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18 Thanksgiving Leftovers You Can Store in the Freezer (and 3 You Can’t)

Freezing leftover Thanksgiving food allows you to enjoy leftovers long after the holiday. Here's what to freeze and how to freeze it, plus some foods that don't freeze well.

View of preparation of thanksgiving turkeyTetra Images/gettyimages

Nothing beats a juicy turkey sandwich the day after Thanksgiving, or a big piece of leftover pie for breakfast. After a couple of meals, though, those rich holiday foods start to get redundant. Luckily, many Thanksgiving foods freeze well. Here’s what you can (and can’t) freeze, plus tips for keeping frozen foods fresh and appetizing.

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Thanksgiving turkey leftoversEThamPhoto/Getty Images

Freeze: Turkey Meat

Good news: turkey is definitely freeze-able. Just remove the meat from the bones first. Slicing the meat will also help it to defrost evenly. If you can, pour a bit of gravy over the meat before freezing; it’ll add moisture.

You can eat the turkey with gravy as usual, but leftover turkey is quite versatile. It makes a great filling for casseroles, tacos and sandwiches. Here’s how to reheat turkey without drying it out.

How long to freeze: Two to three months

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Turkey carcass in roasting pantjp55/Shutterstock

Freeze: Turkey Carcass

Don’t toss the picked-over bones and carcass; they’ll make a delicious, savory turkey stock. If you can’t make stock within a couple days after cooking the turkey, freeze the carcass. Seal in a heavy-duty freezer bag.

How long to freeze: Up to two months

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Large white plate filled with buttery mashed potatoesTMB Studio

Freeze: Mashed Potatoes

There are a surprising number of ways to use up leftover mashed potatoes; fortunately, mashed potatoes freeze well. Freeze mashers in portions: dollop potatoes onto a baking sheet, freeze until solid and then seal in a bag. Alternatively, freeze potatoes in bulk in a quart container or freezer bag, and defrost slowly in the fridge. Read our complete instructions on how to reheat mashed potatoes.

How long to freeze: Up to one year

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Glazed Sweet PotatoesTMB Studio

Freeze: Sweet Potatoes

Cooked sweet potatoes freeze well, whether you’re freezing roasted potatoes or a sweet potato casserole. However, note that casserole toppings, like marshmallows or crumble, won’t freeze well. Simply add fresh toppings when reheating the sweet potatoes.

Is your freezer starting to fill up? Try these new ideas for Thanksgiving leftovers.

How long to freeze: Up to one year

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turkey gravyTMB Studio

Freeze: Gravy

Made a delicious from-scratch gravy from pan drippings? Broth and flour-based gravies freeze well. Stash it in the freezer alongside your leftover turkey. Seal in the smallest possible airtight container.

How long to freeze: Two to three months

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Cranberry SauceTMB Studio

Freeze: Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is a breeze to freeze. Both homemade cranberry sauces and store-bought sauces—even canned—can be frozen. Transfer to a freezer-safe glass or plastic container; don’t freeze in a can. Leave some headspace in the container, since cranberry sauce will expand during freezing.

How long to freeze: Up to two months

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Easy Pumpkin Pie RecipeTMB Studio

Freeze: Pumpkin and Pecan Pie

Most types of pies freeze fairly well, especially these common Thanksgiving pies. The texture may change slightly, especially that of the filling. Defrost slowly in the refrigerator. A quick blast in the microwave before serving will enliven the flavors.

Note that light and fluffy pies, like chiffon or mousse, won’t freeze well.

How long to freeze: Up to two months

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Thanksgiving StuffingTMB Studio

Freeze: Stuffing

Stuffing is resilient! Both homemade stuffing and the out-of-the-box stuff freeze well. Freeze leftovers in a tightly sealed bag. After defrosting, toast the stuffing on a baking sheet to refresh the texture. Find more handy tips in our complete guide to reheating Thanksgiving leftovers.

How long to freeze: Up to one month

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New York Cheesecake or Classic Cheesecake sliced on rustic wood, top viewArx0nt/Getty Images

Freeze: Cheesecake

Cheesecake is so rich it feels fancy, but it’s simple to make and easy to freeze! Freeze a whole cheesecake, tightly wrapped, or cut it into slices before wrapping and freezing. Defrost in the fridge.

