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As great as Thanksgiving dinner is, arguably the best part is getting to do it again the next day. Cue the perfect remix of turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce sandwiches layered with all the fixings of the prior evening’s spread, plus some newcomers. There’s something about next-day turkey combined with, say, fresh pesto that is tough to beat. Since leftovers are inevitable here, being prepped with a post-holiday game plan is a good idea. Looking to the chefs and foodies who do it best, we pooled together their savviest recipes, which you’re most definitely going to want to whip up on Friday. 

If you have leftover turkey, whip up…

Savory Pie

Photography by Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest

Half Baked Harvest’s Tieghan Gerard makes a one-pot turkey tamale pie with (lots of) sharp white Cheddar and pomegranate salsa. “Everyone always thinks to make sandwiches, but this is so much easier to prepare and it feeds family and friends who might be sticking around after the meal. Not to mention, it is delicious!” says Gerard.

Hearty Soup

Courtesy of The Modern Proper

In Holly Erickson of The Modern Proper’s house, the day-after meat becomes a broth-y Turkey Pozole Rojo with seasoned veggies and a rich medley of spices. “This Mexican soup is made with hominy and garnished with avocado and crisp cabbage, which is refreshing after a heavy holiday meal,” notes Erickson.

A Spaghetti Bake

Photography by Gaby Dalkin of What’s Gaby Cooking

What’s Gaby Cooking’s Gaby Dalkin goes all out with a turkey spaghetti bake that includes decadent layers of shredded mozzarella, Parmesan, and fresh mozzarella balls, resulting in one very elevated take on noodles and cheese. 

If you have leftover pumpkin puree, try…

French Toast

Photography by Cynthia Chen McTernan of Two Red Bowls

Cynthia Chen McTernan of Two Red Bowls always ends up with a stray cup of squash that’s never enough for pie but perfect for mixing into a little French toast batter. “This kabocha maple caramel baked French toast is the sort of hands-off dish made for the sleepy weekend after Thanksgiving,” notes McTernan.

If you have leftover gourds or potatoes, cook…

Butternut Squash Rigatoni 

Courtesy of Country Crock Plant Butter

“One of my favorite Thanksgiving veggie dishes is butternut squash—what’s not to love? It’s also great to use in leftovers in an unexpected way, like this fall pasta dish with arugula,” says Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski. It’s essentially guilt-free: “I use plant butter to keep it light, but it still has a great buttery taste.”

Sweet Potato Waffles

imageChef Richard Blais’s go-to is sweet and savory waffles that can be enjoyed for brunch, dinner, or even dessert post-Thursday. His tip for making them supreme? Beat the egg whites well so that the batter ends up light and fluffy in texture. “The fall flavors of pumpkin seeds and apple pie spice warm the soul,” says Blais. “Just add a cup of hot cider and a fuzzy blanket and you will be ready to take on those cold-weather blues.”

Shepherd’s Pie

Photography by Jenna Arend of Pinch of Yum

“Guess what you have a lot of in your fridge after Thanksgiving? Leftover mashed potatoes,” says Jenna Arend of Pinch of Yum. She uses the staple to make a spice-heavy filling for a vegetarian shepherd’s pie, layered with saucy mushrooms and carrots. 

If you have leftover stuffing, make…

More Waffles

Photography by Cynthia Chen McTernan of Two Red Bowls

Another staple in Cynthia Chen McTernan’s kitchen is a reinvention she learned from chef J. Kenji López-Alt. “I love breaking out the waffle iron the morning after Thanksgiving and making leftover stuffing waffles,” says McTernan. “There’s no better vehicle in the world for extra turkey, mashed potatoes, or even just an over-easy egg.”

Food Recipes photo
Stovetop Sweetheart Waffle Iron, Food52 ($58)

If you have leftover everything, build…

The Sandwich

Photography by Melina Hammer of Catbird Cottage

Cook and recipe developer Melina Hammer incorporates the best elements of Thanksgiving dinner into the ultimate tall stack. “It has everything you loved the night before, stuffed between layers of crunchy toast and slathered with a bright, herby aioli. It marries all the flavors and textures in the best way,” says Hammer.