can you freeze cooked turkey?- Freezing leftover turkey is a great way to save it for future quick and easy dinners. Follow these easy steps to keep your leftover turkey fresh for months.
When people ask me, “Can you freeze leftover turkey?” I always say yes! Because families across the country are having smaller Thanksgivings this year, you are likely to have some leftover turkey. I’ve used this method to freeze both my Turkey Breast recipe and my Roast Turkey recipe – they both work great!
These simple and easy steps allow you to keep turkey on hand for a variety of delicious recipes. There’s no need to grow tired of turkey. Freeze any leftovers and use them in leftover turkey recipes a month from now.
can you freeze cooked turkey?
You know how it feels after a roast dinner. You end up with a lot of leftover meat that you have no idea what to do with. This is particularly true when preparing a large turkey. So, what are you going to do with all that cooked turkey?
Is it possible to freeze cooked turkey?
Yes, cooked turkey can be frozen for up to 4 months. Before freezing the turkey, it is best to slice it. Once sliced, wrap it in foil, bag it up, and store it in the freezer until you’re ready to eat some turkey again.
How to Freeze Leftover Turkey?
It is very simple to freeze turkey for later use in recipes. The key is to flash freeze it in a single layer so that you can remove only one cup at a time in the future.
Step 1: Separate the turkey into bite-sized pieces.
Aerial view of a cutting board with turkey meat being prepared, I recommend freezing leftovers as soon as possible to get the most life out of them.
a cutting board piled high with bite-sized pieces of leftover turkey
Step 2: Arrange the turkey in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper with frozen turkey bites
Step 3: Freeze the turkey slices for 1 hour.
This flash freezing is a critical step. It will prevent the turkey from clumping together in the freezer. They will freeze as individual pieces this way.
Step4: Place the frozen turkey in a plastic bag.
a plastic bag containing bite-sized frozen turkey, That’s all! You can now keep the frozen turkey bag in the freezer for up to three months.
Recipes for Leftover Turkey
If you’re wondering what to do with leftover turkey after freezing it, try some of these recipes (and I will have more coming next week).
- Casserole of Turkey Noodles
- Soup with Turkey Noodles
- Sliders with Bacon, Turkey, and Ranch
- Grilled Cheese with Bacon, Brie, and Turkey
- You can add it directly from the freezer to any soup or casserole recipe. Simply increase the cooking time.
How Long Can You Freeze Turkey?
This turkey will keep in a sealed container in the freezer for 3 months.
How Long is Leftover Turkey Good For?
Leftover turkey can be stored in the refrigerator for 4 days and frozen for 3 months.
Do I need to Thaw Frozen Turkey Before Using It?
It is determined by the recipe. In soups and casseroles, you can use frozen turkey and add a little more time to the recipe. Thaw frozen meats and cheeses in the refrigerator overnight before using in recipes like sliders and grilled cheese.
Does This Work for Chicken Too?
Yes! This is also how I freeze rotisserie chicken. This is ideal for dishes such as my Chicken Noodle Casserole.
How to Freeze Cooked Turkey?
- So, with that out of the way, let’s get started on freezing that turkey!
- Begin by separating the turkey meat from the turkey bones. This ensures that the item freezes evenly and makes it easier to separate later.
- Separate the turkey bones and meat into separate bags and label them. You can weigh these ahead of time if you want to know how much of each item there is.
- Pour a little chicken broth into the bag if you’re worried about your turkey drying out. This allows your turkey to keep its moisture and remain juicy and delicious for weeks!
- Close the bag tightly. If you aren’t using resealable bags, make sure to seal the bag and inspect it for any holes. You don’t want freezer burn on your turkey, do you?
- Place the labeled and sealed bag in the freezer.
- And you’re finished! Turkey preserved in this manner can last up to three months, so keep that in mind when deciding how to use the turkey.
Thawing the Turkey
- Place the frozen turkey in the refrigerator to thaw for 24 to 48 hours. The best way to thaw your turkey is by putting it in the refrigerator to thaw slowly at a constant cold temperature. Depending on the size of your turkey, putting it in the fridge overnight will likely result in it being thawed the next day.
- 1 pound (450 g) of frozen turkey usually takes 4 hours to thaw.
- Thaw the turkey in cold water to speed up the defrosting process. Fill a basin with cold water or plug your sink. Use enough water to completely cover the turkey package, making sure there is water on all sides. Change the water every 30 minutes, and keep an eye on the turkey to make sure it’s out of the water as soon as it’s thawed.
- Before placing the plastic bag or container in the water, ensure that it is tightly sealed to prevent leaks.
- To thaw the turkey, do not place it on the counter. Setting your frozen turkey out to thaw at room temperature is unsafe because bacteria can quickly multiply once the turkey reaches a certain temperature. To avoid spoilage, always thaw your turkey in the refrigerator or in cold water.
- Even though most bacteria are killed off when you reheat the turkey in the oven or microwave, some types of bacteria persist even after heat treatment.
Can You Freeze Turkey After 3 Days?
After three days, freezing your roasted turkey increases your risk of food poisoning. It’s not worth the risk!
Although turkey can be frozen after three days, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that roasted turkeys not be kept in the refrigerator for more than three to four days.
However, because freezing only keeps food as fresh as when it was placed in the freezer, freezing your turkey after 3 days of roasting will result in meat that is more on the verge of spoiling than on the fresh side. Furthermore, the thawing process hastens bacteria growth, and because your meat had bacteria growing from being in the refrigerator for three days, your risk of food poisoning is significantly increased. With this in mind, I would advise against freezing your roasted turkey after it has been in the refrigerator for three days. However, if you do, make sure to skip the thawing process and instead reheat your turkey from frozen and serve immediately.
Can Cooked Turkey Be Frozen And Reheated?
Yes, cooked turkey can be frozen and reheated if it has only been cooked once. Just make sure the turkey is properly frozen and reheated.