6 Ways to Transform Your Christmas Leftovers

Congratulations! You survived the holidays. Sure, your wallet may be lighter and you may be a little heavier, but, damn it, you did it. You made it through awkward family gatherings, unwrapping things you didn’t want, and the inevitable questions about your personal life from great aunts you only see once a year. The holidays are over. Your cravings for delicious seasonal cuisine, however, are not. Rather than rehash the same plate over and over again, try transforming some of your Christmas leftovers into tasty new recipes.

Ham = Quiche

Just because you had a rich holiday supper doesn’t mean you can’t follow it up with an equally decadent breakfast the following day. If ham was on the menu this Christmas, then we suggest taking those leftovers and whipping up a quiche. Like it’s well-known pork brother, bacon, ham is a wonderful companion to buttery eggs. Quiche Lorraine is a traditional French dish that features lardon (aka pork fat), so following a that recipe for your ham quiche will yield similar, delicious results.


The recipe basics: All you need is a pie crust, some eggs, and some half-and-half (or similar heavy cream). Whisk together the eggs and cream until well beaten, add your flavor ingredients (onions, herbs, etc.), pour into the pie crust, and bake! For cheese, we suggest cheddar or Swiss, but any variety should do.

Leftover Bones = Stock

Do not throw out the carcass of your roast beast, even if you’ve already picked it clean. Take those bones and use it to make a nice stock — bone broth is all the rage these days. Following your Christmas binge, you could drink your bone broth straight, however, you can also add in some of the leftover meat or veggies you have laying around in your fridge; the same vegetables you use for a pie (below) will also work in a stew.

broth soup steam

The recipe basics: To make the stock, simply boil the carcass to blanch out any collagen or other gelatinous bits (if you like these parts, feel free to skip this step). Next, roast your bones on high in the oven for a bit; this will add some flavor to the final product. Finally, plop what you’ve got left into a big pot with some water and let it simmer on low for as long as you dare. What you do with your stock is up to you!

Vegetables = Pie

Pie ain’t just for sweet stuff. Your leftover carrots, parsnips, potatoes, celery, peas, and onions will all make great additions to a savory pie. There are one of two directions you can take here: 1) pot pie or 2) shepherd’s pie. Of course, meat will make either of these dishes better, so add your turkey, ham, or whatever else you carved this Christmas. In fact, go ahead and pour a little red wine into the mixture while you’re at it.

savory pie vegetables

The recipe basics: If you go with a pot pie, take your veggies of choice, add some gravy or stock, plop ’em into a pie crust, and bake. If you go with shepherd’s pie, you do the same thing with the veggies, except you put them in a pan, bake, top with your leftover mashed potatoes, then bake some more.

Cranberry = Salad

We’ve suggested some pretty heavy dishes so far. Let’s balance that out with a nice salad. You can use almost any kind of leftover cranberry — cranberry sauce, dried cranberries, real cranberries, hell, even some cranberry dessert filling — as a salad topping.

fresh cranberry

The recipe basics: Cranberry pairs especially well with spinach or a darker green leaf. Something other things that you may have lying around that will be great additions: pecans, or nuts, and other fruits from your dessert adventures. For the dressing, a simple balsamic, olive oil, or lemon drizzle will do.

Candy Canes and Hot Cocoa = Dessert

Okay, so candy canes and hot cocoa are technically desserts already, but it’s super easy to combine them into one epic dessert. Our go-to is brownies, but this hot-cocoa-and-candy-cane treatment will work well on pancakes, cookies, fudge, and more.

candy cane chocolate dessert
Lori L. Stalteri/Flickr

The recipe basics: You can use any hot chocolate powder as an additive to a brownie mix, whether you’re starting from scratch or adding some extra cocoa to a box recipe. Once they’re baked, place those candy canes in a plastic bag, release that pent-up holiday stress by crushing the canes, then sprinkle your sugary, cathartic dust on top of the brownies. Add some marshmallows, if you’re feeling fluffy.

Everything = Sandwich

Have you ever loaded everything from your holiday meal onto one sandwich? Of course, you have — we’ve all done it. What we bet you did not know is that this delicacy has a name: the Turkey Manhattan. Granted, that name only works if you went for turkey this Christmas. This glorious creation is usually an open-face sandwich, but feel free to get creatives.

turkey sandwich holiday leftovers
Lauri Patterson/Getty Images

The recipe basics: Your bottom later is your bread of choice (yes, we think cornbread counts). Next is your turkey (although any meat you had at the Christmas table will do). Another layer will be your mashed potatoes. For the topping? Gravy, of course. Let it flow over the sides. In between these layers, feel free to add your other holiday favorites. Green bean casserole, stuffing, corn pudding, cranberry sauce, mac and cheese, and extra gravy are some of our guilty pleasures.

Article originally published December 26, 2017. Last updated December 2019.

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