We thought we’d tell you how to store leftover turkey from Thanksgiving or any other meal in the freezer. We are certain that we always have more than enough leftover turkey after a Christmas meal.
We don’t mind because we like incorporating leftover turkey into different dishes. You can preserve the leftover turkey for extended periods by freezing it in chunks for use in subsequent recipes.
Although this applies to any brand, we prefer Honeysuckle White Turkey because they don’t utilize antibiotics that promote development, giving you a healthy product to enjoy. The shelf life of a cooked turkey is only 3–4 days. Thus, freezing is a fantastic solution to extend the life of the leftovers. By doing this, you may benefit from discount pricing and get a bigger turkey, guaranteeing you will have leftovers.
How to Freeze Leftover Turkey?
To prepare diced turkey pieces, separate the meat from the bones. Put the object in a freezer-safe container or bag. Take out as much air as you can. However, poultry does not expand significantly when frozen; leave a quarter inch to allow for expansion of the turkey. In recipes for soup and chili, diced turkey works well.
Use the same instructions as above, but shred the turkey for the shred turkey pieces. Turkey that has been shredded works well in taco and pasta dishes.
Put your turkey in a freezer-safe container or bag after shredding it for turkey in gravy. Gravy should be poured on top, with at least a half-inch gap left to expand as it freezes.
Recipes that Use up Leftover Turkey
There are many delicious ways to use up leftover turkey. Cooked turkey is extremely versatile and stays in the fridge for a few days and up to three months in the freezer. You can turn it into all kinds of tasty dishes! Try a turkey shawarma by stuffing it into warm pitas and serving it with Greek yogurt. You can also make turkey kebabs. Whatever your tastes are, there is a dish that will suit your leftover turkey.
Another great way to utilize leftover turkey is to make crispy golden turkey patties. These patties are versatile enough to stand alone but also great in sandwiches. If you’ve got extra turkey, you can add them to any recipe for a delicious meal. You can also make them into a salad or add them to a casserole for a quick lunch or dinner. Make sure to use the same amount of turkey in each recipe, as leftovers can go a long way.
Safe Ways to Store Leftover Turkey in the Refrigerator
When you have leftover turkey after Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll probably want to ensure it’s as safe as possible. Most experts recommend using it within four days. This is because it takes longer for harmful bacteria to grow on stored foods, and meat can develop mold growths that can be harmful. You should always wash your hands before touching the leftover turkey, chop it on a clean board, and re-wrap it before storing it in the refrigerator.
If you don’t plan to eat the leftover turkey immediately, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to three months. While the meat stays safe after this period, it loses its flavor and becomes tough. However, it would be best if you never refroze raw turkey. In addition to the refrigerator, you can freeze leftover turkey and make another meal. Be sure to write down the freezing date and use it as a reference when cooking and eating it.
Defrost Cooked Turkey Breast Before Freezing
If you’re storing cooked turkey breast in your freezer, it’s time to defrost it before freezing it. Thawing will activate natural bacteria in the meat, which are harmless but can multiply if allowed. Fortunately, there are two steps to defrost turkey breast before freezing it. Here’s how to do it correctly. First, take your turkey out of the freezer and place it on an empty shelf. Then, use a FoodSaver machine to vacuum-seal the meat. This will extract the air from the meat, preventing freezer burn and inhibiting the growth of bacteria. After sealing the turkey, wrap it in heavy-duty aluminum foil, which will block light from opening and closing the freezer door.
After cooking the turkey, remove the skin and remove any excess fat. Then, place the cooked turkey breast into plastic bags or freezer-safe containers. Seal the bags tightly and label the container with the date and contents. Turkey breast can be frozen for up to 3 months. Keep the freezer at 40degF. Thawing a cooked turkey breast depends on the size of the turkey and the refrigerator. A general rule of thumb is 24 hours for every 5 pounds of meat.
