Get ready to “gobble” up your leftover turkey. Turkey Fried Rice may not taste like Thanksgiving dinner, but it absolutely tastes amazing thanks to hints of soy, garlic, sesame, and green onion. Use frozen vegetables and cooked rice to keep this easy leftover turkey recipe simple and quick.
Creatively cooking up leftovers has now become a feat to rival making Thanksgiving dinner itself. Thanksgiving leftover recipes run the gamut from finding ways to use up leftover turkey that aren’t sandwiches to turning pumpkin pie into new desserts worthy of The Great British Bake Off.
While I have clearly embraced cooking with leftovers at the holidays, some of my favorite “second hand meals” were simply born out of the need to rid my fridge of the containers of steamed rice that accumulate after I have my mid-week breakdown and order takeout. (Can’t have any reminders of my own fragility!)
From zesty Mexican fried rice to hangover-busting breakfast fried rice (yes, moms can still get hangovers), there is nothing easier than a stir fry of rice, veggies, protein and flavors! Yup. That’s right. My favorite ingredient – flavors! From soy, garlic, and sesame to chili, lime, and cilantro, flavors make this meal magical. That’s why having a beautiful blank canvas – like a whole carcass full of leftover turkey – is key.
Leftover Turkey Done Right!
I know we all love a sandwich made from Thanksgiving leftovers. (When else can you justify cranberry mayonnaise? Never. The answer is never.) But at some point, you have diminishing returns when you start running out of side dishes and good bread. So what to do with turkey leftovers when all you have left is white meat, white bread, and white spread?
Turkey fried rice is one of the best ways to use up leftover turkey because it relies on ingredients you more-than-likely already have on hand – onions, garlic, frozen veggies, rice, eggs, and standard seasonings and oils. No one needs another trip to the grocery store this week, of all weeks.
We also love this leftover turkey recipe because it’s EASY. And again, this week, of all weeks, you also don’t need to spend more time cooking or thinking about cooking. It’s done in 30 minutes or less!
Bottom line – while I love Thanksgiving dinner, this healthier recipe for Thanksgiving leftovers does not taste like, well, more Thanksgiving. More importantly, it doesn’t leave you feeling like more Thanksgiving.
How to Make Turkey Fried Rice Using Leftover Turkey
Use leftover turkey and cooked rice to create a flavorful Asian-inspired stir fry with frozen vegetables in just 30 minutes. Pro tip – you don’t actually need to use leftover rice, specifically. Any cooked rice that’s been cooled to room temperature will work.
- Scramble eggs to your desired consistency and set aside.
- Saute onions until translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Mix in the leftover turkey and cooked rice. Spread everything into an even layer and fry undisturbed for 5 minutes – this is the secret to really good fried rice!
- Loosen the mixture from the bottom of the pan while stirring in soy sauce.
- Add frozen vegetables and sesame oil, and saute until the vegetables are defrosted.
- Remove from heat and mix in scrambled eggs and green onion.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and serve right away.
- Rice should be completely cooked – then cooled – and dry (but not dried out) before stir frying.
- Dice leftover turkey into small pieces, just slightly larger than the vegetables, for a consistent bite.
- Allow the rice mixture to fry undisturbed in the pan for 5 minutes. It adds tons of flavor and crispy texture.
- There’s no need to defrost the vegetables before adding adding them to the skillet – the hot rice and skillet will take care of thawing them.
What’s the Best Rice for Fried Rice?
Cool, cooked leftover rice works best. But, you can definitely make rice from scratch! The most important things are that the rice needs to be cooked, DRY, and needs to be at room temperature or cooler.
If you don’t have leftover rice on hand, go ahead and make a fresh batch – we like the instant pot method. Dry cooked rice by spreading it on a flat surface (e.g. baking sheet or large plate), allowing moisture to evaporate and the temperature to come down for 10 minutes. Then, transfer to the fridge for another 15-20 minutes, until fully cooled.
What is the Secret to Good Fried Rice?
There’s a reason woks are traditionally used to make fried rice – a large pan means more surface area! There’s also a reason it’s called FRIED rice – you gotta fry it.
Spread the turkey fried rice into an even layer to increase the surface contact with the skillet and let it pan fry, undisturbed, for 4-5 minutes.
Did you make this turkey fried rice? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
30-Minute Leftover Turkey Fried RicePrint Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- Small bowl
- Rubber Spatula
- 2 tbsp butter, divided
- 3 large eggs
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp ground pepper
- 1 small white onion, about ½ cup, diced to ½”
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 c cold leftover turkey, diced into bite-sized pieces
- 3 c cold cooked rice, see Note 1
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1.5 c frozen peas, carrots, and corn
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 4 tsp sesame seeds, to garnish
- Crack the eggs into a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a 12” skillet or wok over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter and heat until it melts, then foams. Add the eggs, swirl to coat the bottom of the pan, then cook 1-2 minutes, until the edges are set. Using a rubber spatula, lightly scrape the edges towards the center to scramble the eggs. Allow to cook and set another 1-2 minutes, then scramble again. Repeat this process 1-2 times more, until the eggs are scrambled to your liking. Remove the eggs from the pan and set aside.
- Increase the heat to medium high. Add the butter and heat until it melts then foams. Add the onion, toss to coat in the fat, and saute until translucent, 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until very fragrant, about 1 minute more.
- Add the turkey and rice to the skillet and toss with the onions and garlic until well combined. Smooth the rice mixture into an even layer and fry, undisturbed, for 5 minutes.
- Pour the soy sauce over the rice, then loosen the rice from the bottom of the skillet with a wood spoon, stirring the soy sauce into the rice.
- Add the frozen vegetables and sesame oil. Work the vegetables into the rice, tossing frequently, until the vegetables are defrosted and warmed through and the rice appears dry, 2-3 minutes more.
- Remove the skillet from heat. Stir in the scrambled eggs and green onions. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve right away.