The holidays give us plenty of reasons to celebrate. For foodies, it's a moment of opportunity – both at the dinner table where your culinary genius wows all your loved ones and the next day when its time to deal with all those scrumptious leftovers! We all know the tried and true classics - turkey soup and sandwiches are always easy go-to's that the family will always enjoy - but what about something different this year?
Sometimes we can get unsure of our far-out, 'Chopped-inspired' culinary ideas that combine crazy flavor and textural combinations in ways that most wouldn't expect - however, the recipes listed below are all tried and tested in certified Foodie kitchens across North America, giving you ALL the confidence you need to tackle some of these amazing kitchen innovations this holiday season. So why not try something decidedly outside the box of normalcy when it comes to using up those leftovers hogging all the space in the fridge?
Let's take the plunge together! There's no need to scour the dark corners of the internet for inspiration - look no further than this top 20 list of crazy, innovative ways to get rid of the old in ways you never dreamed of before! From holiday eggrolls with cranberry dipping sauce to Thanksgiving pizza, this list has got you covered for zany, far-out AMAZING recipes to use up all your leftover holiday favorites! Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert options are all included so you'll come out taking top prize for all your innovative ways to use up those delicious holiday remainders.
20 Leftover Stuffed Egg Rolls with Cranberry Dipping Sauce
If thinking outside of the box is your game, this recipe from Cake n' Knife will be your new best friend this holiday season! Egg roll wrappers are an unusual choice of vessel for USA cuisine, however, it works beautifully. The turkey and potato stuffed inside a crisp shell make for an excellent appetizer or side dish that will wow your loved ones and be sure to impress those picky youngsters in the family. Tip: be sure to shred the turkey for a smoother consistency reminiscent of Shepard’s pie, and if you have any extra peas and carrots laying around, don’t hesitate to throw them into the mixture! The dish really comes together beautifully with the addition of a simple tart cranberry dipping sauce replacing traditional plum sauce.
19 Three-In-One: Bacon-Wrapped Stuffing/ Stuffing Egg Cups/ Stuffed Acorn Squash
Ever get stuck wondering what to do with all that leftover stuffing? Babble has solved your problems with not one but three amazing innovative ways to incorporate stuffing into your next meal. We can all agree that bacon makes everything better, and these bacon-wrapped stuffing bites are perfect appetizers or as a side dish. Thin stripes of bacon work best, and a good recommendation is to pre-cook the bacon at least 5 minutes per side for optimal crispiness. Babble has got the vegetarians at the table covered too with their inventive stuffing cups filled with delicious gooey mozzarella, tomato and topped with a sunny-side-up egg!
18 Cheesy Leftover Turkey Potato Bites
Crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside, these loaded cheesy potato bites from Today are little balls of leftover perfection! Filled with a hearty center of turkey (don’t be afraid to add a little stuffing or ham in there, too!), these fried balls are the perfect holiday snack to get you through to the New Year. Be sure that your potatoes are a good thick consistency to hold the bite together. Crushed crackers work well as a substitute for breadcrumbs. For an extra crispy crust, add in the extra step of a flour and egg dredge before rolling the bites in the breadcrumb mixture.
17 Best Holiday Wreath: The Thanksgiving Ring
How stunning does this dish look?! Innovation is at its finest with this holiday leftovers wreath from Delish combining Pillsbury crescent rolls and a little bit of everything from dinner the night before! Using the premade dough takes all the work out of this magical holiday edible art and puts back all the fun and whimsy into using day-old ingredients. These bite-sized nuggets of leftover deliciousness are perfect for the whole family or for those times during the holidays when the comings and goings of company have emptied your cupboards and you need a quick fix that is elevated from simple sandwiches.
16 Turkey and Stuffing Croquettes
This delicious recipe from Just a Little Bit of Bacon combines your leftover turkey and stuffing in equal ratios to form adorable tasty fried bites! So simple, all the flavors are already there waiting to be assembled into these inventive fried bites. The egg component helps hold the stuffing and turkey together, and the thick crispy breadcrumb coating allows the bite to maintain critical moisture. If you love cheese, one incredible variation is to place a cube of Mozzarella, Swiss or any other mild, easily melted cheese in the center of each croquette for a heavenly bite of leftovers your taste buds will never forget.
