The “Thanksgiving Leftovers” round of the Pantry Kitchen Challenge called upon readers to repurpose their Thanksgiving protein plus one other leftover, and combine them with tea, jelly and carrots to make something new.

You all rose to the occasion to produce some of the most creative Pantry Kitchen dishes I’ve seen. I know I’ll be saving some of these recipes to use with my Thanksgiving leftovers next year!

First place goes to Kathy Hunt, who somehow managed to make scrumptious-looking potato doughnuts with her Thanksgiving leftovers. In second place is Wendy Kan, whose turkey congee (known as “jook” in Cantonese) turned Thanksgiving leftovers into an entirely new meal! And in third place: Steve Venard and Cathy Martin, who used turkey and leftover butternut squash to make turkey soup dumplings with a peanut butter and jelly dipping sauce.

Next up: The Champions Round


Season 2 Champions Round: The “Happy New Year” Challenge

This year has been tough on a lot of people. So we’re channeling our collective efforts into drumming up as much good luck as possible for 2021. That’s the theme for The Champions Round set of ingredients: They’re known to be lucky! We’ll be re-creating the top three dishes to determine a winner, so keep taste in mind for this round!

  • Ingredients: Black-eyed peas, collard greens, Champagne (or nonalcoholic equivalent, such as sparkling apple cider), Pop Rocks candy
  • Rules: You have to use all four prescribed ingredients. You can use as many additional ingredients as you desire.
  • Wild card rule: Make an appetizer you would serve at a New Year’s Eve party. Key word: appetizer.
  • Who’s eligible: Anyone who placed in the top three of any of the five Pantry Kitchen Challenge rounds this season. (You should have received an email!) Everyone else is welcome to participate, but we will pick the top three from previous finalists! We will then make each of the top three dishes to determine the winner. The champion will be rewarded with a $50 grocery gift card!
  • Deadline: Create a dish, tell us how successful you were and email photos (JPEG files!), your recipe and a description of your dish to food editor Stefanie Loh ( by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 18.
  • Entries are judged on taste, creativity, how well you incorporated the ingredients, presentation and adherence to the wild card rule. We’ll pick winners and publish Champions Round results in the Jan. 3, 2021, edition of The Mix.
More Pantry Kitchen Challenge



Pantry Kitchen Challenge Season 2 Round 5 Best Reader Submissions

To download a PDF of recipes from this round, click here.

Potato doughnuts with cherry custard, candied maple bits, chai glaze and bourbon cotton candy

Kathy Hunt used leftover mashed potatoes and candied ham from Thanksgiving dinner to make doughnuts that she filled with dark cherry jam custard, dipped in a chai glaze and topped with cotton candy. (Courtesy of Kathy Hunt)

Thanksgiving leftovers: Candied ham, mashed potatoes

“After Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, I have convinced myself it is important not to shock the body with a diet, but to ease out of my food coma and into a breakfast of homemade potato doughnuts. This challenge pushed these doughnuts over the top. I mixed it up and used carrots as well as the regular leftover mashed potatoes. I love bacon on my maple bars, so I candied my leftover ham in pure maple syrup. I dipped these fluffy little rings of deliciousness with a chai tea glaze, filled them with a dark cherry jam custard and … wait for it …. the pièce de résistance is a cotton candy cloud of the leftover bourbon maple rimming sugar from the night prior’s cocktail of choice!”

— Kathy Hunt

Turkey congee

Wendy Kan took a page out of her mother-in-law’s recipe book and used leftover Thanksgiving turkey and homemade challah bread to make a warm, comforting bowl of congee. (Courtesy of Wendy Kan)

