Turkey Leftovers

Leftover turkey. There's a good chance you've got some.
There's more to leftover turkey than the meat. The bones are leftover turkey, the fat you pour from the roasting tin is leftover turkey, the skin is leftover turkey and it is all good to eat. 

Giblets aren't leftovers so much as extras, but they are turkey too and good to eat if made into stock. On Christmas Eve I made stock with the all of the giblets except the liver. The liver I chopped very small and added to my stuffing. Making stock out of giblets is easy. Chuck them in a pan with an  onion, a carrot, a leek, and/or a stick of celery. Add a bay leaf if you like. Cover with water and bring to the boil then simmer for 1-2 hours. Strain into a bowl or jug. Use some of it to make the gravy on Christmas day and freeze the rest for future soup.

Fat and Juices
When you take your turkey out of the roasting tin there will be a lot of fat and rich, meaty juices in the tin. Don't think of throwing it away. Pour the lot into a bowl. Use a couple of spoonfuls of the fat for gravy and allow the rest to cool in the bowl before putting it in the fridge. The fat will not get really hard but it will solidify and you will be able to lift it off to reveal the gorgeous jellied juices underneath. Keep reading to see how I used the fat and juices from my turkey this year.

delicious jellied turkey juices beneath the rich fat

The white meat is easier to slice when it is cold. We like it simply served with baked potatoes and wintry salads like coleslaw, or in sandwiches. 
The dark meat I find less appetising. This year I decided to mince it in my food processor.

Make stock, make it in exactly the same way as giblet stock using all the bones and gristly bits. A turkey carcass will produce a lot of stock. If you don't have much freezer space store it in the fridge and plan to eat soup everyday for a week, why not? Cook pasta and rice in stock. Make risottos. We are eating some of our turkey stock as soup today for lunch. I've added leeks, carrots, potatoes and barley, it smells wonderful.

The skin can be added to the stockpot or you could try putting it on a baking tray and crisping it in the oven. I say 'you could try' because I haven't tried it. I wish I had though, I think crisp turkey crackling would have gone down well with my boys.

Now for that minced turkey and the delicious fat and juices. Here's what I did.

Turkey Rissoles
The rissole deserves a revival. Made with care these little cakes of minced roast meat can be delicious. Crisp on the outside, soft and savoury inside.


leftover roast meat, minced or chopped finely
fat from the roast (or butter)
meat juices from the roast or stock or water

I am not giving precise quantities, I don't know how much leftover turkey you have. There is very little point in a recipe which uses up leftovers if it requires you to have a specific amount of leftovers.

Start well ahead as the mixture needs to chill before it is shaped into cakes.
Take a bowl of minced roast turkey (or any roast meat), add finely chopped onion (I use my veg hash), throw in any leftover bread sauce and stuffing you might have lurking around. Season with salt and pepper.

Now make a sauce using about a tablespoonful of the turkey fat and another tablespoonful of flour. Make it exactly like gravy by melting the fat and stirring in the flour to make a paste. Let the paste cook for a minute or two before adding some liquid. I used the jellied turkey juices from beneath the turkey fat. Obviously if you can use the meat juices and its fat your rissoles will have a better flavour and you will have made good use of all of your turkey. Stir them into your paste until you have a very thick glossy sauce. It should be thicker than gravy because this is going to bind the meat together. If it is too stiff add some stock or water, or you could use leftover gravy (I was saving my gravy to serve with the rissoles).

Add the sauce to the minced turkey. You may not need it all so add it gradually until you have a firm paste.

Spread the mixture on a dinner plate and put it into the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up.

When it has chilled and firmed up cut it into equal portions like a pie and shape the pieces into little cakes.

Roll them in breadcrumbs. If you don't have any breadcrumbs dust with flour.

Use the remaining turkey fat to fry the rissoles on both sides until crisp and brown. They will become quite soft and delicate after frying so take care when removing them from the pan. Serve with reheated leftover gravy if you have some. Mashed potato is nice with rissoles although I made twelve with my leftover dark meat so we skipped it and just had them with peas.

The same method can be used to make fishcakes or veggie cakes using leftover cooked veg and cheese.
You can of course add whatever spices you like to rissoles to zip them up a bit.

All I have left of my Christmas turkey now are several tubs of stock in the freezer and the sliced white meat which we will eat with baked spuds and salad tonight. The pudding was eaten in one go thanks to me cleverly making a quarter-sized one. There is one jar of mincemeat left and an entire Christmas cake but neither are in any danger of going off due to their high alcohol content so I am not worrying about using them up.



  1. that all sounds delicious Sue - I am using the last of my turkey meat today in a turkey and leek pie (leeks pulled from the allotment this morning). I think I enjoy the turkey leftovers just as much as the actual bird on Christmas Day! Next year I will definitely try your turkey rissoles! Hope you had a lovely Christmas.

