The twelve days of turkey leftovers

Filed in Blog by on December 28, 2009 12 Comments
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Use up your leftover turkey with our recipes

Use up your leftover turkey with our recipes

Are you all fed up of turkey yet, my friends?

This year we bought just 3 turkey breast steaks. This meant there was enough to go around with leftovers for a couple of days, but we never reached that ‘can’t face it again’ moment.

If you’ve still got some turkey left to eat up, what are you going to do with it? After the festivities you don’t want to be slaving in the kitchen, so I’ve come up with some ideas that don’t require a cooking qualification to put together. They are quick, simple and will give you more time to spend with your family, rather than with your piny and chopping board.

80% increase in food waste

Food wasted in the UK increases by a massive 80% during the Christmas period, according to WRAP. This represents a staggering 230,000 tonnes of festive food worth approximately £275million that gets thrown away across the country during Christmas and the New Year. Well we all know that doesn’t happen amongst you, but we’re always here to make sure!

Here are 12 recipes for using up leftover turkey. Let me know your favourite turkey leftover recipes so we can ensure all readers of my zero waste end up food waste free this Christmas!

Now before I begin, I’m going to be asking you each day this week for your help. We’re delighted to have been nominated for Best Green Living Advise Site over on the Green Web Awards. The sad thing is we’re lagging in third place, OUT OF THREE! LOL! Now we’re up against some serious competition, namely the Guardian, which has millions of readers every day (we’re not quite there yet, but never say never). We’re also competing against the great You Gen site – which ok, I admit it, it’s totally fabulous.

So far we have a Billy No Mates 18% of the votes and we want, in the words of Oliver, “MORE“! Voting ends on Friday, so please go along to the Green Web Awards, scroll down the page to the “Green Living Advise Site” and vote for us! While you’re at it, scroll down once more to the Social Media Hero category and vote for Mrs A’s The Rubbish Diet – she’s doing brilliantly and is really in with a chance of winning if she can get a few more votes!

And yes, I’m going to be asking you every day until Friday, so vote today if you don’t want me to bug you and tell your friends too – facebook it, tweet it and blog about it too 😉

Right, where were we? Ah yes, turkey recipes galore!


Fry an onion and chopped pepper until soft. Add rice and coat in the oil. Pour in stock, left over white wine or some tinned tomatoes along with herbs and seasoning, boil and simmer until the rice is cooked. Add copped, diced turkey and peas and heat through thoroughly.


Got some cheese leftover too? Turkey and brie or turkey and stilton make an awesome sandwich. Add some cranberry sauce and you’ll feast like one of the three kings.


Turkey makes the perfect curry. Simply replace in your favourite chicken recipe. See our ‘Ready steady cook’ video for how to make a curry in less than 3 minutes

Turkey salad

If you’ve over indulged in cooked food, chop up some turkey and eat with your favourite salad leaves and tomato. Add some leftover sauces and dips for a quick meal.

Coronation turkey

Cut turkey into small pieces, add curry powder, a small fried onion, tomato puree and lemon juice with some mayonnaise. Use in sandwiches, as a filling for jacket potatoes, on toast or with salad.


Easy peasy and a great way to use up leftovers. Grab all your leftover veggies and put in a blender with some turkey and gravy, stock, milk or cream – again use whatever you have in the house. Blend until smooth and heat through.

Bubble and squeak

One of the nation’s favourites, easy to make, perfect for using leftovers and true comfort food. Mash up potatoes, cabbage, sprout and add some finely shredded turkey. Fry in a little oil and serve.


If there’s still snow on the ground, a warming casserole is perfect. Gently fry cubed potatoes, onions or leeks and carrots until beginning to brown. Add herbs of your choice, good stock or gravy and some cubed turkey. Simmer until thickened.

Pasta or noodles

Fry an onion, add a tin of tomatoes with herbs of your choice, throw in some chopped turkey and simmer until the sauce is reduced and thick. Serve over pasta or noodles and top with grated cheese.


Grab your leftover veggies, chop some turkey, mix it together with a little gravy and add a pastry pie crust. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes for a warming supper


Great for using up all those eggs, cream and vegetables. Broccoli works especially well for turkey quiche and you can pep it up with some cranberry sauce too! When you make your turkey pie, make extra pastry for a quiche.

Stir fry

For a light lunch, stir fry is quick, easy and healthy. Cut matchsticks from onions and peppers and finely chop onions, broccoli and cauliflower. Heat some oil in a wok, add the veggies and cubed turkey and heat through. Add soy sauce and lunch is served!

And remember, if you bought fresh, rather than frozen turkey, you can freeze the leftovers for another time; so you don’t have to over indulge – yay! Cut the turkey into small pieces or slices, if you want to use it for sandwiches and freeze in an airtight container. Freezing in a little gravy or stock helps prevent the meat drying out.

