How Long does Cooked Turkey Last in the Fridge?

Do you have questions about how long a cooked turkey can be refrigerated or how long it will last in the freezer? For this, you need to know the right storage method. You can use Tupperware or an airtight container to ensure optimum freshness. If unsure, you can use your nose to determine the quality and avoid wasting food.

You can learn everything you want to know about Cooked Turkey right here. No one minds eating turkey leftovers, but it’s important to store the food properly. Here are some smart ways to safely freeze leftover food and use it instead of storing it for too long and wasting it.

How long does Cooked Turkey Last in the Fridge

How Long does Cooked Turkey Last in the Fridge?

Since being refrigerated, the cooked turkey should be consumed within two days. Indeed, occasionally you might need more time to complete everything. In this situation, you can freeze these leftovers from the holiday to save waste, but do this by the second day they are in the refrigerator. If you completely defrost your turkey before eating it, you can safely eat a frozen turkey for two to six months.

The average shelf life of a cold, cooked turkey is up to four days in the refrigerator but always exercise caution. You must take particular care if you plan to reheat your turkey. You are reheating leftovers more than once can create the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and produce poisons.

Even if you boil the meat a second or third time above 75°C to kill the germs, the poisons will still be there. When eating cold leftovers, only take what you need out of the refrigerator because leaving the turkey out at ambient temperature for an extended amount of time might also promote the growth of bacteria.

Some Useful Tips to Enhance the Shelf life of Cooked Turkey:

Using Tupperware Containers to Freeze Cooked Turkey: Refrigerator-safe Tupperware containers are an excellent choice for Cooked leftover turkey. While keeping leftovers refrigerated is unnecessary, they can still cause cross-contamination. That’s because they’re likely to be moved around a lot, increasing the risk of new bacteria. It is advised to check the temperature of meals with a thermometer.

After cooking the turkey, freeze it or consume it as soon as possible to extend its lifespan. Most food experts agree that the best time to eat leftover turkey is four days after cooking it. That’s because it takes longer for harmful bacteria to grow on meat. If you’re concerned about bacteria, you can defrost the turkey in the microwave. You’ll be able to detect spoiled turkey by the appearance of gray, slimy meat and a bad smell.

Using Airtight Containers to Freeze Cooked Turkey: To prevent food poisoning from the turkey, eating it within four days after it’s been cooked is best. The meat will retain its quality only after it has cooled to room temperature and is then safe to store in airtight containers in the fridge for three to four days. However, leaving it out too long can develop mold and fungus that can spoil the leftover turkey.

If you plan to serve Thanksgiving leftovers to friends and family, you can eat them as soon as possible. After Thanksgiving, you can store your leftover turkey and other foodstuffs in airtight containers in the fridge. Moreover, you can store pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, cornbread, and cranberry sauce for another day or two.

Trust your Nose to Determine the Quality: If you have leftover turkey from Thanksgiving dinner, trust your nose. The smell of spoiled food can be a great indicator of the quality of leftover turkey. If the leftovers smell weird, throw them out! It would help if you did not cook or feed them to your pets.

The essential thing to remember is that you should never consume dangerous food. Always follow the recommended storage temperature and labeling guidelines regarding food products. If in doubt, use a thermometer or a trusted calibrated thermometer.

Reference: Determination of the Quality and Shelf Life of Sous Vide Cooked Turkey Cutlet Stored at four and 12ºC.

How Long can Cooked Turkey be Kept in the Freezer?

Turkey can be frozen indefinitely, although the Food Standards Agency advises using it within three to six months. It will still be ok to consume after this point, but the quality might suffer.

Although the NHS recommends that raw meat that has been defrosted should never be refrozen, it is ok to refreeze the cooked leftovers if you previously defrosted the turkey and then cooked it. Fresher meat when it goes into the freezer means fresher meat when you take it out, so you should freeze cooked turkey leftovers as soon as possible after eating.

The turkey needs to be cool first, though. Meats must reach 21°C within two hours of cooking to be refrigerated to avoid the growth of bacteria. The meat should be cooled before freezing, so the fridge temperature doesn’t rise and jeopardizes other food’s safety.

You may then cool it down in the fridge before freezing it. If you decide to freeze leftovers, wrap them properly to prevent moisture loss from the meal. As a result, the food may become dry and tough and develop “freezer burn,” which can still make it safe to consume but taste less appealing.

Keep in mind that cooked leftovers should not be refrozen after they have been defrosted; instead, they should be consumed within 24 hours. Because you should only defrost what you use when you come to utilize the leftover turkey, it makes sense to freeze it in portions.

How should I Use Leftover Turkey?

You can do several things with leftover turkey to consume more quickly, from cooking curries to Christmas sandwiches. Your leftover turkey can be used to make a pie. Combine it with ham, spread it on puff pastry, and bake.

A flavorful turkey curry is another dish that is always a good choice. It can also be served with leftover mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, and gravy for a cozy, homey meal. For a lighter option, incorporate your leftover turkey into a salad or serve it on pita or flatbread with some feta or hummus.

How Long does Cooked Turkey Remain Fresh After being Frozen and Thawed?

In contrast to turkey that has been frozen in the microwave or cold water, cooked turkey that has been refrigerated can be preserved for three to four days after cooking.

How to Tell if Cooked Turkey is Bad?

The best way to know if a turkey is good or bad is to smell it and look at it. Bad turkey has a sour smell and a slimy texture when cooked; throw out any bird that exhibits these symptoms; do not taste the turkey first. Three indicators that a cooked turkey is bad:

Smell: When cooked turkey has gone bad, you can smell it. The turkey isn’t fit for eating if this aroma disappears and is replaced with a sour scent. A properly cooked turkey should have the flavorings you used to season it.

When spoiled, cooked turkey may also absorb other disagreeable odors. So, if you detect any strong odor different from the one you had when you prepared it, you should assume it has spoiled.

Texture: When bad, cooked turkey may also get slimy. As previously suggested, bacteria cause the slime that forms on cooked or raw turkey. As a result, it is never advisable to taste suspect turkey to ensure its freshness. If your cooked turkey has slime, throw it away immediately and wash everything it touched. One risks contracting enteritis by doing this.

Mold and Color: Your cooked turkey may be spoiled if it looks to be turning darker than when you first cooked it. This discoloration could be yellowish, grey, or greenish in hue. Any color on the turkey that wasn’t there when you cooked denotes potential deterioration.

An offensive odor or slimy texture should support your suspicion. Although it is uncommon, mold growth on turkeys is possible. When a turkey goes bad, it could develop mold if it retains a lot of moisture after cooking.

What Temperature does Turkey Require to Kill Bacteria?

To determine the internal temperature, a meat thermometer should be utilized, which needs to be at least 165° F. Before taking the chicken out of the oven, check the temperature in the thickest section of the breast, the innermost region of the thigh, and the wing.


If you have leftover turkey after cooking it, you should eat it within two days in the fridge. However, if you want to finish it later, you can freeze it. To freeze leftover turkey, you must do so a day after placing it in the refrigerator. Check the turkey for rancidity before freezing it, as a bad odor can indicate poor cooking.

To keep turkeys fresh and prevent bacteria, cook them to an inner temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. To avoid contamination, don’t store cooked turkey near raw meat, especially raw chicken. The juices from cooked turkey can contaminate raw meat.

Please wash your hands after handling cooked turkey, use a clean cutting board, and re-wrap it before returning it to the refrigerator. Over two hours can raise the risk of cross-contamination, so don’t leave the turkey out of the refrigerator. That way, you can enjoy your cooked turkey anytime.