  2. Now there's a thought. haven't made rissoles for yonks. Hope you had a good Christmas Sue x

  3. Have tried making rissoles in the past but without much success; your recipe seems to fit the bill. Unfortunately we did not have much turkey left (I gave it to my daughter) but we did have a lovely rich turkey stew last night. Next time we have a roast I shall definitely try these. Have a lovely New Year. X

  4. We shared our turkey with an unanticipated 5 extra guests stranded by a power cut. After Boxing Day (Nigella red cabbage and turkey Asian salad) it was gone apart from the carcass. Good though.

  5. Dang it, we didn't have a turkey. In fact we didn't have a Christmas dinner at home at all this year. And those rissoles look and sound like something my boys would love!

  6. All the leftover brown meat went into my turkey soup this year, which went down so well at my annual 'leftovers and soup party', but I will make rissoles with some of it next year as they sound so tasty. I've frozen individual portions of the soup so I will be enjoying it well into the New Year. Thank you so much for all your tips and recipes. I do so love reading your blog.

  7. I have just looked up the difference between a rissole and a patty - breadcrumbs -
    You are so industrious - they look delicious and moist.
    For the first time in our married life my husband relented on his insistance of turkey and we had a lovely piece of beef with a promise of a turkey at Easter when they seem to pop up again.
    I admire your use of the fat Sue - so many people have been brainwashed into thinking it's evil missing out of such lovely flavours and goodness.

    1. I'm seriously considering beef for next year. Turkey's ok but it isn't that fabulous and we never have a joint of beef because it is so expensive.

    2. we had beef last year. it was divine. the children begged for turkey this year....... I made stock with the giblets and was thoroughly proud of myself, the bones have gone in the freezer for now until I get chance to make them into stock. I see lots of soup in the future, which will make the children happy as they both got flasks in their stockings to use for school lunches.

    3. Good point about freezing the bones to make stock later. You don't have to do it all at once.

  8. Hi Sue - hope your Christmas is a lovely one.

    Those rissoles look very tasty indeed. And although we only had the two of us for Christmas dinner (and therefore opted for a fat chicken) we've been stock-making in readiness for soup. I absolutely love the roasted skin and all the jellified juices too - it's so important to use up as much of a roast as you possibly can, and there's little to beat the satisfaction of making it go a long way.

    We freeze the bones and carcass sometimes. When they do finally end up in the bin they're clean as a whistle!

    Good tip re. flattening the minced mixture and cutting into segments so they're a similar size. I'll try that one next time I make burgers!


    1. I rather wished we'd had chicken too, much more flavour than turkey.

  9. Blimey! Well done you for being that organised - not for making the turkey leftovers into brilliant toothsome items, but getting the photos and getting it all down on the blog! I am wrapt in admiration.I have just managed to take a few snaps and write a basic post, I am not quite out of slumping mode yet!

  10. Some great reminders Sue, I stuffed all of our leftovers in the freezer as we went away straight after Christmas Day, but now we are back I will work through them and make sure they are all used up! And of course, don't forget bubble and squeak with the leftover veggies, which can also be frozen until you are ready to make the bubble if you don't want it straight away or if you need to add more to make a whole meal! Hope you had a great Christmas! xx

  11. Sue, I practically inhaled this post. I adore turkey (I brine it so that is cooks quickly and never dries out) and the leftovers are the best bit. Cold cuts with bubble and squeak on boxing day, turkey and leek pie, turkey curry...I love them all, truly. We had venison on Christmas Day a few years ago and while it was delicious on the day, the leftovers were not up to much, if I'm honest, which is a shame as it cost a bloody fortune. I quite fancy having beef next year - there is something very celebratory and decadent about a whopping great joint of beef. x

  12. Anonymous5:04 pm GMT

    Really do make crackling chickenskin I think todays turkeys are so young you could do it with their skin too. When we had on our market the former chicken etc, meat seller, I sometimes bought the skins alone next to chickenparts. I covered them in flower withmixed in chicken spices and put them in a frying pan with just a little bit of oil. Complete frying the chickenfat out of them slowly they made delicious cracklings. I use each and every part of the slaughtered chicken or turkey, ut not the head and the tailpart. If you think the dark meat less attractive, try them with herbs, spices, carrots, leek, celery and sour cream, salt and pepper. Have a lovely 2014, I will keep on reading your blogs.

    1. I do wish I had made cracklings now. Great tips, thanks.

  13. Hi Sue,
    Happy New Year!
    I just wanted to add, what a fantastic post this was.
    It inspired me to go the extra mile and, instead of stripping the meat and (sometimes) making stock, I have the whole stock (6pints!), jelly, fat thing going. I recently bought a new pressure cooker and I have been challenging myself to use it, hence all the stock. And so quickly, too!

    I look forward to another year of reading your lovely, and inspiring, blog.


    1. Thank you Jackie. You make me wonder whether I should get a pressure cooker....mmmm

    2. Oh yes, I think you should.

      And post your adventures!


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