A fully-cooked turkey provides a convenient way to serve Thanksgiving dinner in less time than it would take if you cooked a raw turkey. Even though the turkey's precooked, you still need to follow careful instructions -- typically provided by the manufacturer -- to avoid the spread of foodborne illness. How long you cook a whole bird depends on its weight, with bigger turkeys needing more time. Precooked turkeys can be sliced and served cold or reheated and served as part of a traditional holiday meal. The USDA recommends having two thermometers on hand as you prepare any type of turkey: one to monitor your refrigerator's temperature and a meat thermometer to check the turkey for doneness.
Serving Your Precooked Turkey Cold
Butterball strongly recommends thawing precooked turkeys for up to five days in the refrigerator before cooking. Thawing the turkey in the refrigerator keeps the meat below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature at which bacteria begins to spread rapidly, according to the USDA. You can eat fully-precooked turkey in meals like sandwiches and salads as long as you do so while the meat is cold. Avoid letting cold, precooked turkey sit outside the fridge for longer than 15 minutes.
Reheating Precooked Turkey
Remove the wrapper and place the thawed, precooked, whole turkey in a roasting pan with the breast side up. Brush the turkey skin lightly with olive oil and place it in an oven preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow the turkey to reheat for around 10 minutes per pound, according to a chart on the Butterball website. So for example, reheat a thawed, precooked turkey weighing 10 pounds for around 1 3/4 hours. Peek in the oven after about an hour, and if the turkey's skin is overbrowning, cover the entire bird with foil.
Check the turkey with a meat thermometer starting about 30 minutes before the recommended cooking time. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and thigh to check for doneness. Don't let the thermometer tip touch the bone, because it may be hotter than the meat. The USDA recommends cooking and reheating all poultry, including precooked turkey, to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
If desired, you can use the drippings from the bottom of the roaster pan to make homemade gravy.
A Word about Stuffing
If you serve a precooked turkey, prepare the stuffing separately to avoid the spread of foodborne illness. This is especially important if you plan to count children, pregnant women, seniors or anyone with a compromised immune system among your holiday dinner guests. Time things so that once you've mixed the stuffing ingredients in a casserole dish, you can pop it in the oven immediately.
Safe Handling of Turkey Leftovers
Treat precooked turkey leftovers as you would other poultry leftovers. Stash leftover precooked turkey meat in the refrigerator within two hours after reheating it. You can keep precooked turkey leftovers in the refrigerator -- below 40 degrees Fahrenheit -- for up to four days. Leftover turkey can be kept in the freezer for up to four months, according to the USDA and the National Turkey Federation.