Gobble, gobble, Pizza Freaks! Are your bellies sufficiently stuffed after your Thanksgiving feast? Well, it’s time to make some room. Sure, turkey is the main event on Thanksgiving Day—been there, done that. We’re in the post-Thanksgiving era now, which means it’s time to get back to real life, a.k.a. pizza.
But, what’s that you say? Your fridge is filled to the brim with leftovers from the feast? We thought so. Grab those Tupperwares and CorningWares and get ready to PIZZA-FY! Because who really wants to eat soggy, microwaved leftovers for a week? Not you. We’ve got a crazy-good Thanksgiving LEFTOVER Pizza recipe that’ll take your day-old turkey and stuffing to a new level.
Turn your stuffing and mashed potatoes into a crust, slather it with gravy and cranberry sauce, and load it up with whichever leftovers you’ve got! (The only other thing you might need is extra cheese…but we’re sure you keep an emergency cheese stash somewhere in that fridge.) Check out the recipe below—after you fill up on this Thanksgiving knowledge.
How Thanksgiving Came to Be
The legend of Thanksgiving begins back in 1621, when the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock in what’s now modern-day Massachusetts. They were looking for some space from England, so 100 pioneering Pilgrims agreed to hop on the Mayflower and cross the Atlantic to get a new colony started. But, not long after arriving, the Pilgrims were nearly starving to death and things were lookin’ grim. Then, as the legend goes, the Pilgrims were saved by the locals—the Wampanoag Native American tribe in the area. They taught the Pilgrims the key to their survival: farming. After the first harvest came around, it’s said that the Pilgrims and their gracious local friends shared a meal together—what we now call the very first Thanksgiving!
Nowadays, Thanksgiving is literally known as Turkey Day, but Turkey might not even have been part of the first Thanksgiving! It could’ve made an appearance, but it wasn’t the main event. It’s more likely that they were eating deer meat, duck, and/or geese. But, there’s also a good chance that the first Thanksgiving was a surf ‘n’ turf kinda feast with plenty of seafood! The colony was right next to the coast, meaning lots of clams, mussels, lobsters, and eels probably made it to the table. Cranberry sauce? Sweet potatoes? Pumpkin pie? They wouldn’t come around for at least 50 years! But, the folks sure weren’t short on food—it’s said that the celebration ended up lasting 3 DAYS.
Then, more than 200 years passed before Thanksgiving became an actual holiday. We can all give our thanks to the Mother of Thanksgiving, a woman named Sarah Hale—who was also the genius behind the song “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” At that time, in the mid 1800s, there were only two existing national holidays: Independence Day and Washington’s birthday. Sarah Hale had urged president after president to put Thanksgiving on the calendar until, finally, Abe Lincoln was open to the idea of a third national holiday. Just before the Civil War ended, Sarah Hale convinced Lincoln that a national Thanksgiving celebration would help bring the divided country together. So, on October 3rd, 1863—about a year and a half before the war ended—Abe finally declared that the last Thursday in November would be a national Thanksgiving holiday.
Belly-Busting Thanksgiving Facts
- It’s estimated that 46 million turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving Day alone in the U.S. Since the average Thanksgiving turkey weighs 16 pounds (7.25 kg), that’s over 700 million pounds (315 million kg) of turkey—close to the weight of the Empire State Building!
- The average American consumes between 3,000 and 4,000 calories on Thanksgiving Day.
- Out of the entire year, the night before Thanksgiving is the 4th most popular night to order pizza!
- The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday for shoppers, but it’s also known as “Brown Friday”—the busiest day of the year for According to the experts at Roto-Rooter, between all of the meal prep, cleanup, extra showers, and (of course) extra toilet flushes, houseguests can put a serious “strain” on the system.
- In Louisiana meat shops during the late ’70s and early ‘80s, the Turducken began to appear—a chicken, stuffed inside a duck, stuffed inside a turkey!
- Cranberries are sometimes called bounceberries, because you can test how ripe they are by whether or not they bounce.
- The most popular pie in America is apple pie, with nearly half (47%) of all Americans reporting it’s their favorite.
- In Ohio on October 8, 2005, local pumpkin growers baked the Largest Pumpkin Pie in the world, weighing 2,020 pounds (916 kg) and just over 12 feet (3.7 m) long!
- The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade started out as a Christmas parade in 1924! At that first parade, the streets were filled with clowns, jugglers, and even animals like elephants and camels, loaned from the Central Park Zoo. It wasn’t until 1927 that they debuted their first parade balloon: Felix the Cat.
- In the almost 100 years of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades, the Snoopy Balloon has appeared in more parades than any other balloon.
- Weirdly, Jingle Bells was originally a Thanksgiving song! In 1857, James Pierpont composed the song for children celebrating Thanksgiving at his Boston Sunday School. But, it was such a hit that it was played again during Christmas, and then again and again until it became known as a Christmas tune.
A Moment of Thanks for Turkeys
Let’s face it, turkeys are the big kahunas of Thanksgiving. Whether you like eating ‘em or not, it’s likely you’re among the 88% of Americans who does eat turkey on Thanksgiving. So it’s only fitting we honor them with some words—and they’re also pretty cool birds...
- Way back in the day, guinea fowls were imported to Europe and the English started calling the birds “turkeys,” because they were brought over by Turkish merchants. Then, the Spanish came to America awhile later, where they found a bird with that same, guinea-fowl-esque taste. When the Spanish sent those birds to Europe, they became known as “turkeys” once again and the name has stuck!
- Only male turkeys (known as toms) gobble, while females (known as hens) cackle, cluck, and click.
- Wild turkeys are fast. With their strong legs, wild turkeys can run at speeds up to 25 mph (40 kph), and they can go as fast as 55 mph (88 kph) in flight! But, domesticated turkeys can’t fly because they’re bred to be heavier.
- Tyson, the world’s heaviest turkey on record, weighed 86 pounds (39 kg)!
- Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the United States’ official bird. He thought the eagle had “bad moral character,” while “in Truth, the Turk’y is in comparison a much more respectable bird.”
- Based on recent archaeological findings, experts have determined that a giant turkey-like dinosaur was roaming areas of the U.S. and Canada 75 million years ago! It’s said to have been a species of oviraptor—a type of dinosaur with wing-like arms, feathers, long claws, and a toothless beak—that towered at about 7 feet (2.1 m) tall and could run as fast as 30 mph (48 kph). The species was named Hagryphus giganteus, meaning “giant four-footed, birdlike god of the western desert.”
- Turkey was first meal enjoyed on the moon by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin! Not exactly a full roasted bird, but their foil food packets contained roasted turkey.
- Big Bird’s suit is actually made of turkey feathers that are dyed yellow.
Just like those turkey-dinosaurs evolved, so is Thanksgiving. A surf ‘n’ turf feast has morphed into a turkey bonanza, the Macy’s Christmas Day Parade has become a Thanksgiving parade, and even the Thanksgiving tune, Jingle Bells, has moved on to Christmas. There’s always room for new traditions, like this Thanksgiving Leftover Pizza. And we’re sure you’ve got room to fit it in your belly.
- 3 cups stuffing
- 1 ½ cups mashed potatoes
- ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup gravy
- ½ cup cranberry sauce
- carved turkey, chopped
- roasted Brussels sprouts & bacon
- mac & cheese
- shredded cheddar cheese
- or whichever Thanksgiving dishes you have left over!
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
- In a mixing bowl, combine stuffing, mashed potatoes, and mozzarella cheese. Mix to integrate.
- Spray an oven-safe pan or skillet with cooking spray. Press crust mixture into pan and bake for about 30 minutes.
- In another mixing bowl, stir together gravy and cranberry sauce to make the sauce for your pizza.
- When crust is baked, allow to cool slightly. Spread on your sauce.
- Layer on toppings and sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
- Return to oven to bake for another 5 minutes or so, until melty.
- Cut into slices, serve, and Eat The Leftovers Pizza!
Yields 1 gobble-worthy Thanksgiving Leftover Pizza.