How Long Does Turkey Last in the Refrigerator? Find The Best Ways To Store Raw or Cooked Turkey


Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, and casual dinners can include turkey roasts or turkey dishes. Turkey dishes are an essential part of winter festivities. To make delicious turkey dishes, however, you need to learn the process of storing them properly. Additionally, you can prevent the turkey from getting spoiled by storing it at ideal temperatures.

In this article, we discuss how long you can store thawed turkey in the fridge, how long fresh turkey lasts, and how long a frozen turkey is suitable for consumption. We also discuss how long turkey lasts in the fridge, how long you can keep a frozen leftover turkey, and essential commercial refrigeration needed for storing turkey. 

How Long Can Thawed Turkey Stay in the Fridge?

It entirely depends on the thawing process. A thawed turkey can last in the refrigerator for one to two days, but the turkey needs to be entirely defrosted in the fridge. Thawing a turkey in a fridge has additional benefits. You can refreeze the turkey in the one-to-two daytime frame when it is refrigerated. This saves you a lot of time and effort. 

You can also thaw a turkey in cold water or defrost it in a microwave. However, you will need to cook the turkey immediately after following these processes., and you can’t store it in a refrigerator for future consumption. In these two particular methods, the temperature of the raw or thawed turkey can go above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It can lead to the accumulation of harmful bacteria. To avoid this, you need to cook the turkey immediately. Thawing of the turkey should not be done in hot water or on the counter. These two methods increase the chances of bacteria infestation exponentially. 

How Long Does Fresh Turkey Last in the Fridge?

You can store fresh turkey or raw turkey in the fridge for one to two days. Additionally, you can also store cold cuts of turkey for five to seven days. Some also store turkey for three to four days, but the possibility of bacterial infestation increases drastically after two days. The ideal temperature to store fresh turkey parts or whole turkey is between 33 degrees Fahrenheit to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Also, after the second day, the taste of the refrigerated turkey changes. It becomes stale and flavorless. The outer skin of the turkey might become slimy, and it can smell like rotten eggs or sulfur. While storing turkey in the cooler or refrigerator, make sure to keep it separate from raw meat. 

how long is turkey good for

How Long is a Frozen Turkey Good For Consumption?

Freezing can retain the flavor or taste of a turkey for extended periods. You can freeze whole turkeys for more than a year. Also, once you thaw a frozen turkey, you should avoid refreezing it until it is cooked. But if you are going to thaw the turkey in a refrigerator, you can refreeze it for future consumption. You should avoid storing a turkey at room temperature for more than two hours. Additionally, you should store it on ice if you are not cooking it immediately. 

 How Long Does Cooked Turkey Last in the Fridge and Freezer?

Once the turkey is cooked, it should be stored in the refrigerator within one to two hours. Additionally, you can refreeze cooked turkey after it has cooled down. To refrigerate and freeze turkey dishes, you can first cool the turkey, then slice or cut them into pieces. Then you can wrap these in foil and seal them in freezer bags. Seal the freezer bags perfectly to avoid freezer burn. Label the freezer bag or container and store it in the freezer. The best place to store frozen turkey or turkey parts is in the coldest part of the refrigerator. You can refrigerate a turkey in the meat drawer or in the bottom shelf. 

How Long is Turkey Good For? Ways to Tell If Turkey Has Turned Bad

A thawed turkey can last for 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator. Fresh or raw turkey, if kept in the open air, should be cooked immediately. Frozen turkey or turkey parts can be stored for over a year. Even after taking necessary precautions, frozen or refrigerated turkey can turn sour. So, it is essential to learn ways to assess if your turkey is ideal for consumption or not. 

Here are some ways you can determine if a turkey has gone bad:

  1. Smell: Smell is the best way to determine if a turkey has turned bad. If your turkey has a sour or strange smell, it is better to throw away that turkey. Like any other poultry, turkey is a carrier of bacteria like E. coli, salmonella, and others. 
  2. Slimy or Sticky Texture: If your raw, refrigerated, or freshly thawed turkey has a slimy outer texture, it has turned bad. 
  3. Color: Sometimes, you can also determine the freshness of a turkey by its color. Turkey that is fresh and ready for consumption will be light pink, but a turkey that has turned bad will have a dull color or not so vibrant color. If your turkey has turned gray, then throw it away immediately. 

How Long Can You Keep a Frozen Leftover Turkey?

You can store frozen leftover turkey for two to three months. Leftover turkey should be cooled down before packing it in containers. If you use multiple containers to store the leftover turkey, make sure that they are not stacked in the freezer. Stacking can reduce the speed of the freezing process. Ideally, the more surface area is exposed to cold air, the better it is. 

Here is a list of necessary steps that you can follow to store leftover turkey and Thanksgiving dishes:

  1. Remove stuffing from the cavity of the turkey.
  2. Store the turkey and the stuffing in separate containers
  3. You can carve the meat from the bones or separate the turkey into smaller pieces and then divide it into containers.
  4. You can also store the turkey in freezer container bags.
  5. Store any leftover potatoes and green beans in a separate container

List of Essential Commercial Refrigeration Equipment Needed For Storing Turkey

You need the perfect commercial refrigeration equipment to store and refrigerate turkey. Here is a list of commercial refrigeration equipment needed for storing turkey efficiently:

  1. Commercial Freezers: You can opt for various types of commercial freezers for your establishment. You can choose from walk-in freezers, reach-in freezers, and other freezers for turkey dishes. Walk-in freezers are ideal for large foodservice establishments; you can store multiple frozen turkeys at a time. Reach-in freezers are perfect for restaurants and small or midsize food service establishments. 

Commercial Refrigerators: You can store thawed turkey in commercial refrigerators. Commercial refrigerators provide the ideal setting for the thawing process. You can thaw a whole turkey or turkey parts and store it for one to two days. Reach-in refrigerators are perfect for storing cooked turkey dishes. Additionally, you can opt for glass door reach-in refrigerators or solid door reach-in refrigerators for your foodservice establishment. Solid door reach-in refrigerators have better insulation and can retain the temperature for longer periods. 

With commercial refrigeration equipment, you can collectively save money, time, and effort. High-quality refrigerators and freezers are ideal for storing raw, cooked, and leftover turkey. Additionally, you can make and serve turkey sandwiches, curries, tacos, enchiladas, and salads. 

Posted by Damon Shrauner on