how to use leftovers: best leftover recipe ideas for pork, beef, chicken, chili, vegetables, cream cheese, and more
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Leftovers present a problem for some people who don’t love to eat the same thing twice in a row. But we have creative and delicious leftover recipe ideas for almost anything you may find yourself with an excess of in the fridge.

Not letting leftovers go to waste is a matter of both budget and ethics, but that doesn’t mean you have to just reheat yesterday’s casserole again (unless you want to). And sometimes your leftovers aren’t enough to comprise a full meal anyway.

Creativity Is the Key

It’s no surprise that Chowhounds have genius ideas to transform these bits and bobs into other dishes as good as or better than the originals. Leftover (cooked) vegetables frequently find their way into frittata, quiche, or quesadillas, but thymetobake always cooks extra green beans to puree into soup, and uses leftover mashed potatoes to make bread!

Have leftover sauce or salad dressing? Use a creamy dressing as a sandwich spread, or drizzle vinaigrette on roasted vegetables; add either one to a marinade or use to finish any seared, grilled, or baked protein you like.


You can even puree certain soups to use as sauces—whatever’s left of our Curried Potato and Carrot Soup recipe, for instance, can be blended into a creamy, nutritious curry sauce and poured over salmon or tofu for a delicious new dinner. Or leftover stew can be ladled into a baking dish and slathered with mashed potatoes for an impromptu shepherd’s pie.

Leftover raw vegetables can be pickled; simply add them to your favorite brine, whether leftover from a jar of pickles, or quickly whipped up at home. See how to quick pickle anything for more help on that front.

Keep scrolling for ingenious ideas on repurposing whatever other leftovers you have, and prepare to be extremely glad that you do!

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Related Reading: How to Turn Dinner Leftovers into Lunch

The Best Ways to Use Leftovers

We’ll be adding even more ideas for leftover wine, leftover mashed potatoes, and more, so stay tuned and keep cooking.

What to Do with Leftover Egg Yolks

how to use leftover egg yolks


If your recipe only calls for egg whites, do you just tip the yolks down the drain? If so, stop wasting that precious liquid gold and learn about the best leftover egg yolk recipe ideas.

What to Do with Leftover Egg Whites

egg white sour


While not as luxurious as the yolks, extra egg whites are super useful in the kitchen too. Check out the best leftover egg white recipe ideas and never waste another drop.

What to Do with Leftover Rice

what to with leftover rice: recipe ideas


There are two things that leftover rice are absolutely perfect for, and they are fried rice and rice pudding—but they are only the beginning. From fried rice balls to casseroles and pancakes, these are the best leftover rice recipe ideas.

What to Do with Leftover Brisket

leftover brisket poutine recipe


A BBQ brisket is too beautiful to waste a single morsel, but if you’re looking for some new ideas, from tacos to pasta and beyond, these are the best BBQ brisket leftover recipe ideas.

What to Do with Leftover BBQ & Sides

BBQ leftover recipe ideas


If you’ve been grilling, there are delicious things you can do with everything you have left, from BBQ chicken and hot dogs to potato salad (seriously, you’ll never see this one coming). Check out the best leftover BBQ recipe ideas.

Related Reading: 7 Things You Can Grill Now & Eat Later in the Week

What to Do with Leftover Hamburger

best leftover hamburger recipe ideas


Burgers are probably still the BBQ champ, so they deserve their own spotlight. We’re at 21 dishes and counting when it comes to the best leftover hamburger recipe ideas.

What to Do with Leftover Chili

leftover chili recipe ideas


Even the most delicious batch of never-ending chili can start to seem oppressive when the pot is still half full, so if another bowl sounds boring, see the best leftover chili recipe ideas.

What to Do with Leftover Cornbread

leftover cornbread recipes


Chances are you filled up on chili and didn’t eat all the cornbread on the side. Luckily, there are lots of things to do with that too, from panzanella to pudding. See the best leftover cornbread recipe ideas.

What to Do with Leftover or Stale Bread

leftover bread recipe ideas


Any other loaf of bread is equally delicious even once it starts to get a little tough, whether you blitz it into breadcrumbs or make it into stuffing. Check out the best leftover bread recipe ideas.

What to Do with Leftover Steak

best leftover steak recipe ideas


Some steaks are just too massive to finish in one go (even the ones that don’t come close to the Old 96er you may still be grossed out by from “The Great Outdoors”). From salad to sandwiches and way beyond, here are the best leftover steak recipe ideas. And see the best way to reheat steak.

