It’s hard to argue Thanksgiving as anything but a food-lover’s gravy-fueled dreamscape. One day to drop everything, chill out, and show off some of your very best eating, and of course, overeating skills. There are almost no other requirements on that most wonderful of third Thursdays in November (unless you offered to cook—get hacks here), and for that we’re, well…thankful.
As important as eating is on Thanksgiving, we’ve become perhaps just as passionate about creative post-Thanksgiving leftover management, and there is no shortage of ideas swirling around the recipe universe. From Turkey Enchilada and Quinoa Soup to Stuffing Baked Eggs, the savory stuff has been well-covered, but what to do with some of Thanksgiving’s sweeter, supporting characters?
Related Reading: The Best Thanksgiving Leftover Storage Containers
When you just can’t down another slice of pecan pie or find a use for that jiggling bowl of cranberry sauce, drink ’em!
We’re breaking out the good glassware, high-octane blender, and swirly straws to showcase recipe ideas that turn your post-Thanksgiving Groundhog Day-style slog into a sippable celebration.
Leftover Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is the cherry on top of any successful thanksgiving spread. The tangy topper is easy to make but has a bold, concentrated flavor so it seems there’s always more than we actually need. Cue cocktails! This New England native is a tried and true companion to boozy beverages of all types.
This simple cranberry and bourbon cocktail can be easily scaled up to batch, and calls for just three other central ingredients.
If you have whole berries left, stay in full holiday mode with this mulled cocktail which gathers warmth and depth from spices like cinnamon and cloves. Get the Mulled Cranberry Cocktail recipe.
Have leftover canned cranberry sauce? Whip it up with an electric mixer, add lemon-lime soda, and freeze it for a slushy treat you can serve as a fun dessert, or spike with vodka or gin for a frozen cocktail. Get the Cranberry Ice recipe.
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Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE pie. In fact, it’s a nearly perfect food. But even it can lose a bit of luster after a slice too many. Since it’s tough to freeze once it’s been baked, lean on smoothies and milkshakes to keep you from turning a-pie-thetic.
The concept of “too much pecan pie” is somewhat difficult to imagine but if you come to this crossroads, this pecan pie milkshake will spin new life into the Thanksgiving staple. Get the Bourbon Pecan Pie Milkshake recipe.
This healthy breakfast smoothie is best suited for an excess of pumpkin puree, but feel free to substitute sweetened pie filling (and hold the maple syrup) for a more decadent version. Get the Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie recipe. Or get really decadent and break out the vanilla ice cream for our Pumpkin Spice Milkshake recipe (above).
If you’re willing to wait a little longer, you can also use pumpkin puree to make DIY pumpkin spice liqueur.
Apple pie and ice cream go together like Aunt Janet and one-too-many glasses of wine, so a milkshake is the natural choice to blend into a fresh take. Alton Brown employs his famous minimalist style for this shake-up and suggests an optional ounce of Applejack whiskey for adults. Get the Leftover Apple Pie Milkshake recipe.
Related Reading: How to Store Leftover Pie
If you’re a serial host or hostess, gift boxes of chocolate can start to pile up. And because chocolate can’t keep forever, consider spoiling yourself and/or guests with this hot chocolate, gussied up with cinnamon and ancho chili. Get the Homemade Hot Chocolate recipe.
Leftover (or Bad) Wine
Admittedly, this one is already a beverage, but likely one you’re not particularly interesting in consuming. Sure, you could re-gift, but is passing the buck on a bargain bin riesling really in keeping with the spirit of the season? Fear not! Sangria is the great equalizer, and these are two of our very favorite recipes for winter sangria: One red. One white.
White wine, blood oranges, pink grapefruit, pear, and pomegranates get a sweet lift from mint syrup. Get the White Winter Sangria recipe.
If you’ve got red, add Cointreau, cranberry juice, port wine, and macerated cranberries and apples, plus a spiced simple syrup for festive warmth. Get our Spiced Cranberry Sangria recipe.
Yes, gravy. Yes, this is a little weird. It is a warm, savory beer cocktail…with gravy. If it helps, think of beer as liquid bread—that’s not too far off. And don’t act like you couldn’t sip straight from the gravy boat in the first place, anyway. This one is for the brave, the bold, the gravy lovers. We give you, the New Orleans Boozy Broth Cocktail: