This hot turkey sandwich made with Thanksgiving leftovers and cheese is either a glorified grilled cheese or a blinged-up turkey melt, depending on your perspective. Whatever you call it, it’s so insanely satisfying with its stuffing, cheese, cranberry sauce, and turkey crammed between a couple of slices of bread and sizzled in butter until golden and crisp, you just may find yourself making Thanksgiving dinner more than once a year just so for the leftovers.

david caricature

Why Our Testers Loved This

There’s a whole bunch of reasons our recipe testers devoured these Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches. They loved that it made use of many different leftovers from the big meal, was customizable to everyone’s preference, and they all agreed that the cranberry mayo was a winner.

What You’ll Need to Make This

  • Bread–Choose a sturdy artisan-style or rustic bread here. Regular sandwich bread is too thin and soft to hold all the fillings.
  • Turkey–The recipe was designed to make use of leftover roast turkey. However, this will work with a variety of leftover meats, including roast pork loin, prime rib, or roasted chicken. Get creative!
  • Avocado–This lends extra creaminess to the sandwich and a little moistness, however, if you don’t care for avocado, it’s perfectly fine to skip it.

How to Make This Recipe

  1. Make the cranberry mayo. Whisk the cranberry sauce and mayonnaise together.
  2. Assemble the sandwiches. Butter the outsides of the bread slices, then spread the cranberry mayo on the inside. Top with turkey, stuffing, avocado, cheese, and more mayo.
  3. Grill the sandwiches. Place sandwiches in a skillet and cook over medium heat until golden on each side. Serve with extra cranberry mayo for dipping.


Can I make this sandwich in a waffle maker or panini press?

When you have so much stuffed into a sandwich, you might find it hard to contain, like some of our testers did. A good option is using a panini press or waffle maker to help your sandwich gain a little stability through being compacted a bit. We also love using leftover herb stuffed turkey breast in these sandwiches, since the stuffing and turkey are already nestled together.

What type of bread should I use?

You’re putting a lot of stuff into this sandwich so you’re going to need bread that’s strong enough to hold everything together. We recommend using hearty artisan-style bread or sourdough.

Helpful Tips

  • If you’ve got leftover gravy, use that as another choice for dipping sauce.
  • Warm your stuffing before assembling the sandwich to ensure that the sandwich filling will be warm all the way through.

More Great Turkey Sandwich Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

Two hot turkey sandwiches, sliced in half on a tray with pieces of cranberry, avocado, and stuffing lying beside them.

Hot Turkey Sandwich

4.67 / 3 votes
I make these whenever my daughter comes for lunch. I usually grill them and sometimes add avocado to make them even moister.
David Leite
Servings2 servings
Calories995 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time20 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons leftover cranberry sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 slices sturdy country white or rye bread
  • 4 slices leftover roast turkey
  • 1/2 cup leftover stuffing, warmed if desired
  • 4 slices avocado
  • 4 thin slices sharp Cheddar or Brie cheese (or whatever happens to be in the refrigerator)


  • In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, cranberry sauce, and mustard.
  • Spread 1 side of each bread slice with the butter. Place 2 slices of bread, buttered sides down, in a large skillet off the heat. Spread the unbuttered side of each slice with a little cranberry mayo. Pile on the turkey, then the stuffing, then the avocado, and then the cheese. Spread a little more cranberry spread on top of the cheese. Add the second slices of bread, buttered side up.
  • Turn the heat to medium and place the skillet on the burner. Cook, flipping once, until the sandwiches are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  • Cut the sandwiches in half and serve immediately with the remaining cranberry mayo sauce on the side for dipping.


  1. Other dip options–If you have leftover gravy, warm some up and use it as a dip along with the cranberry mayo.
  2. Roast turkey substitute–If you don’t have roast turkey, this is still great with whatever’s in the fridge—leftover pork roast, prime rib, roast chicken, or even canned tuna.
  3. Alternative cooking methods–You can also make these in a panini press or waffle maker, which will allow you to avoid flipping the sandwich.
Farmhouse Rules Cookbook

Adapted From

Farmhouse Rules

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 995 kcalCarbohydrates: 73 gProtein: 21 gFat: 74 gSaturated Fat: 17 gMonounsaturated Fat: 38 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 60 mgSodium: 866 mgFiber: 25 gSugar: 10 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2015 Nancy Fuller. Photo © 2015 Jamie Prescott. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This hot turkey sandwich is the stuff turkey sandwich dreams are made of. These were so wonderful that they will likely come to rival the actual turkey dinner in the future. Really quick to put together and the cranberry mayo takes the sandwich to the next level.

Though the bread slices were a bit on the small side (I used a dense artisan sourdough), it was a filling meal. Make sure you use sturdy bread as there’s a lot of stuff to hold together here.

I used a homemade cranberry sauce that was spiced with orange zest and cinnamon. The grainy mustard in the mayo mixture wasn’t overpowering and balances nicely against the sweetness of the cranberry sauce.

I used homemade stuffing with French bread, Italian sausage, celery, and onion. I did heat up the stuffing a bit first as it was cold from the fridge and I didn’t think it would heat through in the sandwich. I used Camembert cheese and 2 thin slices were the right amount to cover each sandwich.

We celebrated Thanksgiving early this year so I had all the ingredients to make these sandwiches. As we all know the best thing about T-day is having leftovers–whether you are standing in front of the open fridge eating cold stuffing or putting leftover cranberry-orange sauce in your oatmeal! Since almost everything was already made the sandwich came together very quickly.

I used leftover raw cranberry orange relish to mix with the mayonnaise and large slices of country white bread. I did warm up the stuffing a bit in the microwave before putting on the sandwich. Used sharp cheddar cheese which went nicely with the cranberry.

Cooked sandwiches for 3 minutes per side and they were gorgeous and golden brown. Since the bread slices were big, each person had a half and it was plenty for 4 people.

We loved them–the only thing was we didn’t have enough dipping sauce, but it was easy to mix up more. The only negative comment I have is that I don’t think the avocado was necessary. It got lost amidst all the other flavors, so I would leave it out next time.

This was a nice, fresh take on a hot turkey sandwich. It wasn’t nearly as heavy and coma-inducing as a regular open-faced hot turkey sandwich. It really makes two generous servings but because we still had some family in town I actually split the 2 sandwiches between 4 people because I wanted everyone to try them.

The only change I would make would be to forgo the stuffing. Not that it wasn’t tasty in the iteration with the stuffing, but it just made the sandwich a little heavier than necessary. Also, because my stuffing is pretty zesty, we felt like the strong flavors somewhat overpowered the rest of the brighter, lighter, more fresh ingredients.

I made two more sandwiches without the stuffing and we all agreed that they were even better. 

This recipe would serve two people adequately. The sandwich quickly toasts up but it is very hard to turn it over on the pan without the filling spilling out. I think the ingredients are a good combination.

However, I think the sandwich would work better in a sandwich toaster so that the contents of the sandwich are contained. When the sandwich is cut in half again it tends to spill out. This might have been minimized in a panini press where the whole sandwich was pressed flatter and the melted brie helped to keep the sandwich together.

I thought the stuffing and the cranberry flavours were not particularly strong and so I would add a little more of these next time. Overall I enjoyed the sandwich.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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