The Meatwave

Grill-Pressed Thanksgiving Leftover Panini

Grill-Pressed Thanksgiving Leftover Panini View Recipe

Leftovers aren't my thing. While I watch a barrage of Facebook friends post their Thanksgiving meals eaten again and again in the days following the holiday, I can usual stomach those reheated, suboptimal pieces of turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce maybe once, preferably never. Feeding a family of only six, an assload (it's a technical term) of leftovers is a reality though, so I'm in search of ways to transform them into something I would want to eat in order to avoid what shouldn't be inevitable waste. I've found as least one answer to this problem by way of a Thanksgiving leftover panini.

Thanksgiving Leftover Panini

This panini isn't quite as easy as piling everything on a plate and sticking it in the microwave, but it's not far off and a million times better. To make it, I took a cibatta roll and started loading it with one Tupperware stored item after another. First was the cold turkey, conveniently already cut into small pieces. Then cornbread-sausage stuffing, followed by cranberry-apple relish, and finally, thick, gelatinous gravy.

Thanksgiving Leftover Panini

The sandwich wasn't looking too bad so far, but it still wasn't the appetizing hot food I want this time of year. So I took it to the grill to fix it up right.

Thanksgiving Leftover Panini

Of course this can be done in a pan or panini press, but the grill gives you ample room to make many sandwiches, plus I just like to use the grill for everything. As I had the grill heating up with a freshly lit coals, I placed a foil wrapped brick over the fire. After the heat dropped a bit to medium/medium-low, I placed the sandwich over the fire, the warmed brick on top, and then covered the grill.

Thanksgiving Leftover Panini

About 5 minutes later I had a hot, pressed sandwich, whose crisp bread awakened my appetite as it crackled when I cut it in half. I have to admit, the resulting sandwich was pretty awesome—it managed to transform those lowly leftovers into something I actively wanted to eat, which is no easy feat. Not only were all of the flavors of the Thanksgiving meal represented, but they came together in an altogether novel way that didn't make it feel like I was rehashing something I had just eaten the night before. I think this is the key for me to start utilizing more leftovers in my life, turn them into something new that's hopefully as good, or better, than this sandwich was.

Print Recipe

Grill-Pressed Thanksgiving Leftover Panini

  • Yield 4 servings
  • Prep 10 Minutes
  • Cook 10 Minutes
  • Total 20 Minutes


  • 4 ciabatta rolls, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 pound leftover roast turkey
  • 2 cups stuffing
  • 1 cup cranberry sauce
  • 1 cup gravy
  • 4 bricks, wrapped in aluminum foil


  1. Place 1/4 of turkey on bottom half of roll. Top with 1/4 each of the stuffing, cranberry sauce, and gravy. Repeat with remaining 3 rolls.
  2. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place bricks on grill, cover grill and let fire cool down to medium-low, between 300-325°F. Place sandwiches on grill. Wearing well insulated grilling gloves, carefully place one brick on top of each sandwich, gently pushing down to press. Cover grill and cook until sandwich has flattened and bread has crisped, 5-10 minutes. Remove sandwiches from grill, halve, and serve immediately.

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  1. Kamado Jim Josh - why oh why couldn't you have posted this yesterday when I served the godforsaken leftover turkey drumsticks and stuffing that had mysteriously transformed itself into some kind of just barely edible saw dust?

    This sandwich looks absolutely killer and would have no doubt gotten rave reviews compared to the abomination I served up last night. Bookmarking for future reference!