From gnocchi to tetrazzini: Actually delicious ways to repurpose your Thanksgiving leftovers

Mackensy Lunsford
Southern Kitchen

The day after Thanksgiving, when your refrigerator is a graveyard of turkey day odds and ends, don't reach for the trash bag. Instead, make some of these tried and true recipes.

Some of them are rather whimsical (looking at you, stuffing-waffle sandwich) while others are downright fancy, like the gnocchi with gruyere sauce. 

Others, like the tetrazzini and King Ranch casserole, can be frozen and saved for another dinner when you're, you know, not so sick of turkey. 

Kentucky Hot Brown

Kentucky Hot Brown sandwich

Tired of bland turkey sandwiches? Let us introduce you to this rich and satisfying Louisville creation, which smothers roasted turkey with Mornay sauce and crowns the whole thing with strips of bacon and roasted tomatoes. As sandwiches go, this is kind of a project, but the results are worth it. Get the recipe

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Kentucky Hot Brown dip

If you're not feeling sandwiches but love the idea of an over-the-top hot and cheesy turkey dish with bacon and roasted tomatoes, try this dip. It has all the savory comfort of the original sandwich, but without the bread. Serve with crackers or crisp vegetables on the side. Get the recipe

Leftover Turkey Sandwich on Dressing Waffles

Stuffing waffle sandwich

Leftover turkey and dressing? Why not make a waffle sandwich? These crisp cornbread waffles are perfect when layered with leftover turkey and smeared with cranberry sauce. Get the recipe

Turkey Hushpuppies

Turkey hushpuppies

Adding chopped turkey to sage-spiked hushpuppies and tossing together an accompanying cranberry aioli dipping sauce gives this bite-sized appetizer classic Thanksgiving flavor. Dark meat, with its deeper flavor, works best here. Get the recipe

King Ranch Casserole

King Ranch casserole 

If Texas were to have an official state casserole, it’d be this deeply comforting dish, made with Ro-Tel, a couple of different creamed soups, plenty of cheese and poblano peppers. To make this appropriate for Thanksgiving leftovers, simply use turkey in place of the chicken. Get the recipe

Mashed Potato Dumplings with Ham and Gruyère

Mashed potato gnocchi

This is a brilliant way to use both leftover mashed potatoes — skinless only, please — as well as leftover ham. You could, if you'd like, skip the cheese sauce if you're sick of cooking and use a jarred sauce of your choice, or even just a little butter and grated parm. Get the recipe

This turkey tetrazzini is a comforting way to use leftover turkey.

Comforting turkey tetrazzini

Despite its Italian-sounding name, this comforting dish is an all-American classic. This version is a little more involved than the typical cream of mushroom-based casserole, but it's worth the extra effort. Get the recipe

More:Asheville chef Steve Goff shares tips for repurposing Thanksgiving leftovers

Mackensy Lunsford is the food and culture storyteller for USA TODAY Network's South Region. She's the editor of Southern Kitchen and a correspondent for The American South.

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Reach me: mlunsford@southernkitchen.com