10 easy pasta dishes to make with Thanksgiving leftovers

Gnocchi
It’s surprisingly easy to turn mashed potatoes into delicious gnocchi. Bartosz Luczak/Shutterstock
  • There are only so many turkey-and-cranberry-sauce sandwiches one can eat after Thanksgiving.
  • So they don’t go to waste, Thanksgiving leftovers can be used in pasta dishes.
  • From mashed-potato gnocchi to a cranberry cream sauce, these recipes will transform your leftovers.

Forget piling your Thanksgiving leftovers in between two slices of bread — stuff them into empty pasta shells instead.
Pasta shells
Stuffed pasta shells topped with cheese. Candice Bell/Shutterstock
Taste of Home fills jumbo pasta shells with leftover stuffing, turkey, sweet potatoes, and mozzarella to make a delicious pasta dinner in under an hour. 

Top with leftover gravy, and you have a meal that doesn’t let any leftovers go to waste. 

Find the recipe here

Use leftover sweet potatoes and turkey for a hearty orzo dish.
Orzo soup
Orzo is often used in soup. Stanislav Sablin/Getty Images
Cooking Chat has a recipe that uses both sweet potato and turkey leftovers. Using a skillet, the cooked sweet potatoes turn into a creamy sauce with the help of chicken broth.

Add spices, cooked orzo, turkey, and parmesan, and you’re all set.

Find the recipe here.

Leftover mashed potatoes are the best shortcut for making gnocchi.
A bowl of gnocchi.
It’s surprisingly easy to turn mashed potatoes into delicious gnocchi. Bartosz Luczak/Shutterstock
Making gnocchi can be a time-consuming process. You have to boil and cook potatoes, rice them, knead the dough, cut, and boil. Using leftover mashed potatoes is a shortcut to make a delicious gnocchi dish.

Recipes for mashed-potato gnocchi vary, but most involve mixing leftover mashed potatoes with egg, salt, flour, and seasonings.

This creates a dough that can be kneaded and cut to your desired shape.

From there, boil the gnocchi in salted water for a few minutes and add your sauce of choice.

Use the gnocchi as a component in a stew with leftover gravy and turkey, like this recipe in Yummly. Or serve it simply, with butter, herbs, and Parmesan, like this recipe calls for in Life as a Strawberry.

Pasta bakes, like turkey tetrazzini, are a simple but tasty way to enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers.
Turkey tetrazzini
While tetrazzini is typically made with chicken, you can easily swap it for leftover turkey. gwenael le vot/Getty Images
The internet is packed with pasta bakes that use all the Thanksgiving leftovers, and a common one is turkey tetrazzini. Tetrazzini is a popular American cream-based pasta dish that often calls for chicken or seafood and mushrooms.

Instead of chicken or seafood, swap in leftover turkey. 

Martha Stewart has a quick recipe for the creamy dish.

A cranberry cream pasta sauce is the perfect combination of savory and sweet.
A Belarussian man prepares cranberries he gathered for sale in the village of Budy, Belarus September 25, 2016.  REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
Use your excess cranberries in a creamy sauce to top pasta. Thomson Reuters
Cranberry sauce is a must for any Thanksgiving meal since it adds elements of sweetness and tartness on a plate of savory goodness, so why not bring that same appeal to a pasta dish?

2 Cookin’ Mamas has a one-skillet recipe that combines all the delicious Thanksgiving leftovers into one dish. 

Toss leftover vegetables, bacon, cream, cranberry sauce, cheese, and wine into the skillet for the sauce. Add cooked pasta, top with cheese, and throw in the broiler.

Find the recipe and ingredients here

Whip up some stuffing meatballs for a new spin on classic spaghetti and meatballs.
Spaghetti and meatballs pasta red sauce
Jazz up your meatballs by using stuffing in them. Royalty-Free/Getty Images
Spaghetti and meatballs take on a new twist with the help of leftover stuffing. 

Combine stuffing with egg, ground beef, and herbs. Form and cook the meatballs, and serve them with marinara sauce.

This Good Housekeeping recipe suggests serving the stuffing meatballs over toast, but you can easily sub toast for the pasta of your choice.

Leftover turkey and veggies can be transformed into a post-Thanksgiving lo mein.
Lo mein
A bowl of lo mein. Hiraman/Getty Images
Food blog The Woks of Life has a turkey lo mein recipe perfect for the day after Thanksgiving.

Leftover white meat turkey is the main protein in the dish. Add vegetables, like cabbage and carrots, along with egg noodles, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a hot wok and enjoy. 

Find the full recipe and cooking instructions here.

Cozy up with some turkey noodle soup.
A bowl of chicken noodle soup.
Chicken and turkey noodle soups are the perfect post-Thanksgiving comfort food. Shutterstock
Sub turkey for chicken to create this classic comfort food. Turkey noodle soup is hard to mess up.

First, sauté any carrots, celery, and onion that didn’t make it into your Thanksgiving stuffing.

From there, grab garlic and herbs, pour in broth, and add leftover turkey and the pasta noodles of your choice.

Averie Cooks and Taste of Home both have easy turkey noodle soup recipes.

Skip making macaroni and cheese on Thanksgiving day and cook it using leftovers.
A mac and cheese skillet.
A mac and cheese skillet. LindasPhotography/Getty Images
Chef Michael Ferraro uses mac and cheese as the base for a delicious post-Thanksgiving recipe. The recipe calls for your leftover turkey, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce.

All that plus elbow macaroni and lots of cheese is combined to make an indulgent leftover pasta meal.

Find the recipe on Food Republic.

You can use leftover Brussels sprouts and dinner roll breadcrumbs in this comforting pasta dish.
Pasta with brussels sprouts
A pasta dish with Brussels sprouts. Natalu Shuvalova/EyeEm/Getty Images
With the help of lemon, this recipe from The Kitchn adds bright citrus flavors to Thanksgiving leftovers.

Wine, Brussels sprouts, lemon, and Parmesan all come together in the delicious dinner recipe. The best part might be the dinner rolls that are transformed into crispy breadcrumbs that top the pasta dish.

And food might not be the only thing leftover from your holiday dinner — if you don’t want to pop open a new bottle of wine, you can use leftover white wine from Thanksgiving in the dish.

Find the full recipe here