Thanksgiving leftovers: Turkey bones, turkey, pumpkin challah bread

“Thanks to my mother-in-law, May, and chef Lee Anne Wong, one of my favorite ways to use leftover turkey is congee (jook)! It’s a tradition at my in-laws and now it is mine, too. First I make stock out of the leftover turkey bones. Once the stock is ready, I use a 4.5-to-1 ratio of stock to rice. To the stock, I added a tablespoon of Mick’s Peppourri Hot Ginger Pepper Jelly, eight slices of ginger and some cutup turkey. I used my Aroma Pro Cooker and set it to porridge. Next I cut up leftover pumpkin challah bread and baked [the chunks] at 375 degrees F for about 10 minutes to make croutons. I used crinkle-cut sliced carrots and sautéed them with sliced rehydrated shiitake mushrooms in sesame oil. I used sencha green tea two ways: First I used my smoking gun to make tea-smoked leftover turkey. Then I took the tea, some spices and soy sauce to make Chinese tea eggs. Once the congee is ready, it’s time to assemble with tea-smoked turkey, some bacon bits, the pumpkin challah croutons, half of a tea egg, carrots and shiitakes, some fried garlic, crispy fried onions and fresh scallions. I know I liked it, but my husband must have liked it too, because he went back for seconds!”

— Wendy Kan

Turkey soup dumplings with peanut butter and jelly dipping sauce

To try and mask the taste of the requisite cooked carrots, Steve Venard and Cathy Martin decided to mix in some ginger, which led them toward Asian flavors, which led them to turn Thanksgiving leftovers into Chinese soup dumplings. (Courtesy of Steve Venard and Cathy Martin)

Thanksgiving leftovers: Turkey, roasted butternut squash

“Once upon a time, one of us had a childhood trauma involving cooked carrots at the dinner table. … So to make a dish with cooked carrots required an extraordinary amount of creativity to hide their taste. When ginger was mentioned as an accompaniment to cooked carrots, we shifted toward the Asian realm with our leftovers. Using tea to smoke leftover turkey, we used pureed carrots in dumpling dough. We rolled, formed and filled the dumplings with many of our leftovers including roasted butternut squash, the smoked turkey and leftover raw Brussels sprouts. Then we had the bright idea to use our turkey broth (from the carcass) to make Asian soup dumplings. A gelatin packet was combined with broth and MarketSpice tea to form the ‘soup’ that went into the dumplings. Hot pepper jelly and peanut butter (along with soy sauce and rice wine vinegar) made the dipping sauce. A unique twist on Thanksgiving leftovers that thankfully hid the taste of cooked carrots!”


— Steve Venard and Cathy Martin

Turkey and scalloped potato empanadas with a pumpkin pie mole sauce

Laurie Kenneth used leftover turkey and scalloped potatoes to stuff a gluten-free empanada that she topped with a mole sauce …. made from leftover pumpkin pie!  (Courtesy of Laurie Kenneth)

Thanksgiving leftovers: Turkey, turkey stock, pumpkin pie, whipped cream, scalloped potatoes

“My idea was to transform leftover turkey into carnitas and layer that on leftover scalloped potatoes in an empanada. My husband makes incredible pork carnitas and I riffed off his recipe to make turkey carnitas with leftover turkey in a way that wouldn’t be too dry. … I used gluten-free pie shells as the dough for the empanadas. The Bigelow Constant Comment tea has the same flavor profile as pumpkin pie so I used it as a braising liquid for my turkey carnitas. I also sautéed in some of the julienned carrots with the turkey, which provided sweetness to the savory/spicy flavor of the carnitas. I then used pumpkin pie filling to make a lazy person’s ‘mole’ which also had a savory/spicy with a little sweet component. I brushed melted apricot jalapeño jelly on the empanadas instead of an egg wash and also used the same jelly on the carrots in a glazed slaw with cabbage, radishes and herbs. I took equal parts of sweet whipped cream with sour cream, lime juice and cayenne to make a crema to brighten up the spicy, savory and sweet dish.” 

