13 Best Recipes Using Leftovers, According To TikTok

Inspiration hides in the back of your fridge.

A screenshot of a TikTok showing how to make kimbap-jeon, a recipe for leftovers.

Since the pandemic and the advent of mass working-from-home, many people have developed a whole new relationship with their cooking routine. Not only have shortened commutes from one’s bed to the home office led WFH’ers to seek out quick and easy lunch recipes, but more time near the kitchen has also offered them an opportunity to discover their inner foodie. And few social media trends have inspired as many amateur chefs quite like Foodie TikTok. While TikTok has introduced some totally innovative recipes like baked feta pasta, and offered food hacks galore, there’s one underrated TikTok foodie trick that is probably right under your nose: TikTok leftovers recipes.

A January 2022 survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Bosch home appliances found that 61% of Americans report eating leftovers more than ever since the start of the pandemic. In fact, the survey found that the average American eats leftovers for three meals per week — with 46% citing convenience and 32% saying that affordability causes them to turn to their tupperware for meal time. Not only is using leftovers a great way to cut down on food waste, cooking time, and your spending, but it’s also a way to get creative in the kitchen. Some of the most popular leftovers to repurpose, according to the survey, were soup, pizza, meat, pasta, and rice. However, as evidenced by viral leftover recipes like Emily Mariko’s salmon rice bowl, the creativity of foodie TikTok knows no bounds.

Ready to turn that to-go box into crispy rice? How about skipping the microwave with that pasta and turning it into a casserole? Better yet, why not finally try out the viral pasta chip recipe? No matter what you made last night, you’re sure to find a creative way to breathe a second wind into you leftovers with these TikTok recipes.

1. Rice Crust

Have leftover rice from last night’s takeout? Creators Ms. Shi and Mr. He have a simple and delicious rice crust recipe to repurpose your rice. Flatten the rice in a bag with a rolling pin, cut out circles, and fry the circles in a pan before brushing with teriyaki sauce. Fold seaweed around the rice, and you’ve got a crispy treat at your fingertips. Over half of participants in the Bosch survey noted rice was one of the best foods to eat as leftovers, making it the fifth most popular leftover food.

2. Potato Scones

This TikToker has a delicious Scottish spin on your leftover potatoes. Known as “tattie scones,” these potato scones can be made by mashing leftover boiled potatoes with flour, butter, and salt. Flatten them, cut them into circles (or the more traditional triangles), and throw them in a pan to get them toasty. Roasted potatoes ranked at eighth most popular for leftover foods according to the survey, but perhaps their popularity will rise when at-home chefs try out some tattie scones.

3. Kimbap-Jeon

A popular recipe for reviving leftover kimbap, a Korean dish consisting of steamed rice wrapped in dried seaweed paper with fillings like fish and meat, kimbap-jeon is made by dipping kimbap in egg (some recipes also dip in flour first) and frying the pieces in hot oil. The result is an eggy, crispy take on the popular dish.

4. Spaghetti Casserole

Who says lasagna is the only casserole-worthy pasta? Revamp your spaghetti by throwing it in a casserole dish with sauce and any other toppings left over from your Sunday dinner — like meatballs or chicken. Cover the top of the dish in a cheese of your choice and bake in the oven for a unique spin on spaghetti leftovers.

5. Pasta Chips

While cold pasta recipes like pasta salad have been dominating the leftover game for years, newer trends like TikTok’s viral pasta chip recipe have found TikTokers making new use of their leftover pasta. Best used on any pasta shape that can be easily transformed into chip form (think bowtie, penne, etc.), all you have to do is drizzle your pasta leftovers with some olive oil and seasoning. Pop them in the oven and set out some tomato sauce for a dip.

6. Charcuterie Chicken

When making charcuterie, sometimes your eyes (and your board) can be much bigger than your stomach. Luckily, this flexible recipe can be tailored to fit whatever ingredients are the last finger foods standing on your cheese board. In this recipe, leftover pesto and cheeses are used to fill a chicken breast, while leftover prosciutto wraps the chicken into a delicious Italian meal.

7. Fried Rice Waffles

Now that everyone is on the savory oatmeal trend, it’s about time that savory waffles get their day in the sun (or on the FYP). Mix your leftover fried rice with eggs, and press onto a waffle maker. Use the dip or sauces of your choice, and voila — breakfast just became as easy as takeout from the night before.

8. Croutons

Avoid tossing your loaf of bread into the trash the next time it goes stale. Instead, cut your bread into cubes, dress them in oil, spices, and herbs, and toss them in the air fryer (or the oven). Now, your salad, soup, and stuffing can get a homemade upgrade.

9. Homemade Pickles

If you find yourself with a bucket o’ vinegar and herbs at the end of your pickle jar, don’t throw that magical mixture down the drain. Pop some fresh cucumbers (or sliced spears) into the container and let them ferment into pickles.

10. Potato Skins

Saturday’s roast can turn into Sunday’s football game snacks when you hold onto your leftover potato skins. All you need to do is lather the potato skin trimmings in oil and the seasoning of your choice and pop them in the oven. Cheese and bacon optional, but encouraged.

11. Chocolate Mousse

Here’s a perfect hack if you’re ready to break up with your box of Valentine’s chocolates. Throw your chocolates in a bowl with hot water, place the bowl over a container of ice water, and whisk until the mixture becomes a fluffy mousse.

12. Chicken Salad Tostadas

According to the survey, meat was the third most popular leftover food, which makes a lot of sense considering how versatile dishes like chicken can be. If you’ve got some leftover chicken, you can transform it into a delicious chicken salad to top your tostadas — or to enjoy on its own. Shred your chicken and combine it with veggies, mayo, and sour cream. Add some pickled jalapeños for an extra kick, and serve the dish over a crunchy tostada.

13. Bubble & Squeak

Take a note from the Brits and repurpose your leftover mash by mixing mashed potatoes with veggies. (Cabbage is traditional, but any veggie of your preference will do.) Scoop the mixture into patties and fry them in hot oil. Bloody simple, innit?