I love Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey dinner leftovers almost as much as I love Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner. It's not only the best meal, it's also the meal that keeps on giving! And the best of the best leftovers are definitely turkey sandwiches. Oh how I look forward to them. But a leftover turkey sandwich on a panini press? Now that is something to get really excited about. And this Turkey Panini (with Cranberry and Brie) is definitely leftover excitement worthy!
This Turkey Panini was inspired by a Chicken sandwich I had at Earl's restaurant years ago. It had a creamy garlic aioli, Brie cheese, fig spread and apples; and it was divine! I kept going back, hoping it was on their menu, but it never was. So, I had to create my own version of that sandwich. This sandwich is similar, but I use leftover roasted turkey and a homemade cranberry aioli instead of chicken and garlic aioli. This turkey and cranberry sandwich is a great recipe for using up those Thanksgiving leftovers or Christmas turkey dinner leftovers!
That year I had decided I would do it right; differently than I had done it in the past. I wouldn't eat Christmas dinner at my aunt's house. I would have a few snacks, then save up my appetite and eat Christmas turkey dinner at my in-laws. I thought this would be a much better solution than stuffing my face at both places or sitting awkwardly at my in-laws dinner table, full, while everyone else ate. Either way, it wasn't ideal. But at the time, I really thought this was the better plan. In retrospect, it clearly wasn't.
There were many years when my husband and I ran back and forth over the holidays, trying to spend equal amounts of time with both families. It could get a little stressful. But Christmas dinner was always the biggest challenge because of course, you wanted to be at two places at once. Too bad my plan was foiled that year because Christmas dinner is, hands down, the best dinner of the year.
I don't know what it is about the panini press, but it makes sandwiches good. It transforms a boring old, cold sandwich into a melty delight! I really think the magic is in the melty. Melty cheese just makes everything better and when it's Brie cheese, well, need I say more?
You don't have to make this Turkey Panini on a panini maker, but if you want those little grill marks, you'll need to. If you don't have a Panini press, I suggest you get one - you will not regret it! I have this Breville Panini Press, is one of the best ever investments I have ever made. You could also use a sandwich press or another type of indoor grill, such as a George Foreman grill or a stovetop grill pan (affiliate links).
This Turkey Panini recipe is the ultimate in sweet and savory. It features apple and fig, which are truly meant to be together, by the way. I discovered fig spread several years ago when I was trying to recreate a delicious chicken burger I had at Earl's restaurant. Then you add in the sweet and savory cranberry aioli,(you can use homemade cranberry sauce or canned) turkey, ooey gooey cheese and you have yourself a turkey Panini sandwich that is second only to Christmas turkey dinner. If you are not sure what to do with your holiday leftovers, and looking for a turkey panini recipe, then this is a great sandwich!
For this Turkey Brie Cranberry Sandwich, you'll need:
- rye bread (you can use another bread, if you prefer)
- leftover roasted turkey
- brie cheese
- green apples * I use Granny Smith
- Fig spread (affiliate link)
- Cranberry Aioli recipe
*see recipe card for quantities
📖 Variations & Substitutions
- Turkey - you could use deli turkey if you don't have leftover turkey or rotisserie chicken
- Bread - I use rye bread, but you could use another type of bread, such as sourdough bread
- Fig Spread - You can use fig jam or you could use apricot jam, prune jam or date jam as a substitute
- Cheese - you could substitute Swiss cheese, Provolone or sharp Cheddar cheese for Brie
- Apples -I use tart green apples, like Granny Smith apples. You can use another type of apple, but I find these hold up best
- Add-ins - add some homemade pesto (or store-bought pesto) or crispy bacon
- Mix ingredients for Cosmo Cranberry Aioli. On one half slice of read, add 1 tablespoon cosmo cranberry aioli, then 1 tablespoon fig spread on the other.
- Then add ¼ of the turkey to the slice with fig spread. Next place slices of apple (circles/rings over slices of turkey), then add ¼ of of brie cheese. Place the cranberry aioli side slice of bread on top of the other slice (with meat, apples and brie). Repeat for remaining 3 sandwiches.
- Place the slices of bread with cranberry aioli on the side of the bread with turkey, apple and cheese.
- Place on top of hot panini grill and cook until ready and cheese is melted.*Note: You can make this sandwich on a stove top in a frying pan, as you would a grilled cheese sandwich, if you do not have a panini press.
This turkey cranberry sandwich does not hold up well in the fridge after its made. However, you can prep all the ingredients for it (and store in separate airtight containers) for up to 3 days.
