoes, gravy, a little cranberry sauce. Line some ramekins with ready-made pie crust and brush some butter on the inside, then fill them up with the leftover mixture. Put the pie crust on top to seal them, and bake! Basically you’re making Thanksgiving pot pies. Wrap them up in wax paper and foil and you can put them in the freezer to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner through Christmas. One of my favorite memories as a kid!”

Turkey Leg Chile Verde and Corn Casserole with Corn Bread Pudding

Michael Neflas, Executive Chef of BOA Steakhouse in Santa Monica

“For the Turkey Legs, I would suggest a Turkey Leg Chile Verde.  Take the leftover turkey leg meat and simmer it in a tomatillo-based salsa.  Serve it with tortillas, rice and beans.

For the mashed potatoes, I usually chill them, stuff them with cheese and then form them into a patty shape.  I would freeze these and then use a standard breading of flour, egg, and bread crumbs, returning them to the freezer when done.  We would pan fry these and eat them as a sandwich.

“Our family makes a corn casserole that would be perfect as the base for a corn chowder.  Just add turkey gravy, thinned with water, the casserole, and some heavy cream.  Enjoy with crispy bacon, jalapenos, and cheddar cheese.

For the yams, I would use them for breakfast the next morning as pancakes.  

“Lastly, for the corn bread.  I would break it up into small pieces and dry it out.  Then, using a standard bread pudding recipe I would soak the corn bread overnight.  The next day, I would cook it just as you would any bread pudding and finish with the cranberry and orange relish that we serve the night before.”

Leftover Turkey Steamed Buns

Chef Jason Dady owner of Tre Trattoria, Tre Enotec, Two  Bros. BBQ Market, and more

Serves 6

  • 6 Steamed buns, frozen
  • 12 oz. Leftover turkey leg and thigh meat, shredded
  • 2 oz. butter
  • 1 leek
  • ¼ cup Hoisin sauce
  • 2 tsbp Sriracha
  • 1 English Cucumber

Steam the frozen buns until soft and tender.  About 2 minutes, using a classic bamboo steamer.
Using a heavy bottom sauté pan, sear the turkey until crispy and golden brown.  Season with salt and pepper as needed.
Slice the cucumber into 1/8 inch slices and set aside.
Chiffonade the leek and set aside.
Add the Sriracha to the hoisin sauce and set aside.

To serve, spread the hoisin sauce on the steamed bun.  Add three cucumber slices.  Put 2 oz of turkey into each bun, garnish with chiffonade of leek and serve immediately.