“How to reheat turkey?” is a loaded, deep question that many ask— especially right after Thanksgiving! The answer is simpler than you might expect.
Turkey is an amazing type of meat: not only is it super versatile, but it also tastes like Heaven. Both rich and dry, dark and light, deep and moist, turkey is the favorite of thousands around the world.
It’s not just the appearance, though! Its nutritional profile is stellar: turkey is very good for you— probably better than chicken. This is why it has become the favorite of millions of people who are trying to lose weight.
Besides its amazing taste and nutrient pedigree, turkey can bring back dear memories of good times with family members and friends. What’s not to love?
However, turkey is sometimes mystifying and confusing to buy, cook, and store. Tips and recipes are passed down families. What do you do when you cooked too much and have turkey leftovers?
Of course, throwing this precious poultry away is out of the question. Storing and reheating it is the only path that is left!
Why cook with turkey? Uses and nutritional profile
If you are an enthusiastic meat eater, turkey is one of your best and healthiest options. This classic fowl has lots of good nutritional benefits to offer you:
- It is low in fat. Typically, turkey is 70% white meat and 30% dark meat. As white meat has less fat than dark meat, this is a fairly lean proportion (to keep it low-fat, though, do not eat the skin).
- It is very high in protein: 100 grams of turkey contains 29 grams of good protein.
- Turkey is low in carbs. At 0.1 grams of carbohydrates every 100 grams, it adds only 189 calories to your meal.
- It contains lots of good vitamins (think B6 and niacin), amino acids (like tryptophan, which makes you happier and improves your immune system).
- Consuming turkey regularly will help keep your cholesterol and thyroid levels stable.
You do not always have to cook a whole turkey. Its parts are also tasty on their own or as leftovers and can be used in many dishes. For example, you can make a lean turkey sandwich with whole bread (to have as a snack), or incorporate it into a Caprese salad to add a meaty touch.
How to pick and buy your turkey
You are out to buy a turkey (or a piece of it). How do you do it? First, consider the number of people who will be eating and what side dishes you will be offering. Though reheating turkey leftovers is no big deal, it is always better to eat it all on the day you cook it.
If you think that there will be enough people at the table to eat a whole turkey (a medium-sized one feeds 6 to 8 people), go for it! Just consider: frozen or fresh?
- You can buy frozen turkey weeks before the special day, but you need to thaw it in the fridge for a few days before you prepare it.
- Fresh turkey can be prepared immediately but tastes better if you first keep it in the fridge for a day.
When you buy your turkey— especially if it is fresh— make sure it is the last thing you get before heading home. This will keep nasty germs from growing in the meat and spoiling it.
The best tips for storing your leftover turkey
You might have given more thought to preparation than to storage, but, if you do not store your turkey correctly, chances are it will go bad. If that happens, you certainly can’t eat it and all your effort will go to waste. Better learn how to keep it safe!
- If your whole, uncooked turkey was sold in a wrapping, keep it! This will minimize bacteria. Just check that there are no leaks before you purchase.
- The best way to store uncooked turkey is in the freezer. The whole bird can stay frozen for up to 1 year. Separate portions will hold up in good condition for a maximum of 9 months.
- Thaw the frozen turkey in the refrigerator before preparing it. Calculate 1 day for every 4 pounds of bird.
- If you need to keep uncooked turkey in the fridge, you can store it there for up to 2 days. After that, you must eat it or it will go bad.
How to store turkey leftovers:
- If you have leftovers, you need to refrigerate them within 90 minutes of cooking. Otherwise, germs will make the meat bad for you.
- Separate the meat from the bones, cut the turkey into small pieces, and envelop it in plastic wrap.
- Place them in an airtight container.
- In the fridge, turkey leftovers will keep for 2 days. In the freezer, up to 3 months. Label your containers so you know when you put the leftovers in!
Best way to reheat turkey leftovers
After you have bought and prepared your turkey and stored the leftover pieces properly, it is time to reheat! What is the best way to reheat turkey?
Undoubtedly, the best way to reheat turkey breast (or any other turkey part) is in the oven!
Instructions for reheating turkey in oven
This is the best way for reheating whole turkey or turkey portions because the meat remains moist and full of flavor. To reheat your turkey in the oven, you will need:
- Oven, preheated to 350° F
- Aluminum foil (optional)
- Chicken or vegetable broth
- Lettuce or other vegetables (onions, garlic, carrots)
- A meat thermometer
- A big baking tray
- The leftover turkey
- Take the turkey out of the refrigerator and let it rest for 20 minutes (any longer would mean unwanted bacterial growth).
- While the turkey is getting warmed up to room temperature, preheat the oven to 350°.
- Place the turkey in an oven dish or tray and pour the chicken or vegetable broth over it.
- You can place your chosen vegetables on the tray with your turkey to add a little extra flavor.
- If you are going to use aluminum foil for cooking (please, read about the potential health risks it entails), use it now to cover the turkey and veggies.
- Cook it for about 20 minutes.
- After that time has passed, uncover the meat and use the thermometer to check on its temperature. The insides of the turkey need to reach at least 165° F to be sure that it is safe to eat. If it is not there yet, keep cooking it until it is.
- After you finish cooking it, remove the foil for good and use the broiling setting for 2 minutes. This means the skin will be nice and crispy!
Reheating turkey on the stovetop
This method is second only to reheating your turkey in the oven. The advantage of the stovetop is that you have more control over the cooking process. You will need:
- A cast iron skillet
- Chicken or vegetable broth
- A lid for the pan
- A meat thermometer
- The stovetop
- Your leftovers turkey
- Place the pieces of thawed turkey in the skillet, leaving some space between them so you are sure they cook evenly.
- Pour the vegetable or chicken broth over the portions. Add any spices you fancy (such as cumin, garlic, or curry).
- The turkey should not be completely covered— you are not trying to boil it— but the broth should be 1 to 2 inches deep to keep the moisture and flavor in the meat.
- Turn the stove on and set it on medium to high heat. Place the skillet on it.
- Cover the turkey with the lid or optional aluminum foil (please, make sure it does not protrude from the sides of the skillet).
- Cook for about 10 minutes, turning the turkey over occasionally.
- Remove the cover from the skillet and measure the meat’s temperature with the thermometer (again, it should reach 165° F).
- Take the skillet with the turkey off the fire and serve immediately.
See? No biggie!
Sit back and enjoy flavorful and moist turkey!
This is the complete and comprehensive guide on how to buy, store, and reheat turkey. It is much simpler than you used to think, isn’t it?
Now that you know how to buy, store, and how to reheat turkey, you can let go of the stress of the holidays. Just focus on your recipe and make sure the atmosphere is welcoming. That is what sharing a meal (especially on Thanksgiving) is all about!