After a Thanksgiving feast, I can pretty much handle a replay of the dinner “as-is” once, maybe twice before I get antsy. This includes the traditional turkey-stuffing-gravy sandwich most of us eagerly anticipate every year (with good reason, it’s delicious!). By Day 2 and 3, I’m usually still staring down a considerable quantity of leftover turkey, but am still too stuffed from the holiday’s food fest to handle much more than a sandwich. Enter Turkey Croissant Panini. This has been my favorite post-Thanksgiving sandwich for at least the past 10 years. Turkey slices are layered onto buttery croissants, with sliced Brie from the holiday’s cheese board, cranberry sauce or relish, and a few leaves of baby arugula for a fresh, peppery contrast. It’s a satisfying, luxurious, easy way to enjoy your leftovers. (We all need a little “easy” after all of that Thanksgiving prep, right?)
Those readers who follow me on Facebook will remember me mentioning Turkey Croissant Panini on “National Sandwich Day” a few weeks ago. Truth be told, that post made me so hungry for panini that I couldn’t wait until after Thanksgiving. I wound up making one that weekend with carved turkey I bought from my grocery store’s prepared food case (followed, of course, by another after I brined and roasted this week’s turkey). If you don’t own an electric panini press, worry not (I don’t have one either!). A grill pan on the stove with a weighted grill press (or an improvised weight, such as a small skillet with a large can on top) works just as well. If grilling isn’t your thing, this is also delicious as a cold sandwich. You really can’t go wrong with croissants and cheese, especially Brie, in any form.
As a concept, this sandwich is extremely versatile, and can be adapted to accommodate different leftovers. I’ve always been a huge fan of turkey and Brie, but it’s fantastic with sliced ham or chicken, and just about any cheese you have in your refrigerator. I’ve made these panini with gouda, pepper jack, and sharp cheddar in past years with great results. Though they’re not traditional panini fare, we always include croissants in our holiday bread baskets, so they’ve become my “go-to” bread for day-after sandwiches. They’re especially delicious grilled. As the weighted croissant toasts, its coveted flaky layers crisp and become extra-buttery. Since croissants have such a significant butter content, you also don’t need a lot of extra fat on the grill or panini press to avoid sticking and promote browning. I just use a light spritz of cooking spray. (Not that I’m billing a Brie and croissant panini as health food or anything!)
I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving making great memories around the table with those you hold dearest. If you’re out shopping today, I wish you godspeed, great sales, and Turkey Croissant Panini to fuel you along the way!
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- 4 croissants
- 8-12 slices turkey breast (depending on thickness)
- 1/2 cup cranberry sauce or relish (whole berry works best here)
- 12 ounces Brie, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices, or your favorite cheese
- 1 cup baby arugula leaves
- Split croissants horizontally and lay open halves on a cutting board. Spread each half with 1-2 tablespoons of cranberry sauce (depending on how sweet you like your panini), and a few slices of Brie. Layer with turkey and top with baby arugula leaves. Close croissant halves.
- Preheat a panini press, or a grill pan on the stove over medium flame until hot. If using a panini press, oil the grates and cook the sandwich according to your manufacturer's directions. If using a grill pan, give it a light coating of cooking spray. Place panini on the grill and weight with a grill press or a small sauté pan weighted with a heavy can. Grill 3-4 minutes per side, until croissants are toasted and cheese is melted. Cut in half and serve.