How long does turkey last in a fridge? Well, if you have a family like we do not long. But if your family is small, the chance is you would like to place it in your refrigerator to use the leftovers. So today, we will answer all your burning questions about putting the turkey in the freezer and fridge.
Safety Tips For Handling Turkey
How long the turkey lasts in the fridge depends on how you handle it, from thawing, storing, roasting, to reheating. The first and most important thing is to manage your food safely. Always make sure to wash your hand when working with any food.
The next step is to keep your dishes, utensils, and kitchen spotless as you will be working and using them with your meat. Once done cooking, serve your food on clean plates and never use the same platter with utensils for your raw and cooked poultry.
How to Buy Fresh Turkey?
When you decide to prepare a dish using turkey, the best is to buy your meat at least the day before or at least two days before the time. Now comes the question of how long does turkey lasts in the fridge.
You can keep it stored in your refrigerator until ready to cook the meat. Then, you can keep it for up to two days placed on a pan or tray to catch up all the leaking juices in the fridge. Yet, do not buy your turkey pre-stuffed when fresh as the stuffing causes harmful bacteria that multiply.
You can do this if you decide to prepare it on the same day.
How Long Does Turkey Last in the Refrigerator?
If you do not plan to make your turkey within two days, keep it refrigerated until you want to thaw it. You can keep your poultry in the freezer compartment for up to a year but not later than that.
Once you want to prepare your meal with the meat, you can do it in three different ways:
- You can check your user manual to set it according to the minutes per pound on the correct power level using your microwave. Make sure to remove all the wrapping and place it in a microwave-safe dish. Once thawed, cook the meat immediately and never refreeze it if not cooked.
- You can also leave the meat to thaw in your fridge in the original wrapping on a tray to catch the juices. You can leave it standing up to two days in the refrigerator when thawed. If thawed adequately in your fridge, you can refreeze it.
- The last method is using cold water by wrapping it securely to prevent the water from seeping through the wrapping. Then, submerge your poultry into cold water and change the water every 30-minutes. But once thawed cooked the meat immediately but do not refreeze if you do not plan to cook it.
Pounds and Days for Thawing in Fridge
- You can leave a four to 12-pound turkey for up to three days to thaw in your fridge.
- For a 12 to 16 pound turkey, you can leave it for up to four days.
- A 16 to 20-pound poultry can be left in the refrigerator for up to five days.
- If your turkey weighs 20 to 24 pounds, you can safely leave it in the fridge for up to six days.
Pounds and Days for Thawing in Cold Water
- You can leave a four to 12-pound turkey for up to six hours in cold water.
- For a 12 to 16 pound turkey, you can leave for up to eight hours.
- A 16 to 20-pound poultry can be left in cold water for up to ten hours.
- If your turkey weighs 20 to 24 pounds, you can safely leave it in the water for up to 12 hours.
A helpful note is to remove the giblets after thawing and cook them separately.
How to Roast Your Turkey?
The best is to set your oven to a temperature not lower than 325°F and place it on a rack in your shallow roasting pan. If you want even cooking, the best is to cook your stuffing outside in your casserole dish. If you leave it inside, use a food thermometer to check it as it should reach 165°F in the center.
The best when cooking the meat with stuffing is to fill the cavities loosely before cooking. For checking the meat doneness, you can use the thermometer on the thickest part of the inner thigh, and the meat should cook at 165°F.
The same applies to check the breast. Again, do it on the thickest part. While your turkey might have a pop-up temperature indicator, it helps to check the internal temperature of the meat and stuffing. Once cooked, please leave it to stand up to 20 minutes before carving.
Roasting Time Table per Pounds
- Four to eight-pound breast takes up to 3 ½ hours
- Eight to 12 pounds can take up to three hours
- 12 to 14 pounds of turkey takes up to 3 ¾ hours to cook
- 14 to 18 pounds up to 4 ¼ hours
- 18 to 20 pounds up to 4 ½ hours
- 20 to 24 pounds up to five hours
Stuffed turkey depending on the pounds, can take from 3 ½ hours up to 5 ¼ hours.
How Long Does Turkey Leftovers Last When Stored?
Never leave your sauce and stuffing standing at room temperature for longer than two hours. It helps to divide your leftovers into smaller portions to freeze or refrigerate using shallow sealed containers. Try to keep your stuffing and meat separate, eat it within up to four days, and use the gravy within two days. If you want to freeze the leftovers, you can keep them in the freezer for up to six months in a sealed container. Then, you can reheat your turkey leftovers at 165°F.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
If your meat is cooked and placed in a safe container, you can keep it in the fridge for up to four days. But after the fifth day, we recommend throwing it out. When reheating the poultry, make sure it is piping hot throughout the meat.
When stored in the wrapping on a tray in a pan, you can leave it in the fridge for two days, but leftovers you can eat within four days. If you decide not to eat the portions, you can place them in the freezer for up to six months.
According to the USDA, you can keep the leftover poultry for four days in the fridge and frozen for up to six months. But you may find the taste is not the same when frozen for that long.