6 Thanksgiving Leftovers You Should Eat Right Away—and 4 You Can Freeze for Later

Our handy guide sets out which holiday foods freeze well and which ones do not.

While enjoying a plate of leftovers is a family tradition for many, eating or tossing out all your Thanksgiving food in the days after the feast is not the only option. Consider the freezer! Use this handy appliance to save portions of holiday food favorites. First, consider which Thanksgiving dishes freeze well and which are best enjoyed immediately. Can you freeze stuffing, or should you eat it the next day? Ditto green bean casserole? And what to do with leftover dinner rolls or the remnants of your cheese board? Use our guide to learn what Thanksgiving leftovers are best to eat now and which ones to freeze for later—with some strategy and creativity, superb meals await.

Related: 22 Creative Recipes That Start With Thanksgiving Leftovers

Eat Now

Some Thanksgiving foods are best eaten sooner rather than later. Focus on using these delicious leftovers in the days following.


There are many ways to use leftover turkey, beyond picking at it into the wee hours (we're looking at you, late-night snackers!). Sandwiches are good, but there are other options, like these tangy and slightly rich quesadillas. We love Brie for its depth and elegance in this recipe, but substitute any soft cheese if you don't have it on hand.

Turkey Bones

Don't eat the bones, but do hold on to them after carving your bird. Then, use them to make this easy turkey stock with some carrots, onions, and celery. You can use turkey stock just as you would chicken stock (the flavor is slightly milder). This recipe technically falls into eating and freezing territory since the stock can be frozen for up to six months after cooking.

Mashed Potatoes

While turkey tends to get top billing, creamy spuds are always a contender for the best dish of the day— but not longer than that! Mashed potatoes tend to harden and become mealy when frozen, so eat them up at your main meal or use them to make mashed potato and kale cakes for breakfast or dinner the next day. In this recipe, swap cooked mashed potatoes for russet potatoes and add them to the cooked leek and kale mixture before forming patties.

Green Bean Casserole

Eat your greens! While casseroles are usually freezer-friendly meals, this holiday mainstay is best when eaten the same or next day. If frozen, the beans will wilt, and the fried onions will become slightly soggy.

Cheese and Dairy

Does your holiday meal have a cheese course? It should! A simple cheese plate can also make for easy hors d'oeuvres. Encourage your guests to dig in since cheese and dairy items will not stand up well in the freezer. Use any leftovers to make a frittata or scrambled eggs over the holiday weekend.


This might be obvious but Thanksgiving desserts are best enjoyed now. We hear pumpkin pie makes a very good breakfast.

Freeze for Later

Thankfully, some of our favorites take to the freezer well—meaning we can look forward to enjoying them in the future.


Sure, you can eat leftover stuffing the day after Thanksgiving when you revisit the holiday meal, but this favorite side is one of our favorites to freeze and enjoy later.

Freezing: Whether you make stuffing inside your bird or in a separate baking dish, this classic side will hold up in the freezer for up to three months. Store in small portions in an airtight container

How to use: Reheat in a 325-degree Fahrenheit oven, covered, for 15 minutes or until warm throughout. Serve in place of other starches alongside pork, steak, or chicken (or give any meal a holiday feel by serving stuffing with some leftover gravy).

Bread and Rolls

Of course, you can eat dinner rolls the next day or use bread to make turkey sandwiches, but It's hard to think of a type of bread that wouldn't freeze well, and freezing is our preferred strategy for leftover bread. Whole loaves, slices, and rolls are easily freezable.

Freezing: Store in freezer bags for up to three months and defrost before using.

How to Use: Reheat dinner rolls for ... dinner. A leftover loaf is ideal for making breadcrumbs or croutons; we also like to use one to thicken a runny vegetable soup like our tomato bread soup.


There's a reason why the word "gravy" is synonymous with all things being good. This fat-laden holiday staple will transform dry meats into irresistibly sumptuous meals.

Freezing: If you're lucky enough to have leftover gravy, pour it into muffin tins or ice cube trays before freezing. After it's frozen, pop out of tins and store in a zip-top bag and use as needed.

How to Use: Melt a cube to use with roasted chicken or spread atop turkey sandwiches.

Cranberry Sauce

Who says cranberry sauce is just for turkey? This sweet-and-sour side will pair equally well with chicken, ham, or pork. Leftovers can also be used for cocktails.

Freezing: Freeze leftover cranberry sauce in an airtight container or individually in ice cube trays for up to three months

How to use: Defrost over low heat in a saucepan. Use a spoonful to add instant brightness to spiced pork tenderloin with fall vegetables or other meaty dishes.

Read the original article on Martha Stewart.