Waste not, want not – when it comes to the big bird there’s bound to be leftovers. We share our favourite recipes for surplus meat and offer some tips on storage.
Since even a diminutive turkey crown feeds a family comfortably, it stands to reason that there’ll be some meat left after the big Christmas dinner whatever cut you choose. While the humble turkey sandwich has its place in the culinary spectrum, the versatility of this lean, mild meat means it can work much harder.
How to handle turkey leftovers safely
- Let your cooked turkey completely cool, then refrigerate at the first opportunity – within 90 minutes is best.
- Don’t leave your turkey hanging around all afternoon as it may become unsafe to eat. Bear this in mind before heading for your post-feasting nap…
- Leftover turkey should be eaten within two days, so if you don’t think you’ll get through it in time stick it in the freezer in portions.
- If you do freeze your turkey for a later date, make sure it’s wrapped properly or put in a sealed container to avoid freezer burn. It’s also good to use sticky labels to add dates and descriptions to your frozen goods.
- If you’re storing your leftover cooked turkey in the fridge, place it on the middle shelf along with all your other ready-to-eat foods. Save the bottom shelf for raw meat and fish.
Our top 10 turkey leftover recipes
1. Korean rice pot
Keep things nice and light after all the indulgence of the big meal. This Asian-inspired rice pot will do the trick. Top with fried eggs and nutty sesame seeds.
2. Turkey Singapore noodles
Dust off your wok and get sizzling. This noodle dish is good if you have brown meat from legs and wings leftover, as it requires shredded meat rather than diced chunks.
For another super stir-fry, make our spicy turkey noodles.
3. Turkey noodle soup
Also try making our delicious turkey ramen.
4. Turkey cacciatore with a twist
This Italian-style bake will be a crowd-pleaser thanks to its cheesy breadcrumb topping and rich tomato sauce. Just the ticket when all the festive-themed food gets a bit much.
5. Moroccan turkey salad
Take a break from belt-busting meals and try this light salad with aubergine, pomegranate, harissa and rocket.
6. Leftover turkey casserole
This more traditional dish also uses up surplus side dishes. Throw in any robust root vegetables, such as parsnips, carrots and celeriac.
7. Mini turkey & cranberry pies
If you’re in charge of any post-Christmas/pre-New Year entertaining, these mini turkey pies will keep your guests happy- just add a block of shortcrust pastry to your big grocery shop.
8. Coronation turkey with homemade chapatis
This mildly-spiced treat will add a touch of retro charm to a Boxing Day spread. Pick up some roti flour and try your hand at these super simple flatbreads.
9. Christmas pizza
Kids will love this festive pizza, topped with leftover meat and, rather ingeniously, a scattering of stuffing. Not one for Italian food purists.
10. Turkey & potato curry
There’s nothing wrong with the much-maligned turkey curry. This tomato-based version also uses up leftover potatoes. Use your favourite curry paste and serve with the obligatory naan bread, rice and chutney.
And a few more ideas for good measure...
Turkey & mango noodle salad
In a large bowl, stir together 375g cooked rice noodles, 1 thinly sliced red onion, a peeled and sliced mango, 300g shredded leftover turkey and a large pack coriander leaves. Mix 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce with the juice and zest of 1 lime and 1 tbsp sesame oil. Toss the salad in the dressing, season and serve.
Bubble & squeak cakes
Make these deliciously melty middle bubble & squeak cakes for a simple snack or Boxing Day breakfast, as demonstrated in our video:
Turkey mac & cheese
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cook 350g macaroni or penne following pack instructions. Stir together 300ml half-fat crème fraîche, 250g grated cheese and a large handful of leftover turkey in a large baking dish. Drain the pasta and add to the dish, stirring everything together well and seasoning to taste. Top with 50g breadcrumbs and a large handful chopped unsalted nuts. Bake for 15-20 mins until piping hot and the top is crisp and golden.
Fry slices or a patty of stuffing to heat through and crisp. Then put into a bread roll with sliced turkey, cranberry sauce and salad for the quickest burger ever.
Turn your turkey leftovers and other raw vegetable trimmings into a light and refreshing salad with a punchy dressing, as shown in our video guide: