Man Food: 7 Snacks You Can Make With Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving may have come and gone, but chances are your fridge is still full of leftovers. What are you supposed to do after you’ve eaten your fill of turkey sandwiches and polished off the pumpkin pie, but there are still half-a-dozen containers full of food crowding your kitchen? Fortunately, it’s easy to breathe new life into the remains of Thursday’s feast by turning main dishes into tasty snacks. Here are seven snack recipes using Thanksgiving leftovers.

1. Potato Croquettes with Sweet Sriracha Mayo


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Leftover mashed potatoes go from blah to delicious in this easy-to-make snack. Simply combine cold potatoes with some garlic, grated Parmesan, and onion, then fry and serve with a spicy-sweet mayo. Recipe from The Endless Meal.


For the croquettes:

  • 1 cup cooled mashed potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup panko
  • ¼ cup flour
  • Oil for frying

For the sweet sriracha dipping sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha, or to taste

Directions: To make the sriracha dipping sauce, whisk together mayo, honey, and sriracha in a small bowl. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

To make the croquettes, start with cold mashed potatoes, since they will hold together better than potatoes at room temperature. Combine the potatoes, onion, garlic, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Mix until combined.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg. Add the panko to one bowl and the flour to another. Form the potato mixture into 2-inch long logs. Dip in the flour, then the egg, and then the panko.

Add oil to a high-sided pan and heat until the temperature on a deep-fry thermometer reads 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add 3 breaded croquettes to the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes, until light brown in color. Remove using a slotted spoon and drain a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat the process to cook the remaining croquettes. Serve with the sriracha mayo.

2. Leftover Turkey Tacos


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Turkey gets a new life (and a bit more spice) in this tasty taco recipe from Uncle Jerry’s Kitchen. You can serve these tacos as a game-day snack or as dinner, and even freeze the leftover meat to eat later.


  • Approximately 1 pound leftover turkey meat
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large red onion, chopped fine
  • 1 (7-ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
  • 1 to 1½ cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • Paprika to taste
  • Adobo to taste
  • Cumin to taste
  • Light red chili powder to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • The juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • White corn tortillas
  • Sour cream and chopped green onions for garnish

Directions: Separate leftover turkey from carcass (use a combination of light and dark meat) and tear into bite-sized pieces.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt to the pan and saute, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent. Add green chilies and cook until the contents of the pan smell slightly sweet.

Add turkey and about ⅔ cup stock to the pan. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and adobo powder. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 5 minutes, until the turkey is warmed through.

Add about 1 teaspoon each of the cumin, paprika, and red chili powder to the pan. Taste and then add more seasoning until the mixture has the flavor you like.

Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and lime juice. Simmer, stirring often, for another 5 to 10 minutes, until turkey is very tender. If necessary, add a little stock to the pan (you want the mixture to be moist, but not wet).

Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer while you prep the tortillas. Lightly grease a griddle with a small amount of oil and turn heat to medium. Warm tortillas on the griddle. Or, stack the tortillas, wrap them in foil, and heat in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes.

Top tortillas with turkey mixture, sour cream, and chopped green onions. Serve.

3. Fried Stuffing Bites


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Sausage stuffing is transformed into bite-sized balls of deep-fried deliciousness in this recipe from Fox News. These snacks, which are accompanied by a dipping sauce made from leftover cranberries, take just 10 minutes to prepare and are sure to fly off the plate when you serve them.


  • Leftover stuffing
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup cranberry sauce
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • Oil, for frying

Directions: Preheat oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut leftover stuffing into bite-sized balls and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs and milk. Coat each stuffing bite with this egg wash, then dredge in the bread crumbs until fully coated.

Once oil comes to temperature, fry each piece of stuffing until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Set on a paper towel to drain.

While the bites drain, blend the cranberry sauce, pepper, and walnuts in a food processor. Serve with hot stuffing bites.

