Thanksgiving dishes

10 Healthy Leftover Recipes from Your Favorite Thanksgiving Dishes

Believe it or not, the holiday season is upon us! Not only is it time to adjust to the new (but familiar) music coming over the radio, but it is also time to start making plans for our holiday gatherings. This includes how we feed our guests or what dishes we bring to others’ seasonal events, including Thanksgiving dishes.

Whether you like to try cooking new recipes every year or you prefer to stick to the classics, the problem of leftover overflow is common. Thanksgiving, in particular, can be a challenge. It is a day centered around gratitude but also around feasting on a variety of delicious foods. To avoid Thanksgiving dishes losing their luster in the days after your family gathering, try out some of these imaginative ways to transform your favorite main dishes and sides into both sweet and savory meals everyone will love. Not only will you add some great new ideas into your culinary rotation, but the planet will appreciate the reduction in holiday food waste.

10 Healthy Thanksgiving Leftovers

1. Crispy Mashed Potato and Stuffing Patties

You can make these beauties either sinfully (frying in oil) or more healthily (doing a sauté in vegetable stock or baking them). If you are a plant-based eater, swap out the chicken’s eggs with flax eggs, which will provide an extra boost of nutrition. Bonus points for incorporating several different kinds of leftovers!

2. Sweet Potato Pancakes

These would make a great breakfast for the day after Thanksgiving — whether the family is heading out to shop or planning on staying at home to lounge. Ingredients such as flax seed, whole spelt flour, and cinnamon keep it healthy with a kick of seasonal spice.

3. Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Apple Grilled Cheese

These flavors may seem like they are an odd pairing, but the roasted sweetness of the sprouts matched with the crisp tartness of an apple is divine! Add in the comforting mouthfeel of creamy cheese (plant-based cheeses welcome) and a new lunchtime classic is born.

4. Customizable Breakfast Bread Bowls

Do you usually have a bunch of dinner rolls sitting around after everyone’s cleaned their plates? Transform them into tiny bowls for your family’s favorite breakfast fillings. The rolls get nice and crispy in the oven and the filling becomes ooey-gooey, delicious, and an instant fan favorite.

5. Turkey and Spinach Stuffing Casserole

The mother of all leftover recipes, this casserole masterpiece packs all of your favorites into one. You can also repurpose plant-based main dishes to replace the turkey in this recipe. Using leftover stuffing makes this meal easy as 1-2-3 and the addition of fresh spinach ensures there’s a serving of greens on your plate.

6. Cranberry-Walnut Oatmeal

Not all leftovers are stuck in the dinner category! Revitalize the holiday’s cranberry sauce by swirling it into a cup of warm oatmeal, top with walnuts, and enjoy.

7. Spinach Salad with Roasted Fall Vegetables

Leftover roasted sweet potato, butternut squash, onion, and carrots make the perfect topping for an autumnal salad. Roasting these root veggies makes for a savory and sweet experience, topped off with a homemade Dijon vinaigrette.

8. Mac and Cheese-Stuffed Balsamic Portobellos

If classic mac and cheese is a must-have at your gatherings, but you’re always left with a bunch to take home afterward, this recipe will transform your leftovers into something a bit healthier, but just as tasty. The introduction of the mushroom adds a nutritious punch and the balsamic vinegar takes the flavor to a whole new level.

9. Cranberry Balsamic Ketchup

Not only can you incorporate leftover cranberry sauce into baked goods and breakfast treats, but you can also craft your very own homemade ketchup! The cranberries add a sweet zing while the balsamic adds a rich depth that will make ordinary, store-bought ketchup jealous.

10. Piled-High Leftover Sandwich

When all else fails, you can always stack all of your leftovers on to some of your favorite bread, drizzle on the gravy or cranberry sauce, and enjoy a satisfying meal that took no time at all to prepare.

Katie Medlock is a writer, mental health counselor, and educator on a quest to make the world a better place. Her writing has appeared on Headspace, Inhabitat, Care2, Ravishly, and Chic Vegan. On her days off, you will find her cooking, catching up on nerdy podcasts, blogging at The Offbeat Herbivore (, or lounging with her partner and rescue dachshund.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes? How do you use leftovers from your Thanksgiving feast? Let us know below or on Facebook and Twitter.