How to Can Thanksgiving Leftovers

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Author of Be Ready for Anything and Build a Better Pantry on a Budget online course

An added bonus to the Thanksgiving holiday feast is the boon that it can give to your pantry. If you have some jars and fresh lids, your kitchen already contains everything you need to add an abundant amount of food to your stockpile!

Turkey, veggies, and cranberry sauce will all make beautiful additions to your home-canned goods. Use these recipes as a guideline to adapt what you have left over to nutritious homemade meals in jars.

Canning Turkey

After a few meals of roast turkey, remove most of the meat from the bones and place it in the refrigerator. You’ll be left with a rather desolate-looking carcass. Put that in your crockpot along with the reserved neck and giblets (if you didn’t use those for gravy). Add some veggies from the holiday snack tray – carrots, peppers, and celery are great additions!  Add a couple of tablespoons of salt, a head of garlic and 4-6 onions. Note: there’s no need to peel the garlic and onions as long as they are organic – just wash them well. Fill the crockpot with water and add your favorite spices (not sage – it tastes terrible when canned). I used whole peppercorns, salt, oregano and bay leaves.

Put the crockpot on low for 12-14 hours and let it simmer undisturbed overnight. Zzzzzz……

The next day, strain the contents of the crockpot into a large container – I use a big soup pot and a metal colander. After allowing the bones to cool remove any meat that you would like to add to your soup. I always give our dog a big treat – a bowl of turkey with gristle, fat, and skin. (She’s a little on the skinny side because she runs constantly when she’s outside so I think that the occasional fat intake is good for her.) She also likes the mushy carrots.

Take all of the meat that you put in the refrigerator the night before and cut it into bite-sized pieces. I like a mixture of light meat and dark meat for this purpose. Also cut up the meat you removed from the crockpot.

Place approximately 1 cup of turkey in each of your sanitized jars. (I ended up with about a cup and a half in each jar.) Add 1-2 cloves of garlic to the jars.

You will have a rich, dark beautiful stock from the overnight crockpot project. Ladle this into the jars over your cut-up turkey and garlic. Leave 1 inch of headspace at the top of the jars. If you run out of broth, top it up with water – don’t worry – your broth will still be very flavorful.


Wipe the lip of your jars with a cloth dipped in white vinegar. Place the lids on and process them in pressure canner for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure, adjusting for altitude.

Your result will be a deep golden, rich meaty soup. This is an excellent base for turkey and dumplings, as well as any type of turkey soup.

Canning cranberry sauce

If you have leftover cranberry sauce, you may can it for future use. I like to use teeny little half-pint jam jars for this.

  1. Heat the cranberry sauce to a simmer on the stovetop.
  2. Ladle the sauce into sanitized jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.
  3. Wipe the rims of the jars, then place the lid on them.
  4. Process in a waterbath canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude.

cranberry sauce

Thanksgiving Soup

Round up whatever veggies that you have left over from Thanksgiving. Don’t worry if they have some butter and seasonings on them – it will all add to the rich flavor of your soup.

My soup contains carrots that were cooked in honey, green beans with some butter, some diced sweet potatoes, and corn with butter. Use whatever you have. Don’t be shy about raiding your veggie tray either – chop your crudites into bite-sized pieces and add them raw to your jars – they’ll cook beautifully during the canning process.

  1. Add one cup of your vegetable mixture to each sanitized quart jar. If you want, throw in some peas and diced potatoes too.
  2. Add 1 cup of chopped turkey to each jar.
  3. Season with a clove of garlic and 1-2 tablespoons of chopped onion in each jar. Because the vegetables were already salted, I did not add any additional salt to my soup. If you have it on hand, you can also add some carrots and celery.
  4. Top your veggies and turkey with one cup of your delicious stock that you made above. Then fill it the rest of the way with water. The flavors will blend – don’t worry!
  5. Wipe the lip of your jars with a cloth dipped in white vinegar and then place the lids on.
  6. Process the soup in your pressure canner for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure, adjusting for altitude.