Laurie Kenneth

Thanksgiving blintzes and Hanukkah tsimmes

Paul Shapiro made blintzes and a Jewish delicacy called tsimmes with his Thanksgiving leftovers and some cranberry jam. (Courtesy of Paul Shapiro)

Thanksgiving leftovers: Turkey, stuffing, cranberry, yams

“We always celebrate the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but we can now celebrate the time between Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. Thanksgiving leftovers may be even better than the meal itself, and one of my favorite foods growing up was tsimmes — a sweet/savory dish with carrots, yams and apples, eaten often at the Jewish High Holidays. I used yams from our meal, Italian plums from my friend Alan’s tree, carrots, an apple and the pecan pie filling from my stepdaughter’s delicious pie. To make the crêpe for the blintz, I used a technique my mother taught me. Pour all the batter into a high-heat pan, count to three, then pour all the batter out, wait 15 seconds and voila, a perfect blintz crêpe. Oh, and the crêpe mix uses water but I substituted brewed Evening in Missoula tea. Finally, the jam — I love canned cranberry sauce, my wife loves the one she makes (me too), and my friend Jeff showed up to deliver a gift of his own cranberry sauce. A triplex of cranberry jam. This one was a real team effort, and the result — delicious.”

Paul Shapiro

Savory Dutch baby

Tom Finnegan cooked his Thanksgiving dinner over a campfire and made Cornish game hen instead of turkey. He repurposed the leftovers into a savory Dutch baby. (Courtesy of Thomas Finnegan)

Thanksgiving leftovers: Stuffing (or dressing), Cornish game hen, roasted vegetables

“For Thanksgiving, we went out to Twin Harbors State Park on the Washington coast. … For dinner we cooked in the fire pit in a couple Lodge cast-iron Dutch ovens. In one, we cooked dressing, which I had made the day before. In the other, we did a couple of Cornish game hens on top of roasted vegetables (onions, potatoes, carrots, parsnip and mushrooms). It all turned out incredibly tasty. For leftovers we had half a game hen, some dressing and some roasted vegetables. For our Sunday dinner after returning from the coast we decided to do a savory Dutch baby using ground Lapsang Souchong tea in the batter to add some smokiness. It was topped with a sauce made from cooked onion, carrot and mushroom, along with homemade plum jam and ginger.”

— Thomas Finnegan

Thanksgiving turkey and waffles

Sada Adams combined her aunt Michelle’s fried chicken recipe with her stepmom’s sweet potato casserole and her aunt Frances’ cooked carrots and cherry jam to produce this Thanksgiving-themed take on fried chicken and waffles. (Courtesy of Sada Adams)

Thanksgiving leftovers: Turkey, sweet potato casserole

“This dish combined so many family recipes to create a meal that was both rich in flavor and nostalgia. This summer, my aunt Michelle taught me to make her family’s fried chicken recipe, which translated over nicely to my fried turkey. I added two bags of chai tea leaves into my seasoned flour mixture to add some extra flavors. I also incorporated two leftover dishes from Thanksgiving dinner: I mashed my stepmom’s sweet potato casserole and mixed it into my waffle batter, and then used my aunt Frances’ cooked carrots and cherry jam to make a sweet, tart syrup. Chicken and waffles is one of my favorite comfort foods with the elements of sweet and savory. This twist on an original classic was absolutely scrumptious.”

— Sada Adams

Chai-spiced carrot cake with cranberry sauce filling and sweet potato goat cheese ice cream

Thanksgiving leftovers: Sweet potato goat cheese gratin, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce


“We are vegetarian, so we do not have turkey at Thanksgiving and instead have a compilation of the traditional side dishes. … For this challenge, I used leftover sweet potato goat cheese gratin casserole (main course), leftover cranberry sauce and leftover cornbread dressing, chai tea bags, ginger orange marmalade and carrots. I made a chai-spiced carrot cake with cranberry sauce filling and ginger orange buttercream frosting, and sweet potato goat cheese ice cream to serve with it. My daughter Libby had the brilliant idea of making a crumble to top the ice cream using the leftover cornbread dressing. We crumbled the leftover dressing with butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, sliced almonds and oatmeal and toasted it in the oven. It was the best part!

