Turkey Panini

5 from 39 votes

If you have lots of leftover food from Thanksgiving, try this easy turkey panini recipe, made with turkey, thyme, cranberry sauce and melty provolone cheese

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This turkey panini recipe is the perfect way to use leftover turkey from Thanksgiving and Christmas. Easy to make, these grilled Italian sandwiches are a real treat! Made with cranberry sauce and thyme.

Final outcome of the turkey panini showing two halves of the sandwich stacked on top of each other with a aside of cranberry sauce
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It’s the day after Thanksgiving! My belly is full, my heart is full and our fridge is full of so many leftovers! And like many of you, I’m wondering what to do with leftover turkey. My favorite and easiest thing to do with leftover turkey is sandwiches. This turkey panini is an easy way to use up the leftover turkey. I’ll share more ideas below too.

What is a panini?

Ideally, you will want to use a panini press for this grilled sandwich. Panini’s are Italian toasted sandwiches, that are made in a panini press. Each side of the press is heated, and you push it down to get all of those ingredients melted together – it’s weighted so you get beautifully flat sandwiches!

Ingredients to make a turkey panini

To start, set out the ingredients to include in your turkey panini. There’s obviously going to be turkey and cheese and bread. Try a rustic bread like thick sourdough, focaccia, ciabatta or a whole grain baguette. You want to avoid light and airy breads because they don’t grill as easily and sometimes get flat or soggy.

I like to keep it simple with those ingredients and add some leftover cranberry sauce and fresh thyme. For the sandwich, I recommend using spray olive oil or mayonnaise to coat both sides of the sandwich. I used mayonnaise here because I like the taste of it with the turkey.

Marble background with sourdough slice bread, cheese, turkey, cranberry sauce, thyme, and mayonnaise

How to make a turkey panini

Start by laying the bread down on a flat surface and spread mayonnaise on both pieces of bread. Then, it’s time to layer the sandwich. Try to do a mix of white meat and dark meat in the turkey panini. The white meat is leaner but the dark meat is juicer. Be sure to load it with fresh thyme because it just screams thanksgiving, and brings out all the flavors of the ingredients.

Collage showing how to place the ingredients on the bread

Continue assembling the sandwich and add any other ingredients you’d like. You can throw in some stuffing, some vegetables like brussels sprouts, or even some mashed potatoes. I don’t bother adding any gravy, sauce or dressing. There’s usually some leftover gravy right on the turkey breast from the way I store it. And the mayo and cheese give the panini plenty of sauciness! If you are going to add anything, I would recommend just a little extra gravy. Stay away from mustard which can really overpower the taste of the turkey panini.

Collage showing how to make a turkey panini using leftovers - ready to be grilled

Once everything is layered on, place the cheese last, carefully close the sandwich and place it on the panini maker. If you don’t have a panini grill, you can heat a skillet large enough to fit the sliced bread. No need to spray the skillet since we already have mayonnaise (or olive oil) right on the outside of the sandwich.  You’ll want to cook the turkey sandwich for 2 minutes per side, gently pressing down on top of the sandwich with a spatula as you cook. This will ensure even cooking.

Perfectly melty turkey panini

You’ll know it’s cooked when it’s golden brown and the cheese is melted. This turkey panini will satisfy your cravings for leftover turkey, solve any problems for what to do with leftover turkey and make your belly so happy. It has a perfectly golden crispy crust, juicy tender turkey on the inside and a mix of salty provolone cheese with sweet and tart cranberry sauce that makes for a tasty easy meal after a big holiday feast.

Stack of two halves of turkey panini straight from the grill with a side of cranberry sauce

Tips to make the best turkey panini

  1. Sourdough bread makes the best sandwiches in my opinion!
  2. Spread mayo on both sides of the bread so it doesn’t stick to the panini maker.
  3. The panini make must be hot before you put the sandwich in it.
  4. If you don’t have a panini press, you can also make this in a skillet on the stovetop.

Frequently asked questions

What kind of bread is best to use in a panini maker?

Personally, I really like to use thick sourdough to make panini, but any thick bread will work well. Ciabatta, baguette and focaccia are all excellent choices!

Can you eat this cold?

I prefer eating panini sandwiches straight off of the press while the cheese is hot and melted. You can of course eat them cold as well if you like.

How long to panini sandwiches keep?

f you do have leftovers, they will keep in air tight container in the fridge for about a day. To reheat them, you can put them in a toaster oven or oven for a couple of minutes until the cheese has melted.

What to do with leftover turkey

If you ended up with lots of leftover turkey, here are some other great recipes of what to do with it. Try a couple of the recipes below from my favorite bloggers. And if it’s still too much turkey, you can certainly freeze the turkey and store it for up to 3 months. Be sure to remove all the bones so the turkey meat is ready to go and be used in any of the recipes below. This will be a lifesaver when you’re looking for last minute meal ideas!

For more sandwich recipes:

I hope you try the turkey panini and I hope you try those other amazing recipe ideas and not be left worrying what to do with leftover turkey. But hey, in the end, that’s a good problem to have, so gobble gobble gobble!

If you make this healthy-ish feelgood Turkey Panini recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!

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Turkey Panini

If you have lots of leftover food from Thanksgiving, try this easy turkey panini recipe, made with turkey, thyme, cranberry sauce and melty provolone cheese
5 from 39 votes
Servings 1 person
Course Sandwiches
Calories 577
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 4 minutes
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  • 3 ounces sourdough bread 2 slices sliced about ½ inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 3 ounces turkey breast
  • 2 tablespoons cranberry sauce
  • 1 slice provolone cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme


  • Heat a panini press or skillet to medium high heat.
  • Spread the mayonnaise on both sides of the bread. Lay the slices down on a clean work surface. Place the sliced turkey breast on top of one slice of bread. Add the fresh thyme leaves, then the cranberry sauce and finally the provolone cheese.
  • Cover the sandwich with the other slice of bread.
  • Transfer the sandwich to a panini press or hot skillet. Press together gently to help the whole sandwich stick together. Cook it until the bread is crisp and golden and the cheese is melted, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Slice the sandwich in half and serve immediately.



Storage: I would recommend consuming the sandwich right when it is made. However, you can store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for one day. To reheat, place is back in the panini maker or in a toaster oven for 1-2 minutes until it’s warm and the cheese has melted.
Substitutes: For best results, follow the recipe as is. However since it’s a leftover turkey sandwich, there is so much room for customization to make it your own.
Equipment: It’s so fun to make sandwiches in my panini press. I have the Cuisinart 5-in-1 Griddler – pretty much a magic appliance in the my kitchen that does so much! If you don’t have a panini grill, you can use a skillet and cook the sandwich for 2 minutes per side, pressing down with a spatula as you cook.


Calories: 577kcal, Carbohydrates: 62g, Protein: 36g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 71mg, Sodium: 955mg, Potassium: 395mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 14g, Vitamin A: 580IU, Vitamin C: 11.2mg, Calcium: 289mg, Iron: 4.8mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine American
Course: Sandwiches

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  1. Tsvetelina Nedelcheva says:

    May I ask the name of the small stuff you used in the video in order to clean the thyme leafs from the brunches?

    Thank you 😍

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Hi! Which video are you referring to?

  2. Diana Cooper says:

    Suggestion for browning the panini: Rather than spend money on a panini press or dirtying a skillet to press the sandwich, wrap a brick in aluminum foil and use that. It’s just about the right size and weight for a long narrow sandwich and you can just wipe it clean and use it again for the next time you develop a hunger for another one of these delicious sandwiches!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Wow love that idea! Thank you!

  3. Alicia says:

    This was amazing!! You can use any bread any cheese also whatever you have on hand the things that make this sandwich is the panini style and the turkey cran and thyme!! Sooooo good

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      So glad you enjoyed it! Your picture with the salad looked amazing!

  4. Amy says:

    Made the sandwich yesterday. The whole experience of adding the cranberry and the rosemary was a rise to great taste.