Our favourite ways to use up Christmas leftovers

Some say that the Boxing Day leftovers feast is as good as the Christmas Day dinner itself, and I’m inclined to agree with them.

Right from the very first chocolate that you get in the advent calendar, Christmas food is a rather exceptional affair. The festive season is filled with treats, mouth-watering dishes, tantalising savoury and decadent sweets. These are flavoured with spices, gravy, winter fruits, booze, cream, chocolate and just about every luxury that you can think of. It’s no wonder that our tummies look forward to December every year.

The season’s feasting reaches its peak, naturally, on December 25th. Throughout the day, the dinner table is filled with a fabulous range of sensational dishes that have been prepared with love. But, no matter how greedy you are (trust us, we’ve tried), we never seem to finish everything that’s been served up on Christmas day. Inevitably, there are bound to be a few bits and bobs that are leftover from the day’s eating. We might not be able to say the same about the Christmas drinks, though.
However, this has become its own tradition, in and of itself. Christmas leftovers are, in their own right, a foodie staple of the festive period. It’s a great chance to, not only cut down the waste that we create on this day of indulgence, but to also give our culinary brains a chance to get creative. Christmas leftovers are characterised by weird and wacky flavour combinations, and rich, decadent upgrades of easy, comforting mid-week meals.

Whether it’s your classic Boxing Day sandwiches or a multi-cheese macaroni cheese (which we’ve got the recipe for below), the Christmas feasting doesn’t have to stop on the 25th.

If you’re looking for some inspiration for Smart Xmas use-up ideas, that will help you to transform your leftovers in style, we’ve got the perfect resource for you. For a whole bank of recipe ideas, check out the BBC Food website. They’ve even got a whole collection dedicated to Christmas leftovers.

In this innovative set of recipes, you’ll find everything from stilton and butternut squash quiche to turkey jambalaya. Or, if you want to try your hand at something really different, Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood has provided a recipe for turkey, stuffing and cranberry-filled Chelsea buns. The website even has a full set of recipes dedicated to using your leftovers to secure yourself the ‘best ever Boxing Day’.

On the pudding front, the BBC website has thought of plenty of ways that you can use up any leftover desserts, too. These recipes have been contributed by a whole host of celebrity chefs and bakers, including Nigella Lawson’s Italian Christmas pudding cake, and Tom Kerridge’s spiced orange cake with Christmas pudding ice cream.

Leftovers have never been so decadent.
Now, we’ve got a recipe for what might just be the pinnacle of comfort food. This oozy, melty, rich and creamy macaroni cheese is a brilliant cosy (and secretly dead easy) dish that the whole family can get stuck into. What’s more, it’s a great way to use up the odds and ends of cheese that you’ll have leftover from the Christmas cheese board.

For the mixture of cheeses that goes into this flavourful macaroni cheese, you can use whatever you have around left from your after-dinner Christmas treat. This could be cheshire, cheddar, stilton, brie, camembert, blue cheese… you get the idea. What we would suggest is that, for the topping, you’d be best using a hard cheese (either cheddar or parmesan works well), as this will give your dish a yummy, crispy, cheesy top.


Cheese board leftovers macaroni cheese recipe

Pasta shapes, 350g
Butter, 2 tbsp
Garlic, 1 clove, crushed
Mustard powder, 1 tsp
Cayenne pepper, ½ tsp (optional)
Plain flour, 3 tbsp
Milk, 500ml
Mix of cheeses, 250g, plus extra hard cheese for the topping

  1. Cook the pasta (according to the instructions on the pack). Then drain and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add in the garlic. Cook for one minute, then add the mustard powder and cayenne pepper to the pan, and cook for a further minute.
  3. Add the flour to the pan, and stir well to make a paste. Cook the mixture for about a minute, until it just starts to bubble.
  4. Take the pan off the heat and gradually pour in the milk, bit by bit. Whisk well with every bit of milk added, as this will stop the sauce from going lumpy.
  5. Once the milk has been added, return the pan to the heat, and cook for 5 minutes until it has thickened. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C / 160°C fan.
  6. Add the cheeses, and stir until the cheese is completely melted. Then fold in the pasta.
  7. Tip the pasta into a baking dish, and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden and bubbling nicely. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

With these recipes on hand, you’ll be able to keep the Christmas indulgence coming all the way to the New Year.

You could either use these ideas to make up a stunning Boxing Day feast. Or, you could freeze your Christmas day leftovers and then use them up bit-by-bit, making the most out of these recipes by using them for easy week day meals.

At Smarter, we’re all about thinking of clever tips and tricks for your smart home. If you’re thinking about upgrading your kitchen ready for the festive cooking frenzy, our Boxing Day sale is now on. So you can secure yourself some innovative kitchen technology at a fantastic price. Or, they make the perfect gift to treat any keen cooks in your life. These smart gifts make a great thoughtful gift to pop under the Xmas tree this year.

Written by Josephine Walbank