I used to help in our family restaurant. I love good food and enjoy thinking up creative ways to cook and use leftovers to avoid food waste.
What to Do With Leftover Chicken or Turkey
After your Christmas dinner or Sunday lunch, you might stare at the leftover turkey or chicken and wonder how you could possibly use it up. I hope these recipes will show you new tricks to incorporate your leftovers into delicious meals!
Try using the leftovers to make the following dishes. Detailed recipes are set out in full below this list.
8 Quick and Easy Recipes for Leftover Chicken or Turkey
My secret to affordable, mouthwatering meals is combining small quantities of delicious, expensive foods with larger amounts of low-cost foods such as potatoes, noodles, and vegetables. Bon appetit!
My Cooking Background
I love food. I come from a background of great change, and have experienced both wealth and poverty, traveled widely and have lived in several areas of very mixed cultures, ending up in one of the most metropolitan cities of all--London. I have had the opportunity to try many wonderful national and international dishes and, in a city where so many cultures live side-by-side, it is easy to find an enormous range of imported food sitting side-by-side with local produce. As you would expect, this has influenced my style of cooking.
Paella is a traditional Spanish rice-based dish made with the meat, fish, and vegetables you have on hand. This recipe feeds six people.
What You'll Need:
- 1 or 2 large, deep flat-bottomed pans, a paella pan, or a large wok
- 1 large mixing spoon
- 1-2 large onions
- 6 garlic cloves or 1-2 tsp bottled garlic
- 1" fresh ginger or 1 tsp bottled ginger
- Olive oil (not extra virgin)
- 500g - 750g turkey or chicken
- 1 chicken or fish stock cube
- 250g frozen shelled prawns
- 500g arborio rice
- 250g frozen peas
- 1 lemon
- 1 tsp saffron (better flavor) or turmeric (better color)
- 2 large tomatoes
- Chili powder
- Mussels, 1 or 2 per person
- Large prawns, 1 or 2 per person
- 2 sprigs fresh coriander or 1 tsp bottled coriander
- Mixed powdered spice
- Mixed herbs
- Add a generous dash of olive oil to your pot and heat the pan. Chop the onions and cook them in the oil until they turn a translucent golden-brown color.
- Add the chopped turkey/chicken, chili, and garlic. Stir and cook until the meat is lightly browned.
- De-seed and chop the bell peppers into 2-3" chunks. Add them to the pan with cloves, ginger, saffron/turmeric, and paprika. Continue stirring for 2-3 minutes.
- In a new pan, pour another dash of olive oil and add the rice. Stir until all the rice is coated with oil and slightly translucent. Add the rice to the first pan and add the chicken or fish stock cubes and 1 pint of boiling water. Continue stirring until the cubes have dissolved. If you're using cooked meat, just add an additional chicken stock cube for extra flavor.
- Cover the pot with a lid and let everything simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes. Then, mix in the peas and small prawns.
- Slice the tomatoes and arrange them in a circle on top of the rice. Decorate with the large prawns, mussels, and coriander. Slice the lemons into quarters and squeeze some of the juice over the rice. Replace the lid and simmer for 10 minutes. If the rice looks dry, add a little bit of water. You want the cooked rice to be a little sticky but not floating in the water or dried out.
- Serve when the rice is cooked and soft.
2. Turkey or Chicken Vol-au-Vent
A vol-au-vent is a hollow case made of puff pastry, and it's a great way to incorporate your leftover meat into an innovative dish. You can make larger vol-au-vents for a complete meal (allow two per person) or go with smaller versions for party appetizers.
- 2 cups turkey or chicken
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 pound mushrooms
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 10oz can cream of chicken soup
- 1/4 tsp garlic salt
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1 cup swiss cheese, shredded
- Vol-au-vent cases
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- Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Make sure the turkey/chicken is cut into small enough pieces to fit into the vol-au-vent cases.
- Melt the butter in a pan and saute the turkey/chicken for 1 minute.
- Grease an 8"x8" dish and add the meat.
- Use the pan to saute the sliced mushrooms until they're lightly browned.
- Add the sour cream and the canned soup to the mushrooms. Stir for 1 minute, making sure to scrape the bottom to prevent burning.
- Mix the garlic salt and paprika into the mixture and pour it over the chicken.
