The easiest way to use up leftover turkey meat is to make turkey chili! It’s flavor-packed with a ton of delicious spices and loaded with good for you veggies, like corn, edamame, carrots, and tomatoes.
Leftover Turkey Chili
I got the most delicious chili recipe for you all today and it’s made with leftover turkey meat. Because it’s an annual struggle for us – what to do with all the leftover turkey meat? So I have no doubt you guys are in the same boat. Well, think no more.
This chili is super (duper) easy to make. Even though by the look of the ingredient list it may seem like it’s a lengthy recipe but honestly you’ll be dumping and stirring practically the entire time.
Gosh, where do I even begin? This chili is simply delicious. It’s thick, perfectly spiced, and loaded with yummy veggies. It tastes even better the next day. So you can make a batch and enjoy it throughout the week. Or freeze in freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months.
You’ll need leftover turkey meat. I used a combination of breast and thigh meat but any type of cut will do. The great thing about this turkey meat chili is that it’s incredibly versatile. Feel free to add a little more or less of something to suit your taste.
Turkey Meat Chili Q&A
Before we get to how to make the turkey chili, let’s answer some frequently asked questions! If you have a question that’s not included, let us know in the comments below.
Can turkey chili be frozen?
Yes, it can. Simply transfer cooled chili into freezer-safe containers (we love these for soups/chili) or freezer-safe bags and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat on the stovetop over medium heat.
What meat is best for chili?
I personally love to use a combination of white and dark turkey meat but use whatever leftover meat you have.
How to make chili more flavorful?
There are a handful of ways to add more flavor to chili. Starting with spiciness. This chili is not spicy at all. So you can add cayenne pepper, red chili flakes, sriracha, diced chiles, or fresh jalapeño.
To add smokiness, a teaspoon of smoked paprika is great or chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Also feel free to add more veggies or swap out any veggies for what you have on hand, such as squash, pumpkin, or sweet potatoes.
Lastly, fresh herbs. Cilantro is always delicious in chili but don’t stop there. Chopped Italian parsley or fresh oregano is great for adding flavor.
How to thicken chili?
Chili thickens itself. Simply simmer the chili partially covered so the steam can escape and liquid can reduce. After the chili is done cooking, let it rest for 10 or so minutes before serving so it can settle and thicken. Chili tastes the best the next day.
Should you drain the beans?
Yes, you should drain the beans for this chili recipe. The extra starchy liquid surrounding the beans is usually full of sodium. Always drain the beans, unless a recipe specifically calls for using the liquid.
How to Make Turkey Chili with Leftover Turkey
Step 1: First you want to start by sautéing the veggies: onions, carrots, and garlic. Add in all the spices and let them cook for just a minute or two until the flavors blend.
Step 2: Stir in your turkey meat, tomatoes, stock, and simmer the mixture for good 30 minutes. It will slightly reduce. Make sure to leave the pot partially covered so the steam can escape.
Step 3: Finish the chili off by stirring in the beans, corn, and edamame. I think the corn and edamame are my two favorite additions. They brighten the chili and add another delicious layer of flavor.
Step 4: Discard the bay leafs and serve the chili with toppings of choice. I love to stick to basics, such as sour cream, avocado, green onions or cilantro, and cheese.
More Leftover Turkey Recipes:
- Leftover Turkey in Creamy Mushroom Sauce from Natasha’s Kitchen – this would be delicious with Leftover Mashed Potato Cakes with Spinach.
- Easy Slow Cooker Stock – save your turkey carcass and swap it for the chicken to make this amazing easy stock!
- Leftover Turkey Harvest Cobb Salad from Skinnytaste – something I would make in a heartbeat.
- This creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup can easily be turkey tortilla soup with simply swapping out the shredded chicken meat for the turkey.
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The easiest way to use up leftover turkey meat is to make turkey chili! It’s flavor packed with ton of delicious spices and also loaded with good for you veggies, like corn and edamame.
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 medium sweet onions, diced
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tbsp. chili powder
- 2 Tbsp. cumin
- 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
- 2 bay leafs
- 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 4 cups shredded leftover turkey meat
- 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 (32 oz.) carton chicken stock
- 1 (15.5 oz.) can red kidney beans, rinsed + drained
- 1 (15.5 oz.) can garbanzo beans, rinsed + drained
- 1/2 cup frozen corn
- 1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame
- Fresh black pepper, to taste
- Heat oil in a large dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, garlic, and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften.
- Stir in chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, bay leaf, salt, and black pepper, to taste. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the flavors blend.
- Add turkey meat, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and stock. Simmer, partially covered over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.
- Stir in kidney beans, garbanzo beans, corn, and edamame, and simmer for 10 minutes longer.
- Discard bay leafs, taste for salt and pepper, and serve with toppings of choice.
- Spiciness: Chili is not spicy at all so feel free to add some heat with cayenne pepper, red chili flakes, sriracha, diced chiles, or fresh jalapeno.
- Substitutions: This chili is incredibly versatile. You can swap out the veggies for what you have on hand or add a little more or less of something to suit your taste.
- Leftovers: Leftover chili can be stored in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. To freeze chili – transfer cooled chili into freezer-safe containers (we love these for soups/chili) or freezer-safe bags and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat on the stovetop over medium heat.
Keywords: thanksgiving, holiday, easy, leftovers, turkey leftovers
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Originally published in November 2016, updated November 2019 with new photos, rewritten post, and additional information. No change to the recipe.