When prepared properly, turkey is moist and delicious, but when it's reheated, it can sometimes lose that juicy texture. After safe storage -- with stuffing removed and the turkey stored in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking -- leftover turkey can be served cold. But if you’re craving a reprise of your delicious turkey meal, reheated turkey doesn’t have to taste like rubbery leftovers. In fact, turkey that’s been reheated appropriately may become a juicier meal than the freshly roasted bird just removed from the oven.
Reheating Turkey in an Oven
PREHEAT THE OVEN: To prevent bacterial or microorganism growth, reheat the turkey at a proper temperature and rate. Preheat the oven to at least 325 degrees Fahrenheit, up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
CARVE THE PIECES: Carve the turkey into smaller pieces if it was refrigerated whole. Drumsticks, thighs and wings may be carved with the bones intact, and breast meat may be carved into slices. Cutting the turkey into smaller pieces allows for quick and even reheating.
PREP THE TURKEY: Place the pieces of turkey in a shallow pan -- a rimmed cake or casserole pan is ideal. If possible, avoid layering meat and try to place pieces so that they don’t overlap. If you’re feeding a larger crowd, it may be necessary to use more than one pan.
KEEP IT MOIST: Pour leftover turkey or chicken broth over the meat, creating a 1/2-inch bath of broth in the bottom of the pan. You may substitute store-bought turkey, chicken or vegetable broth or stock. Water is also an appropriate alternative. Cover the pan tightly with foil.
COOK THE TURKEY: Reheat the turkey until a meat thermometer inserted into the center part of each piece registers at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid touching the bone with the thermometer as the temperature will not be indicative of the meat’s true temperature.
Reheating Turkey on the Stovetop
USE A SHALLOW SKILLET: Place carved turkey pieces in a shallow skillet. (Note: Do not reheat a whole turkey.) If you want to reheat bone-in meat and boneless breast meat, separate the bone-in and boneless pieces into separate pans.
KEEP IT MOIST: Pour broth over the turkey pieces until the turkey is laying in a bath of about a 1/2 inch of liquid. Turn the stove burners to at least medium heat.
COOK THE TURKEY: Cover the pan tightly with a lid and reheat the turkey until it is warmed through to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit registers on a meat thermometer. If the pan does not have a lid, cover tightly with aluminum foil instead.
Reheating Turkey in the Microwave
PREP THE PIECES: Separate bone-in and boneless pieces into separate glass or microwave-safe dishes.
KEEP IT MOIST: Pour broth over the turkey pieces until the meat is resting in about a half-inch of liquid. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap or a corresponding lid. Do not cut a slit into the plastic wrap.
COOK THE TURKEY: Reheat the turkey until it reaches a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit on a meat thermometer, turning the dish every two minutes if the microwave does not have a turntable. Your microwave manual should provide directions for the appropriate power level for reheating poultry based on the wattage of your microwave.
- Oregon State University Extension: Turkey Basics
- University of Nebraska at Lincoln: How to Cook a Turkey the Day Before Serving It; Alice Henneman and Joyce Jensen
- iGrow: Preparation of Turkey a Day Before a Holiday Meal; Sharon Guthmiller
- USDA Food and Inspection Service: Let's Talk Turkey—A Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey
- USDA Food and Inspection Service: Stuffing and Food Safety
- FoodSafety.gov: Turkey FUNdamentals: Leftovers