What to do with all those Christmas Leftovers

christmas food

It happens every year come Christmas time. We’ve all been there — there’s just so much food. Our fridges are stocked with leftovers, and how can we use it all? Sandwiches are the classic, but we’re interested in the other options. So here are our five favourite ways to use your Christmas leftovers.

Header image sourced from here.

Turkey & Ham Free-Form Pie

Who doesn’t love a pie? This recipe grabs all of your Christmas leftovers and throws it together for sheer deliciousness. It is one of the more complex recipes, but it’s well worth it.

What you’ll need:

  • 30g unsalted butter
  • Roughly 1 cup plain flower
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup (dry) white wine
  • 1/2 cup thickened cream
  • 2 cups leftover turkey, chopped
  • 1/2 cup leftover ham, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chives, chopped
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 375g block frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • Cranberry sauce, to serve

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, then add the flour and stir constantly for one minute or until the mixture bubbles. Add your chicken stock and wine and keep stirring and cooking for another two to three minutes. Whisk to remove any flour lumps if need be.

Add the thickened cream and cook, and stir for another minute or two until the mixture boils and thickens. Stir in your meats and herbs and then remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

While your mixture is cooling, lightly flour a bench space and roll out your pastry to form a 30 by 33cm rectangle. Cut this in half for two 15 by 33cm rectangles. (If your measurements are slightly off it’s not too big of an issue.) Place one of these rectangles on your baking tray and spread the now cool mixture along it, leaving a 2cm border.

For your other sheet of pastry, carefully cut slices along it, leaving 2cm gaps on either side. Then lay this sheet over the mixture and press the edges to seal it to the other sheet. Grab your egg yolk and brush it along the now sealed pie. (This helps give the pie that glorious colour.)

Bake for 25-30 minutes and serve with cranberry sauce.

Turkey Empanadillas

While the previous pie might sound delicious, it also isn’t the quickest to cook. And after Christmas, we want something a bit simpler. So these delicate little Christmas leftovers bites are just right.

What you’ll need:

  • 400g quality shop-bought puff pastry
  • Plain flour for dusting
  • 1 egg beaten for sticking the pastry and egg washing
  • 120g cooked leftover turkey, chopped
  • A splash of turkey gravy (chicken stock will work too)
  • 2 sprigs sage, picked and chopped
  • 30g cooked chestnut, chopped
  • Splash of red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt and black pepper

Method:

Just like last time, preheat your oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Then, sprinkle your flour across a clean surface and roll out your pastry. Cut out disks of your pastry, approximately 12cm in diameter. (Biscuit cutters work really well for this.) Once you’ve cut out all your disks, put them on a plate or tray and leave them in the fridge for a little while.

Next, grab your turkey, chestnuts, sage, and gravy or stock and mix it all up. Add salt, pepper, and red wine vinegar to your taste preferences. Once that’s all mixed up, bring the disks back out and start spooning the mix onto them. Remember to leave a gap of about 2cm all around the edges so you can seal the pastry.

Brush one half of these 2cm borders with egg, on all your empanadillas. Then grab the non-eggy side, lift it up and fold it to meet the egg side, creating a semi-circle of pastry filled with turkey. Press down along the edges to make sure there aren’t any gaps. Then you can transfer the empanadillas to your baking tray and pop them in the oven. Cook them for 15-20 minutes and then gobble them up while they’re still warm.

Ham, Leek, and Zucchini Frittata

You might be thinking ‘no more baking! We spent so much time baking the roasts.’ And that makes sense. The oven heats up a room quickly (something no one wants in the middle of the Australian summer). So let’s try something else.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 leek (pale part only), thinly sliced
  • A zucchini, halved lengthways, thinly sliced
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) light milk
  • 100g sliced ham, chopped
  • 1 cup (30g) rocket leaves, chopped
  • 50g reduced fat fetta, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 1/2 cup onion marmalade (see note)
  • 2 cups mixed salad leaves

Method:

Grab a medium-large non-stick frying pan (preferably one with high edges) and heat the oil over a low heat. Add the leek, zucchini, and just a dab of salt and pepper and set to cook, stirring for 3-5 minutes until softened. Then, in a bowl, lightly wick the eggs with the milk, and again add a touch of salt and pepper.

Head to your grill and preheat it to high. We’ll need that in a minute. Return to your frying pan and scatter the ham, rocket, and feta over the leek and zucchini. Then pour the egg mix over it all and cook over a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until the egg is almost set.

Now transfer your frying pan to your preheated grill and leave it to cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the frittata is golden and set. Slice it up, serve with some fresh salad, and dig in!

Turkey Sloppy Joes

A sloppy joe might not be a common meal here in Australia, but that’s our own fault and not the fault of this brilliant burger. This two-handed delicious meal combines all those amazing flavours from your Christmas leftovers we love and turns it into a casual meal — perfect for boxing days spend outdoors, hanging out with the family, and enjoying the warmer weather.

What you’ll need:

  • 200g leftover cooked turkey meat
  • 200 ml leftover turkey gravy
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 apple
  • ½ a red onion
  • 2 sprigs of fresh mint
  • 2 gherkins (and their pickle water)
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • 4 fresh buns
  • 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon HP sauce
  • 1 teaspoon English mustard
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle Tabasco sauce
  • 1 splash of Worcestershire sauce

Method:

First things first, grab your turkey and just shred it to pieces. Younger members of the family can even help out with this step! Once the meat is shredded to satisfaction, put it in a small pot with a dash of water and four tablespoons of gravy.  Pop the lid on and leave it for about 10 minutes to warm through. Put the rest of the gravy in another, smaller pot to warm, ready for dunking later.

While those are going, peel and finely shred the carrot, cut the apple into long matchsticks, peel and finely slice the onion, and pick and slice the mint leaves. Put them all into a bowl with one tablespoon of the water from gherkin jar. Finely slice the gherkins and the chili (make sure to throw out the seeds unless you like it really hot) and add them to the bowl too. Mix it all together and put aside.

Mix together the ketchup, HP sauce, mustard, Tabasco sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Set this aside for now too.

Grab your buns, split them, and toast the ‘insides’ of them lightly. Then spread your sauce mixture over the top and bottom, pile on your turkey, drizzle with the warmed gravy, and throw the veggie mix on top. Serve the rest of the gravy on the side in case anyone fancies dunking their sloppy joe in for an extra moist burger. Delicious.

Leftovers Pizza

Ah, pizza. You’re a favourite for a reason. This recipe is one of our most beloved and also one of the easiest Christmas leftovers recipes.

What you’ll need:

  • As many pizza bases as you want, just grab some fresh or frozen from the supermarket
  • Tomato paste
  • Shredded cheese
  • Your Christmas leftovers

Method:

Grab your pizza bases (defrost if you need to) and start spreading the tomato paste over them. Once you’ve got a nice, even covering start adding your toppings. Your toppings (this is the best bit) can be whatever leftovers you like. Ham, chicken, turkey, cranberries, veggies, herbs – anything! Cover your pizzas with cheese and pop them in the oven for about 10 minutes or until they start looking delicious. Dinner is served!

If you have your own way of utilising all your Christmas leftovers then let us know in the comments! Plus, don’t miss our favourite Christmas cocktails.

Paige Riddiford is a writer and editor from Sydney, NSW with a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Wollongong. When not writing, Paige is often found reading, baking, playing video games, playing board games with friends, or binge-watching whatever's new on Netflix.