How long to freeze: Up to one month

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Roasted Root Vegetablesrudisill/Getty Images

Freeze: Roasted Vegetables

No Thanksgiving table is complete without some kind of roasted vegetable. From Brussels sprouts to butternut squash, most roasted vegetables can be frozen. One caveat is that higher-moisture vegetables, like mushrooms, will alter in texture after freezing. Most autumnal veggies, however, are hearty enough to stand up to freezing. Reheat in a skillet with some fresh oil and spices to rejuvenate the defrosted veg.

How long to freeze: Up to 12 months

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Pumpkin Cream With Chives And Parsley On Wooden TableElena Hontoria/Getty Images

Freeze: Soup

Soup is basically the original freezer food. Most soup recipes freeze wonderfully. A few exceptions include soups with starchy fillings (think pasta noodles or potatoes) and dairy-based soups. (Review our soup freezing guide for more detail.) To avoid freezer burn, store in an airtight container that’s not too big.

How long to freeze: Three to six months

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Baked HamTMB Studio

Freeze: Ham

Roast ham is popular among cooks who want a Thanksgiving main that’s not turkey. Leftover ham freezes well on or off the bone. Freezing sliced ham allows for quicker, more even defrosting.

How long to freeze: Three to six months

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natural aromatic herbsmerc67/Getty Images

Freeze: Herbs

Whether you grow herbs yourself or pick them up at the supermarket, it’s hard to use up every sprig before they start to wilt. Luckily, many herbs freeze well, especially the hardier herbs that tend to go well with Thanksgiving dishes, like rosemary, sage and thyme. Freeze those hardy herbs on the stem. First, spread on a baking sheet, then transfer to an airtight container. Softer herbs, like parsley and basil, may be blended with water or oil and frozen in ice cube trays. Simply pop an herbal cube into your simmering stews or soups for a pop of flavor.

How long to freeze: Up to 12 months

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dinner rollsRichLegg/Getty Images

Freeze: Bread and Rolls

Yeasted breads and rolls are easy to freeze. You can freeze whole loaves or rolls, wrapped tightly in two layers of plastic or foil. You may also slice the bread first, which makes it quicker to defrost. Pop frozen slices right into the toaster, or defrost whole or sliced bread on the counter overnight.

How long to freeze: Up to six months

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Piece of vegan berry pieNatalya Mamaeva/Getty Images

Freeze: Fruit Pies

Most fruit pies freeze well, including both open-top pies and latticed or covered pies. The only exception is pies made with a crumble topping; freezing will change the texture. Place leftover pie in the freezer until it’s solid, then wrap it well. Whole pies should defrost in the fridge, while slices can be reheated quickly in the microwave. Here’s how to reheat an apple pie specifically.

How long to freeze: Up to four months

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Freeze: Butter

Bought several pounds of butter for the holidays? Extra butter freezes well without losing flavor or texture. You can even freeze the sticks right in their packaging. Simply defrost in the fridge and use like normal.

How long to freeze: Up to 12 months

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Freeze: Wine

While frozen wine isn’t particularly good for drinking, it is absolutely fine for cooking. Freeze leftover wine in an ice cube tray, and store the cubes in a tightly sealed bag. Grab a handful for making sauce, risotto and soup.

How long to freeze: Three to six months

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Pumpkin Bread Loaf on Cutting BoardStephanieFrey/Getty Images

Freeze: Quick Breads

Cranberry bread, pumpkin bread and other quick breads make a stellar Thanksgiving side dish, and they freeze well, too. Freeze sliced bread in a tightly sealed bag, or freeze a whole loaf, tightly wrapped in at least two layers. Defrost in the fridge or heat a slice in the microwave for an instant treat.

How long to freeze: Up to two months

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green bean casseroleTMB Studio

What Not to Freeze

A few foods don’t respond well to freezing because their texture, flavor or vitality are lost. This includes most fresh and raw vegetables, including that beautiful Thanksgiving salad. Likewise, veggies with a higher water content, like tomatoes and mushrooms, will get soggy after a stay in the freezer.

The perennial favorite green bean casserole also doesn’t like freezing—cooked green beans go limp, and the casserole topping will get soggy. Baked potatoes aren’t ideal for freezing either, as their skins get brittle and the fluffy insides lose their texture. It’s best to eat these leftovers in a few days.

Here’s how long to store leftovers in the fridge. Bonus: Brunch with Babs gives tips on what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers.

Kelsey Rae Dimberg
A former in-house editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes articles and novels from her home in Milwaukee. She's an avid cook, reader, flâneur, and noir fanatic. Her debut novel, Girl in the Rearview Mirror, will be published in June 2019 by William Morrow.