15 Savoury Waffle Stacks
Breakfast over the holidays doesn't get much better than this! This sensational waffle stack creation from Foxes Love Lemons combines sweet and savory for an easy, delicious way to use up those leftovers! The best part about this recipe is the tapas-style versatility that allows each member of the family to craft their own stacked creation, simply place all the leftover goodies on the table for everyone to help themselves to. For even more insane foodie variation, place toppings (include lots of cheese!) on two waffles and broil open-face for an out-of-this-world holiday waffle melt!
14 Easy Pulled Turkey Tacos
Please your inner foodie this holiday season with an enchantingly easy dinner! This groundbreaking way to use leftover turkey from The Food Network takes a 180-degree veer away from the ordinary and into the realm of extraordinary! Be prepared to root through the pantry a bit for this one, but believe me, this assortment of ingredients adds up to a summation of deliciousness that adds an inviting contrast to the usual excessive amounts of USA fare this time of year. Fresh radish and lime brighten the dish and add freshness to your holiday leftovers that defy expectations. Queso fresco can easily be substituted for feta if you prefer a more traditional profile for your tacos; it’s all up to you with this one!
13 Cranberry Sauce Muffins
Leftover cranberry sauce is one of those items that can be spread all over in the days after the holiday feast, and this recipe from Run DMT is one great way to whip up an easy breakfast snack to take with you during the height of Boxing week sales, when battling your way through to the best sales means no time for detours to the food court. However, I prefer to enjoy these bad boys while nestled beside the cozy fire, a mug of eggnog and a good book in hand. The sour cream keeps these muffins super moist and the cranberries add a heavenly touch of tartness.
12 Thanksgiving Pizza
Every foodie has tried, or at least heard of breakfast pizza – but this craft creation from The Gunny Sack takes pizza to a whole ‘nother level with the Thanksgiving pizza. Loaded with all the fixings from the night before, enjoy this shareable dish over the holidays for breakfast, lunch or dinner! A hybrid crossover of quiche and pizza, this innovative recipe screams comfort food in every bite. The combination of layered dishes from your Thanksgiving feast gives a rich multi-textured consistency all supported by the crisp light puffed pastry crust – and the addition of fried onions as a garnish is absolutely genius.
11 Turkey Gumbo
You really can't complete the holidays without making an amazing homemade soup out of all those leftovers. Be sure to hang on to that hambone and that turkey giblets to turn into an amazing, soul-reviving broth to use in your next soup! This creation from Half Baked Harvest is for the true foodie who isn't satisfied with run-of-the-mill traditional turkey soup. One tip about gumbo that this recipe discusses is the idea of letting the soup marinate and develop amazing flavor compounds – the longer the better according to age-old kitchen wisdom! With a little bit of everything (aside from the kitchen sink) this gumbo has amazing potential to become your next holiday favorite, and an excellent way to clean out that fridge!
10 Cranberry Turkey Piroshki (Baked, not Fried)
Somewhere between a pampushky and a perogy, this turkey cranberry piroshki recipe from Will Cook For Smiles is a simply sublime way to enjoy your leftovers in true foodie fashion. With a little (or a lot) of elbow grease that traditional dough requires, this recipe subs out all that work for a simpler prepared pizza dough version that lets you focus on the creative side of assembling the little dough pockets of holiday goodness. Don’t be afraid to mix up the filling to include whatever your creative brain finds inspiration with, as traditional piroshkis can be stuffed with anything from cabbage to mincemeat. Serve with a dollop of cranberry-sauced infused sour cream for another innovative spin on a traditional garnish.
9 Turkey Enchiladas
Become a certified foodie ninja in your family’s eyes with this surprisingly delicious look-a-like recipe! For the true kitchen adventurer, this enchilada recipe from Half Baked Harvest is sure to wow you and your loved ones with its sheer originality that combines USA tradition with a Latin flair. It's a fiesta of flavors baked into each bite that you are certainly not going to forget the next time you have a ton of leftover turkey to deal with! Crisply fried sage leaves take this dish to the next level with savory mouthwatering aromatics, a few slices of avocado (try grilling your avocado if you are extra adventurous!) create a creamy textural element that brings together the dish all with a neat little bow!
8 Turkey Tetrazzini
Tetrazzini may sound like an exotic dish, but really is a simple casserole dish that incorporates sherry, mushrooms, and the protein of your choice very much similar to stroganoff. The addition of mushrooms adds a rich, umami element that works well with the creamy base loaded with leftover turkey. The Life Jolie adds in a good dose of real Parmesan which kicks the flavors into high gear. Adding a sprinkle of breadcrumbs for a crunchy texture on top never hurts, either. For those who prefer ham during the holidays, this dish is highly versatile and accommodates pork seamlessly. Hint: bacon makes for a delicious carbonara-inspired addition for a sinfully rich indulgence that takes your leftover turkey to the next level!
