Turkey anytime: A recipe for turning leftovers into planned-overs

By Tanya Davis | Published Wednesday, November 21, 2018

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Part of the pleasure of a Thanksgiving or other holiday meal is the aroma of a turkey baking in your oven. Continue that great feeling by planning a variety of pleasing post-holiday meals with leftover turkey.

Turkey makes a great first meal plus delicious leftovers that are easy to combine into a variety of scrumptious future meals. Try turkey year-round and think “planned-overs” rather than “leftovers.”

Follow these food safety guidelines for handling your turkey leftovers safely:

  • Debone turkey and refrigerate all leftovers in shallow containers within two hours of cooking.
  • Use leftover turkey within three to four days and stuffing and gravy within one to two days, or freeze these foods. Be aware if you freeze leftover gravy, it may separate when it thaws. Stirring gravy – especially with a whisk – during reheating will help it recombine. In general, gravy made with flour may reheat better than gravy made with cornstarch. Gravy made with cornstarch is translucent in appearance while gravy made with flour is more opaque. If you’re new to gravy-making try one of the quick dissolving flours advertised for gravy making in the flour section of your store.
  • When reheating turkey, reheat thoroughly to a temperature of 165 F until hot and steaming.

Try the following recipes from our Extension friends at the University of Nebraska or use them as an inspiration for your own!


Servings: 4

  • 1 1/2 cups turkey, cooked and diced
  • 1/4 cup vinaigrette dressing
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • Lettuce leaves

Toss chicken, cranberries and almonds with dressing. Serve on a lettuce leaf or mound of chopped lettuce.


  • 1 cup chopped, cooked turkey
  • dash of pepper
  • 1/4 chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 2 thinly chopped carrots
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup cooked pasta (such as bowtie, shells, macaroni, etc.) or 1 cup cooked rice

Add all ingredients, except pasta or rice to pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook covered until vegetables are tender crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add cooked pasta or cooked rice and cook a few more minutes until pasta or rice is heated.

Tanya Davis is a Wise County Extension agent.

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