Turkey and Cranberry Panini

Thanksgiving Leftovers Solution: Turkey and Cranberry Panini
This past weekend, we had an early Thanksgiving … for no other reason than Hubby and I love, love, love turkey and dressing.

And, we were tired of waiting for it.

I didn’t go all out with our meal; there are only four in our family that eat solid food and only TWO of us (the adults) eat everything we are served, so making a huge meal would have been ridiculous.  No, I kept it simple: salad, a small pan of cornbread dressing, homemade Crockpot Chipotle Cranberry Sauce, and a few turkey legs and a breast (which were also cooked in a slow-cooker).

It was all lip-smacking fantastic.

The Chipotle Cranberry Sauce is something I have been trying to make for about three years, after falling in love with a smokey store-bought cranberry-chipotle sauce (you know, the kind that is poured over cream cheese and served with crackers).  Sure, I could just keep using the bottle from the store, but I wanted to make my own — a whole-berry sauce rather than a completely pureed one.

For three years I’ve been trying to make that sauce, trying various combinations of fruit, sweeteners and dried chipotle peppers.

It turns out the solution was whole chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  I had no idea the smokey flavor I loved was from that smokey paprika goodness found in a spicy adobo sauce.

But now I know.  Woo hoo for me.

The day after our feast, despite being careful not to make a ton of food, we still had leftovers and Hubby wanted them reinvented.  The gauntlet was thrown and I accepted the challenge.

Enter the Turkey and Cranberry Panini.

Ciabatta bread.  Turkey.  Cranberry sauce.  Havarti Cheese.  Spinach and Arugula.

Nothing short of divine and, according to a Hubby who ate TWO of these for lunch, “the best freakin’ sandwich ever.”

(sorry, he’s a little rough around the edges but I’m working on him)

Here’s the recipe just in time for the day after Thanksgiving and all the leftovers.


Turkey and Cranberry Panini

Perfect “Turkey Sandwich” to use up your yummy, after-Thanksgiving leftovers.


  1. Ciabatta Rolls (one per person)
  2. Leftover Turkey (dark, white or combination), chopped
  3. Cranberry Sauce (2-4 TB per sandwich)
  4. Havarti Cheese (one slice per sandwich)
  5. Spinach and Arugula (I used bagged Spinach/Arugula salad mix)
  6. 2-3 tablespoons of Olive Oil or Melted Butter
  7. 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced


  1. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil (or melted butter, if preferred) with the minced garlic. Set aside.
  2. If you have a panini press, use it. If not, place a large skillet or panini griddle on your stove, over medium heat.
  3. Slice the ciabatta roll(s). Take the bottom half of the roll and, using a pastry or basting brush, brush the exterior side with the oil and garlic mixture.
  4. Place the oiled side of bread on the skillet and then top it with the rest of the ingredients in the following order*: cheese, turkey, spinach/arugula, and then cranberry sauce.
  5. Brush the exterior side of the remaining half of ciabatta roll and then place it on the sandwich, using a heavy saucepan or stock pot to “press down” on the panini (if you aren’t using a panini press).
  6. Cook 3-5 minutes and then, carefully, flip the sandwich over, press again and cook an additional 3-5 minutes. If a darker crust is preferred or if your cheese hasn’t begun to melt, cook longer.
  7. Remove from the pan/press and serve.


*Why this order when assembling the sandwich? I learned (from a very messy first attempt) that this order is necessary to keep everything from falling out of the sandwich. The cheese and the meat fuse together as the cheese melts while the weight of the cranberry sauce keeps the spinach/arugula in place.



  1. says

    These sound great, I should try them (especially the panini…it wasn’t until recently I realized how absolutely yummy cranberries are).

  2. John T. says

    I’ve tasted “adobo” a several times and it’s good. A little bit salty but it’s delicious. I will try this recipe and serve it to my family, and hope to make it right. And I hope there will be no leftover. That means that they like it. Thanks!

  3. Fortunato says

    I like to try this looks delicious..Thanks for sharing the recipe..I might try to cook this..