22 Recipes for Cleaning Out a Fridge of Leftovers

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

The Spruce

Many of us will go out of our way to avoid leftovers, while the rest of us served Act II of the same dinner to a table full of groaning family members. But you don't have to just reheat the same old, same old with these creative recipes that turn yesterday's meal into something entirely new. Not only does using leftovers in a fresh way keep your diners happier, it also cuts down on food waste. Give these dishes a try for cleaning out your refrigerator and feel good about helping the planet, too.

  • 01 of 22

    Brisket Hash and Eggs

    Brisket Hash and Eggs

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

    Make last night's supper, this morning's breakfast. Hashes are the perfect way to empty the fridge and throw an egg on it. Although the recipe calls for leftover barbecue brisket, you can use any brisket or protein that you have at hand, as the flavor of this cut of beef is fantastic no matter its preparation.

  • 02 of 22

    Leftover Stroganoff

    Making the most of leftovers stroganoff

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Your family will never recognize last night's chicken, beef, or pork in this scrumptious stroganoff. The creamy tomato and mushroom sauce blankets the meat and noodles in a velvety disguise that will have everyone asking for seconds.

  • 03 of 22

    Leftover Turkey Curry

    Leftover Turkey Curry

    The Spruce

    Curries have an assertive, belly-warming flavor that make the most of leftover turkey or chicken. This super simple version will get dinner on the table in under an hour. Serve it over white rice or with naan.

  • 04 of 22

    Panko-Crusted Salmon Cakes

    Panko-Crusted Salmon Cakes recipe

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    It can be difficult to revive leftover salmon, but panko-crusted cakes prove salmon can be even more delicious the next day. Combine flaked salmon with egg, green onions, and fresh herbs, then coat the individual cakes in panko for an extra crispy exterior. You can grate any carrots or potatoes on hand to add to the mixture as well.

    Continue to 5 of 22 below.
  • 05 of 22

    Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

    Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

     The Spruce

    Take leftover ground beef (or any other protein you may have on hand) along with cabbage and turn it into a budget-friendly dinner that's anything, but sad. This pot of unstuffed cabbage rolls takes the traditional dish and makes it not only easier, but faster with less mess as well. Serve it with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt for a cool finish.

  • 06 of 22

    Classic Roasted Vegetable Quiche

    Classic Roasted Vegetable Quiche

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    Although this roasted vegetable quiche calls for tomato, bell pepper, asparagus, and butternut squash, you can combine whatever veggies you like. This is a scrumptious solution for using up produce turning bad or if you feel overwhelmed by your latest CSA box.

  • 07 of 22

    Leftover Vegetable Soup

    Leftover-Vegetable Soup

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

    Instead of tossing those vegetables slowly dying in your crisper, turn them into a delicious veggie soup. If you have homemade stock, that makes a fabulous start. If not, the store-bought kind will do too. Serve with crusty bread for dipping.

  • 08 of 22

    Steak Pot Pie with Vegetables

    Leftover Steak Pot Pies With Vegetables
    The Spruce.

    A meatier answer to the classic chicken pot pie, this one comes chock full of vegetables and cubed leftover beef. You can also use chicken, turkey, or even pork if you don't have beef, for a different flavor.

    Continue to 9 of 22 below.
  • 09 of 22



    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

    Fattoush, a popular salad in Middle Eastern cuisine, is similar to Italy's Panzanella salad, which is a bread salad made with toasted croutons. Panzanella is frequently made with hunks of sourdough, while fattoush typically uses pita bread, but there are no hard and fast rules. Use what you have and make it your own adventure.

  • 10 of 22

    Turkey Pizza

    Leftover Thanksgiving turkey pizza

    The Spruce Eats / Katarina Zunic

    Some families order pizza the day after Thanksgiving, especially if they didn't host the big dinner and don't have extras. Combine the two traditions by turning your turkey into a tasty pizza with an easy homemade crust.

  • 11 of 22

    Beef or Lamb Shepherd's Pie

    Shepherd's Pie Recipe With Beef or Lamb

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    One of the classic leftover recipes, shepherd's pie always hits the spot. Use either leftover beef, lamb, or a combination if you have both in this hearty, warming baked casserole.

  • 12 of 22

    Chicken Stir Fry with Bell Peppers

    Chicken stir fry with bell peppers recipe

    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

    Turn chicken thighs into this speedy stir fry that adds bell pepper strips, baby corn, and a soy sauce glaze into a Chinese takeout-inspired meal. You can also swap out the chicken for turkey or even strips of pork chops or flank steak.

    Continue to 13 of 22 below.
  • 13 of 22

    Corned Beef Hash

    Corned Beef Hash With Cabbage and Carrots
    Photo: Diana Rattray

    After your St. Patrick's Day corned beef dinner, chop up the leftovers and make this hearty corned beef and cabbage hash that adds carrots for flavor and potatoes for extra oomph. A fried egg over the top would make a showstopper brunch.

  • 14 of 22

    Chaufa Rice

    Chaufa Rice

    The Spruce/Nyssa Tanner

    The Chinese-Peruvian fusion version of fried rice uses leftover white rice and just about any protein: Chicken, pork, or even hot dogs works. You can also leave out the meat for a vegetarian version of a real fridge-cleaning meal.

  • 15 of 22

    Pulled Pork Biscuit Cups

    Pulled Pork BBQ Cups
    Diana Rattray

    Pulled pork usually makes a giant portion, so use the leftovers to make these cute and tasty barbecue biscuit cups. They use refrigerated biscuits as their base, making them a speedy supper or game-day snack. You can also use barbecued beef, if you have that instead.

  • 16 of 22

    Leftover Rice Pudding

    Rice Pudding With Leftover Rice

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

    Turn a former dinner side into a hearty dessert with this cinnamon-scented rice pudding. You probably have the ingredients for this simple dish on hand already. Pop it in the oven while you eat, then enjoy it warm after dinner.

    Continue to 17 of 22 below.
  • 17 of 22

    Boxty Potato Cakes

    Irish Potato Cakes recipe

    The Spruce

    These filling Irish potato pancakes use both freshly grated and cooked mashed potatoes, a perfect way to use up leftover spuds. Serve them as a side dish with a sprinkling of powdered sugar or a pat of butter, or as a breakfast dish with a side of sausage, bacon, and eggs.

  • 18 of 22

    Turkey Boudin Balls

    Turkey boudin balls

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

    Leftover turkey, rice, and a whole slew of spices give these cajun boudin balls wonderful flavor. Don't get intimidated by the list of ingredients. Once you gather the goods, they really just need forming and frying.

  • 19 of 22

    Crock Pot Turkey Barley Soup

    Turkey barley soup recipe

    The Spruce Eats / Katarina Zunic

    This hearty, whole-grain barley soup simmers in your slow cooker until dinnertime, freeing you up for other things. Leftover turkey or chicken both work in this recipe, as do just about any vegetables you need to get out of the fridge.

  • 20 of 22

    Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole

    Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

    Starting with either a rotisserie chicken or leftover cubed chicken and microwave rice or leftover cooked rice means this easy casserole can use up a variety of extras. An easy cheddar cheese sauce adds gooey comfort food flavor.

    Continue to 21 of 22 below.
  • 21 of 22

    Easy Crock Pot Chicken and Corn Chowder

    Crock pot chicken and corn chowder

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

    Toss together leftover chicken, frozen corn, stock, a couple cans of condensed soup, and any other leftover veggies you lying around for a warm bowl of chicken and corn chowder that feeds the soul. Throw it all in your slow cooker, so dinner prepares itself.

  • 22 of 22

    Crispy Potato Patties Recipe

    Crispy Potato Patties

    The Spruce Eats

    Leftover mashed potatoes aren't very good if you just reheat them and serve them as is. Potato patties are a great way to use up this ingredient to make another recipe that is crisp, hot, and delicious. You can sub in sweet potato or root vegetable as well.