Regardless of the size of your Thanksgiving gathering, one thing is always true: There will be leftovers. Some people, like my husband’s family, like the leftovers almost as much as the dinner themselves and roast the largest turkey they can so that there can be days of turkey sandwiches. Me? I tire quickly of eating the same foods, but what I do enjoy is making them over into something new and equally delicious.
Turkey pot pie is one of those magical makeovers: If you made turkey, gravy, pie, and anything with herbs and mirepoix, then you actually have all the ingredients you’ll need to make a fresh-tasting dinner that’s just as good as the Thanksgiving meal itself.
Here’s how to make this American classic, plus some tips on saving time with the prep (because you’ll probably be burned out with cooking after turkey day).
How to Make Turkey Pot Pie
This version of turkey pot pie is baked in a cast iron skillet (or any straight-sided large skillet) so that you can cook the filling in the pan on the stovetop, then continue baking right in the same pan. If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, you can make the filling in a frying pan and pour it into a baking dish before topping with the crust and baking.
The filling starts with sautéing carrots, onions, and celery with a little thyme, then building a white sauce with some butter, flour, and a combination of broth and milk. Cooked turkey and a big handful of frozen peas get stirred into the filling before it’s topped with a pie crust, and a few slits are cut into the crust to let some of the steam vent out. Since the filling is already cooked, the pot pie just needs to bake until bubbling and the crust is golden-brown, about 20 minutes.
Tips for Prepping Ahead
My absolute favorite part of making turkey pot pie is that you don’t really have to buy any ingredients that you wouldn’t already be getting for Thanksgiving. It also means that if you have the time, you can prep a lot of the ingredients at the same time you’re already prepping for Thanksgiving dinner.
Veggies and herbs: Dice up extra onion, carrot, and celery when you’re prepping them for stuffing or stock; pick some fresh thyme leaves or feel free to just use dried thyme instead.
Broth: If you’re already making turkey broth for gravy, set aside 1 1/2 cups, or plan to turn that roast turkey carcass into stock the day after Thanksgiving. It’s also OK to just pick up some store-bought chicken broth.
Pie crust: Make an extra pie crust if you’re going the homemade route for your dessert pies, and refrigerate or freeze it until you’re ready for pot pie. If you hate making pie crust, just add another refrigerated store-bought crust to the shopping list.
Turkey: Turkey shreds best when it’s still warm, so shred three cups right after Thanksgiving dinner and pack it away (and label it!) separately from the rest of the turkey. That way, you know you have enough stashed away for pot pie and everyone can eat the remaining turkey however they want.
If you get all these components taken care of, it’s amazing how quickly turkey pot pie can get onto the dinner table. But even if you have to do some chopping and prepping, it’s worth it to turn all these Thanksgiving ingredients and leftovers into a warming dinner that everyone will look forward to.
Who knows? They may even request turkey pot pie again when it’s nowhere close to Thanksgiving.
Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Pot Pie
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 12 ounces boneless, skinless cooked turkey, shredded or diced (about 3 cups)
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)
- 2 small or 1 1/2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise (about 3/4 cup)
- 2 small or 1 1/2 medium stalks celery, thinly sliced crosswise (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, or 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups low-sodium turkey or chicken broth
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole or 2 percent milk, plus more for brushing
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1 store-bought or homemade pie crust, thawed if frozen
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron or oven-safe straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
Sprinkle in the all-purpose flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the chicken or turkey broth, milk, kosher salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until it comes to a simmer and starts to thicken. Let simmer for 2 minutes more.
Remove the pan from the heat. Add the turkey and frozen peas and stir to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed.
If needed, roll out the pie dough into a round about 10 inches in diameter. Transfer over the filling. Brush with a thin layer of milk. Use a sharp knife to cut 4 (1-inch) slits in the top of the crust to vent.
Bake until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden-brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
Baking in a baking dish: If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, make the filling in a large frying pan, then transfer to an 8 or 9-inch square baking dish. Proceed with topping with the pie dough and baking.
Make ahead: The filling can be made up to two days ahead without the peas and refrigerated. Reheat in the skillet until warmed through, stir in the peas, and proceed with topping with the pie crust and baking.
Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to four days.