Thanksgiving pizza is the best way to use holiday leftovers

Creamy mashed potatoes, warm stuffing, tangy cranberry sauce, and savory herb turkey… these foods are not meant to be enjoyed just once per year. The stores and commercials may skip right over Thanksgiving and move on to Christmas come November, but we know better. There's nothing better than sitting down to a table of delicious smells with close family and friends. The only problem is that we only get to savor these classic Thanksgiving dishes one day out of the entire year. However, we have found a loophole to this rule, and it's called leftovers. 

Thanksgiving leftovers make some of the best sandwiches, soups, and now pizza. Rather than fighting the insane crowds at the outlet malls this year, spend black Friday making fresh pizza dough in your cozy, warm house. Then simply add your favorite Thanksgiving leftovers, and you've just found the perfect opportunity to enjoy Thanksgiving food any day of the year. As a word of caution, this pizza smells incredible while it's baking and tastes even better. If you have family staying with you for the holiday, they may never leave!

Getting started

We're going to make our dough from scratch because it's delicious that way, but there's no shame in using a store-bought dough — especially when you've just finished the biggest cooking day of the year. If you're going that route, just scroll through the next few steps and catch back up when we're adding all the tasty toppings.

If you're making your own dough, it will need to rise for an hour, so no need to take your leftovers out of the refrigerator just yet. Just make sure you have mashed potatoes, turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and gravy on hand.

For the pizza dough, you'll need two packets of active dry yeast, one and one-half cups warm water, two teaspoons sugar, one teaspoon salt, one-fourth cup extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for rising), and four cups of all purpose flour. 

A full list of ingredients and step-by-step instructions can be found at the end of this article.

Add the yeast

Start by pouring the warm water into a large mixing bowl and gently mixing the yeast in. The mixture should sit for about five minutes, until the yeast becomes foamy. The quickest and easiest way to make this dough is with a stand mixer. Pull out that hook attachment that kneads the dough perfectly. If you don't have a stand mixer, you can easily still mix this by hand with a wooden spoon, then knead it with your hands.

Mix the wet ingredients

Once the yeast looks foamy on the top of the water, whisk in the two teaspoons sugar, one teaspoon salt, and one-fourth cup extra virgin olive oil. Use a fork or whisk to gently beat the liquid together. 

Knead in the flour

Now it is time to add the flour. Once you set your stand mixer to the low speed setting, start gently adding in the four cups of flour, about one-half cup at a time. Make sure the flour is completely incorporated into the dough each time. Use a rubber scraper to scrape the extra flour off the sides of the bowl.

Prepare the bowl

While the dough is mixing, place a new large mixing bowl on your counter and pour in one to two tablespoons of olive oil to coat the entire bowl. The oil will prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl while it rises.

Allow the dough to rise

Once the flour is mixed into the dough and you're left with a sticky ball of dough, gently transfer it to your oil-lined bowl. Place the bowl in a warm place, such as near a sunny window, and cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap. The dough will take about an hour to double in size.

Prepare the pizza

While the dough is rising, start preparing your work surface. Sprinkle a generous handful of flour over a large cutting board or counter for rolling out the dough. 

Spray a large pizza pan or baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, then sprinkle with flour. Gently shake the pan to evenly spread the flour over the pan. This recipe makes one large or two smaller pizzas.

Knead the dough

Once the dough has doubled in size, place it on your floured surface and knead it with your hands two to three times. Simply press your fists into the dough and fold it over to knead it. Make sure not to over-mix it.

Roll out the pizza

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the kneaded dough on your pizza pan and start pressing it down with your fingers into a circle shape. Don't worry about using a rolling pin or tossing it in the air like in the movies. Simply press down and stretch the dough, starting at the center and working out. If your pan is on the smaller side, you'll most likely want to make two pizzas. If you like thicker crust, keep it on one pan.

Then place the pizza crust in the oven and bake for five minutes.

Gather your leftovers

While the crust is baking, gather your leftovers. Measure out 2 cups of mashed potatoes, one and one-half cups of shredded turkey breast, one cup of cranberry sauce, one cup of stuffing, and one-fourth cup gravy. Place each ingredient in the microwave and heat until warmed, but not piping hot.