4. Cheesy Green Bean Casserole Sliders

green bean casserole

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Love it or hate it, green bean casserole is a staple at many Thanksgiving dinners. If you’re wondering what to do with the leftovers, try turning them into cheesy, snack-sized sandwiches. This dish is also a great way to use up leftover dinner rolls. Recipe from E is for Eat via Tablespoon.


  • 4 dinner rolls or slider buns
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 ounces brie cheese, sliced
  • 1 cup turkey
  • 1⅓ cups green bean casserole
  • 8 tablespoons French-fried onions

Directions: Warm the green bean casserole and the turkey in the microwave for about 30 to 60 seconds. Butter the outside of the dinner rolls.

Top the bottom half of each roll with ½ ounce brie, ¼ cup turkey, ⅓ cup green bean casserole, 2 tablespoons fried onions, and another ½ ounce of brie. Top with the other half of the dinner roll.

Warm a skillet over medium heat. Grill sandwiches until bread is brown and toasted and cheese has melted, flipping once. Serve immediately.

5. Ham and Swiss Empanadas

Baked Empanadas, hand pies

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Turkey may get all the attention on Thanksgiving, but 44% of young people surveyed by Yahoo! Food said they actually planned to serve ham at the annual meal. If you were one of them, try making a batch of these ham and Swiss empanadas to use up your leftovers. Recipe from Foodie with Family.


  • 1½ cups diced ham
  • 1½ cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 20 empanada wrappers
  • Canola, vegetable, or peanut oil for frying (or brushing before baking)

Directions: Add the ham, Swiss cheese, mustard, mayo, and horseradish to a large bowl and stir until combined.

Place 1½ to 2 tablespoons of the filling in the center of each empanada wrapper. Fold wrapper in half and crimp the edges to seal. Repeat until you’ve used up all the filling and wrappers.

If you want to eat the empanadas immediately, pour about 1-inch of oil into a heavy-bottomed, high-sided skillet. Turn heat to medium and wait until the oil starts to shimmer. Add empanadas to the pan, being careful not to overcrowd. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown in color. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Serve plain or with a dip of your choice.

If you prefer, you can bake the empanadas. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush each empanada with oil and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and puffy.

To freeze uncooked empanadas for later, place in a single layer on a baking sheet or plate and transfer to freezer. Once they are frozen through, transfer to a freezer bag or container and store for up to three months. Cook using one of the methods described above.

6. Spicy Cranberry Salsa

Dish of Cranberry Sauce

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Sweetly tart cranberry sauce gets a zesty makeover in this salsa recipe from Southern Living. Just add some spicy jalapeño pepper, cumin, cilantro, and lime juice, and you’ll have a salsa that’s perfect with chips or as a topping for tacos.


  • 2 cups leftover cranberry sauce
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • ½ teaspoon lime zest
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions: Stir together all ingredients. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 1 week.

7. Turkey and Sweet Potato Quesadillas with Chipotle Mayo

Pumpkin Tortilla, sweet potato quesadilla

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Leftover turkey and mashed sweet potatoes play a starring role in this healthy quesadilla recipe from The Food Network. Or try making this dish with just sweet potatoes if you’re in the mood for a meatless snack.


  • 2 cups shredded leftover turkey
  • ¼ cup tomatillo or other salsa
  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • ½ cup sweet potatoes, mashed
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 canned chipotle pepper, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 green onion for garnish, sliced

Directions: In a large bowl combine leftover turkey and salsa. To construct quesadilla, place one tortilla on work surface and spread with half the mashed sweet potato. Then add half the turkey mixture and half the cheese. Top with tortilla and brush with a bit of canola oil.

In a large skillet over medium high heat add quesadilla oil side down then brush the top with oil. Cook for about 3 minutes until bottom begins to brown and cheese starts to melt. Flip and repeat.

In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice, chipotle, cumin, and cilantro, and season with salt and pepper.

Remove quesadilla from pan, cut into wedges and serve with chipotle dipping sauce. Garnish with green onions.