Thanksgiving day is finally here and you’ve been cooking for days! The meal was a feast and a huge success! And now you have all these leftovers to serve over the next few days. Let’s review how to reheat all your Thanksgiving side dishes!
I think the Thanksgiving feast is one of the most delicious meals on earth! And I adore the leftovers! I plan for leftovers! We will eat them for days! I love them just like they are, and I love to remake them into totally other things, too! Think sweet potato pancakes or Thanksgiving leftover eggrolls! The possibilities are nearly endless and so are the flavors! But sometimes, you just want to reheat the leftovers and have them again, just the way they were at your Thanksgiving feast! And that’s what this article is all about! This is your total guide to how to reheat all your Thanksgiving side dishes!
First and foremost, you want to make sure you put up your food in a timely fashion. You can’t let it sit out for hours and hours, that’s just not safe. Your Thanksgiving dinner was amazing, you went through a lot of stress to make it, so don’t let the leftovers spoil by staying out too long! The best recommendation and magic number is 2 hours. After that, you’d need to throw your food away because harmful bacteria have had a chance to grow, and we don’t want that. So within two hours, make sure you put your precious Thanksgiving leftovers in the fridge. We like to put our food up before dessert for our celebration!
For the best food safety, you’ll want to keep your leftovers in airtight containers in the refrigerator. That’s to keep them fresh and also to keep their smells to themselves. I love Thanksgiving sides but I don’t want my refrigerator to smell like them until the end of time. Airtight container to the rescue! Bonus points if you have a microwave-safe container for some of the leftovers! That way you can just warm them upright in their storage container!
I like to get all of my containers out and available on the morning of Thanksgiving so I’m not diving and searching for lids and pieces and parts when I’m trying to put the food up later. An even better move? Get some of these to-go containers that can just be tossed when you are done. They are great for sending leftovers with loved ones because they don’t need to return them!
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Here is all the handy equipment you might find handy for reheating all your Thanksgiving sides!
- 9×13 baking casserole dish – I have this dish and I adore it because it comes with the lid that fits it. No more fooling with aluminum foil or plastic wrap! Plus it keeps the smells of your dish inside the dish and not in your refrigerator as foil and plastic wrap do!
- Large non-stick skillet – I like this one because it comes with a lid. If I’m going to buy a pan or pot I like to have as many options to use it as possible!
- Baking Sheets – These Nordic Ware natural aluminum commercial baker’s half sheets are my absolute favorite baking sheets I’ve ever owned in my cooking days! They are super heavy-duty, have a great rim around them, and stay in great shape no matter what you cook on them. And they clean up incredibly easily as well!
- Potato Masher – This is the one I use time and time again. I love anything that’s the OXO Good Grips brand, and this potato masher is no different!
- Oven Mitts – This is a heavy and hot dish! Make sure you have good oven mitts to protect your hands!
- Flat Whisk – I adore this OXO Good Grips Flat Whisk. If I couldn’t have anything else in the kitchen, THIS is the gadget I’d keep. It’s the best whisk I’ve ever had and the flat part of the design is such a game-changer for making things in the pan! I could not recommend this more! This is the only brand I’ve ever had, and I’m a big fan of all the OXO products.
- Woven Basket Serving Trays – This is a basket to hold your glass pan. It holds your hot pan for you while you transport it to the table, and then serves as a trivet to keep your hot dish from burning the table as well.
- Parchment Paper Sheets – This is parchment paper that’s already cut for you! And it is the size of a half-baking sheet pan, which is absolutely perfect!
- Spatula Set – This is the greatest set ever. Not only does it have several handy spatulas, it has a few tiny ones too, to help you get every single scrape out of jars and containers!
- Glass Mixing Bowls – This is a nesting set of glass bowls. I find I can’t have enough glass bowls in my kitchen!
- Bamboo Spoon Set – I love to use Bamboo spoons for cooking and stirring in the kitchen! They come in so many shapes and sizes that are just perfect for every kitchen job!
- Plastic Wrap Dispenser with Cutter – I used to hate using plastic wrap. It was always a pain to cut and got stuck to itself! Now with this dispenser, it’s so easy and much less stressful!
The Main Event
Let’s talk leftover turkey!! First of all, leftover Thanksgiving turkey is good warm, at room temperature, or even cold, in my opinion! I’ll take roasted turkey any way I can get it! Cold turkey is great for a sandwich! If you are wanting to reheat the turkey leftovers though, my favorite way and I think the easy way, is to get a baking dish and line it with aluminum foil. Put the slices of turkey that you want to reheat in the dish and pour a little turkey stock (Chicken stock works, too!) over the meat. Cover it with foil and stick it in the oven at 350* for about 15-20 minutes. Keeping the turkey covered and adding the turkey stock will let the turkey reheat and stay as moist and delicious as it was when you served it!
If your turkey comes out of the oven and it’s way too dry and overcooked, all is not lost! Turkey stock is your new best friend! Go ahead and slice your turkey and put it all in a casserole dish and pour on a good amount of turkey stock and let it warm together in the oven. It’ll make your turkey meat way better and juicier almost immediately!
The whole turkey is great and all – but we all know the real magic is in the Thanksgiving side dishes! If you want to remake your turkey day leftovers entirely, check out this post for Thanksgiving Leftover Lovin’. It’s all about the different things you can do with all your leftover side dishes to remake them and give them all new flavors and life!
For the rest of your sides, let’s focus on how to reheat all these scrumptious treasures after the big day and keep them exactly as delicious (if not more so!) as they were at Thanksgiving dinner! For this task, you’ll make the oven and the microwave oven your best friends! All you need is 20-30 minutes and you’ll have a magical meal all over again!