- Bake the filling for 30-35 minutes.
- Top the filling with cheese and bake it again for 10 more minutes. You want the cheese to be melted and bubbly.
- Fill your vol-au-vent cases with the filling. Warm everything up according to the cases' instructions, and enjoy!
3. Chicken or Turkey Sandwich
My father used to make chicken sandwiches for us on Sunday nights. These sandwiches are easy to make, nourishing, and delicious! They're simple to put together and will save you time and energy. Remember, you can interchange chicken and turkey!
- Schmaltz (chicken fat) or mayonnaise
- Chicken or turkey meat, cooked
- Marmite (optional)
- Spread schmaltz or mayonnaise on one slice of bread.
- Lay down layers of the meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
- Top it off with a second slice of bread.
If you want to avoid using salt, you can substitute the schmaltz for Marmite on the first slice of bread.
4. Turkey or Chicken Stir-Fry
The idea of stir-fry is to prepare everything before you start cooking. The cooking period is very short, so make sure you slice the vegetables very thinly. The whole cooking process should only take five to eight minutes, leaving the vegetable textures slightly crunchy. This quick and tasty recipe serves three to four people.
- 1 small onion
- 4-8 oz. cooked turkey or chicken, shredded
- 1 red or green bell pepper
- 1 packet bean sprouts
- 1 packet Chinese rice or egg noodles
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 fresh garlic cloves or 1-2 tsp bottled garlic
- 1" fresh ginger or 1-2 tsp bottled ginger
- 1 tsp bottled coriander
- Chili, to taste
- Soy sauce
- Chicken or vegetable cubes
- Oyster sauce
- Hoi Sin sauce
- Chinese five-spice
- Sweet Chilli Sauce
- Chilli oil
- Raw spring onion
- Cooked prawns (optional)
- 2 tsp sesame seeds (optional)
- Green beans
- Frozen peas
- Bok choy (Chinese cabbage)
- Bamboo shoots
- Sweet corn
- Chop the onion and bell pepper into small chunks. Finely slice the remaining vegetables.
- Boil the noodles in a small saucepan according to the package instructions. This should take about 3 minutes. Add the chicken or vegetable cube into the water as you cook the noodles. Drain the noodles and set them aside.
- Heat up the oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add the onion and fry it quickly to sear it. Add the turkey or chicken first, and then add the ginger, garlic, chili (optional), and Chinese five-spice. Fry everything for about 15 seconds over medium-high heat.
- Add the other vegetables and stir them in. Go in the order of hardness, so that the harder vegetables will have more cooking time than the softer ones. Reserve the bean sprouts and mushrooms for last so that they don't go mushy.
- Add the prawns and cook them.
- Once the prawns are cooked, add in the flavorings you want in the dish.
- Pour the cooked noodles into the wok and mix them with the vegetables. If you want to keep them separate dishes, skip this step and serve them separately.
5. Turkey or Chicken Soup
This homemade soup is both tasty and nourishing!
- Turkey or chicken leftovers, including skin and bones
- 1 large onion
- 2 carrots
- 1/2 leek
- 1 or 2 sticks of celery
- A handful of soup mix (barley, lentils, black-eyed beans, rice, or oats)
- Salt or chicken/vegetable stock cubes
- Seasonings (peppercorns, ginger, paprika, bay leaves, parsley, rosemary, thyme, etc), to taste
These are the basic ingredients I use, but I'll often add leftover vegetables from other meals such as parsnips, potatoes, tomatoes, peas or finely chopped cabbage.
- Slice and fry the onions until they're golden brown. Slice the remaining vegetables and the rest of the ingredients (except salt) into the pressure cooker. For easy clean-up, place all the bones in a steamer that keeps the bones separate from the food but still flavors the soup. Cover everything with about 2 pints of water. It's best to add salt after the soup is cooked because dried beans soften up better when cooked without it.
- If you use a pressure cooker like I do, cook everything for about 30 minutes. If you opt not to use one, it is best to first soak your pulses (dried beans) in a lot of water for about 12 hours. Once they've softened, add them to the soup and simmer everything for about two hours.
- Fish out all the bones, either by using a long utensil or removing the steamer. Season the dish with salt. You can have the soup as is, or you can blend everything in a blender to make a thicker soup.
