Terrific Turkey Leftovers

November 04, 2021
Turkey Dinner

Over the next eight weeks many households will focus on family, friends, and traditions.  This month though, the turkey is the centerpiece.  Most of us have our own unique ways to cook the bird and adorn it with a variety of delicious side dishes.  Let us help you turn those leftovers into their own masterpieces! 

Nutritional Value of Turkey

Turkey is naturally low in fat and a great source of protein.  The fat and calorie content vary slightly depending on the white or dark meat and those numbers increase if you eat the skin.  The white meat is lower in fat and has fewer calories than the dark meat.  One serving is 2-3 ounces cooked which is about the size of a deck of cards.  According to USDA, a serving of turkey breast meat has 161 calories, 4 grams of fat, and 30 grams of protein. 

Turkey also provides:


Benefits to Body


Carries oxygen to muscles and brain


Reduces inflammation, boosts immune health


Supports bone and teeth health


Helps regulate fluid balance, muscle contractions, and nerve signals

B Vitamin

Fights infections and promotes a healthy metabolism



Tips for Properly Storing Turkey Meat Leftovers 

  • Store leftovers within 2 hours after cooking is complete (Bacteria will begin to grow at that point)
  • Pack the meat separate from the bones (can be used for making a stock for soup)
  • Use plastic containers or zipper-sealed bags (the less air the better)
  • Add chicken stock to container or bag to ensure moisture
  • Store in the refrigerator for a maximum of 3-4 days or freeze for 3 months
  • Involve your children with easy tasks of getting ingredients, finding bowls and utensils, reading recipe directions, packing food in bags, washing dishes/counters/tables/floors, or mixing ingredients.

Reheating Turkey Methods

In the oven: Set oven temperature to 300°.  Use a casserole dish with aluminum foil covering.  Add turkey pieces with some gravy or chicken stock to maintain moisture.  Juices in the turkey will escape as steam during the cooking process.  Make sure to cover your dish.  Cook for 30-40 minutes until fully heated.  Meat thermometer should read 165°. 

Stovetop:  Using a skillet, add turkey pieces and add a ¼ inch of broth.  Cover and simmer over medium-high heat until it warmed through to your liking or meat thermometer reads 165°.

Microwave:  Best used for 1-2 servings.  Cut turkey pieces into bite-sized shapes, place into a microwave-safe container, add broth and cover.  Cook on 70% power for 1 minute per pound. 

Keep in mind-it is best to reheat turkey once.   Download the USDA’s Food Keeper app for more ideas and tips.  Link here; https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep-food-safe/foodkeeper-app.


Leftover Turkey Recipe Ideas

Turkey is a very versatile meat that pairs well with many different flavors.  It can be used in any recipe that would call for chicken, hamburger, or tofu.  Listed below are some leftover turkey ideas that go beyond the usual sandwich or salad: Gobble-Gobble!

Child-Friendly Turkey Recipe Ideas

Family-Friendly Recipe Ideas

Turkey Macaroni and Cheese

Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey Pot Pie

Turkey Chowder or Stew

Turkey Hand Pies

Turkey Enchiladas, Quesadillas, or Nachos

Turkey Tater Sliders

Turkey Casseroles

Turkey Noodle Soup

Turkey Lasagna

Turkey-Topped Pizzas

Turkey Chili

Turkey Kabob Sticks

Turkey Lettuce Wraps or Grain Bowls



Leftover Turkey Casserole: https://cookingmatters.org/recipes/sweet-potato-shepherds-pie

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie: https://cookingmatters.org/recipes/sweet-potato-shepherds-pie


Turkey Expert Help

Questions? Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, Monday-Friday, 10am-6pm  at 1-888-MPHotline (674-6854) in English and Spanish to speak with a live representative; chat live at ask.usda.gov or visit FoodSafety.gov, https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/usda-meat-and-poultry-hotline.  You can even get updates on their Facebook page at Facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov.


Turkey Fun for Children

Local Massachusetts Turkey Farms:



Turkey Books for Children:

Young Fun: Little Turkey: Finger Puppet Book, 2010, by Chronicle Books, Ages 0-3.

Multicultural Fiction: Gracias, The Thanksgiving Turkey, 2005, by Joy Cowley, Ages 3-5.

Multicultural Fiction: Duck for Turkey Day, 2017, by Jacqueline Jules, Ages 4-8.

Multilingual Nonfiction: Turkeys on the Farm/Pavos en la granja, 2021, by Bizzy Harris, Ages 4-8.

Historical Fiction: The Great Turkey Walk, 2000, by Kathleen Karr, Ages 10-14.

Song: Turkey Dance Freeze by The Learning Station YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpNZvy_ysVQ  (Same here-can you add the youtube video display?)