How to Use Up Those Holiday Leftovers

Because we know your fridge needs some deep cleaning.

The gifts are unwrapped and the tinsel is coming down from the tree. It’s official, the party’s over—until New Year’s Eve, at least—and you’re left with a fridge full of food. Before you chuck your leftovers or make another boring turkey sandwich, here are some delicious ideas for putting your Christmas leftovers to good use.

Michelin pro tip: always volunteer to take home the leftover ham.
Michelin pro tip: always volunteer to take home the leftover ham.

One should always volunteer to take home the remainder of the ham at pot luck parties, as leftover ham is as versatile an ingredient as it gets. It’ll keep in the fridge for about four days; cut the ham into chunks and add to your breakfast omelet, pasta, fried rice or potato salad. Try your hand at homemade pizza and jazz it up with Gruyère cheese and vine-ripened tomatoes.

And when you can’t ham it up any more, shredded ham can be frozen and used in the months to come.

RELATED READ: Smoked Honey-Baked Ham Recipe

Roast Turkey and Chicken
Unfortunately, these poultry items tend to dry out very quickly; leftovers are best utilized in dishes with plenty of liquid or moisture, like salads with dressings or vinaigrettes; frittatas or quiches work well, too. Add shredded turkey or chicken to soups, like comforting chicken gumbo from Luella's Southern Kitchen in Chicago. You could also top a bowl with flaky pastry dough and make a pot pie out of it.

And don’t waste those carcasses; cooked low and slow, good stock can be rendered from the bones with some added mirepoix. “It’s so simple, but a good stock requires time and attention to reduce, develop and gradually increase in flavor,” says chef/owner Emmanuel Stroobant of one-Michelin-starred Saint Pierre in Singapore. “At home, I simply allow the stock to slowly reduce overnight for a more intense flavor, and it also makes my house smell really lovely in the morning.”

For his veal stock recipe, simply replace the veal with your leftover turkey or chicken carcass, and swap out the red wine for some white.

Roast Beef
Transform the basic roast beef sandwich by adding caramelized onions and tangy horseradish mayo. Chunks of leftover beef can be stewed into stroganoff or boeuf bourguignon in a slow-cooker. And any recipe for beef pie can be adjusted to use leftover beef.

Roasted Vegetables
Get a little carried away with those potatoes? Never fear, these versatile spuds can be transformed into breakfast frittatas and egg hash or turn into rosti for lunch. Better yet, add some butter and turn them into mash for shepherd’s pie—a solution perfect for those remaining roasted meats.

Leftover roasted carrots, pumpkin and onions can be used in salads or lasagnas and veggie bakes. If you’re tired of cooking, the no-cook answer is vegetable dips: blend the vegetables with an equal quantity of cream cheese for a delicious dip to eat with tortilla chips or crudités.

You likely received boxes of chocolate from your Secret Santa or as stocking stuffers—you know what’s better than eating them? Drinking them. Make the most luscious hot chocolate with this easy slow-cooker recipe and throw those leftover marshmallows and candy canes on top.


I don’t know why you’d have alcohol left over, but if you do, here’s what to do: use leftover red wine to make mulled wine, the spices will mask any shortcomings of a bottle left out too long; leftover red, white and flat sparkling wines can be frozen in ice cube trays to add to mimosas, salad dressings and stews. Soak berries like raspberries, grapes, peaches and pears in Prosecco for a boozy kick to add to desserts.

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