3 Easy Slow Cooker Recipes for Your Leftover Turkey

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Leftover turkey soup is made in the slow cooker with the help of flavor-boosters like lemon, thyme, bay leaves, and leftover wine. [Photographs: Jennifer Olvera]

Nobody feels like cooking full meals the day after Thanksgiving, which is where leftovers come in. But you don't have to stick with the same old reheat-eat-repeat. By letting your slow cooker do most of the work for you, you can take those leftovers and transform them into brand new dishes with just a little bit of time and effort on your part. Here are three of my favorite recipes.

Slow Cooker Turkey Soup With Lemon and Cous Cous

Stuffed with turkey and ready to catch that afternoon nap? Go ahead, but before you hit the sack for the night, throw together this easy turkey, lemon, and couscous soup for pitch-perfect next-day comfort food.

All it takes is a quick sauté of some chopped mirepoix (read: carrots, onions, and celery), some chicken or turkey stock, bay leaves, thyme, some lemon, and some leftover wine or—gasp!—flat Champagne. A dash of poultry seasoning and Worcestershire sauce round out the profile of the broth. Throw in some Israeli couscous at the end just to cook through and you're ready for lunch.

Get the recipe for Slow-Cooker Turkey Soup With Lemon and Cous Cous »

Slow Cooker Turkey Chile Verde

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Turkey gets a second wind in this slow cooker chile verde.

With this green chili recipe, you'll barely recognize that old bird. It's made with a salsa verde base containing tomatillos, serrano peppers, onions, and garlic that are blasted under the broiler (of course, if you want to make this even easier still, you can go ahead and replace the purée with your favorite jarred brand of salsa verde. You'll need 2 to 2 1/2 cups of it). It's given backbone by ancho powder, smokiness courtesy of cumin, and aromatics by way of oregano.

After a few hours of cooking, the whole shebang is thickened with a little cornmeal and a can of white beans is tossed into the mix. An hour later, top it with all of the fixings—cilantro, sour cream, red onions and pepper jack cheese. Finish it with a shower of crumbled tortilla chips and a squeeze of lime and you're good to go.

Get the recipe for Slow Cooker Turkey Chili Verde »

Slow Cooker Turkey and Andouille Gumbo

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Slow cooker gumbo made with leftover turkey and andouille is built on the foundation of a stovetop roux.

This turkey gumbo turns leftover meat into a smoky, comforting day-after meal. The most time consuming part is sautéing the vegetables and making the roux. I'd suggest handling the former, which includes onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic, while you're prepping stuffing ingredients the day before. Then just refrigerate the chopped vegetables until you're ready to make the gumbo. As for the roux, you'll need to cook it on the stove until it turns toasty and fragrant; this involves continuous stirring, and it takes about 20 minutes. I know, I know—20 minutes of work for a slow cooker recipe? Trust me (and everyone in the state of Louisiana), a good roux takes a little time.

After that, good news it's essentially hands-off. Just drop it in the slow cooker and let it do the work for you. Worcestershire sauce provides savory depth, Louisiana-style hot sauce offers heat and tang, bay leaves and thyme give it more complexity, and its signature flavor arrives courtesy of smoked sausage, Cajun seasoning and cayenne pepper.

Get the recipe for Slow Cooker Turkey and Andouille Gumbo »