It’s that time of year when we look forward to the glorious feasts of turkey, stuffing, and roast vegetables.
But how to re-heat and enjoy the copious amounts of leftover turkey without drying it out?
There are several different ways to reheat turkey effectively without losing juiciness or moisture. With a few simple techniques, you can be eating delicious – and safe – turkey leftovers.
Table of contents
Storing the Leftovers
Smoked turkey meat is good for up to 3 days when stored in the refrigator
In the freezer, it can be stored for up to six months if packaged well.
It’s best to break apart the sections before storing them. Separate the meat from the bones, and break the legs, wings, and meat pieces apart. The carcass can be kept for stock or soup bases.
Once it’s separated, store it in a plastic food container in meal-size portions and label it clearly.
Thawing Before Cooking
If you’ve stored your leftover turkey in the freezer, let it thaw completely before starting the reheating process.
Thawing can be done in the refrigerator a day or two beforehand. Defrosting time will depend on the size of the turkey.
Cooking from frozen will lead to inconsistent and disappointing reheating results and may impact the texture of the meat. It may also lead to some areas not heating properly.
Once thawed completely, leave on the counter for an hour or so before you want to heat, to bring it to room temperature.
Many Ways to Smoke Your Turkey
It does matter what type of smoker you have, we have guides for you.
Learn how to smoke a turkey in a propane smoker as well as smoking a turkey electric smoker. Different units have slightly different methods, so make sure you follow them to cook the best turkey your family and friends have ever seen.
Reheating a Whole Turkey
Getting the Temperature Right
For best results, pre-heat the oven to 250Fand heat the entire turkey. If a faster result is needed, the oven temperature can go to 325F, but any higher will run the risk of drying out the meat.
Slow and steady will maintain the juiciness and heat the turkey as evenly as possible. Too hot an oven will cook the exterior and run the risk of the interior remaining cold.
Checking the Internal Temperature
Monitoring the internal temperature of the turkey to make sure it’s cooked all the way through is the most important part of the process.
Use a probe thermometer to check the inner temperature. Under-heated meat can encourage dangerous bacteria, over-heated meat will result in dry turkey.
The aim is to heat the turkey until the internal temperature is sitting between a temperature range of 155-165F on a meat thermometer.
Let it rest to allow the heat and moisture to distribute evenly.
How Much to Serve?
If you are serving a whole turkey you need to allow 1¼ lbs of turkey per person. If you need to know how much turkey breast per person, you also need 1¼ lbs of turkey per person.
Reheating Times – How Long Does it Take?
Reheating times will vary, depending on the size and weight of the Turkey or pieces. As a general rule, it’s around 5 minutes for every pound.
The most effective way to monitor the time is to check the internal temperature.
Reheating Turkey in the Oven
Reheating a whole turkey can be a delicate process. Overheat and the turkey can end up dry and brittle. Under-heat and you run the risk of food poisoning.
Start with a preheated oven, set to 250-325F, the lower the better to preserve the juiciness of the meat. 325F should be the maximum temperature limit.
Place the turkey breast side down in a roasting pan, deep enough to add broth if desired. Spray the skin with oil to seal and prevent dry meat.
Cover the turkey with aluminum foil, to hold in the moistness and speed up reheating process. The foil prevents drying out.
Brush the outer skin with melted butter or use a rub of garlic and herbs for a lovely rich flavor.
A little bit of chicken stock in a roasting pan can also help maintain moisture levels. Regularly spoon the chicken stock over the bird during the cooking process.
Monitor the turkey’s temperature with a temperature probe throughout the heating process. The cook time will depend on the size and weight of the bird.
Remove the aluminum foil towards the end of heating, to crisp up the skin. Once the internal temperature is at the desired level, remove it from the oven and let rest for about 30 minutes.
Reheating Turkey in the Microwave
Microwave re-heating is a much more convenient and faster process, but trickier to prevent drying out the meat.
Place the turkey pieces on a microwave-safe plate and use some slightly damp paper towel or a microwave lid to cover loosely.
Alternatively, place pieces in a microwave-safe dish with some chicken broth for moisture.
Reheat at two-minute intervals, to make sure it’s not overheating. Ideally, it should be at 150-160 degrees.
Leave to rest for a couple of minutes before serving to allow the heat to distribute evenly.
Once the turkey has been reheated let it rest for about 15 – 20 minutes after removing from the heat. This allows the meat to absorb the juices and tenderize.
Resting the smoked turkey helps make it easier to carve.
How do you usually reheat your turkey?
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
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 adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
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