7 Leftover Turkey Tortilla Soup
This is not your grandma’s turkey soup. Elevated to the realm of exotic soups like soul-warming Malaysian laksa by the use of coconut milk, green chilis, and fire-roasted tomatoes, this soup really is a fiesta for your taste buds! A classic dish charmingly repurposed, the addition of avocado and fresh jalapenos will transport you to a warm, tropical location with one sip of this genius leftover innovation. I am a huge fan of inventive soups that you can dress up with an assortment of garnishes or enjoy simply as is, and this is certainly one of those creations that can handle the variation of tastes your family is certain to have. For health-conscious individuals, Whole30 is also a consideration in this recipe from 40 Aprons.
6 Turkey Lasagna
Sans the traditional tomato sauce, this leftover turkey lasagna is screaming with originality! This dish from Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen is bursting with layers of delicious flavors from the use of chicken stock-based sauce and fresh herbs, providing lovely aromatics that get your entire family’s mouths watering! The addition of butternut squash adds a sweet-savory profile to this foodie-level lasagna that turns your traditional leftovers into something completely unrecognizable and equally delightful. One top tip is to add in any other leftover vegetables to this lasagna for an easy way to clean up the fridge. Lasagna is one of those hearty dishes that can handle a lot of different things going on, the addition of peas, carrots, corn or whatever else you have leftover really only add to the fun!
5 Leftover Turkey Noodle Casserole
You knew a casserole was going to be on this list – but what elevates it beyond your average dish is the variability this recipe offers that a true foodie can use to tweak and make their very own creation. Noodles are an easy way to get leftovers (and vegetables) into young ones, and the creamy chicken soup base makes this casserole all the more appealing to kids and picky eaters (everyone knows at least one!). A secret foodie tip is to only partially cook your egg noodles, which will help maintain a good structure and textural consistency in the dish. One of the best parts about making a casserole is that it, too, can become amazing leftovers easily packed up, or even frozen and saved for a rainy day when you wish the holidays were still around! Find it at The Kitchen Is My Playground.
4 Ham and Bean Soup
Stop the turkey train; we’re going to Ham town with this soup medley from Art And The Kitchen. In lieu of regular split peas, the creator of this recipe picked out what was conveniently already in the cupboard, meaning you can do the same! Feel free to add whatever beans – navy, kidney, white - you name it. The beauty about soup is it usually requires less attention once everything is on the stove, and an even better way to ensure your enjoying all the holiday fun instead of slaving away in the kitchen is to simply make this a slow cooker meal – toss your ingredients in the crock pot and turn on low for about 6-8 hours, and you’ll have the perfect post-sledding meal for you and all your frozen loved ones.
3 Leftover Turkey Cranberry Panini
There is no better way to elevate your sandwich game than by busting out the panini grill, and this recipe courtesy of The Food Network take a little bit of everything left from the Thanksgiving table. Dijon and Swiss cheese provide a beautiful melting pot of flavors that combines perfectly with tart cranberries and a good hearty slice of turkey breast (or ham, if you prefer). It's all about the bread with this dish, the recipe calls for sourdough, however, a light rye brushed with real butter is my preferred bite of holiday magic, and you may do what you wish with this tried and tested recipe.
2 It's-A-Keeper Thanksgiving Leftovers Casserole
You knew it was coming! A classic, EASY way to combine all your holiday dishes into one – this proven delicious recipe from It's A Keeper keeps the integrity of all Thanksgiving elements: silky mashed potatoes are slathered on a bed of turkey, cranberries all with a crisped stuffing crust on top! This casserole genius actually recommends making several of these casseroles (the variations are endless) to freeze for another day when your foodie heart is lacking in inspiration, and then it really feels like the holidays are back – even if just for one meal! As usual, don't be afraid to add in your leftover side dishes to create your own inventive combinations!
1 Sweet Potato Cinnamon Buns
The holidays wouldn't be complete without a batch or two of sinful cinnamon buns, and this recipe from Namely Marly packs a new punch with this traditional holiday treat. Sweet potatoes add a new twist to an old classic, and although this recipe calls for fresh sweet potatoes, I recommend simply waiting until the day after the holiday feast and use up those leftover sweet potatoes instead! If you are partial to sweet potato pie, this recipe can handle the incorporation of marshmallow, sugared pecans or whatever other toppings you happen to include to your recipe – however, be sure to pulse it in the food processor first for optimal texture!