How long can you keep cooked turkey in the fridge?

Love your Christmas dinner leftovers with our top tips for keeping cooked turkey in the fridge or freezer

Carving a turkey
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Wondering how long you can keep cooked turkey in the fridge or freezer? While we hate food waste, we also hate the thought of anyone getting ill from unsafe food. Fortunately, you should still have a day or two of leftover turkey recipes in the old bird yet as long as your store and reheat it correctly.

As always, if you are at all unsure about whether something is safe to eat, don't eat it. Check the Food Safety UK site for more advice.

How long does cooked turkey keep in the fridge?

Once cooked, you turkey can be kept in the fridge for three to four days. The process of storing it safely starts as soon as you have carved what you need for Christmas dinner. Cover the cooked meat loosely with foil as it cools to avoid any airborne bacteria landing on it. Then once it has cooled, wrap it completely or cut up and store in a food storage container, before putting it in the fridge. Do not store it under or next to uncooked meat as the juices could contaminate it.

Every time you use some, make sure you practise good food hygiene by washing your hands before handling, and chopping on a clean board that has not been in contact with raw meat. Always re-wrap the turkey before returning to the fridge, and don't let it sit out of the fridge for too long between uses.

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How long does cooked turkey keep in the freezer?

If you want to freeze your leftover cooked turkey, let it cool, then freeze it on the day it is cooked. It can be safely stored in the freezer for up to six months although some will be past its best after only two. Wrap it tightly to avoid freezer burn and always defrost thoroughly before using it.

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How to safely reheat cooked turkey

There are so many things you can do to avoid wasting your leftover turkey. The first day or two after cooking, it can be sliced and eaten cold on sandwiches. Later on, you will probably want to reheat it before eating.

To reheat, always check the turkey is piping hot through to the centre before eating. If you use it to make a curry or other hot dish, remember that reheated curry should not be reheated again, so make the amount you need and don't be tempted to store the leftovers – reheat the meat only once. 

What to do with leftover turkey?

Sandwiches and curries are the go-tos for most people, but there are so many choices. See our list of the best leftover turkey recipes for more ideas. From ramen to enchilladas and salads, there are plenty of choices.

More food ideas and tips: