Can turkey go in the fridge? (7 Tips for you)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can turkey go in the fridge? We will discuss how long the turkey lasts in the fridge and how to store it properly. We will discuss the reasons that cause the turkey to spoil.  

Can turkey go in the fridge? 

Turkey can go in the fridge. If you keep raw turkey it will last for 1-3 days only while cold cuts will last for around 5 days. Cooked turkey will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. 

To make turkey last for a long time, leave it in its original packaging when you put it in the fridge. After preparing it, put it in an air-tight container and then in the fridge to prevent ambient microorganisms from coming in contact with the turkey.

Can I keep Thanksgiving turkey in the fridge?

Thanksgiving turkey will keep in the fridge for three or four days. Be sure to put the turkey in the fridge within 2 hours of cooking it. If you doubt that you wouldn’t be able to finish it within a few days, put it in the freezer to make it last for 2-6 months.

When you want to eat the leftover turkey, reheat it until it’s piping hot to get rid of residual bacteria. Also, do not reheat the turkey more than once. 

The leftover turkey can be eaten as is or cooked into something else. Make a pie by mixing ham and ready-made puff pastry and baking in the oven.

You could also add leftover mash, Brussel sprouts, parsnips, and gravy. If a turkey salad sounds better to you; just add mint, feta, and some fresh cheese, or even make a pita sandwich by adding feta, pomegranate seed, hummus, and some spices.  

Why does turkey belong in the fridge?

Meat and poultry are home to microorganisms that can cause food poisoning. It is advised to store meat at low temperatures as room temperature can cause it to spoil prematurely. Therefore, it has been deemed necessary to care for meat-based products including turkey, chicken, and beef.

Also, cooking meat to perfection is necessary to prevent food-borne diseases. Pathogens such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp., and Listeria are inherently present in meat, which could cause food poisoning.

The temperature of the fridge should be at least 40 degrees. Store the raw meat in the cooler part of the fridge where it is cooler. The door and the lower compartment of the fridge, usually are cooler.

The optimum temperature to store meat in the refrigerator is around 33 Fahrenheits. Refrigeration does not halt bacterial growth; it merely slows it down. Hence you need to freeze or cook the turkey as soon as possible.

Even though bacteria destroy when meat cooks, the bacteria produce toxins that remain even after, so throw away your meat if you left it outside.

How to keep the turkey safe in the refrigerator?

To store thawed turkey, remove the original package that the raw turkey came in and place it in a Ziploc bag or a plastic container. Place a plate or tray under the package to prevent the juices from dripping and cross-contaminating other food.

Air-tight packaging protects the turkey not only from microorganisms and environmental contaminants but also from oxidation. In the freezer, it prevents freezer burns. 

If your turkey was fully defrosted, then it will last for no more than two hours. If it were only partially thawed, then you can push the two-hour benchmark.

Refrigeration is not the safest method to store your turkey or any other meat, as it only reduces the growth of bacteria and does not halt it. Hence, the spoilage rate might be gradual but it is not as reliable a source of food storage as freezers are. 

Hence, if you intend to cook the turkey after a couple of days, then keep it in the freezer instead of the fridge. Similarly for cooked turkey, if you want to eat it after a few days have passed put it in the freezer instead. 

The freezer will keep the turkey safe to eat for up to 9 months.

How to tell if your turkey has spoiled?

Look for signs of spoilage by assessing the smell, texture, and appearance. When cooked turkey spoils it will give off a sour smell and the texture will turn slimy. If the color or smell has changed, throw away the turkey.

When raw turkey spoils, it will be easy to tell by its putrid smell and a change in appearance. 

Other FAQs about Turkey that you may be interested in.

Can I bake my turkey the day before

Can dogs eat smoked turkey?

Can you eat smoked turkey without cooking it?

Can you cook a 12 lb turkey in a crockpot?


In this brief guide, we answered the question, can turkey go in the fridge? We discussed how long the turkey lasts in the fridge and how to store it properly. We discussed the reasons that cause the turkey to spoil.