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Fresh, warm kolaches

Turkey Dinner Kolaches recipe


Savory stuffed kolaches, made with leftovers from your Thanksgiving feast. The dough is based on a recipe from King Arthur Baking.


For the dough (enough for 9 kolaches)

  • 1 1/4 C lukewarm—95–100°F (36–38°C)—milk, divided
  • 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast or active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 1/4 C (390g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened (you can soften butter by beating it repeatedly with a rolling pin)
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp salt

ingredients for kolache dough

For the filling

  • Leftover turkey
  • Leftover stuffing
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Congealed gravy
  • Cranberry sauce, homemade or canned (recipe below in notes for homemade)
  • Any other Thanksgiving leftovers you want to be in there

Thanksgiving leftovers


Make the dough and form the dough balls

  • Combine the sugar, yeast, 1/4 C of the flour, and 1/4 C of the milk (verify it is warm enough with your Thermapen ONE) in a small bowl. Set aside to allow it to activate for about 15 minutes.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast/flour mixture and the remaining dough ingredients. Mix with the dough hook, kneading until the dough is smooth and supple.
    • The dough will still seem sticky and somewhat slack. That is ok!

Sticky kolache dough

  • Scrape the dough out onto an oiled surface.
  • Using a scale, portion out the dough into 3-oz portions.
  • Roll each portion into a ball on the countertop using a cupped palm.
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  • Set each dough ball on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Set the dough balls aside, covered, to proof and rest for 30 minutes.

Prepare the filling

How you prepare your filling is up to you. You can follow this guideline, which we found to be an excellent ratio, or change it up. I recommend warming up a small portion of the filling in the microwave to see how well it works and to adjust any seasonings or proportions.

  • Remove any skin from the turkey as well as any non-edible bits of bone, etc., then chop it into ~1/4″ pieces.

Chopped turkey

  • Combine about 1 cup of turkey with 1/2 C mashed potatoes, 1/2 C stuffing, and 3/4 C cold gravy. Mix it all up by hand, then warm a spoonful of it up to check for balance and seasoning.
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  • Have the cranberry sauce close at hand.
  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C).

Stuff and cook the kolaches

  • To fill a kolache, take one ball of dough, and flatten it into a round, about 6-inches across.
  • Spoon 1–2 tsp cranberry sauce into the center of the round and top with 1–2 Tbsp turkey filling.
  • Pull two opposite sides up over the filling and pinch them together, then pull the two other sides up and pinch the whole thing together. Pinch and twist the seam together and set the kolache, seam-side down, back on the pan.
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  • Fill the remaining kolaches the same way.
  • Put the kolaches in the oven and bake for 15–25 minutes. Set a timer to know when to check their temp. The wide window for the time accounts for how much filling you use as well as how cold that filling is. Cooking strictly by time won’t do!
  • When the timer sounds, check the temperature of the filling with your Thermapen. If it hasn’t reached 165°F (74°C), continue to cook. If it has, and the kolaches are beautifully golden (they will be by this time), remove them from the oven.
  • Allow them to cool somewhat, and dig in! You may want to serve them with extra cranberry sauce for topping or even extra gravy (warmed) for dipping.

Oven-fresh kolaches


Homemade cranberry sauce that you’ll love in your kolaches and should add to your Thanksgiving table every year.


  • 1 lb fresh cranberries
  • 1 large, juicy orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • ~1/4 C brown sugar (more or less to taste)
  • Kosher salt, about 1/2 tsp, to taste


  • Put berries, cinnamon, sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and black pepper in a small saucepan.
  • Use a veggie peeler to peel 5 or 6 strips of zest off of the orange—almost half the zest of the orange. Add them to the pot with the other ingredients.
  • Cut the orange in half and juice it into the saucepan, too.
  • Add enough water so that there is about 1/2″ or liquid in the bottom of the pan.
  • Cook the sauce, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until all the berries have burst and the sauce becomes jammy.
  • Check for sugar/salt balance. remove the cinnamon stick. You can remove the zest strips or leave them in.