6. Turkey or Chicken Patty
Making turkey or chicken patties is a great way to use up all your turkey or chicken. These are flexible because you don't need to use specific ingredients and precise quantities. The aim is simply to have enough food to feed everyone. You can experiment with different ingredients to see what taste you like best!
- A handful of cooked turkey or chicken
- Cooked potato (two small potatoes per person)
- Onion, cooked or raw
- Greens (cabbage, kale, spring greens, spinach, or Brussels sprouts)
- Any cooked root vegetables (parsnip, swede, turnip, etc)
- 1 egg
- 1 or 2 garlic cloves (optional)
- Olive or any cooking oil
- Any combination of herbs and spices (e.g. ginger, cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, chili powder, coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric, curry powder, tarragon, sage, parsley, thyme, and oregano)
- Beat the egg and then blend the remaining ingredients (including seasonings) in a blender. Do short bursts so the mixture is still lumpy and not completely mushed. If you don't have a blender, just chop and mash what you can.
- Sprinkle a little flour on a board and on your hands. Scoop out about a tablespoon of the mixture and form it into a round flat patty on the board. Continue making patties until you use everything up. You could even make one huge omelet-sized patty as long as it is coated in flour, but it'll be more difficult to turn over.
- Heat the oil in the pan over medium heat and add the patties. Shake or prod them every so often to make sure they don't stick to the bottom. After two minutes, check to see if they're browning. Use a spatula or fish lift to flip them over after about two or three minutes and cook the other side. They should end up a light golden-brown color on both sides.
7. Mushroom and Turkey or Chicken Risotto
This mushroom risotto recipe is exceptionally easy to make and requires few ingredients. My daughter made this a few months ago and received a mixed range of responses. All the adults enjoyed it, and all the children thought it was horrible! I think the goat cheese's strong flavor was the culprit. The ingredient list is flexible, so you can substitute goat cheese with cream or plain yogurt for a milder taste. This recipe serves two people.
- A small handful of skinless cooked turkey or chicken
- 1 cup rice (I recommend Italian Arborio, Spanish Paella, or Jasmine rice)
- A handful of porcini mushrooms
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 small garlic clove
- 1 chicken stock cube
- 1 oz. goat cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Melt the butter in a saucepan.
- Add the rice and stir to coat all the grains with butter.
- Add 2 cups of hot water to the pan. Bring everything to a boil, and then turn the heat down to simmer for 15 minutes. The rice should be soft.
- While the rice is simmering, shred the turkey or chicken into small pieces. Add the meat, mushrooms, garlic, chicken stock cube, and salt to the rice.
- When the rice has absorbed most of the water, add the goat cheese (or substitute) and stir it in. The resulting risotto should be sticky and glutinous.
- Serve with freshly ground pepper.
If you want to indulge, use a tin of condensed mushroom soup instead of the mushrooms, cheese, and cream.
8. Turkey or Chicken Pilaff
This delicious meat and rice dish has a great curry flavor and serves two to three people.
- 3 tomatoes
- 1 large onion
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 green or red bell pepper
- 1 ½ cup raisins (optional)
- 1-2 cups chicken leftovers
- 2 tsp olive oil or butter
- 2 ½ cups rice
- 5 cups chicken stock (or 5 cups water mixed with 2 chicken cubes)
- 1 tbsp almonds
- 1 sprig of fresh coriander leaves (optional)
- Chop up the onion and fry it gently in the oil or butter with the curry powder and garlic clove for about 3 or 4 minutes.
- Shred the chicken and chop the bell pepper into small chunks. Add them to the pan and continue frying for one to two minutes.
- Chop the tomato and raisins and add them to the mix.
- Add the rice and continue to stir the rice until all the grains are coated with oil and turning translucent.
- Pour in the chicken stock. Gently simmer everything for about 15 to 20 minutes. All of the liquid should be absorbed, and the rice should be soft but not soggy.
- Add the almonds and sprinkle the top with chopped coriander leaves!
Would You Share the Food on Your Plate With Anyone Else?
Would you be prepared to give some to your beloved, even if it is your favourite food, or something special, or something which it is difficult to divide - this makes me think of things like prawns, lobster, caviar, egg, and roast potato, but for you it might be meat and vegetables or part of your pudding?