Best Way to Store Cooked Turkey
Slice the meat from the bone as much as you can before using the bones to make stock. By doing so, you’ll be able to pack your leftover turkey more tightly and get rid of some of the excess air. See the list below if you want to freeze whole leftover turkey pieces.
Any cooked turkey that has not been consumed within two hours of serving should be refrigerated and sealed. Your turkey won’t keep as well if it has been left outside for a long period.
How Long can Leftover Cooked Turkey Stay in the Fridge Before Freezing?
You can store your turkey in the refrigerator and eat it for up to 4 days if it has been handled properly. For the best texture and flavor, you should freeze it as soon as possible after cooking if you intend to do so. After three days, though, leftover turkey can be frozen without issue. You can safely freeze a turkey in the refrigerator for up to three days if it is in a tightly sealed container and doesn’t dry out.
What are the Best Containers for Freezing Turkey?
I use freezer-safe zipper-top bags for freezing turkey since you can truly squeeze out all of the extra air before sealing them. Packages with zipper tops designated for freezing are thicker than conventional zipper top bags and unquestionably superior. Also, take into account reusable freezer-safe bags.
It’s acceptable to use a freezer-proof container. Again, you want to minimize the air in the container to prevent freezer burn, so ensure the turkey is fairly tightly packed in.
Please make sure to label any container you use with a permanent marker. You should indicate the type of turkey you are freezing (for example, breast meat), the date you are freezing it, and, if you like, the quantity in the container.
How to Freeze Turkey Parts?
Simply make sure to wrap them up tightly in plastic wrap if you have any leftover legs, wings, or thighs that you want to freeze on the bone. After that, place them in a zip-top freezer-safe bag, remove any extra air, label it, and freeze it. I prefer bags because it’s simpler to press out extra air. However, if you frequently freeze food, wrap them tightly first. If necessary, purchase thicker plastic wrap made specifically for the freezer.
How do you Defrost or Thaw Frozen Turkey Safely?
The bag or container should be kept in the refrigerator for at least one day and, if you are defrosting more turkey, up to two days. If the container is small enough to rotate on the carousel tray and defrost safely and evenly, you can also defrost a turkey in the microwave. You should check your defrost setting to ensure you perform correctly because every microwave is different. While some microwaves allow you to plan your defrosting by weight, others have more specialized settings.
No Meat Should Be Thawed At Room Temperature, Including Turkey! In particular, for those who are very young, very old, or immune-compromised in any way, this may allow bacteria to form, which could be dangerous.
You might not need to defrost the turkey if you use it in a casserole, soup, or stew. Check the recipe to see if adding it while still frozen makes sense. It might also help keep it juicy and moist by doing this. The liquid and other ingredients will help keep the turkey moist as it defrosts and heats through, for example, if it is heating up in chili.
Reference: How to freeze home-prepared foods
Does Freezing Change the Taste?
Freezing Taste or texture is unaffected in any way. Frozen leftover turkey tastes exactly as you would expect it to and is a fantastic method to store it for later.
Tips and Tricks
- When something is on sale, buy more than you need and save some for later.
- Soon use your bird. Don’t keep it frozen for more than six months.
- Remember that leftover turkey will spoil after it has thawed; use it within a reasonable time.
- If it is about to spoil, don’t try to save it; it will still spoil quickly when you thaw it.
- On the day before you intend to use it, put it in the refrigerator to thaw.
- Great information regarding your holiday turkey!
- Additionally effective for turkey breast!
Turkey cooked to order freezes well. So, if you have any leftovers you can’t finish within 3 to 4 days, you can always freeze them to enjoy in the next 2 to 6 months.
Before freezing the cooked turkey, cut it into smaller pieces. A cooked turkey shouldn’t ever be frozen whole. Freezing takes up a lot of room. Defrosting also requires days.
You can safely thaw frozen cooked turkey in the refrigerator, in a cold water bath, or the microwave. Before serving, reheat the food until it reaches 165 °F.