How Long Can You Keep a Fresh Turkey in the Refrigerator?

Have a brought a fresh turkey and wondering how long you can keep it in the refrigerator?

How long can you wait? Should you put it in the freezer?

Below you learn exactly how long you can keep in the fridge before you are cooking it.


How Long Can You Refrigerate a Fresh Turkey?

Fresh turkey will last in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.

You should not store uncooked turkey for much longer than 24-48 hours.

The same rules apply to a defrosted turkey.

If your refrigerator is cold enough, you may be able to store it until the sell-by date or use-by date.

This can be a risky gamble, though.

The dates on product packaging aren’t perfectly reliable for customers.

This is why it’s best to eat raw meat within 1-2 days of purchase.

Frozen turkeys can be refrigerated for about a day longer than it takes to thaw.


What Happens if Turkey Is in the Fridge for Too Long?

The turkey will go rancid if it is refrigerated for too long. You will be able to smell that if it’s a spoiled turkey.

If the turkey isn’t properly stored, the spoiled meat may result in food poisoning.

This is because of the harmful bacteria that can grow on raw meat.

You may be able to store it until the sell-by date, but that’s not always possible.

Grocery stores have colder and more reliable refrigerators than many homes do.

If your fridge isn’t cold enough, the turkey will not last as long.

How Do You Store Raw Turkey in the Fridge?

For best results, store your turkey in the original packaging.

Do not remove the packaging until you are ready to prepare the turkey for roasting.

If the turkey is not in leak-proof packaging, you should cover it with plastic wrap.

If packaging was compromised, the turkey will not last as long.

Place the turkey on a pan and put it in the refrigerator.

Ensure that the refrigerator is 40°F or cooler. The best temperature is 34-38°F.

You should place the turkey in the coldest part of your refrigerator.

If you need to transport the turkey, pack it in a cooler with ice packs and cold water.


Can You Store Turkey in the Freezer?

You can freeze both raw and cooked turkey.

Use plastic freezer bags to prevent freezer burn.

Cooked turkey leftovers can last 6 months when frozen.

Uncooked turkey can last up to two years in the freezer.

How Do You Cook a Turkey?

Cooking a turkey properly is just as important as properly storing a turkey.

You should cook a turkey at 325°F for 16 minutes per pound.

Larger turkeys will take longer. Different size turkeys will take different lengths of time.

When the internal temperature reaches 165°F, the turkey is ready to eat.

Make sure to consider all these factors when you buy your turkey this year!

Buy it at the optimal time so you can enjoy a yummy turkey dinner.


Smoke On!


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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