A great way to warm up your dressing is to cut it into large chunks and put it back in the oven to warm up. It’ll dry out in the microwave, so this is definitely a job for the oven. You’ll want to heat at medium heat around 350* for about 20-30 minutes. I like to use a glass baking dish and I like to also sprinkle a little bit of turkey stock over the stuffing to keep it nice and moist while it’s heating up. If you don’t want it to get too brown on the top, you can cover it with an aluminum foil cover. We have cornbread stuffing and I love the crunchy edges it gets when it reheats in the oven.
If you are heating up simple mashed sweet potatoes, I’ll do those on the stovetop in a saucepan! I like to let them warm up over low heat and I’ll use a little bit of milk and maybe even a splash of maple syrup to thin the potatoes out enough to warm up in the pan. They’ll need a little extra liquid to get back to a fluffy mashed sweet potato texture!
Sweet Potato Casserole
If your sweet potatoes are in the form of a casserole (be still my heart, I do love a sweet potato casserole!), then you’ll want to reheat it in the oven. Kind of like the leftover dressing and stuffing, I think it’s easier to cut it up into smaller chunks and then let it warm up in the oven. And you better believe that at the end of the warming up, I’m putting on an entirely new layer of marshmallows and broiling it to brown them on top. Because what are you even doing if you don’t add new extra marshmallows?
How I adore leftover mashed potatoes! I heat them up on the stovetop in a nice sturdy saucepan. I’d add a little milk and a little extra butter to help them thin out a smidge and make them magical all over again. And heating these up on the stovetop saves some precious oven space too!
We generally have both a green bean casserole and then just plain green beans. Don’t ask me why — it’s tradition and I don’t question tradition! Besides, I’m a much bigger fan of just plain old green beans anyway, so I’m delighted to have them! And they are super easy to warm up. You can totally warm them up in the microwave in a microwave-safe container, or you can also heat them up in a saucepan or skillet on the stove. Just add a little chicken broth or water to the saucepan and let them heat up.
Green Bean Casserole
To reheat a green bean casserole, I generally just put the entire thing back in the oven to reheat. You may need to transfer it to a smaller glass or ceramic dish so that it fits and doesn’t have a huge amount of empty space in the dish. That’s not good for your cookware, plus green bean casserole will run all over the place.
My favorite thing to do is spoon it all into a smaller dish that fits the leftovers, add new crunchy onions on top, and then bake it in the oven at 350* until it’s heated back up and bubbly. This will take around 30ish minutes if not a little longer since we are starting with the cold casserole.
To reheat Brussels sprouts, no matter how they were cooked the first time, I like to spread them out in an even layer on a baking sheet and let them roast and reheat in the oven. If there isn’t anything else in the oven to compete, I like to roast them for 10-15 minutes at 400*. If there are other dishes in the oven, the Brussels can go in the oven at 350* with that stuff and just let them cook a little longer. Reheated brussels sprouts are really tasty treats, especially when they get a little roasted crunch on them!!
Much the same as the Brussels sprouts, reheating roasted vegetables is a breeze. Just spread them out on a foil-lined baking sheet and let them roast and heat up in the oven at 400*. They can also go lower at 350* if you are heating up other dishes, too! You are just re-warming these and letting them plump back up and caramelize as they bake. Yum yum yum yum yum.
(You could totally microwave these to heat them up too! But I think you get a little extra flavor and magic with the re-heating in the oven!)
I’m a big fan of cranberry sauce. And I love it with turkey and sides! Lots of people serve their cranberry sauce at room temperature. And if that’s your preference, good for you. Just let it sit out and come to temp while you heat up all the other stuff.
But, I like my cranberry sauce warm. So I’ll heat it up on the stovetop in a small saucepan. If it needs thinning out, I like to add some maple syrup. The syrup thins it out when needed and just punches up the flavor even more and sweetens things up!
Leftover rolls are a delight. Wrap them in foil and let them heat right back up in the oven. You don’t want them to brown or get crunchy, so just give them a good wrap in foil and enjoy the warm deliciousness a second time!
I have never served pumpkin pie warm to begin with, so I’m not a pumpkin pie reheating expert. But I would suggest simply putting a slice at a time on a microwave-safe plate and just quickly warming it in the oven. I think most people eat their pumpkin pie at room temperature or even cold. I know this is blasphemy, but I’m not a pumpkin pie girl!
Pecan pie is the superstar of the Thanksgiving dessert table in my opinion! You can eat it warm, cold or at room temperature. For me, it has to be warm, and I’m going to want a delightful scoop of vanilla ice cream on top! To warm pecan pie, I just put a slice in a bowl or on a plate and warm it up in the microwave a slice at a time.
Apple pie can be eaten cold, at room temperature, or warmed up, too! Just the same as pecan pie, for me, I’m wanting it warm and with a little ice cream! I like to reheat it by the slice in a bowl or plate in the microwave. It’s so good at any temperature, but warm apple pie is just pure magic in the world.
Wrap-Up – How to Reheat All Your Thanksgiving Side Dishes
Thanksgiving leftovers are some of the best things in life. Seriously, reheating that main course and having it again and again until the leftovers are all done is just a tradition that makes the holiday that much more special. I adore the smells on Thanksgiving morning and I love that as you reheat all the food and leftovers you get those smells again and again. There’s nothing better than a dinner table full of leftovers!! Especially when I get a plate of leftovers! This is a wonderful time of year and a great way to give thanks is to reheat and reuse all your leftover food!