(Also Terrific with Leftover Chicken!)
~ This super-fast “Cheater” Leftover Turkey Pot Pie is a fantastic way to use up leftover Thanksgiving turkey! It’s also great with rotisserie chicken or other leftover chicken you might have on hand … all year long. So comforting and delicious but also crazy-easy! It’s ready in less than 20 minutes, and leverages tons of shortcuts to make pot pie healthier and easier than ever! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Freezable (Turkey Mixture) • Includes Make-Ahead Steps •
We all know that feeling, don’t we? That “Uggggghhhhh … I seriously have zero ideas for using up all that leftover Thanksgiving turkey” feeling. It’s pretty much the same as that “*SIGH* I absolutely can’t bear to eat another cold turkey sandwich” feeling.
But still, every time you open the fridge after Thanksgiving, it’s staring at you. Turkey. Moooooore turkey.
Even though we all swore last year that we’d buy a smaller bird this year. Somehow, there’s still just so much turkey.
What to do, what to do?!?
First off, don’t worry! We’ve got loads of ideas! (Pssssst … for some of the delicious ideas we’ve published in past years, head down toward the bottom of this post.) But definitely start by making this super-easy twist on a comfort food classic!
Everybody loves pot pies, but with all the shopping and decorating and falalalala-ing you’ll be doing after Thanksgiving Day, who has time to make a from-scratch turkey pot pie? Not me, that’s for sure! And I figured, probably not you, either.
Enter … the Cheater Turkey Pot Pie (pretend like you hear superhero music playing in the background).
Why We Love Our Delicious Little Shortcut Recipe
Loosely based on the recipe for our Easy Chicken Pot Pie Hand Pies (hint – they’d work great with turkey, too!), this super-simple pot pie recipe has:
- A rich, creamy gravy
- Pops of flavorful veggies
- A hint of homey dried thyme
- All draped over a soft-but-crispy slice of warm, fresh toast
It’s basically an open-faced turkey pot pie sandwich. Yeah … yum!
Even better? It’s such a snap! So quick and simple!
√ It’s ready in waaaaaay under half an hour, start to finish! No waiting around for this version of turkey pot pie to bake in the oven! (So you can move right on to baking those holiday cookies … like these fave Peppermint-White Chocolate Cookies!)
√ It mostly uses pantry staples you’ve probably got on hand (like frozen veggies, canned broth, and sandwich bread).
√ You can make the pot pie “filling” ahead of time, and stash it in the fridge for quick meals all throughout the long weekend. (So that means you can use up even MORE turkey by making a double batch!)
√ You can even freeze the “filling” – which is absolutely perfect for when you just really want to use that turkey alllllll up, without actually having to eat more-more-more turkey right.this.minute. Stash your pot pie mixture in the freezer for a couple of weeks from now, when leftover Thanksgiving turkey will suddenly sound absolutely delicious all over again!
Maybe even best of all? Even though it tastes like homespun comfort food, it’s so much healthier than “regular” turkey pot pie! Because, while you probably don’t have time to be making a homemade, from-stratch turkey pot pie on Black Friday, you probably also don’t have a lot of mental overhead to be dealing with additional food-guilt after the gut-busting Thanksgiving feast, right?!?
- No fat-loaded, calorie-bomb pie crust.
- No guilt-loaded, fat-filled gravy.
Definite holiday win!
Okey doke – ready to make this? It’ll almost take you longer to read the directions than it will to do the actual cooking, but here’s a quick pictorial rundown of how it all comes together:
How to Make This Leftover Turkey Pot Pie
Step 1: Cook some chopped onion in a little extra virgin olive oil until the onion begins to soften.
Step 2: Whisk a bit of flour into milk, and then slowly add that – along with some broth – to the onions in your pan. Even though the flour should already be distributed through your milk, whisk continuously as you add the liquid, just to avoid any lumps.
Step 3: Bring your pot pie sauce to a boil until it thickens to a gravy-like consistency. (The flour helps to thicken up your sauce once it’s brought to a boil.)
Step 4: Reduce the heat, and add in your leftover turkey, frozen mixed veggies (no need to thaw!), and seasonings.
Step 4: Cook the whole glorious mixture until everything is heated through. (I highly recommend at this point that you take a break from addressing holiday cards and inhale deeeeeply. Yummmmmm … pot pie ……)
Step 5: Serve that crazy-fast pot pie filling over warm toast, and dig in! Feel free to garnish it all with a little hit of fresh parsley if you want, just to pretty it up. But, unless you’re going to stand around and do a photo shoot with your food (like … ummmm … well, like I do …) there’s really no need to add it if you’re looking to save steps here so you can hurry off to those Black Friday sales.
How to Make This a Leftover Chicken Pot Pie Instead
Honest confession: most of the year, I actually make this pot pie recipe with rotisserie chicken. I mean, I just generally don’t have leftover turkey around, except for those days right after Thanksgiving. But I do have rotisserie chicken in my fridge more often than not. (You know how I adore shortcut rotisserie chicken recipes!)
As much as my family loves this recipe, I definitely want to make it more often than just on Black Friday!
Basically, any cooked chicken will work here. Rotisserie chicken is a quick and easy option, but nearly any boneless, skinless cooked chicken will be fine. Just be sure that it’s not seasoned with spices or marinades that would interfere with the chicken pot pie flavor vibe.
So, any time that you happen to be cooking chicken, you could just cook up a couple of extra chicken breasts. Then you’ll have extra cooked chicken for this recipe, without any extra work! Woot woot!
What Bread to Use for Your Cheater Pot Pie
We like to use slightly larger slices of bread (the kind that are more rectangular, instead of standard “sandwich-sized” squares like Wonder Bread).
