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26 Dec 2021

The best ways to use up your Christmas leftovers

We reveal the popular leftover recipes to try this festive season, as well as top zero-waste tips from Which? members
Leftover Christmas food on a plate

Planning quantities is tricky at the best of times over Christmas, but with the uncertainty caused by Covid it's easy to find yourself suddenly lumped with more than you need.

But there's no need to let that delicious festive fare go to waste, we've rounded up tips from Which? members - and recipe ideas from chefs - to help you make this year's leftovers a treat in themselves, rather than a chore.

Read on to discover the popular festive leftover ideas suggested by Which? members.


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1 - 'Good old bubble and squeak'

Bubble and squeak

The traditional British dish of 'bubble and squeak' was by far the most popular option suggested by our members.

It's a nice simple option too, if you're feeling all cooked out, as it's essentially just leftover vegetables, pan fried.

Potato is a key ingredient, along with Brussels sprouts, cabbage, onion and sometimes shredded meat. But the best part about bubble and squeak is its versatility - you can throw in any leftover meat or veg so nothing goes to waste.

'Bubble and squeak using left over Christmas day vegetables, served with some imaginative extras is a firm favourite'. Which? member

Bubble and squeak recipe ideas:

Pair your bubble and squeak brunch with a hot cup of our best ground coffee to start the day.


2 - 'Anything can go in a soup'

Turkey soup and a bread roll

Lots of our members recommended using the leftover turkey carcass to make a tasty soup or stock:

'Turkey carcass makes a lovely soup stock. Plus, there's usually loads of extra meat to eat after boiling it down with vegetables.' Which? member

It's simpler to do than you might think, and means that you're using up every part of the bird.

How to make turkey stock:

  • Strip the meat off the turkey carcass and break it apart at the joints where you can.
  • Put all the carcass into a big pot and cover it with water.
  • At this point you can also add in a quartered onion, a couple of carrots, a few celery sticks, and some bay leaves if you'd like.
  • Simmer for 3-4 hours until the bones are starting to break down (using a pressure cooker can cut cooking time).
  • Remove the carcass carefully and strain the broth.
  • Cool and store in the fridge to add to soup (you can also freeze some if you've got lots left over)

If you want to turn it straight into soup, you can add in any other leftovers, heat and serve (or blend first if you prefer a smooth soup).

If you'd rather just use the leftover turkey meat, there are plenty of other delicious soup recipes:


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3 - 'The perfect festive finish-up sandwich'

Turkey Christmas sandwich

It may not be particularly original, but the festive sandwich is a classic for a reason - it's delicious and indulgent. Plus you can sneak in a wide range of leftovers.

Perhaps you like it simple - just two slices of bread, stuffed with turkey, cranberry sauce and a few chunks of stuffing. Or maybe you like to chuck in a couple of pigs in blankets or some slices of cheese?

If you're staving off the winter chill, try swapping the slices of bread for a warm baguette or putting the turkey in a toastie with some cheese.

Whichever way you choose to eat it, a proper Christmas sandwich is a quick and easy way to jazz up your leftovers.

'Turkey and stuffing sandwiches are so good!' Which? member

Popular Christmas sandwich recipes

You don't need a recipe for a sandwich, of course, but some extra inspiration never hurt:


Best toastie machines - we uncover the top sandwich makers if you want a turkey melt


4 - 'Always a fan of the festive curry'

Turkey curry

Christmas leftover curry - it's a cliche for a reason.

After gorging on potatoes, rich cheese and Christmas puds, the lively flavours of a curry can be refreshing. But like all our suggestions, the ingredients are flexible and can be built around what food you have leftover and the spices you have in your cupboard.

'There's nothing like a turkey curry at Christmas'. Which? member

Festive curry recipes

A beer and a curry is a match made in heaven - see which beers and cider work best for Christmas, according to our beer expert


Other Christmas leftover ideas

Person putting food into a freezer bag.

Our members had plenty of handy tips for looking after your leftovers, here are some more ideas:

  • Freeze some leftovers for later, so you aren't too sick of it
  • Use leftover meat and veg for a spanish omelette on Boxing Day
  • Pies, salads and casseroles are all good options you can vary year on year
  • Have a 'mezze' meal of leftover bits

7 ways to fit more food in your freezer - tips on storing food efficiently


*based on a survey of 1,362 Which? members in October 2021