Creative, Quick, & Easy: 10 Recipes for Unmade Thanksgiving Food

By now you’ve had your fill of leftover stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. All those Thanksgiving dishes have been gobbled up and you’re ecstatic that you won’t be eating the same meal for the sixth day in a row. But what about those other leftovers?

You open the fridge and realize all your raw food is unmade Thanksgiving buys. A few regular and sweet potatoes, a half-bag of cranberries that never got made into sauce, an extra can of Pillsbury® rolls, and some green beans left out from the casserole. And, of course, there’s the dreaded leftovers from the 18-pound turkey smack in the middle of your fridge.

That oversized bird that you bought expecting 20 guests, but then your younger sister decided to stick around her boyfriend’s and your aunt and uncle decided to go on a last-minute trip. Sometimes Thanksgiving guests just drop like flies, and, as the host, you get stuck with all that unused and uneaten food.

The real challenge? Turning this food into a delicious meal that doesn’t feel as though you’re hitting the refresh button on Thanksgiving dinner. Here are some creative ideas for post-Thanksgiving recipes that put all that unused food you have to good use.  

1. Cranberry Tart

meal prep

If your family buys fresh cranberries every year, this is a great way to repurpose that extra bag that didn’t get used. Pair with leftover puff pastry or pie dough to create these delicious tarts.


1 pie dough 

1 ½ cup granulated sugar

2 cups cranberries

2 large eggs

½ cup brown sugar

1 ½ teaspoon all-purpose flour

¼ cup + 2 tablespoons half-and-half

1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract

Confectioners’ sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a tart pan with the pie dough.
  2. In a saucepan combine the granulated sugar with ¼ cup water and cook over moderately high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the cranberries, cover and cook over moderate heat for 3 minutes, occasionally stirring.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and let the cranberries cool. Drain the cranberries and set aside the leftover cranberry syrup.
  4. In a medium bowl beat the eggs with the brown sugar and flour. Whisk in the half-and-half and the almond extract to create almond custard.
  5. Spread the cranberries over the pie dough. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the cranberry syrup over the cranberries, then pour in the almond custard.
  6. Bake in the oven for 16 to 18 minutes. Let the tart cool at least 2 hours.
  7. Dust the tart with confectioners’ sugar and cut into wedges. Serve with whipped cream.

2. Roasted Vegetables

meal prep

Finding yourself surrounded by raw vegetables can be overwhelming. Combine these unused veggies with seasonings and toss everything together on a pan for a flavorful roasted vegetable medley. This recipe uses potatoes, green beans, and sweet potatoes, but don’t feel limited on your veggie selection, use whatever you have.


Sweet Potato, peeled & cubed

Diced Green Beans

Potatoes, cubed

Salt & Pepper

½ tablespoon thyme

½ tablespoon rosemary

½ tablespoon oregano

½ tablespoon sage

½ cup olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 475°F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the vegetables, seasonings, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
  3. Stir together and toss until the vegetables are coated. Spread across a large baking sheet.
  4. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes in the oven, tossing once throughout cooking. Ensure the vegetables are cooked through and browned before serving.
  5. Sprinkle fresh seasonings or garnish (if available) over the veggies and enjoy. 

3. Fried Rice

meal prep

This recipe has some additional ingredients, but we think it’s a good way to combine all those vegetables with the leftover turkey. Plus, we had rice and eggs taking up space and thought this creative idea would help us get rid of the excess food. 


2 tablespoons butter, divided

2 eggs

2 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons soy sauce

4 cups cooked brown rice

1 cup green beans, chopped

1 sweet potato, diced

1 potato, diced  

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Green onion, for garnish


  1. Whisk eggs in a separate bowl, then add to pan with 1 tablespoon of butter and scramble.
  2. Sauté potato, green beans, sweet potato, and garlic in 1 tablespoon of butter until tender. Add cooked rice and continue cooking for two minutes.
  3. Stir everything together, then add soy sauce and sesame oil.
  4. Mix eggs in pan with rice and vegetables.
  5. Serve immediately, using green onion for garnish.

4. Sweet Potato Cranberry Waffles 

meal prep

You’ve heard of stuffing waffles, right? Well, this sweet potato-based breakfast treat is a healthier alternative. Throw in some cranberries to kill two birds with one stone.



Sweet Potato, peeled & cubed

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

6 egg whites, room temperature 

1 cup milk

¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar

¼ cup melted butter

Cooking Spray


  1. Peel and cube your leftover sweet potatoes. Put them into a large saucepan filled with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. Drain.
  2. Puree the sweet potato in a food processor.
  3. In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour and baking powder.
  4. In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine the puree, milk, brown sugar, and melted butter.
  5. Combine these two mixtures to create the waffle batter.
  6. In a separate bowl beat egg whites into stiff peaks. Slowly fold egg whites into the waffle batter. Mix cranberries into the batter.
  7. Preheat waffle iron and oil with cooking spray. When iron is ready, scoop desired amount of batter into the waffle iron and cook until lightly browned (5 or 6 minutes).

Just can’t wait for waffles? Check out this quick recipe:

  1. Repeat steps one and two above.
  2. Combine the sweet potato puree with boxed, pre-made waffle batter. Mix in the cranberries.
  3. Repeat step 7 above and enjoy. 

5. Deep-Fried Green Beans

meal prep

Grab some coconut oil to use as a healthy substitute for making this deep-fried goodness. It’s one of the easiest ways to get rid of those uncooked green beans in your vegetable drawer.


1-pound fresh green beans

1 cup bread crumbs

½ cup flour

½ cup coconut oil

1 egg


  1. Boil green beans for two minutes, then blanch in ice water.
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet.
  3. In the meantime, whisk the egg, then dip the blanched green beans in flour, then egg, then coat them in bread crumbs.
  4. Add beans to the skillet and fry until golden brown. Serve immediately and enjoy. 

6. Cranberry Pull-Apart Bread

meal prep

You can’t get an easier dish than this. With only two to three ingredients, this pull-apart bread makes a great no-sweat breakfast or dessert for the family. It’s also an easy addition to those late Friendsgiving’s you’ve got coming up.


1 can of biscuits

1 bag of cranberries or 1 can of cranberry sauce

2 cups sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly oil a Bundt pan.
  2. Open biscuit can, separate biscuits and cut into four pieces. Line the bottom of the Bundt pan with biscuit pieces.
  3. If you have a can of cranberry sauce, spoon the sauce over the biscuit pieces. Continue adding biscuit dough layers and spooning cranberry sauce over until you’ve used up the dough. For fresh cranberries, combine with sugar in a saucepan and boil until sugar is dissolved. Then repeat the process.
  4. Bake 47 to 52 minutes in the oven until golden brown, ensuring the bread isn’t doughy in the center. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan.
  5. Turn the Bundt pan upside down onto a serving plate to remove the bread. Serve warm and enjoy. 

7. Garlic & Herb Cheese Biscuits

meal prep

We love cheese, so of course this quick recipe was a must-try for us. And if you want a little something extra, add some diced turkey leftovers to the mix and enjoy every bite of cheesy goodness.


½ stick of butter

1 can of Pillsbury® crescent rolls

½ tablespoon basil

½ tablespoon oregano

1 tablespoon thyme

½ tablespoon rosemary

Cheese cubes (whatever’s leftover)

1 clove garlic


  1. Roll out biscuit dough and add one cube of cheese to each biscuit. Roll into a ball with the cheese inside. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the butter and add garlic. Mix the herbs together.
  3. Brush the melted butter mixture onto the rolled biscuits, then sprinkle the herbs over top.
  4. Bake as instructed on the Pillsbury® crescent rolls package.

8. Cranberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

meal prep

Another ultra-simple recipe for you. Vanilla ice cream is a staple for Kaitlyn’s and Emma’s Thanksgiving apple pie. If you’re the same way, no doubt you have some leftover ice cream sitting in the freezer. Mix in some frozen cranberries and sandwich between a warm biscuit to put a holiday spin on the classic ice cream sandwich.


1 bag of cranberries

1 can of biscuits

Vanilla Ice cream


  1. Freeze the cranberries in your freezer overnight.
  2. When you’re ready to make this treat, take the cranberries out of the freezer. Follow the directions on the biscuit can to make biscuits. Let the biscuits cool before cutting in half.
  3. Put the bottom biscuit half in a bowl and top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Use your index finger to push a handful of frozen cranberries into the ice cream one at a time. Place the top biscuit half over the ice cream and push down to create this festive ice cream sandwich. Watch out for brain freeze while enjoying your Cranberry Ice Cream Sandwiches.

9. Mashed Potato Puffs

meal prep

Create your own potato mixture to bake these puffs. If you don’t happen to have bacon and chives around your home, you can use different seasonings and leftover turkey for this creation. Just try mincing the turkey as best you can, add some cheese, spoon into a muffin tin, sprinkle cheese on top, and voila! After baking these, they will be a tasty addition to family dinner.


2 cups mashed potatoes

3 large eggs, beaten

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

¼ cup turkey bits 

¼ cup green onion, chopped

¼ cup parmesan cheese, shredded

Cooking Spray


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine mashed potatoes, eggs, cheddar cheese, turkey bits, and green onion. Season with pepper.
  3. Grease a muffin pan and put a spoonful into each cup. Sprinkle each cup with Parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes, dish, and serve warm with sour cream. 

10. Thanksgiving Meat Pie 

meal prep

Now that you’ve had your fill of dessert pie, use that leftover pie dough to create a savory meal. Go big or keep it mini depending on the amount of dough. Gather turkey, potatoes, and other vegetables to make this meat pie recipe. We used green beans to stay in theme, but if you have onions and carrots around, they would make a great addition.


Potato, peeled and cubed

1-pound turkey, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped 

½ cup green beans, chopped

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon dried rosemary

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1 pie crust package 


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Boil the cubed potato in a saucepan and cook until tender. Drain and mash.
  2. Put the turkey into a large saucepan, add garlic, green beans, and ¼ cup of water. Season with thyme, rosemary, oregano, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring to mix everything together. Cook until green beans are tender.
  3. Remove from heat and mix in the mashed potato.
  4. Place one of the pie crusts in a 9-inch pie plate and fill with the mixture. Top it with the other pie crust. Create 4 slits with a knife to release steam. Use a fork to crimp the edges of the pie, then remove any excess dough.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes in the oven until the crust is browned. Serve with leftover gravy if available.

Written and Published – Writer at HMS Mfg. Co. for the Stola™ brand

Copyright © 2018 by HMS Mfg. Co. All Rights Reserved.

1 comment

  • Emma

    Can’t wait to try the green beans!

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