How long does turkey last in the fridge? The best ways to store cooked turkey after Thanksgiving

Learn how long turkey will last in the fridge for and make the most of your Thanksgiving dinner leftovers, safely

Carving a turkey
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you enjoyed a great Thanksgiving Day feast, then you may be asking yourself how long does turkey last in the fridge? And, it's an important question, not only helping you waste less food, but also avoid the disappointment of any food spoiling which can lead to food poisoning. it's not what anyone needs. 

How to store cooked turkey correctly is simple, and you will definitely have time to enjoy your favorite leftover turkey recipes also when this bird is cooked correctly. Read our quick how-to, to understand how long you can keep cooked turkey in the fridge or freezer for, and to enjoy the rest of the Holidays in complete merriment.

How long does cooked turkey keep in the fridge?

Once cooked, you should store your turkey leftovers in the refrigerator within a couple of hours and when cool. Cooker 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 Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

How to store leftover turkey

  • Cover the cooked meat loosely with foil as it cools to avoid any airborne bacteria landing on it. 
  • 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.

How can you tell if turkey is bad?

If cooked turkey has gone bad, you can usually tell by the smell and texture. It may seem slimy in texture and smell strong, discard if this is the case and to avoid this at all costs, use our advice!

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Can you freeze cooked turkey?

Absolutely, and it's a great idea if you don't think you'll get to your Thanksgiving leftovers as soon as you'd hoped!

How to freeze cooked turkey

  • Let the turkey cool then slice the meat or cut it into more manageable chunks.
  • Wrap them individually in foil and seal them in Ziplo freezer bags
  • Wrap it tightly to avoid freezer burn
  • Freeze the meat on the day it's been cooked
  • Label your bag with the date (in case you forget!)
  • Always defrost thoroughly before using it.

How long does cooked turkey keep in the freezer?

Cooked turkey can be safely stored in the freezer for up to six months although some will be past its best after only two. 

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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. From ramen to turkey tacos, enchiladas and salads, there are plenty of choices.

  • You can check the FDA for more advice.
  • If you're UK-based, you can check the Food Safety UK site for more advice.