Turkey is possibly one of the most loved leftovers in the world. There’s just so much you can do with it ! One of the classic turkey leftover recipes is a turkey sandwich, with cheese and cranberry sauce and all the goodies you’ve got left.
But what cheese goes best with turkey ? You’ve worked on it a whole damn day, you need a great cheese to go with that delicious roast turkey. So what will it be ?
Well let’s take a look at the two best cheese types folks use for turkey. You can pick your favorite from here, and we’ll even walk you through making your own turkey sandwich if you’ve never had one before !
What cheese goes with turkey ?
The best cheese for turkey is usually a mild cheese, like Gouda, Edam, Colby, Havarti, Swiss, or even Muenster. If you want to taste the cheese more, you can use an aged, pungent cheese like Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, Asiago, or you can go for a blue cheese.
There are really two ways you can make a turkey sandwich, and both are up to you. If your turkey is smoky and bacon-laden, then you may want a mild cheese, to keep the turkey flavor the star of the show.
If your turkey is a plain, roast turkey then there’s room left on your taste buds for a stronger cheese, one you’ll definitely take notice of. Something aged and pungent, possibly even a washed-rind cheese if you have the stomach for it.
We’ll guide you through our recommendations, but you pick whatever you think would work best in your situation. There are folks who like their sandwiches screaming with flavor, and folks who like to keep things mellow. So let’s see what we have.
Mild cheese for smoky turkey
We recommend you use a mild cheese if your turkey is really flavorful or smoky. It’s a strong flavor and adding strong cheese will only crowd everything. So here’s what we recommend.
Gouda, Edam, Colby, Monterey Jack, Havarti, Swiss, American, Muenster are all mild cheeses. They work great in cold and grilled sandwiches and they all melt wonderfully.
You can use several of them or just one, and you can throw in as many slices you like.
Cheddar might work, as well as smoked Gouda. The cheddar brings a sweet, sharp note and the smoked Gouda is going to stand out juuuuust a little.
Another interesting turn is a pepper Jack, wither on its own or in combination with another mild cheese.
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Aged cheese for plain roast turkey
If your turkey is very simple (but delicious), then there’s room for a stronger cheese. Turkey meat is halfway between beef and chicken in terms of flavor, so it will hold up to a pungent cheese, without completely washing it out.
Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, Provolone, Asiago, would all provide a sharper, more pungent flavor that’s definitely going to stand out in a sandwich. If you don’t feel like using just aged cheese, you can combine it with a few slices of mild Edam or Havarti.
All of these work great in a grilled sandwich, just expect them to be a little runnier than the mild ones.
Any blue cheese will go great in a plain turkey sandwich. Still, we recommend you don’t mix this with Parmesan or Pecorino because the flavor will be just too intense. Best to use blue cheese with a mild cheese.
You could also go for a washed-rind cheese, if you think you can stomach it. It’s possibly the most pungent thing in this world, aside from durian. But if you’re in the market for a wild ride, then go for a Gruyere, Beaufort, Fontina, or Limburger.
Does mayo go with turkey ?
Yes, mayonnaise goes very well with turkey. It helps a turkey sandwich meld all the flavors, and it’s really a lifesaver if your turkey came out dry.
That being said, there’s all kinds of mayo versions out there, whether vegan or non-vegan. We mean flavored mayo, like with herbs or garlic or (we’re pretty sure we saw it somewhere) bacon.
Now we know mayo can be too much for some people, and that’s okay. There’s plenty of other spreads to use for your beloved turkey sandwich, or just in conjunction with turkey meat. So let’s take a look.
Mayo substitutes for turkey sandwich
Pesto is an interesting take on a sauce for a turkey sandwich, and one that will bring everything a fresh, new flavor. It’s refreshing and definitely something you should try at least once. If you ever thought turkey was too strong of a flavor, then pesto will definitely mellow it down.
Hummus can be a very protein-rich spread to try with turkey. Especially if you’re looking for extra protein sources, adding hummus along with turkey and cheese is definitely going to help. The best part is that hummus brings a slightly earthy tone to the sandwich, making everything taste even meatier.
Cream cheese is a great substitute for mayo, and it will take the edge off most of the ingredients. You can get plain cream cheese or a flavored one, any would work.
Tzatziki sauce, as long as it’s not a very runny one. A slightly thicker version, with the cucumber juice already strained. If you thought pest would be refreshing, you should see tzatziki in action.
Do not warm this sauce ! It’s at its best when it’s cold. If you want a grilled sandwich, only add it at the end, or separately in a small bowl and dip the sandwich.
Mustard is a special favorite for many. What kind of mustard you use is up to you, whether it’s sweet or spicy or plain, all of it is going to work.
Classic turkey sandwich add-ins
Okay, so what goes into a turkey sandwich, aside from all that cheese ? Well then, let’s take you through all the ingredients you need for a classic turkey sandwich, and then you’ll know how to make your own !
If you’ve got leftover turkey then you’ve probably got leftover cranberry sauce. It provides a sweet, tangy flavor and saves a dry turkey too ! even if you don’t have a lot of sauce left, you can still slather on a little.
If you have no cranberry sauce, you can use any forest fruit jar, a red berry jam, or something similar. Just know that it might be way sweeter than cranberry sauce, so use sparingly.
An yes, the may. Or its replacement, whichever you want to use. The main point for mayonnaise is to hold every flavor together and extra lubrication.
Cheese is there for flavor, texture, and because it’s just damn delicious. Whichever cheese you use, know that you can mix and match it and add as much as you like.
A leafy green will always be welcome in a turkey sandwich, or just any sandwich. It looks good, it provides a little crunch, and it may even bring a little flavor in some cases.
Plain lettuce like romaine or iceberg will really be bland in taste, but you can always swap them for something else. Arugula is a nice change of scenery, as is radicchio or endive.
A few slices of ripe, juicy tomato is really a great addition to turkey sandwich. Try not to cut them too thick, otherwise they’ll just be harder to bite into and pull out of your sandwich. Some folks skip the tomato and use cucumber instead, that’s up to you.
The star of the show, the turkey. Sliced or pulled apart however you like it, as long as it’s there and delicious. It’s really the whole reason you made this sandwich, isn’t it ?
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We recommend using a thicker, denser bread. There’s a lot of ingredients in this sandwich and they come in large amounts. Your bread shouldn’t be flimsy white toast or it will break apart when you start eating.
Go for a thicker crust bread, like an Italian or French bread. Those hold up very well to toasting and grilling too !
Now all that’s left to do is assemble your sandwich. Slather mayo or a substitute on the first slab of bread, then add the ingredients in any order you like. Make sure to add the cranberry sauce directly on the turkey. Top with mayo and more bread, and you’re done !
If you want to grill this like a panini you totally can, just don’t overload it. A sandwich that’s too tall will only squish around the press and open up.