Don’t let that leftover turkey go to waste! Turkey leftovers mac n’ cheese is amazing and even better with a crusty stuffing top!
Which type of Thanksgiving host are you? Do you cook just enough turkey at Thanksgiving so everyone has a chance to grab seconds, or do you make so much turkey that not having leftovers isn’t even an option? Dammit, people will go home with ziplock bags packed with turkey leftovers and you’ll be using it as lunch and dinner for the next week!
To be honest I’m not a big fan of leftover anything unless it’s Chinese or Indian food. I think the flavors seem even better the next day but I can do an extra day or two of turkey. The question is, what do we do with it? Easy…we make mac and cheese! Because good old macaroni can be manipulated in so many unique ways and it always still tastes amazing!
If you need proof, you can make this creamy mac and cheese with chunks of turkey and tarragon mixed through it. And I’m sure you’ll have some leftover stuffing as well so that’s what’s going on top of the mac to give it that savory crunchy crust.
Making the mac and cheese with turkey leftovers.
Mac and cheese is one of those recipes I think everyone needs to know how to make. Making it from scratch is the only way to go and that means learning how to make a béchamel sauce. You can see my step by step directions in this post on how to make the best béchamel sauce.
This starts with a roux which is equal parts butter, melted and flour. Stir them together and gradually add warm whole milk. Bring it to a simmer and cook until the raw flour taste has disappeared. Season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg and your sauce is ready to embrace the cheese.
This is where things get fun, be adventurous with the choices of cheese because this is where your mac and cheese will taste the way it does when it reaches the table. I usually use three kinds of cheese, a sharp cheddar, a Colby or a Monterey Jack and maybe some Parmesan. Don’t stop there. Brie, Gorgonzola, smoked Gouda, goat cheese, Manchego are all good options for mac and cheese, so go cheese crazy!
Adding the cheese to the bechamel sauce.
This is an important step to watch because as soon as you add the cheese the sauce will thicken up and remember, it also has to be mixed with sticky starchy pasta which will thicken things up even more and we don’t want that.
After the cheese has been added, it’s a good idea to add more milk. This will bring the consistency back to a sauce and not a gloopy thickness. I like my mac and cheese creamy!
Once you’re happy with the consistency, add the cheese sauce to the pasta and toss it together. Sprinkle on whatever topping your using and bake it in the oven till golden and bubbling. Traditionally breadcrumbs are used but we can get creative with the topping too. Fresh herbs like this rosemary version are fantastic and this pot pie crust from last year is another awesome idea.
FAQ’s about this recipe
I’d say it doesn’t really matter, I used cornbread stuffing but any regular bread stuffing would be fine to use. It’s stuffing guys and it already tastes great, right? By adding it to creamy, cheesy macaroni are we really making something here that’s not going to taste good?
Yes although I recommend using a tubular pasta and not spaghetti.
Easily in the microwave making sure to cover it with a paper towel or plastic wrap.
Yes, the dark meat has much more flavor so mixing them is a great idea.
As with any Mac and cheese, pasta and cheese are definitely filling so a little goes a long way and this will easily feed a whole family.
more mac and cheese recipes
Stuffing Topped Mac and Cheese with Turkey Leftovers
- 3 cups dry elbow macaroni pasta
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 3 ½ cups whole milk, warm divided
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
- 3 cups extra sharp cheddar grated
- 3 cups Monterey Jack grated
- 3 cups cooked turkey chopped
- 1 tbsp dried tarragon
- 3 cups leftover stuffing
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with non stick spray.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta as directed on the package. Drain and set aside.
- In a large 10-12 inch pan, melt the butter over a medium heat.
- Add the flour to the melted butter and stir with a whisk for 2-3 minutes.
- Gradually add two cups of the warm milk in ½ cup steps making sure to whisk well after each addition of milk and making sure there are no lumps before adding more milk.
- Once the two cups of milk have been added, simmer the sauce over a low heat for about 5 minutes stirring well.
- Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg and stir.
- Add the grated cheddar and stir until melted and repeat with the Monterey Jack.
- Gradually add in the remaining 1 ½ cups of warm milk and bring back to a simmer until thick but still a pourable consistency.
- Place the cooked elbow pasta into the prepared 9×13 pan and pour
- Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and the turkey and dried tarragon. Mix well.
- Using your fingers crumble the stuffing over the mac and cheese.
- Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes and the cheese is bubbling around the edges and the stuffing is turning golden.