Turkey slices or pieces can be frozen for a month. If you freeze cooked dishes containing turkey such as casseroles or freeze the meat in stock or gravy, you can keep it frozen for 4 – 6 months.


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (12)

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  1. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Great to see both nominations as well as selfsufficientish which is currently first in category. All 3 got my vote and I hope there are prizes for all.

    As for the turkey, My 6lb 4oz crown was halved for cousin Gerry to cook Christmas dinner, for 3, with one piece. He is an ace cook finishing with succulent meat and perfect stock, the latter produced from carmelized onions in a tray below the joint catching the turkey juices.

    My efforts were more basic at the same attempt 2 days later with 14oz of meat, though I did try to leave the meat for 20 minutes to encourage the perfect softening. The rest has been cut into 5 pieces for the usual chicken recipes, Tomato & Sweet Basil and Lemon. Lemon Turkey just does not sound right but the taste is good enough. The only waste is the skin which I removed from the 5 uncooked leftover pieces. This will be Bokashi’ed when I eventually start reusing that bin. Not forgetting the resulting fat from the oven cooking which is sometimes mistakenly put down the sink. Thankfully, the Bokashi caters for all such material which is otherwise difficult to handle.

  2. Great tips Mrs G – I’ll try and get in a mention for those today. And thanks for the thumbs up about the Green Web Awards… I’m keeping my fingers crossed for both of us 😀 x

  3. Just Gai says:

    You got my vote Mrs G. Fingers crossed xxx.

  4. Condo Blues says:

    Don’t forget Turkey broth! This year our hosts gave us the turkey carcass. I put it in the slow cooker with spices and water and let it render into homemade turkey stock. The perfect thing to freeze and make soup out of later.

  5. Jane says:

    @Condo Blues: I agree the slow cooker is brilliant for boiling up the carcase to make stock for home-made soup. I kept on letting it boil dry and ruining the taste before I discovered the slow cooker. Home-made soup is so easy to make and so much nicer than bought.

  6. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Hi John, no prizes; but recognition for work; which is what it is all about. Sounds like your Christmas went well. Lemon turkey sounds intriguing, but why not – the reality is, it’s not much different to chicken 😉

    @Almost Mrs Average: You’re welcome Mrs A – you deserve a lot of recognition for all your tireless work.

    @Just Gai: Thank you Just Gai – we appreciate it!

    @Condo Blues: Great suggestion. Putting it in a slow cooker is a great idea. And now you’ve taken away the confusion of what turkey broth is – I’ve never been totally sure!

  7. Teresa says:

    Some good recipes but since turkey is poultry how long can it be safely kept in the fridge once cooked?

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @Teresa: I think it’s down to our senses; as long as we store it corrently; ie put it back in the ‘fridge as soon as it is cooled and returning it to the fridge whenever we take some, then it’s down to eyes (does it LOOK ok and is it free fro ma slimy surface), nose (Does it smell good) and if those two things are both ok, then a tentative taste – I think we rely too much on ‘use by ‘dates and not enough on our own senses and this is contributing to unnecessary food waste.

  9. Teresa says:

    I heard on the BBC Breakfast Show that turkey should only be kept in the fridge for two days maximum. I prefer to use my senses but I do go by use by dates as well because I have a more sensitive digestive system than most people have.

  10. Jane says:

    I don’t believe that there is any magical cut-off date when something becomes bad to eat. I also suspect it would smell/taste bad before it would make you sick. What is very important is that it is cooked thoroughly in the first place and put in the fridge very promptly after the meal. Leaving it out for several hours in the warm until you get round to dealing with stripping the meat off it isn’t a good idea!

  11. Teresa says:

    So it was the guest on the Breakfast Show on BBC One who was being a bit paranoid on food hygiene. We’ve had too much of this in the past few years even though I’m all for keeping fresh food and opened jars in the fridge.

  12. Jane says:

    Everybody tries to put things ‘in boxes’ with a definite ‘yes’ or ‘no’ nowadays. Science doesn’t work like that. Something will go past the point of being safe to eat when all the conditions are met for that. Some people as you rightly say are more susceptible and need to take more care than others and some are simply more neurotic than others about it!

    We are living in a litigious society. The bad publicity should anyone fall ill is damaging to companies. Even if it is proven that it was not the product and was something else everyone would already have heard about ‘the poisoning’ in the press and would remember that it happened and not necessarily that it wasn’t the company’s fault. It may take longer for a company to recover than a person.

    Fresh doesn’t necessarily mean good or at its best to eat either!

    A*se-covering has a lot to do with the amount of waste.

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