👪 Serving size
This turkey panini recipe makes 4 panini sandwiches. However, you can half, double or triple the recipe by clicking on the blue serving size in the recipe card. Select the number of servings you'd like and the quantities will adjust accordingly.
🥗 Side dishes
Here are a few ideas for what to serve this leftover turkey sandwich with:
- Quick Cucumber Kimchi
- veggies - carrot sticks and sliced cucumbers
- Skinny Coleslaw Recipe
- Leftover Corn Succotash
- Spinach salad
- Sweet Potato Fries with Garlic Mayo Dip (shown)
💭 Top tip
You CAN eat the rind from brie cheese (it's actually meant to be eaten) but if you want to remove the rind, the easiest way to do this is to:
- Use a vegetable peeler for the edges
- Use a knife for the top (but you will lose some of the cheese)
Sadly, Christmas Dinner leftovers weren't even my salvation that year. When I arrived at my in-laws for Christmas dinner that year, I was shocked to see everyone sitting around an empty table. They never finished Christmas dinner that early! All the food had been put away and mother-in-law said, "Oh, I thought you would have eaten at your aunt's? You usually do." My heart sank. I had neglected to share my plan with my husband or his family. The even weirder thing was that there weren't even any leftovers that year and there were always leftovers. So, I did the polite thing and I lied. I told her I had eaten more than I actually had at my aunt's so she wouldn't feel bad. I was starving.
To add insult to injury, I had sat through the torture of watching my entire family eat our outstanding traditional turkey dinner at my aunt's house AND I knew my Mom wouldn't have any leftovers when I got back home because the dinner had been at my aunt's that year! Ugh.
So my carefully crafted plan to avoid being a pig and eating too much, while trying to be polite, please everyone and avoid another awkward mealtime experience at my in-laws, had completely blown up in my face. I had planned myself right out of a Christmas turkey dinner! The dinner that is THE ultimate most delicious and highly coveted meal of the entire year! And I didn't get any.
So if you are lucky enough to have leftover turkey and cranberry sauce, use it up with this unique, sophisticated and delicious Turkey and Cranberry Sandwich! This bold flavors in this hot sandwich, ( with turkey, cranberry aioli, fresh green apples, fig spread and ooey-gooey melted brie cheese) come together to treat your taste buds to a sensational experience! And if you're looking for even more leftover turkey recipes, give my Leftover Turkey Enchiladas and my Turkey Brie Crostini a try!
The moral of the story: Don't squander the opportunity to eat a turkey dinner - EVER! If you have a chance to have two turkey dinners, count yourself lucky. Don't worry about eating too much, pleasing everyone, being polite or any of that- just eat! My husband's parents passed away several years ago and I'd give just about anything to have a second turkey dinner with them again.
Merry Christmas Turkey Dinner and Christmas Turkey Dinner Leftovers!
And if you're looking for more sandwich recipes, try my Mediterranean Monte Cristo Sandwich!
Did you make this turkey brie cranberry sandwich? If you thought this was the best sandwich, please leave a 5 star rating below!
📋 Leftover Turkey Panini (with Cranberry and Brie)
- Mix ingredients for Cosmo Cranberry Aioli
- On one half slice of bread, add 1 tablespoon cosmo cranberry aioli, then 1 tablespoon fig spread on the other.
- Then add ¼ of the turkey to the slice with fig spread. Next place apple circles/rings over turkey, then add ¼ of of brie cheese. Place the cranberry aioli side slice of bread on top of the other slice (with meat, apples and brie). Repeat for remaining 3 sandwiches.
- Place the piece of bread with cranberry aioli on the side of the bread with turkey, apple and cheese.
- Place on top of hot panini grill.*Note: You can make this sandwich on a stove top in a frying pan, as you would a grilled cheese sandwich, if you do not have a panini press.
- Place the cover down on the top of the sandwich and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until top is browned and cheese is melted.
- Serve and enjoy!
🎄More Holiday Leftover Recipes
- Healthy Leftover Creamy Ham Pasta with Peas
- Easy Turkey Pot Pie (with cream of chicken soup)
- Healthy Turkey Wraps (with leftover turkey)
- Leftover Cranberry Sauce Coffee Cake (with Coffee Glaze)
- Leftover Turkey Enchiladas
- Cranberry Gingerbread Stovetop Rice Pudding (with leftover rice)
- Gluten-free Holiday Ham & Rice Benedict with Blender Cranberry Hollandaise