And, as always, we recommend that you try to find whole grain and whole wheat breads, to maximize nutrition.
But, unlike with many of our other recipes (like our Open-Faced Tomato Sandwich and our Avocado Toast), we actually don’t want the texture of grains or nuts or seeds in the bread we use for this recipe. (Although you can certainly feel free to use that type of heartier, more textural bread if you prefer!)
In our photos, we used Pepperidge Farm’s Farmhouse Whole Grain White. It’s simple in texture and mild in flavor, and it toasts up beautifully. And, while it’s not 100% whole grain, whole wheat flour is the #1 ingredient. Dave’s Killer Bread White Bread Done Right would be another great option if you can find that instead.
Again, though – choose whatever size, style and texture of bread you personally prefer (but try to make it whole grain if you can).
What Broth to Use (Chicken or Turkey)
An important note here. You might wonder why we use chicken broth in this recipe, when we’re making a turkey pot pie. Why not turkey broth?
Well, in my local stores, I can’t find a fat-free, reduced-sodium turkey broth. But, I always prefer to go with a fat-free broth that’s lower in sodium. I explain more about all that in my post on Why Use Low-Sodium Broth Instead of “Regular”? – basically, I prefer to start with a lower-sodium broth at the beginning of a recipe, so I have more control over the total amount of sodium and the final flavor I achieve by adding salt to taste, at other points in the cooking process or at the end of a recipe.
But, if you’re making turkey pot pie, and you really want to use turkey broth – that can totally work, too! Just remember that it will likely start out with more salt already (as compared to the reduced-sodium chicken broth I used in developing this recipe), so you’ll need to cut back on the amount of kosher salt called for in the recipe. Wait to add the kosher salt, a little at a time, as you taste the finished pot pie filling – just to be sure it doesn’t end up too salty.
More Leftover Turkey Ideas …
… in case you still have sooooo much to use up! 🙂
Ok, if you’ve made this Leftover Turkey Pot Pie recipe (and maybe did a double- or even a triple-batch for meal prep or freezing), but you still open that fridge door to find way too much leftover turkey still glaring at you, here are more ideas!
• Simply freeze it! Shred the turkey or dice it up, so it’s totally recipe-ready. Store it in zippered freezer bags in pre-measured amounts (like maybe 1 or 2 cups each), so you can easily pull out exactly the amount you need to quickly defrost for recipes later.
• Make treats for your pup! Our Sweet Potato and Leftover Turkey Homemade Dog Treats were specifically designed to use up (you guessed it …) leftover turkey! These are also adorable for gift-giving during the holiday season since they freeze great. You can make a batch with your leftover Thanksgiving bird, and use it to stockpile your freezer with holiday gifts for all the neighborhood doggies!
• Swap that leftover turkey into other recipes that you normally love to make with cooked chicken or store-bought rotisserie chicken. For example, our super-popular Quick & Easy Chicken Noodle Soup would work perfectly with turkey! For more ideas, peek at our complete list of Rotisserie Chicken Recipes, and try swapping in turkey instead. Leftover Thanksgiving turkey doesn’t have to be eaten with mashed potatoes and gravy! Tacos? Sure! BBQ Wraps? Hey, why not?!?
Or … you could just make more of these Cheater Pot Pies! Comfort food made easy. Leftovers used up. No more turkey sending you guilt-feelings every time you open the fridge. I’m here for you, friends. Leftover problem … solved!
Now, off you go to tackle the holiday decorating … and shopping … and cookie baking … and card writing … and gift wrapping …
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup chopped sweet onion
- 2 tablespoons flour (we use white whole wheat flour)
- 1/3 cup nonfat milk
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth (or turkey broth, see note)
- 2 1/2 cups chopped, cooked turkey (or chicken, see note)
- 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (carrot, pea, green bean and corn blend) – no need to thaw
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, divided
- 4 slices whole grain or whole wheat sandwich bread
- finely chopped parsley, optional for garnish
In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat and add onion, cooking until the onion begins to soften (about 2 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Whisk flour into milk. Slowly add milk mixture and broth to pan, whisking continuously as you do so (to avoid lumps), until the mixture is smoothly combined. Increase heat to bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, cook until slightly thickened to a gravy-like consistency (about 4-5 minutes), stirring occasionally. (You can cook it until it's slightly thicker, or slightly thinner, depending on how thick you personally want it.)
Reduce heat to medium. Add turkey, mixed vegetables, thyme, and salt. Stir to combine. Cook until vegetables are hot, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast 4 slices of bread. Remove pot pie mixture from heat and serve immediately over toast, garnishing with a little fresh parsley (if desired for a pretty presentation).
Broth: We used fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth in testing this recipe. It's hard to find reduced-sodium turkey broth, so if you'd like to use turkey broth instead of reduced-sodium chicken broth, you'll likely need to reduce the amount of kosher salt added to the recipe, to compensate for the higher level of salt in the turkey broth you're using. I recommend, in this case, that you wait to add the salt until the end of cooking, and that you add the salt a little at a time, tasting as you go to be sure you don't over-salt.
Turkey (or chicken): You can make this recipe with either leftover turkey or chicken. When we make it with chicken, we usually grab a store-bought rotisserie chicken, which is a quick and easy option, but you can also simply plan on cooking a couple of extra chicken breasts whenever you’re making chicken, so you have extra cooked chicken for this recipe without any extra work.
Make-Ahead Steps: You can make the pot pie "filling" entirely ahead and store it in the refrigerator for a day or two, until you're ready to toast the bread and serve your pot pies. Simply reheat the "filling" gently while the bread toasts, and it's ready to go.
Freezing: The "filling" also freezes well for make-ahead meal prep.