Sick of the same old Thanksgiving leftover dishes? Try carnitas-style turkey tacos instead

Sick of the same old leftover turkey recipes? Try this carnitas-style taco dish this year.
Sick of the same old leftover turkey recipes? Try this carnitas-style taco dish this year.

As the Thanksgiving meal draws to a close, the compliments of the dinner turn to questions of, “Does anyone want the leftovers?” No matter how good the meal — or how carefully quantities are planned —  the amount of Thanksgiving leftovers and what to do with them can be a little daunting.

However, with this recipe for carnitas-style turkey tacos made with leftover Thanksgiving turkey, your turkey troubles are toast.

There is also a nutritious bonus benefit to making this turkey “carnitas” recipe: You will also end up with some rich bone broth for your freezer.

How to: Turn leftover Thanksgiving turkey into amazing tortilla soup.

Using the turkey bones releases the nutrients collagen, glutamine and glycine, all of which can aid in the rebuilding of the stomach lining and infuse the body with vital minerals… which, after a Thanksgiving meal, we all probably need. Bone broth helps in other ways, too, like joint flexibility, cellulite reduction and boosting the immune system.

Carnitas-style turkey tacos

Carnitas-style turkey tacos made with leftover turkey
Carnitas-style turkey tacos made with leftover turkey


  • Any amount leftover cooked dark-meat turkey

  • 1 orange per pound of leftover turkey meat, preferably sour

  • 1 medium onion per pound of leftover turkey meat

  • 2 bay leaves per pound of leftover turkey meat

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or turkey fat per pound of leftover turkey meat

  • Kosher salt

  • 1/2 red onion, diced

  • 4 ounces pico de gallo

  • 2 limes, cut in wedges

  • 12 corn or wheat tortillas

  • Cilantro sprigs


  1. Combine turkey (with bones), orange, onion and bay leaf in a stockpot. The mixture should fit snugly. Add enough water to cover halfway up the sides of the pot.

  2. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until turkey is fall-off-the-bone tender, about an hour.

  3. Drain stock and save for another use.

  4. Discard orange, onion, bones and bay leaves and place turkey and place in another bowl.

  5. Shred turkey with a couple of forks

  6. Heat oil, or fat, in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer.

  7. Working in batches, add turkey and spread into an even layer. Cook, without moving, until meat is well-browned and crisp on the bottom, about five minutes.

  8. Stir turkey to incorporate the crisp bits and introduce new soft bits to the bottom. Continue this process until the turkey is as crisp as you like. Season with salt.

  9. Assemble turkey tacos by heating tortillas, then adding toppings: crisp turkey, red onion, and pico de gallo.

  10. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the turkey and garnish with sprigs of cilantro.

Check out these recipes to up your kitchen game: 

This article originally appeared on Grateful: How to make carnitas-style turkey tacos with Thanksgiving leftovers