Leftover Turkey Panini (Thanksgiving Panini)

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Leftover Turkey Panini is packed with layers of juicy turkey, tangy cranberry sauce, and melted cheese. This panini sandwich will revolutionize the way you enjoy those Thanksgiving leftovers.

A stacked leftover Turkey Panini on a wooden cutting board.


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This Leftover Turkey Panini is not just a sandwich; it’s a celebration of flavors, convenience, and creativity. In just 15 minutes, you can transform those post-holiday ingredients into a family friendly favorite that’s easy to prepare and completely adaptable to your preferences.

If you’re looking for more Thanksgiving inspired recipes, try these Sausage Apple Cranberry Stuffing, Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes and Pumpkin Bars Recipe.

A panini press to make the sandwich.

Why We Love Thanksgiving Recipes for Leftovers

Thanksgiving recipes for leftovers are a culinary gift that keeps on giving, offering you the chance to savor the flavors of the holiday feast all over again. Not only do these recipes help reduce food waste, but they also provide easy, make ahead solutions for post-holiday dining.

  • 15 Minute Meal: In just 15 minutes, you can enjoy a warm, crispy sandwich packed with Thanksgiving goodness. Make with or without a panini grill.
  • Easy Ingredients: Since you’re using leftovers, you already have everything you need at hand, so perfect with the succulent chicken and the cheese is melted!
  • Family is Going to Love: Kids can be picky, but they’ll love this panini! The combination of flavors and textures are a hit with little ones! The grilled turkey paninis can be made like a grilled cheese. You’ll love the versatility.

Ingredients Used for Easy Turkey Panini Recipe

The bread, stuffing and cranberry sauce for the sandwich.
  • Bread: 2 slices of Italian Bread are used in this recipe, but feel free to use your favorite bread like focaccia.
  • Butter: Butter, salted or unsalted, works perfectly for giving your panini that irresistible crunch and flavor.
  • Sliced Turkey Breast: Turkey meat from Thanksgiving works perfectly, but you can also use rotisserie chicken if you wish.
  • Stuffing: If you have leftover stuffing, it’s a great way to use it up and add a delightful, savory element to your panini.
  • Cranberry Sauce: Whether store-bought or homemade, cranberry sauce adds a sweet and tangy touch that elevates the sandwich.
  • Cheese: American cheese is a classic choice for its excellent melting properties. But use pepper jack cheese or whatever you want.
  • Gravy: Use leftover gravy for an extra burst of flavor, or simply make a quick homemade version to make sandwiches.

See the recipe card below for a complete list of the ingredients with measurements and the full recipe.

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Variations and Substitutions for this Easy Sandwich Recipe

From ingredient swaps to flavor enhancements, discover how to tailor your panini to your exact cravings and culinary preferences. Golden brown and so scrumptious.

  • Mayo: Swap out the butter for mayo if you prefer a creamier texture.
  • Add Veggies: Enhance the nutritional value and taste of your panini by adding vegetables like tomato slices, spinach, roasted red peppers, or mushrooms.
  • Different Cheese: Experiment with your choice of cheese, such as cheddar, provolone, gruyere, swiss, pepper jack or your favorite cheese slices.
  • Bacon: For those who crave extra meaty flavor, bacon is a delicious addition to your panini.
  • Turkey and Pesto Panini: Basil pesto is a wonderful flavor to add to this turkey melt recipe. Turkey pesto panini recipe is one of the favorite leftover turkey recipes. Make with smoked turkey breast, flavorful pesto and melty cheese.

How to Make The Best Turkey Sandwich

These are the basic steps for making The Best Turkey Sandwich. Refer to the full, printable recipe card below for detailed instructions and nutrition information.

Step 1: Prep

Begin by heating up a panini press or skillet. Grab your bread and butter on side of each piece. Then spread mayo on the other side of each piece. Take one slice of bread and place it, butter side down, onto the hot panini press or skillet.

Step 2: Assemble Panini

Take some slices of leftover turkey and place them on top of the bread in the skillet. Then add a generous spoonful of cranberry sauce. Next, layer on some stuffing and then finish it off with some cheese and the second piece of bread.

Step 3: Ready to Grill and Press the Sandwich

Grill the sandwich until both sides are crispy. Make sure to press down the sandwich while it cooks. Reheat the gravy and use it to dip your sandwich in.

Recipe Frequently Asked Questions to Make a Turkey Panini

Yes, you can absolutely use chicken instead of turkey for this panini. It’ll still turn out delicious!

Leftover turkey is safe to eat for 3-4 days when stored in the refrigerator. If you have more leftovers to use up, this panini is the perfect solution.

The best bread for panini sandwiches is typically Italian bread or ciabatta bread. These breads have the ideal combination of a crispy crust and a soft interior, making them perfect for achieving that classic panini crunch. Also try a healthy sourdough bread.

Certainly, deli turkey works well in this recipe if you don’t have leftover Thanksgiving turkey on hand. The combination of simple turkey and cheese of any kind is always a hit with this amazing recipe.

Leftover-Turkey-panini sandwich.

Expert Tips for Making This Recipe for a Melty Turkey Panini

Elevate your panini-making game with these expert tips that will take your sandwiches from good to gourmet. Whether you’re a panini pro or a novice, these insights and tricks will help you achieve that perfect turkey panini.

  • Don’t Have a Panini Maker If you don’t have a panini press, no problem just use a grill pan or cast iron skillet, place a second heavy pan or skillet on top of the sandwich to press it and achieve that perfect crispy exterior.
  • Fruity Twist: For a fruity twist, add some apple slices to your panini for a sweet and refreshing touch to the tasty turkey sandwich.
  • Avocado: Is a wonderful healthy fat to add to this recipe or try artichoke hearts for the best panini.
  • Condiments: Don’t forget to spread some mustard on your panini for an extra zing of flavor to the delicious turkey sandwich.

What to Serve with Leftover Turkey Panini (Thanksgiving Panini)

A stacked leftover Turkey Panini on a wooden cutting board.
5 from 8 votes

Leftover Turkey Panini

Yield: 1 sandwich
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
This leftover Turkey Panini is a great way to use up leftovers from Thanksgiving or Christmas that the whole family will love.  With layers of leftovers smooshed into a crispy sandwich, this sandwich has it all!
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  • 2 slices Thick bread, I use Italian sandwich bread
  • 2 tablespoons Butter
  • 2 tablespoons Mayonnaise
  • cup Leftover turkey
  • leftover stuffing
  • cranberry sauce
  • American cheese
  • leftover gravy


  • Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread.
  • Spread mayo on the other side.
  • Place once slice of bread, butter side down, onto a panini press or hot skillet.
  • Top with slices of leftover turkey.
  • Spread a spoonfull (or two) of cranberry sauce on top of the turkey.
  • Place a layer of stuffing on top of the cranberry sauce.
  • Top with cheese.
  • Place remaining slice of bread, mayo side down, on top.
  • Grill until toasted on both sides.
  • Use a sandwich press (or a plate and sauce pan) to press down on the sandwich while it’s cooking.
  • While the sandwich is cooking, reheat the gravy.
  • Slice the sandwich in half and serve. Use the gravy as a dip.

Expert Tips

  • Add Vegetables: Try adding a little veget to your panini with tomatoes, tomato slices really brighten the meal or try spinach, pepper or mushrooms.
  • Different Bread: Feel free to try ciabatta rolls, sourdough bread or other hardy bread slices.
  • Different Cheese: Provolone cheese, sharp cheddar or whatever you have.
  • Deli Turkey: Sliced turkey from the deli can be a great replacement.

Estimated Nutritional Information

Calories: 151kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 291mg | Potassium: 102mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 2mg
The nutritional information provided are estimates. To learn more about how I calculate this information go to www.itisakeeper.com/about-its-a-keeper/privacy-disclosure-policies/
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Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American

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