Marian Blazes

Lamb and stuffing falafel

Laura Jones had lamb for Thanksgiving, and she used the leftover lamb, fig and prosciutto stuffing and cranberry chutney to make falafel.  (Courtesy of Robert Jones)

Thanksgiving leftovers: Lamb, stuffing, delicate squash gratin

“My husband and I love all the Thanksgiving side dishes, but turkey is not on our favorites list. So, while we greatly missed the pleasure of being with our daughter and son-in-law and our dear friends, we really enjoyed having rack of lamb with all our turkey sides! … I minced leftover lamb, combined it with fig and prosciutto cornbread stuffing, added some ginger, garam masala and a surprise potato center to create ‘falafel’ patties that were then crusted with crushed pistachios. … When I saw the challenge ingredients, tea and jam, I immediately thought cranberry chutney. I infused my favorite turmeric chai tea and fruit-only apricot jam into the cranberries and I got to enjoy it with our lamb Thanksgiving meal. Finally, the green beans … no transformation needed!”

— Laura Jones

Turkey mincemeat pie

Patricia Fairbanks basically took a Thanksgiving meal and shoved it into a pie, creating a rich, delicious turkey mincemeat pie.  (Courtesy of Patricia Fairbanks)

Thanksgiving leftovers: Turkey, candied yams, cranberry sauce

“I have never made a mincemeat pie, or eaten one that contained meat, but somehow the idea popped into my head when I looked at the contest last Sunday. I candied lemon and orange as well as the carrots. I soaked the extra apples that I had prepared for my pie fillings and the dried and candied fruits in an equal mixture of cranberry apple tea and Cointreau to rehydrate them the day before Thanksgiving. … I also added lemon juice to balance the sweetness. I put the mixture in the fridge to let the flavors mature. Thanksgiving night, I added leftover candied yams and whole berry homemade cranberry sauce. Then, I added turkey and some of the turkey drippings and some chopped walnuts and spices. … I reluctantly used the Satsuma jelly that my neighbor had made. I added the spices and I let the mixture sit overnight in the fridge. Early this morning, I put it in pie crust and baked it. … It was really rich, but not too sweet; I had to keep myself from eating too much at once.”

Patricia Fairbanks

Thanksgiving dim sum

Kevin Rochlin turned turkey and cranberry sauce leftovers into a Thanksgiving dim sum meal, complete with turkey bao and scallion pancakes. (Courtesy of Kevin Rochlin)

Thanksgiving leftovers: Turkey, cranberry sauce

“Our favorite post-Thanksgiving tradition is making turkey bao with a recipe I made up 30-plus years ago. Diced turkey gets combined with homemade Chinese barbecue sauce, wrapped inside canned biscuit dough (the popping kind), and steamed. For the challenge, I swapped grated carrots for water chestnuts and added apricot jam to the sauce. To elevate the required tea and carrots, and to continue my quest for bacon substitutes, I made tea-smoked carrots served with a jasmine tea apricot jam glaze. I finished with scallion pancakes using leftover dressing with a dipping sauce of hoisin and cranberry sauce — the second side that I included. To round it all out, I made a stiff jasmine tea ‘Manhattan’ with a cranberry garnish. The bao were excellent, the carrots made a nice crunch. … After eating turkey leftovers Friday and Saturday, this was a nice change.”

Kevin Rochlin

Vegan “everything but the kitchen sink” leftover sandwich

Toni Hudson made her own black tea-basted seitan “turkey” and used candied sweet potatoes to make the bun for her vegan leftover “turkey” sandwich — entirely from scratch. She topped it with smoky cranberry chai barbecue sauce and shredded seitan.  (Courtesy of Toni Hudson)

Thanksgiving leftovers: Seitan turkey, cranberry sauce, candied sweet potatoes

“Honestly, I can’t decide if this was more work than Thanksgiving dinner or less. I made this recipe vegan, but it can easily be adapted using turkey. This recipe uses pepper jelly, cranberry sauce, chai tea, yerba mate, carrots, candied sweet potatoes and my own homemade seitan ‘turkey’ basted with black tea. I used candied sweet potatoes to make a soft, rich sandwich bun and layered it with yerba mate pepper jelly, pickled carrots and onions, plus shredded seitan in a smoky cranberry chai barbecue sauce, and topped it with zesty pepper jelly cabbage and Brussels sprout slaw. It’s a delicious, messy mouthful.”


— Toni Hudson