Variation: If you want a different type of soup, add 2 tbsp of tomato paste to each jar and season with some Italian spices like basil and oregano.

At serving time, you can add some cooked rice, barley, or pasta to your soup.

turkey veg soup

And finally, here are some links to great leftover ideas for all those Thanksgiving goodies:

15 Ways to Prep with Holiday Leftoverso

The Thanksgiving Club Sandwich

Thanksgiving Leftover Shepherd’s Pie

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Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • Thank you so much for these recipes! I just got a pressure canner and now I can’t wait to cook a turkey so I can try all of these! The books I bought with the canner didn’t have anything that seems as useful as these.

  • Just some comments.

    Overcooked meat is not flavorful, but it’s great at flavoring broth. So I pick off the meat from the bird and set it aside in the fridge. I then cook the carcass and leftover meat pieces at a simmer (add 2-3 tbsp of apple cider vinegar) for about 24 hours (adding water as necessary).

    The picked off meat gets put in soup or stew, (done at the last minute to preserve flavor).

    The broth is strained, after 24 hours, thru a sieve or fine cloth. Use it in soups and stews, or can it (so it’s available in the future at your convenience).

    Rendering this stuff is hard work. So try to use the broth right away or can it. Follow all canning instructions. the Ball canning guide is great.

  • Also, I must say, Daisy, why are you canning such teeny jars of cranberry sauce 🙂 I think my son could eat a pint of cranberry sauce at a sitting, he likes it so much. But then, he is a teenage boy.

    The picture looks more like a half cup and not a half pint. I serve cranberry sauce whenever we cook one of our chickens and 2-4 of those jars would disappear by the time the chicken is gone.

    Said all in good humor, btw.

  • I made veggie/turkey soup,using my thanksgiving day leftovers. I can’t afford a pressure canner right now,can this soup be canned, via hot water bath? If so for how long?

    • No, I’m sorry but it isn’t safe to water bath anything low acid or containing meat I’d recommend that you freeze the extra so that you can safely enjoy it later.

      Very best wishes,


  • For those who have puppies…we take our leftover bones after making broth and turn them into tasty, calcium-rich dog treats. Here’s how we do it.

    First, we don’t use onions right away in the broth. Those are toxic to dogs. We cook the bones for about 24 hours for chicken or turkey on low on our stove top. We strain out the bones and veggies and keep the stock on the stove. Add in your onions now and cook for another couple hours.

    Now, take the strained bones and veggies and throw them into a strong blender. We use our VitaMix. Blend this into a thick paste. We then spread it out in a dehydrator tray about 1/4 inch thick and dehydrate at 155 for about 12 hours. Times could vary depending upon your dehydrator.

    When it’s finished, the you’ve got crunchy, vitamin and mineral-rich treats your puppies will LOVE! We lovingly call then Bone Butter Snaps. 🙂

    • I got a knock-off brand hot pot this year, and I was thrilled to find that almost all of the poultry bones (except for really old birds) turns into delightful bone MUSH. No need to use a vitamix (for which I lust, but alas! cannot justify the expense).

      I mix it into the regular dog ration, and boy! The pups love it!

  • This is one of my favorites. When I can my leftover turkey dinner I make one called Thanksgiving soup. After the usual turkey and broth, it has sweet potatoes, green beans (not from the casserole) or whatever side vegetable you had, some “fresh” cranberries, with poultry seasoning/sage. The cranberries can either be straight from the bag, or from my homemade cranberry/orange relish. Since I pressure can, I don’t worry too much about the tiny bit of stuffing that may come off in the broth, it is never very much. A touch of celery and onion just adds to the flavor, so you can plan ahead with that if you use them in your stuffing; just set aside some for your soup. This soup can be a bit greasy so be careful; maybe let the concoction sit for a day in the refrigerator and skim off whatever fat that you find.

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