HAPPY THANKSGIVING – time to use the leftovers!

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Hi there,

Thanksgiving 2021 I am guessing is a truly day of thanks this year. For most of us, we are celebrating (indoors) with our family. Last year really brought home the meaning of this holiday.

The end of Thanksgiving day for the cooks looks like this –

But for a lot of us, the turkey leftovers are the best part of the meal. I recently had dinner with my friend Donny and he told me how he helped his Mom make Turkey Croquettes the day after Thanksgiving. From the huge smile on his face, I could tell this was his happy memory from childhood Thanksgiving.

What follows is Donny’s Mom’s recipe. He told me his job was to turn the crank.

Turkey croquettes – I remember them. I used to help mom make them. They’re actually pretty easy but of course there was nothing written down about amounts 😉 

Anyway, here it is. 

You need a meat grinder. NOT a blender or food processor, a meat grinder like for making sausage. Use a medium grate/grid/plate. Mom’s was one that clamped onto the table and was cranked by hand (I should get one, they’re useful). 

You also need a deep fryer. NOT an air fryer, I doubt it would work well. 

Ingredients – 

left over turkey



bread or leftover stuffing (probably bread, because there’s never really stuffing left over)

egg and plain breadcrumbs for breading (NOT panko, you’re not going for texture, you’re going for coverage)

You can use some spices, mom never bothered. If you use spices, maybe a little sage/rosemary? Parsley would be OK. 

Everything gets run through the grinder except the egg/breadcrumbs. EVERYTHING. You should have more turkey than anything else. One onion and a couple stalks of celery should be enough, and a slice or two of bread (leftover rolls would work too). The bread is to absorb some of the liquid from the onion/celery. If you use leftover stuffing, cut down on the onion/celery (because there’s some in the stuffing)

Mix everything you ground up together. Make some white sauce (classic Bechamel sauce). It needs to be pretty thick. Mix the white sauce into the meat/veg/bread mixture until it sticks together well. You don’t want it too saucy, it just helps hold it together. How much you need depends on the amount of onion/celery vs. turkey. More onion/celery will mean a bit less sauce, because the onion/celery add a lot of moisture.

Form the mixture into classic croquette shapes. You could do balls if you wanted to, we never did. Cover them with foil/plastic (Mom always used waxed paper, so that works too) and refrigerate at least a few hours or overnight. They need to be pretty firm before you bread them. 

Mix the egg with a little water. Roll the croquettes in egg, then breadcrumbs. Make sure they’re well breaded. Refrigerate again. (this is obviously not a last minute dish 😉 ). 

Then, FINALLY, you deep fry them a few at a time. There should be enough  oil in the pan to cover them. Not sure what temperature, Mom always did them on the stove. They only take a few minutes. Remember, everything is cooked already (or could be eaten raw), so all you’re really doing is cooking the breading and getting them hot. 

By the time they were getting fried up, we really wanted those croquettes. I remember sneaking one before they were breaded, because I couldn’t wait. We used to put ketchup on them, but turkey gravy or a nice Bechamel sauce would work as well. 

It’s really a process, and without the right tools it won’t work. The fact that it takes 2 days is probably the biggest reason why people don’t make them. That, and the frying. 

Though, now that I think about it, the croquette mixture would probably make a really nice sausage. Different texture than most sausage, but the flavor would be good. And there’s no reason you couldn’t make patties and fry them in a frying pan. 

For those of us who do not have a meat grinder, here is another recipe for turkey croquettes.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely diced celery
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 10 ounces ground turkey
  • ½ cup cubed white bread
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup dry bread crumbs


  1. Heat oil in a skillet, add celery and onion and saute until lightly browned. Stir in the turkey and saute, stirring until it loses its color. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.
  2. Soak the bread in the milk until soft. Squeeze out the bread and mix with the turkey. Add the egg, mustard, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Form the turkey mixture into patties and coat with bread crumbs. Refrigerate until shortly before serving time.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the turkey patties on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, turning once, until lightly browned on both sides.

18 responses to “HAPPY THANKSGIVING – time to use the leftovers!”

  1. Look delicious, although I haven’t had a meat grinder since I downsized. Turkey salad for me. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for all the meal ideas.

  2. Darlene – British Columbia, Canada – Writer of children's stories, short stories and travel articles. https://twitter.com/#!/supermegawoman http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=201634059868404&id=631897250&ref=notif&notif_t=like#!/pages/Darlene-Foster-Writer/362236842733
    Darlene says:

    There is so much you can do with turkey leftovers. Croquettes are very popular here in Spain. Happy Thanksgiving!!

  3. 🐋Beach House🐋 – Surfing, SUP, Swimming, Ocean, Animals, Baking, Marinelife, Family, Good sleep, and Nature 🌏 The beauty of Nature, the cuteness of animals, breathtaking moments, extraordinary wildlife… I take pictures, film whatever touches my heart, and love to share with people in the world. visit my website: https://beachhouse.blog subscribe to my YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDawiafJg2w0t1dVcI3e6Zw
    Beach House🌊🌈 says:

    Happy Thanksgiving💕 Hope you, your family, friends… all have a peaceful thanksgiving day.

  4. Charlie DeSando – Milwaukee, WI – Charlie DeSando is a professional eater and amateur YouTube Chef. The two activities go hand-in-hand. This blog has been written with other amateur cooks in mind, including men who are novice cooks. Please enjoy and I hope you learn something worth while from it.
    Charlie DeSando says:

    Bernadette, happy Thanksgiving my friend, Best to you this holiday season!!

  5. These look absolutely delicious! I have never made them before, I am saving your recipe.Thank you!

  6. the Painted Apron – Life is all about creativity for me, as long as I'm creating something I am happy! I hope I will inspire your daily life and give you ideas for your own wonderful creations!
    the Painted Apron says:

    What a great idea for leftover turkey! I bet they are delicious! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Bernadette!

  7. CarolCooks2 – Udon Thani – Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them. I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling. Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing. This is now taking me into other areas like deforestation, chemicals and preservatives in the food chain. Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!
    CarolCooks2 says:

    Wonderful! I have my nans meat grinder that clamps on a table it has travelled the world with me it is what I grind my leftover meat through …Thank you for the memories, Bern :)x


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