EDF Staff 2 minute read

5 delicious Thanksgiving leftover recipes


If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving feast, you don’t want to skimp on food. But every year, this meal leads to 305 million pounds of food waste across the country. When food is tossed into a landfill, it creates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is accelerating the speed of global warming. 

Keeping food out of landfills is one thing we can all do to fight climate change. So we asked our climate-conscious (and food-loving) colleagues at Environmental Defense Fund to share how they like to use up their Thanksgiving leftovers. Before you toss the remains of your turkey day in the trash, try these simple, tasty recipes and tips, and do the climate a good turn. 

Soup it up

A spoon being dipped into a bowl of soup

My family always makes green chili turkey tortilla soup! Basically just follow any chicken tortilla soup recipe that you like and replace with leftover turkey. You can also throw in any leftover side veggies (green beans! Brussels sprouts! carrots!). It's a hodge-podge soup that always comes out perfect. If you have any leftover bread, you can dip that in too. - Willow Battista

My family isn’t crazy about turkey, plus I’m a vegetarian, so when we have fewer than eight people, we do chicken instead. We end up making some variation of this easy, pho-inspired turkey noodle soup every year. Bonus points for making your own broth from the bones. - Emily Berger

Roll it up

Four croissants on a plate

We love to do little croissant roll-ups with our leftovers. Just roll your leftovers into store-bought crescent roll dough and bake according to the package’s directions. It's a little more fun than sandwiches. - Taylor Vos

Pack it up

As guests start to leave, we pack them a to-go bag of leftovers (using up our stash of plastic takeout containers) and shove it in their hands as they walk out the door. - Shanti Menon

Double-duty stuffing

A fried egg on top of a leftover hash

Every year, our family tradition is to take leftover dressing (ours is sage-based, but I believe most will work), throw it into a skillet with some butter, heat it up and give it a little crisp on the outside. Then you fry up a couple of eggs and put them on top. Runny eggs make almost everything better, including dressing! Every person I know who has tried it has reported that it is now a post-Turkey Day staple. - Jordon Brown

Stuffing is one of our favorite dishes of the meal, and everyone fights for the crunchiest outer bits. For leftovers, I like to take the middles that didn’t get as crunchy and bake in mini-muffin tins at 400 degrees until nice and brown. Pop out of the tins and top with a dollop of cranberry sauce, a drizzle of gravy, and a little piece of turkey if desired. YUMMO! - Christie Hicks

Ye olde vegetable hash

Bubble and squeak cakes on a cooling rack

I married into an English family and when I first heard them talk about bubble and squeak, I literally had no idea what to expect. This is now our go-to use for any leftover potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, beets, whatever, all mixed together. It’s like a multi-veg hash brown, and totally delish! - Natalie Thingelstad

Yes it does

Does eating pie for breakfast count? One part pie to two parts coffee. Feet up. Enjoy. - Trish Marks

Slices of pumpkin pie with cups of coffee

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