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Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Gumbo Warms The Soul

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bowl of gumbo and rice

Thanksgiving is a great time to gather with friends and family over an amazing meal but the looming question, once it is over, is what to do with the leftovers.

And while few things beat a turkey, mayo, and freshly ground black pepper on white bread, one of my family’s favorite post-Thanksgiving dishes is a soul-warming leftover turkey gumbo. Be forewarned that great gumbo takes time to make properly, starting with the “roux,” a thickening agent that is a combination of equal parts oil and flour that is slowly cooked for approximately 20 minutes until it turns a dark chocolate brown for a gumbo with a deep nutty flavor. Note that many recipes feature butter when making roux but I prefer a neutral oil such as canola as it has a higher smoke point than butter, allowing you to get a darker-colored roux with less chance of burning it.

Feeling extra ambitious? Replace the store-bought chicken stock with homemade turkey stock made by simmering the carcuss from your Thanksgiving turkey in water along with onion, celery, and carrots for several hours.

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Gumbo Recipe

turkey gumbo in a bowl
Tried this recipe?Tell others what you thought of it and give it a star rating below.
5 from 3 votes
This warming gumbo is the perfect use of leftover Thanksgiving turkey.
An amber beer such as Abita Amber Lager

Main Course
difficulty scale


Servings: 6 people


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 35 minutes


  • 1 pound smoked Andoille (smoked kielbasa can be used if Andouille isn't readily available)
  • 10 tbsp. canola oil
  • 3 large celery stalks
  • 1 large white onion
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 64 ounces chicken stock
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne powder (more if you enjoy more heat)
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 1 pound cooked turkey meat
  • 8 ounces fresh okra
  • kosher salt
  • cooked white rice
  • filé powder (optional)
  • thinly sliced green onion, optional (optional)
  • Tabasco
About the okra. Traditionally, sliced okra is used as a thickening agent in gumbo. If you do not wish to add the okra, you can add no more than 1 tablespoon of filé powder when you add the turkey. Alternatively, you can simply simmer the gumbo longer until more of the liquid is cooked off. 
About the salt. Remember, kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works. 
About the filé powder. Filé powder is made from ground dried sassafras leaves and is used as both a thickening agent and as a flavor enhancer with its earthy flavor.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page


  • Prep. Finely chop enough for one cup each of celery, onion, and green bell pepper. Slice the okra crosswise into 12-inch pieces. Set vetables aside.
  • Slice smoked sausage into 1/4-inch rounds.
  • Fire up. Prepare a grill for 2-zone cooking. On a charcoal grill, place a chimney full of lit charcoal briquets to one side of the grill's charcoal grate in order to create direct and an indirect cooking zones. Adjust the vents to bring the grill temperature to about 325°F (163°C). On a gas grill, adjust the temperature knobs so that the temperature is approximately 325°F (163°C).
  • Cook. Place a heavy pot or Dutch oven to the grill. Sauté sausage slices until lightly browned. Remove sausage from the pot, leaving the grease.
  • Add two tablespoons of canola oil to the pot and heat until shimmering. Add the vegetables to the pot. Sauté vegetables until they have softened, approximately 8 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pot and set aside.
  • Begin creating a roux by adding the remaining oil to the pot. Slowly add flour to the pot, stirring well to get rid of lumps and create a paste. If the mixture isn't thick enough, simply add more flour. Continuously stir the roux for approximately 20 minutes until it turns chocolate brown.
  • Slowly add the chicken stock, stirring it into the roux to keep it smooth. Add the sausage, vegetables, ground cayenne pepper, thyme, and bay leaves to the liquid.  Allow the gumbo to simmer for 45 minutes, moving it to the cooler side of the grill if it starts to boil. 
    simmering pot of gumbo
  • Add the turkey, okra, and cayenne to the gumbo and let it simmer for an addition 15 minutes to allow the okra to soften. Add salt to taste. Remove bay leafs.
  • Serve. Place cooked rice in serving bowls and ladle the gumbo over the rice. Sprinkle filé powder on top of the gumbo (optional) then garnish with sliced green onion (also optional). Serve immediately with Tabasco for extra heat if needed.

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Published On: 11/3/2022 Last Modified: 2/15/2024

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