Great ideas from Bill Granger, Adam Liaw and more for turning everything from leftover cooked greens to corned beef into breakfasts you'll love.
11 Sep 2019 - 11:10 AM  UPDATED 11 Sep 2019 - 11:10 AM

If the phrase ‘leftovers for breakfast’ conjures up visions of a soggy slice of pizza zapped in the microwave …. Aha! You thought we were about to diss leftover pizza, didn’t you? Nope. We LOVE leftover pizza, reheated or cold.

But what about recipes that use up those little bits of leftovers? The rice you didn’t finish with last night’s curry. The cooked greens, or baked potatoes, or that last bit of corned beef? Here are some of our fave recipes for using stuff up in your morning meal – it will taste great and give you that warm fuzzy feeling from knowing you’ve used something that might have languished in the fridge and then ended up in the bin. Happy belly, happy heart. 

Pile it high

This Bourbon French toast with ham and butter-braised tomato sounds and looks like something you’d order at a café, but in fact it’s easy to make, takes only about half an hour and puts a mighty tasty twist on leftover ham!

Bourbon French toast with ham and butter-braised tomato

Rice, rice, baby

There are so many options for rice for breakfast, including delicious congee, but fried rice is a favourite, because as Adam Liaw points out in his recipe for basic egg fried rice (which is a great basic platform for using up other leftovers, too), “fried rice is easiest when made with leftover rice that has been cooked and refrigerated. The refrigerated rice is firmer and will soften as it reheats in the wok”.  To kick things up a notch, try Liaw’s kimchi fried rice, a firm favourite with SBS Food fans.

If rice and egg are your idea of breakfast heaven, don’t miss Bill’s Kitchen: Notting Hill, as Bill Granger whips up one of his favourite ways to use leftover rice. "My fried ginger and garlic brown rice … takes no time at all and is everything, I think, food should be, simple and absolutely delicious," he says. [Watch double episodes of Bill’s Kitchen: Notting Hill Thursdays 8.30pm from September 12 on SBS Food Channel 33, and get the recipe for his ginger fried brown rice with egg and spring onion here.] 

Leftover greens

A favourite with Dr Claire Bailey and her husband Dr Michael Mosley, this gut-friendly breakfast fry-up with green bananas comes from The Clever Guts Diet Recipe Book. Unripe bananas are a brilliant source of resistant starch (an excellent prebiotic) and the recipe is a great way to use up leftover cooked greens such as kale or cabbage.

A breakfast fry up using what's already in your fridge could be ingenious.

Coming around again… (sorry, we couldn’t resist the pun!)

Scrolls are a great way to use up leftovers; ham and cheese are easy options, but you can also use up other deli meats, bacon, pesto, olive tapenade…

Try this recipe from Adrian Richardson, which uses a simple scone dough; it’s an easy way to use up bacon, chorizo or salami, and makes for an easily portable breakfast too.

A super-easy way to use up leftover bacon, chorizo or salami. You could also add cheese.

Another alternative: these ham and chive breakfast scrolls, made with bought puff pastry.

Corned beef, take two

Turn leftover corned beef into a five-star version of hash browns with this recipe from Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evans. Serve up with soft poached eggs to make a breakfast to satisfy farmers and city folk alike.

The breakfast burger

Use up leftover potato in this bubble bap (named because the filling is a twist on bubble and squeak), a hearty way to start the day!

Bubble bap

Bill Granger is also a fan of leftovers ‘taters. “Growing up I always remember my mother making a fried breakfast, a big fry up. And we had, you know, left over potatoes and bubble and squeak, bacon eggs and I loved it. I especially loved the fried potatoes,” he reminisces in Bill’s Kitchen: Notting Hill. “I like to do a little bit of a simpler version nowadays, not quite as much work with left over potatoes. And I think, when the potatoes are left over, it makes this dish so much better. I don’t know what happens, but when they’re overnight in the fridge they really dry out, so when you fry them the take on all the flavours and become incredibly crisp.” [Watch Bill whipping up his curried potatoes with fried egg in episode 3 of the show, on SBS Food Channel 33 on 19 September, 8:30pm.]

Frittata is your friend

Fritattas, Spanish omelettes and similar eggy bakes are a great way to use up leftovers, especially those small amounts that you don't quite know what to do with. Try this chorizo and goat's cheese frittata.

Likewise, you can add those small amounts of bits and pieces to the topping for an open-face omelette, like this one, which is piled with tofu, greens and kecap manis, and great for breakfast or an easy weeknight dinner. 

Sweet potato, too

This recipe for baked sweet potato stuffed with sausage meat, onion and spinach and topped with cheese was shared with SBS Food by Katie from the Wellness Mama blog, who says she often makes a bunch of these ahead of time and wraps them in foil, ready for quick meals. Equally, you can apply the filling to leftover baked sweet potato. “This is one of our favourite sweet potato recipes and it makes a filling and easy meal. The potatoes are surprisingly great for breakfast and you could substitute any kind of meat for the sausage,” she says.

On the sweeter side 

Turn leftover banana bread into these zingy banana bread, raspberry and ricotta trifles, which work just as well as breakfast or dessert. 

See Bill Granger cooking his leftover rice and potato favourites in Bill's Kitchen: Notting Hill, Thursdays 8.3pm on SBS Food channel 33 from 12 September, then on SBS On Demand

More ways to love your leftovers
13 meals that solve any leftover yoghurt dilemma
Just as the Turks, Balkans and Indians have long known, yoghurt is more than a breakfast staple. Drizzle it over Middle Eastern-style stuffed veg, serve a dollop with grilled meat, stir through cake batters, and blend it into Greek-style dips.
10 delicious ways to use those leftover chocolate eggs and bunnies
You have two options: stuff yourself sick, or turn those excess eggs and bunnies into one of these tasty, shareable treats, instead.
Leftover chicken and soba noodle salad

Roast chook never goes to waste in my house as there are countless ways to produce new dishes from leftovers, like this yummy salad with soba noodles and a fragrant ginger dressing. I use snow peas and spring onions in my recipe but change it up depending on what you love and have on hand.

Coronation chicken sandwich

Cooked chicken in a creamy curried dressing makes a sandwich fit for a Queen!

Quick kitchen-scrap pickle

Quick pickling is a great way to use up any vegetables in the fridge at the end of the week, as well as those leftover vegie stems – cauliflower, beetroot, broccoli and kale stems all make really delicious pickles!