Thanksgiving Leftovers Bird Stew

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, or whichever feast you decided to indulge in! Whether you are seeing this post this year or in the future, you may be seeking tips for what to do after the feasting holiday is over. You just cannot take another day of Thanksgiving leftovers, or you need an economical way to use up those Thanksgiving scraps.

After every Thanksgiving, I “upcycle” the leftover carcasses of my family’s bird of choice, and turn it into a lush and flavorful stew filled with tender meat and vegetables. This is my favorite way to economically use leftovers, especially when there are a lot of Thanksgiving scraps.


  • Easy option for holiday leftovers
  • Easy to prepare
  • Highly versatile
  • Simple, wholesome ingredients
  • Hearty, flavorful classic
  • Perfect for chilly day
  • Ingredients are easily interchangeable
  • Soft, fluffy dumplings

Thanksgiving scraps in my Dutch oven

One of the best qualities regarding this stew is how utterly versatile it is. Nearly any bird or vegetable can be used. My family prefers to eat chicken and Cornish hen, so those birds are what go into our stew. If your family is more into turkey, use turkey instead. You may be fortunate enough to have a hunter in the family (or as a friend) that can catch you wild game such as geese, pheasants, snipes, or quail. Small game birds tend to be packed with flavor!

To cook the stew, I place the bird carcass and any leftover ingredients into a 6-quart Dutch oven. I then fill the pot with bone stock, vegetable broth, or water. Wild rice, garlic, onions, and herbs are added to create the most hearty, lip smacking, and money-saving dinner that lasts another week. The meat just melts off the bone.

Cooked Thanksgiving Leftover Bird Stew

If you feel like your stew is lacking additional meats and vegetables, add a few more drumsticks or another cup of vegetables. I love to add wild rice to my stew since it is healthy and adds a subtle nutty flavor to the broth, but you can substitute the wild rice for cooked rice or even egg noodles. Be sure to remove any lingering bones before serving the dish. The meat just melts off the bone after cooking, so it should be easy to pick out the bones and ligaments.


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Thanksgiving Leftover Bird Stew


6 Quart Dutch Oven or Slow Cooker

Large Mixing Bowls

Soup Ladle

Thanksgiving Leftovers Bird Stew

Course Main Course
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Servings 12 people


  • 5-8 lbs carcass and leftover meats from a chicken, turkey, Cornish hens, or any bird of choice 4 to 6 thighs or drumsticks can be added if necessary if you would like more meat.
  • 1 sweet onion sliced
  • 3 carrots sliced
  • 4 celery stalks sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 cups (400g) leftover vegetables such as mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, or poratoes
  • 4 tbsp Fresh Italian Seasoning, or 1 large bunch each of thyme, rosemary, and 2 sage leaves , OR 2 tbsp dried Italian seasoning, OR 2 tbsp rotisserie chicken seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves torn
  • 4 qt (6.5 pints) bone stock or water
  • 1 cup (200g) wild rice (pre soaked) or any cooked rice to be be added at the end
  • 1 cup peas
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat your oven to 250°F (120°C).

  2. Place all of the prepared onions, garlic, celery, carrots, leftover vegetables, herbs, and wild rice at the bottom of a 6qt Dutch oven. If using regular rice, save the rice for after the stew is cooked.

  3. Add the bird carcass to one side of the Dutch oven, and place additional meat on the other side of the Dutch oven.

  4. Season generously with salt and pepper.

  5. Add the bone stock or water to the Dutch oven.

  6. Cover the Dutch oven with a lid and cook the stew in the oven for five hours.

  7. After five hours, add the peas and cooked rice (if using), and cook for another fifteen minutes.

  8. Use a fork to shred the remaining meat off the bones. Carefully remove all bones from the stew.

  9. Season with additional salt or pepper to taste if needed. Allow the stew to cool for fifteen minutes before serving.

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