How to construct a superb Thanksgiving leftover sandwich

Welcome to American Sandwiches Week, a celebration of the mighty sandwich through the lens of Americana.


As you’re reading this it’s about T+3.5, or, three-and-a-half days since Thanksgiving dinner way back on Thursday. Which means assuming there’s still leftovers in your fridge, it’s nearing the point you should ditch it. Before you do, though, know that leftovers on its last legs are a fine opportunity to squeeze one more meal from it: the Thanksgiving sandwich.

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Normally we’d just say stack your sandwich high with whatever turkey and stuffing bits you can scrounge up. But as is The Takeout’s wont, there is a more elegant and thoughtful way to approach the Thanksgiving sandwich. Let us offer a few bullet points:

  • Most important of all: Use sturdy bread. Ciabatta has the correct structural integrity to hold all the ingredients. If ciabatta is not available, buttered Texas toast or a pretzel roll are fine choices.
  • Think like a chef, and consider balance. We’d recommend 2 to 3 parts protein (turkey) to 1 part starch (stuffing or mashed potato) and 1/2 part sweet (cranberries, sweet potato).
  • How do you incorporate gravy without making a complete mess of the sandwich? Sure, you can dip it like French dip jus, but a two-handed sandwich makes that rather cumbersome. May we suggest a technique that incorporates the juiciness and savoriness of the gravy into the sandwich: Fry turkey slices in gravy. Here’s how I do it: Add a pat of butter to a skillet. Turn on medium heat, and add your turkey slices—a mix of white and dark. Then spoon a glob of gravy on the meat. As the turkey heats up, the gravy will semi-liquify and bubble and crust up. Flip the slices and make sure the gravy covers all surface area. Transfer slices onto roll while hot, and continue assembling.
  • What your Thanksgiving sandwich needs is some crispy texture. The easiest and most on-point method is with crunchy onion topping. (I’ve also considered re-fried Brussel sprout leaves, or even red leaf lettuce.) But my favorite textural add-on is...
  • If you have any turkey skin left (and I find this hard to believe), crisp this up in a toaster oven over low heat, then add on to your Thanksgiving sandwich. Even if you pat it dry beforehand, you’re not going to get it to a state of crunchiness. Still, I love that crisp-unctuous texture and the salty hit it provides.

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About the author

Kevin Pang

Kevin Pang was the founder and editor-in-chief of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace on Netflix.