You'll also need four ounces of goat cheese and half-cup of shredded cheddar cheese — because those are what's going to make the magic happen.

Mix the goat cheese mashed potatoes

If your mashed potatoes are already cheesy, there's no need to add more. However, everything is better with goat cheese — trust me. Place half of the goat cheese (two ounces) into the bowl of warmed mashed potatoes and stir until it's melted and combined. We'll use the remaining goat cheese on top of the pizza.

If you have some goat cheese haters in your house, you may want to rethink your relationships, but you could also cut the goat cheese and double the cheddar cheese in the recipe, or swap in a different cheese you can all agree on.

Spread the mashed potatoes

Once your pizza crust has cooked for five minutes and has started to feel firm, remove it from the oven. Spread the goat cheese mashed potatoes over the entire crust with a rubber scraper or the back of a large spoon. 

Place the turkey

Once you've spread the mashed potatoes evenly, place the pieces of shredded turkey over the pizza. If you prefer dark meat turkey, feel free to substitute half or even the entire one and one-half cups of breast meat. You don't want to cover the entire pizza with turkey, but you want to get a little bit in each bite.

Add the cranberry sauce

Next spread the cranberry sauce over the pizza. Cranberry sauce with whole cranberries works best. It looks more appetizing and prevents that gelatinous feel. One cup should cover the pizza, but if you prefer more cranberry taste, you could add one-half to one cup extra.

Sprinkle the stuffing

Next sprinkle the prepared stuffing over the pizza. Any kind of stuffing will work well on this pizza. Either sprinkle it evenly over the pizza (as pictured) or roll small amounts of stuffing with your palms to create stuffing "sausage" pieces for your pizza. 

Sprinkle the cheeses

Now it's time to top the pizza off with the best part. Start by breaking off small pieces of goat cheese with your fingers and placing it evenly around the pizza. Make sure to vary the sizes of goat cheese pieces. 

Next sprinkle the half-cup of shredded cheddar cheese over the pizza. The shredded cheese holds everything together nicely once it's melted.

Place your pizza in the preheated oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from the oven once the crust is a golden brown color and the cheese is melted. Cut into eight large slices or smaller squares for a crowd. Enjoy!

Directions

Prep time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

For the crust

  • 2 packets active dry yeast

  • 1 ½ cups warm water

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Leftovers

  • 2 cups mashed potatoes

  • 1 ½ cups shredded turkey

  • 1 cup cranberry sauce

  • 1 cup stuffing

  • ¼ cup gravy

Extras

  • 4 ounces goat cheese, divided

  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Pour the warm water into a large bowl and sprinkle in the two packets of dry active yeast. Allow the yeast to sit for about five minutes, until foamy.

  2. Whisk in the sugar, salt, and extra virgin olive oil. Place the bowl in your stand mixer and add the kneading hook attachment. If you do not have a stand mixer, you can mix the dough by hand with a wooden spoon. Set the stand mixer to low speed and slowly begin adding the four cups of flour.

  3. Pour a small amount olive oil in another large bowl. Once a sticky dough has formed, place the ball of dough in the new bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm place to rise. The dough should double in size in about one hour.

  4. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare your surface by spreading a generous amount of flour down for kneading the dough. Spray a large pizza pan with olive oil nonstick cooking spray, then sprinkle with flour. Place the ball of dough on the floured surface and knead with your hands two to three times. Press the dough into a circle and place on the pizza pan.

  5. Place the pizza dough in the oven and bake for about five minutes. Remove and set aside.

  6. While the dough is baking, assemble your pizza toppings. Place two cups of warmed mashed potatoes into a bowl and stir in two ounces of goat cheese. Save the remaining goat cheese for topping.

  7. In your microwave, warm one and one-half cups shredded turkey breast, one cup cranberry sauce, one cup prepared stuffing, and one-fourth cup gravy.

  8. Once you have removed the pizza from the oven, layer the toppings. Spread the two cups of goat cheese mashed potatoes first. Then layer with shredded turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing. Drizzle the gravy over the top, then add the goat cheese and one-half cup cheddar cheese.

  9. Return pizza to the oven for about 15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted. Allow to sit for five minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy!