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Quick Uses for Leftover Ingredients

7 recipes to make with leftover ingredients

Seasonal get-togethers are a time-honored and important holiday tradition for family and friends across the globe. And no matter how intimate they may be, a lot of excitement goes into preparing a meal for the ones you hold close. But it leaves us asking, “What can I make with the leftover ingredients I have?”

Stop questioning what to do and start getting creative with the items you have with our tasty recipes below. Read on! 

Turkey or Chicken 

Believe it or not, you can transform leftover turkey or chicken into delicious dishes and savor another round of flavors. One option is to create a classic turkey or chicken sandwich. All it takes is a couple of steps: 

  1. Layer slices of the poultry on the bread.
  2. Add lettuce, tomato, and other condiments (mayo, mustard, etc.) you love.  
  3. Enjoy your satisfying lunch or dinner. 

Another great idea is to make a comforting homemade turkey or chicken soup pot. And if you’re looking for a heartier choice, consider preparing a turkey or chicken casserole

Read more: How to Make the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Pumpkin Purée

Fall is the season for pumpkin everything; and for many, pumpkin desserts are a must-have Thanksgiving treat. Pumpkin pies, cheesecakes, and bread are delightful.

But what do you do with the two to four tablespoons of pumpkin purée that didn’t make it into the recipe? 

We recommend using it to make a one-serving cup of pumpkin spice latte. This recipe from Inspired Taste only takes 10 minutes to whip up.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Pumpkins


Fresh cranberries usually come in bulk, making it easy to overbuy the essential fruit of a sometimes-overlooked side dish, cranberry sauce. Though tasty when cooked and sweetened, raw cranberries can be bitter and unsavory.

For a festive touch, use them as a garnish in a bubbly cocktail or roast them for these yummy cranberry goat cheese crostini bites.

illustration of thanksgiving turkey with sides

Condensed Milk

This ultra-rich, gooey deliciousness is a vital component for many desserts. But often, you’ll find yourself with more than enough. 

Don’t throw away extra condensed milk. Do this instead: 

  • Substitute it for your daily creamer in your coffee or winter tea
  • Drizzle it over ice cream or the fruit you have on hand. 
  • Add it to pudding or use it as a dip for cookies. 

Whatever you decide, know there’s no wrong way to use leftover condensed milk.


Arugula is typically used as an accompaniment—not the main ingredient. Its peppery, bitter taste makes it difficult for some to consume eagerly. 

Fear not: Like with other dark, leafy greens, simply steam or sauté arugula to tame its punch.

Add a dash of salt, garlic powder, or other seasonings for a palate-pleasing side dish.

Additionally, you can make arugula pesto to spice up that pasta you’ve had in the pantry for months. All you need is the following: 

  • A small garlic clove
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon zest and a tiny bit of juice
  • Salt 
  • Pepper 
  • Almonds 

Mix them in your food processor, and you’ll have the best leftover meal. 

Chicken Broth

Though versatile, half-full cartons of store-bought chicken broth are currently sitting in refrigerators worldwide. 

While there are a variety of uses for leftover broth, one of the simplest is as a replacement for water when cooking grains.

Whether it’s rice, quinoa, or pasta, using chicken broth instead of water will give it a flavorful kick.

Here are some of our favorite recipes:


The secret ingredient for old-fashioned mashed potatoes, buttermilk will fly off grocery shelves this season—mostly to sit in your fridge through the rest of the holidays. 

Take your leftover ingredients to make delectable buttermilk desserts, perfect for breakfast or a snack.  

A less time-consuming use of buttermilk might be for salad dressings. Try this recipe for a green goddess dressing that calls for just enough buttermilk to use up your leftovers.

Do You Have Leftover Holiday Ingredients? No Problem At All! 

From transforming turkey or chicken into sandwiches or comforting soups to using pumpkin purée in a scrumptious pumpkin spice latte, the options are endless. With these ideas, you can turn your leftover ingredients into new culinary delights, adding even more enjoyment to your holiday season. 

If you're in charge of all the cooking this season, you may need some help. Check out our recent article: "At Home for the Holidays: Your Guide to Hosting at Home with Ease."