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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Turkey Basics: Handling Cooked Dinners

 


Take-out Dinners Hot from the Oven

Eating Within 2 hours? 
Pick up the food hot — and keep it hot. Keeping food warm is not enough. Harmful bacteria multiply fastest between 40 and 140 °F.

Set oven temperature high enough to keep the turkey at 140 °F or above. Use a food thermometer to check. Stuffing and side dishes must also stay hot (at 140 °F or above). Covering with foil will help keep the food moist.

Eating Much Later? 
It's not a good idea to keep food hot longer than 2 hours. It is better if you:

  • Remove all stuffing from the turkey cavity immediately and refrigerate it.
  • Cut turkey into smaller pieces and refrigerate. Slice breast meat; legs and wings may be left whole.
  • Refrigerate potatoes, gravy, and vegetables in shallow containers.

Reheating? 
Reheat thoroughly to 165 °F or until hot and steaming. Bring gravy to a rolling boil.

In the microwave oven, cover food and rotate dish so it heats evenly. Follow the microwave manufacturer's instructions.

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Cooked and Refrigerated

Keep Cold Food Cold 
Refrigerate cold food as soon as you get home (always within 2 hours). Serve your meal within 3 to 4 days.

Reheating a Whole Turkey is NOT Recommended. If you plan to reheat a turkey, cut the meat into smaller pieces. Slice breast meat. Legs and wings may be left whole. Refrigerate in shallow containers.

Exception: Cooked turkeys with the USDA inspection seal on the packaging have been processed under controlled conditions. Follow package directions for reheating and storing.

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Handling Leftovers

Perishable foods should not be left out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers promptly in shallow containers.

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Cooked Frozen Turkey; Side Dishes

Is the USDA Inspection Seal Visible? 
This seal on the label tells you the turkey was prepared in a USDA-inspected plant. Read and follow package directions for thawing, reheating, and storing.

No Handling Instructions on the Label? 
Follow these steps:

  • Thaw the wrapped, cooked, frozen turkey on a tray in the refrigerator. Allow about a day for every 4 to 5 pounds. Small packages such as stuffing, gravy, or potatoes will thaw in less time. Side dishes can go from the freezer to the oven.
  • Once the cooked turkey thaws, eat it (either cold or reheated to 165 °F) within 3 to 4 days.
  • To reheat turkey, cut the meat into small pieces. Slice the breast meat. Legs and wings may be left whole.

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Storage of Leftovers

It IS safe to freeze leftover turkey and trimmings — even if you purchased them frozen. Wrap tightly for best quality. Refrigerator (40 °F or below) 

  • Cooked turkey — 3 to 4 days
  • Cooked dishes and gravy — 3 to 4 days

Freezer (0 °F or below) 

  • Turkey, plain; slices or pieces — 4 mos.
  • Turkey covered with broth or gravy — 6 mos.
  • Cooked poultry dishes, stuffing, and gravy — 4-6 mos.

(Freezer storage times are for quality only. Frozen foods remain safe indefinitely.)

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Last Modified Jul 31, 2013