What to Do with Leftover Ham

best leftover ham recipe ideas


A holiday ham is the edible gift that keeps on giving…and giving…and giving. When you’re sick of ham sandwiches, explore the best leftover ham recipe ideas.

What to Do with Leftover Corned Beef

best leftover corned beef recipe ideas


You probably only have this issue after St. Patrick’s Day, but the best leftover corned beef recipe ideas are also great for pastrami.

What to Do with Leftover Chicken

best leftover chicken recipe ideas


Naturally, there’s chicken salad, but that’s just the start. Check out the best leftover chicken recipe ideas, whether you roasted it yourself or picked up a rotisserie chicken from the store. Either way, don’t forget to use the carcass for stock!

What to Do with Leftover Cream Cheese

best leftover cream cheese recipes


Run out of bagels before your brick of Philly bit the dust? There are scores of brilliant ways to use the rest, whether there’s a lot or just a little left. See the best leftover cream cheese recipe ideas.

What to Do with Leftover Herbs

best ways to use fresh herbs before they go bad


If you have an herb garden, you can pick as you go, but when you buy literal bunches of cilantro, mint, basil, and more from the store, all too often they wilt away. See the best ways to use fresh herbs before they go bad so that never happens again.

What to Do with Leftover Pickle Brine

best leftover pickle brine recipe ideas


Once you fish all those pickles from the jar, don’t toss out the brine—it’s good for a lot more than you might think! From keeping the pickle party going to making amazing bread, chicken, deviled eggs, and more, these are the best leftover pickle brine recipe ideas, period.

What to Do with Leftover Hard-Boiled Eggs

Breakfast Sausage and Cornflake Scotch Eggs recipe


Have way too many Easter eggs left over, or get too far ahead of yourself with meal prep? The best leftover egg recipe ideas for hard-boiled eggs far surpass salad and deviled eggs (but of course they’re both in there too).

What to Do with Leftover Tailgate Grub

best leftover tailgate food ideas


Game day grub always seems to come in huge quantities, so you’re gonna have extra. That’s a good thing, because the best tailgate leftover recipe ideas might be even better than the original dishes. And see how to use up your store-bought snacks like chips, popcorn, and pretzels too.

What to Do with Thanksgiving Leftovers

best Thanksgiving leftover recipe ideas


From Thanksgiving pizza and Thanksgiving nachos to a turkey galette and delicious Thanksgiving leftover drinks (including a pumpkin pie shake), these are all the best Thanksgiving leftover ideas besides sandwiches. They’ll make you thankful down to the last speck of cranberry sauce.

What to Do with Christmas Dinner Leftovers

best Christmas dinner leftover recipe ideas for turkey, ham, lamb, and beef


Whether you serve turkey, ham, or lamb, the best things to do with Christmas dinner leftovers will leave no doubt that the extras are a true gift.

What to Do with Leftover Eggnog

best leftover eggnog recipe ideas


Allegedly, this is a thing that some people sometimes have. If that’s you, check out the best leftover eggnog recipe ideas from French toast to pie and cheesecake. (Just scroll down past the eggnog recipes up top.)

What to Do with Sourdough Discard

best sourdough discard recipe ideas


If you’ve embarked on the journey of baking sourdough, you’ll have to feed your starter—and you’ll have excess on your hands. If you don’t want to let it go to waste, see the best sourdough discard recipe ideas.

What to Do with Leftover Pumpkin Seeds

best pumpkin seed recipe ideas


If you’re carving jack-o-lanterns or roasting winter squash, you can compost the seeds, but why do that when you can eat them in so many delicious ways? Check out the best leftover pumpkin seed recipe ideas, from salsa and pesto to brittle and bark.

What to Do with Leftover Halloween Candy


Didn’t get as many trick-or-treaters as you expected? Or couldn’t resist adding another mega bag of fun-size bars to your cart at Costco? Take your pick of these Halloween candy dessert recipe ideas featuring all your plastic pumpkin favorites.

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Jen is an editor at Chowhound. Raised on scrapple and blue crabs, she hails from Baltimore, Maryland, but has lived in Portland (Oregon) for so long it feels like home. She enjoys the rain, reads, writes, eats, and cooks voraciously, and stops to pet every stray cat she sees. Continually working on building her Gourmet magazine collection, she will never get over its cancellation. Read more of her work.
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