How Long Does Smoked Turkey Last? (In Your Fridge or Freezer)

After cooking a whole turkey, you might find yourself with lots of leftovers. You might also be wondering how long your smoked whole turkey will last in the fridge or freezer. We have some basics on storing turkey correctly so you can enjoy your turkey for later use.

We will also share a few tips and hints that will see you eating smoked turkey in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

So, Just How Long Can Smoked Turkey Meat Last?

Refrigerated smoked meat should be eaten within four days and no longer be kept in the freezer for more than three months. It should be stored in the fridge within two hours of cooking. Ensure the food is stored correctly in airtight containers, in butcher’s paper, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil.

How Long Does Smoked Turkey Last in the Refrigerator

Turkey can last four days in the refrigerator. In the past, smoking was a method of food preservation. These days, it’s undertaken more for flavor than necessity. While it’s a preservation technique, the meats still have a limited shelf life and must be consumed promptly. 

How long it lasts in the fridge depends on the preparation, cooking, and storage. Line these things up correctly and you can get longer from your food.

Food should be refrigerated within two hours of cooking. Wrapped and stored correctly, smoked meat will last three to four days in the fridge after being cooked. Any longer than this, you risk contamination.

You must seal any leftover meat in a shallow, airtight container or high-quality plastic wrap—anything that will keep contact with the air to a minimum to prevent the growth of bacteria. 

When you go to reheat your turkey you need to ensure you follow the correct technique to ensure its tastes just as good as when you smoked it.

How Long Does Smoked Meat Last in the Freezer

The turkey will last two to three months in the freezer when stored properly. Proper wrapping’s main aim is to seal in moisture and keep out oxygen. Reducing contact with air will prolong the quality and stability of the product.

Air introduces bacteria, draws out moisture, and creates freezer burn.

Wrap in two stages: First, wrap in good quality plastic wrap, butchers’ paper, or waxed freezer paper. Then, place in a sealable freezer bag or plastic container. If you have a vacuum sealer, that is a good alternative. I have steps on how to use that below.

What to Do With Leftovers

Leftover turkeys are one of the best parts of cooking it. You can make sandwiches, wraps, and casseroles with the leftovers. Here are some more of our favorite ways to use the leftovers

Smoked Turkey Dip

Storing Techniques – How to Wrap to Prolong Shelf Life

 When it comes to sealing your smoked turkey, you have a few options: plastic wrap, sealable freezer bags, plastic containers, or vacuum sealing.

Vacuum packing removes all the air around the food and is heat-sealed. Removing all the air extends the storage life far longer than normal wrapping.

Freezer bags with as much air as possible removed are also suitable. Place food in an appropriately sized freezer bag and submerge it underwater to force the air out.

If using a container, use the smallest air-tight container possible. This will limit the amount of air around the food. Excess air will lead to extra bacteria and freezer burn.

Alternatively, wrap the food product in a quality plastic wrap in aluminum foil. 

Smoking Your First Turkey?

We have you covered if you’re wondering how to smoke a turkey in an electric smoker. This guide also teaches you how to master smoking turkey in a gas smoker and pellet. It can be a tricky bird to smoke, so follow our tips to a T, and you’ll turn out a great meal.

If you want to try something a little different turkey tail, is super crispy and juicy and much cheaper than a whole turkey.

Signs Turkey is Unsafe for Consumption

If you are ever unsure about meat that has been stored, it’s best to err on the side of caution and throw it away. Turkey that has become slimy smells unpleasant, or has changed color should definitely be disposed of.

Meat that has been cooked but hasn’t reached the internal temperature of 165F should also not be eaten. If the turkey meat looks questionable after defrosting, it’s recommended not to cook it. When in doubt, throw it out!

The All-Important Food Safety

The greatest way to get the longest shelf life out of your food is by practicing food safety. Introducing bacteria to the product greatly reduces its life span, causes it to spoil much faster, and increases the risk of food poisoning.

Food safety involves four steps – clean, separate, cook, and chill.

Cleaning is essential to keep the meat fresher for longer. Ensure you frequently wash your hands and cooking tools, especially after handling raw meats. Wipe down cooking spaces frequently.

Cross-contamination can occur when you place cooked or smoked meat on a surface that has previously touched uncooked products or do not wash utensils between uses. Always keep raw and cooked meats separate.

Internal cooking temperatures are also important, and for turkey, they should be at least 165F. Smoking meat is a long, slow process using an indirect heat source to cook it, so it’s important to ensure the internal temperature has reached the correct levels.

Once the meat has been cooked, consume it promptly. Meat should never be left out for an extended period before refrigeration. To prevent bacteria growth, two hours maximum is the recommended time after serving.

Correct storage and proper food handling practices will keep your food fresher for longer and cut back on food waste. They will also help prevent nasty bacterial surprises!

Smoke On!


Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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