This gluten-free Low-Carb Cheesy Leftover Turkey (or Chicken) Jalapeno Popper Casserole can be made ahead using leftover turkey or chicken; make a double batch (in two casserole dishes) so you have dinner set for another night too!
I know by this point you’re probably sick of being bombarded with every manner of Thanksgiving recipe, but I come bearing a little inspiration on what to do with leftover turkey after the big day.
I realize every family has a few staple recipes using leftover turkey that absolutely have to get made every year; maybe it’s your grandma’s Turkey Barley Vegetable Soup, Turkey Tetrazzini, Turkey Pot Pie, or even the world’s best Turkey Sandwiches with Cranberry Sauce. But I’d wager that even after you make your family’s favorite leftover turkey recipe, you’ll still be left with turkey to spare and that’s where a few fresh ideas are always welcome.
At my house we usually like to do one meal of leftovers as another Thanksgiving dinner, so basically, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, squash or sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, turkey, and gravy. But after the second full Thanksgiving dinner, we all tend to get a little bored with it, and so I try to reinvent our leftovers into completely new meals.
This meal is just about as different from a classic Thanksgiving turkey dinner as you can get, other than the fact that there’s turkey in both. Here I pulled inspiration from a classic appetizer: Jalapeno Poppers! I’ll admit, I’m not much of a fan of spicy-hot food, but I’ve always enjoyed the flavor of poppers. The addition of cream cheese here mellows the heat of the jalapenos, and you can add more or less jalapeno to suit your own preference.
The great thing about this casserole is that it can be made ahead of time; before baking, you can keep it in the fridge for up to three days, or keep it in the freezer for up to three months. And the recipe is easy to double so you can whip up two casseroles just as easily as you can whip up one, and that way you have dinner set for another night as well.
Serve this casserole along with steamed broccoli or a nice big green salad to make it a meal!
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 large stalks celery, chopped
- 1 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, de-seeded and minced (more or less to taste; I use about ¼ cup minced for about a “medium” heat level)
- 8 oz (227 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
- ½ cup (120 ml) heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups cooked, chopped leftover turkey or chicken
- 6 oz (170 g) cheddar cheese, shredded, divided
- 2 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced (for garnish)
- Lightly butter the inside of a 1.5-quart casserole dish.
- Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat; once melted, add the onion and celery and cook until softened, but not browned, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Turn the heat down to low, add the garlic and jalapeno, and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly.
- Stir in the cream cheese, heavy cream, Worcestershire, salt, and black pepper, whisking until combined.
- Pour the cream cheese mixture into a large bowl and stir in the chicken and ¾ of the cheddar. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish and sprinkle the remaining cheddar on top.
- At this point, the casserole can be cooled to room temperature, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months, or it can be cooked immediately. When you’re ready, cook it in a preheated 400F oven until warm and bubbling, about 20 to 25 minutes, and then run it under the broiler to let it brown for a few seconds.
- Sprinkle the scallion on top and serve.