Easy leftover turkey recipes

Not sure what to do with all that leftover Christmas turkey? Never fear, we're here to help! From curries to salads, we've got plenty of ideas for ways to use up any leftover turkey you might have sitting in the fridge...

Leftover turkey recipes
(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photo)

Not sure what to do with all that leftover Christmas turkey? Never fear, we're here to help! From curries to salads, we've got plenty of ideas for ways to use up any leftover turkey you might have sitting in the fridge...

Leftover turkey recipes are a brilliant way to get your money's worth out of that giant Christmas or Thanksgiving turkey you spent all day cooking!

If you're reading this ahead of the big day, make sure you've read out tips on how to cook a turkey. Cooking it well first time round will make your leftovers are even tastier. These delicious recipes will also help minimise food waste!

Our easy leftover turkey recipes will help give you some inspiration if you've got lots of meat and you don't want to live off sandwiches for the foreseeable.

What to do with leftover turkey

There really is no need for waste this year. You can combine turkey with lots of different ingredients to make various dishes including soups, stews, curries and hearty salads. So what are you going to make with your leftover turkey?

Leftover turkey recipes: Sandwich

vietnamese turkey sandwich

It's one of the most popular ways to use up leftover turkey and we can see why. Fill your favourite style of bread, baguette or bun with all the festive scraps you can find and you're sure to create a masterpiece. Don't scrimp on the condiments like mayo or cranberry sauce. Why not mix the two together for a really festive sauce!

Ingredients you need:

  • leftover meat, try combining turkey and ham and stuffing for a real meat feast!
  • bread
  • shredded cabbage or lettuce
  • condiments

Recipes to try: 

More sandwich recipes

Leftover turkey recipes: Curry

Leftover turkey curry

Spice up your turkey by adding it to curry. For a super quick recipe, simply cut your leftovers into chunks and add right at the last minute so it doesn't overcook or dry out. Making the sauce from scratch will mean more flavour but you can use a shop bought jar if you want a really quick option.

Recipes to try:

More curry recipes

Leftover turkey recipes: Risotto

leftover turkey recipes: turkey risotto

Turn your leftover turkey into a creamy risotto bursting with flavour. Combine risotto with stock and throw in your leftover turkey at the last minute to heat through - you could even use leftover veg as well. Do keep an eye on your risotto - there's nothing worse than burnt risotto stuck to the bottom of your pan, so keep the heat down low.

Ingredients you need:

  • Mixed veg (broccoli, carrots, peppers etc)
  • Risotto rice
  • Stock
  • Cheddar or Parmesan cheese

Recipes to try:

More risotto recipes

Leftover turkey recipes: Pie

Why not transform your Christmas Day turkey into a Boxing Day pie for the whole family to share? A buttery pastry case, handfuls of fresh cranberries and a sprinkle of nutmeg can really transform your turkey leftovers.

Ingredients you need:

  • Pastry (shop bought or homemade puff pastry - the choice is yours
  • Extra fillings (cranberries, mixed vegetables etc.)
  • Cream or stock

Recipes to try:

More pie recipes

Leftover turkey recipes: Salad

leftover turkey salad recipes

When you've eaten lots and lots over the Christmas period sometimes a salad is just what you need. A handful of fresh salad leaves, a few hunks of cheese and your cooked turkey can be whipped up in minutes. Drizzle in a homemade dressing and serve.

Ingredients you need:

Recipes to try:

More salad recipes

Leftover turkey recipes: Soup

clfortin / Alamy Stock Photo

Whether you add the meat from your turkey or use the carcass to make  stock, soup is a great choice when it comes to using up leftovers from  your Christmas bird. Roast potatoes, leftover veggies and gravy can be  added to your soup too - waste not, want not!

Ingredients you need:

  • Stock or gravy
  • Veggies (mushrooms, onions etc)
  • Seasoning

Recipes to try:

More soup recipes

Leftover turkey recipes: Pastry

leftover turkey pastry recipes

If you're having a buffet-style meal on Boxing Day you could whip up some turkey filled pastries. All you need to some puff pastry - whether that's shop bought or homemade - and some veggies like mushrooms or leeks. 20 mins in the oven and you've got a whole array of treats.

Ingredients you need:

  • Puff pastry
  • Egg
  • Leek
  • Herbs (parsley, thyme etc.)

Recipes to try:

More pastry recipes 

Leftover turkey recipes: Fajitas

Smoky turkey and pepper fajitas

If you fancy whipping up something speedy after all that cooking on Christmas Day, fajitas are the perfect choice. All you have to do is make up the fillings and then get the family assemble their own wraps - easy!

Ingredients you need:

  • Mixed peppers
  • Cheese
  • Tortilla wraps

Recipes to try:

More fajita recipes 

Leftover turkey recipes: Stir-fry

Leftover turkey recipes: Turkey stir-fry

Profimedia.CZ a.s. / Alamy Stock Photo

Nothing beats a quick and easy stir-fry recipe that you can rustle up in no time at all. Handfuls of vegetables and drizzled in your favourite sauce, your Christmas turkey can be turned into a tasty takeaway. Just add your cooked turkey in at the end to make sure you don't overcook it.

Ingredients you need:

  • Stir-fry vegetables
  • Stir-fry sauce
  • Rice or noodles to serve

Recipes to try:

More stir-fry recipes

Leftover turkey recipes: Pasta

Leftover turkey recipes: Turkey pasta

age fotostock / Alamy Stock Photo

Toss or bake your turkey alongside some fresh pasta. You could make a turkey pasta bake with fresh veggies and a light tomato sauce or you could make a lasagne or chunky turkey Bolognese - the choices are endless! Just make sure you add sauce to your turkey and pasta combo otherwise it'll be rather dry.

Ingredients you need:

  • Pasta
  • Mixed veggies (broccoli, onions etc.)
  • Chopped tomatoes or ready-made sauce

Recipes to try:

More pasta recipes 

Leftover turkey recipes: Stew

Leftover turkey recipes: Turkey stew

Elena Hramova / Alamy Stock Photo

You don't need to take hours making a stew as ready-cooked turkey speeds up the process. You can use the turkey bones and carcass to make the stock or you can cheat and use a turkey-flavoured stock cube. Cook the veggies first and then add in the turkey meat so it doesn't cook too quickly.

Ingredients you need:

  • Mixed veggies (onion, garlic etc.)
  • Tomato puree
  • Vegetable or turkey stock

Recipes to try:

More stew recipes

Leftover turkey recipes: Burgers

turkey burgers with couscous and tzatziki

You don't need mince to make burgers. Just finely chop your leftover turkey into pieces and combine with egg, mayo and Worcester sauce. You won't have to cook them for long either, just fry on the pan and ta-dah, you've got leftover burgers!

Ingredients you need:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Worcester sauce
  • Sweetcorn
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Burger bun

Recipes to try:

More burger recipes

How to store leftover turkey

Once the cooked turkey has cooled completely, it's easier to break down the bird to store for future use. Paul Kelly of KellyBronze says he uses a small domestic vacuum packer to store his leftovers, but admits that cutting the turkey into joints and wrapping in clingfilm is also fine.

By keeping as much of the meat on the bone as possible, you prevent the meat from drying out. You can shred it from the bone before mixing into your dish, but until then keep it on the bone if you've got space in the fridge.

How long does leftover turkey last?

A turkey, when stored correctly in the fridge in an air-tight container can last up to 7 days according to Paul Kelly but generally, people should aim to use it within 3-4 days.

What to do if your leftover turkey becomes tough

The last thing you want is for your leftover turkey to become tough, dry and harder to use in other recipes. To help your leftover turkey regain it's delicious, moist texture, pour some leftover turkey or chicken broth over the meat creating a a broth for it to sit in. If you don't have ay broth regular drinking water can suffice. Leave it wrapped tightly in some foil for a while and then reheat in the oven - make sure it's cooked until piping hot!

Top tips for using up leftover turkey

Remember when it comes to using ready cooked turkey, you won't need to cook it for as long stated in the recipe, you just need to make sure it's piping hot all the way through so add your turkey leftovers to the recipe last thing.

Paul Kelly suggests bringing the turkey up to room temp before adding it to your dish. This ensures that the meat will become piping hot, without the need for too much cooking time.

Jessica Ransom
Senior Food Writer

Jessica is a freelance food writer, stylist and recipe tester. She previously worked as Senior Food Writer at Future. While at Future Jessica wrote food and drink-related news stories and features, curated product pages, reviewed equipment, and developed recipes that she then styled on food shoots. She is an enthusiastic, self-taught cook who adores eating out and sharing great food and drink with friends and family. She has completed the Level 1 Associate course at the Academy of Cheese and is continually building on her knowledge of beers, wines, and spirits.