How Many Times Can You Reheat Turkey?

Turkey is America’s favorite Thanksgiving tradition. It is also a staple in the world of deli meats and makes delicious burgers. Turkey has a unique flavor that pairs so well with lots of things, and it’s delicious and easy to cook with. 

Almost everyone has turkey leftovers after a yummy thanksgiving dinner. Turkey leftovers are great for things like sandwiches and soups. The question is: how many times is it okay to reheat turkey? Food regulations say that it is only safe to reheat turkey once after it’s been cooked. The reason being is that each time it goes from cold to hot and vice versa, the food is open to new bacterias that aren’t always safe to consume. 

Why Can Turkey Only Be Reheated Once?

Bacteria live in temperatures between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F. Keeping turkey in the fridge will keep it below 40 degrees, and as long as you reheat the turkey to 165 degrees, then you should be fine. However, as you take the turkey out of the fridge and heat it back up, it has to pass through the “danger zone” which would be at a degree somewhere between 40 degrees and 140 degrees F. 

That all being said, technically as long as you heat it up to 165 degrees, that should be hot enough to kill off any bacteria that may have found its way to the turkey as it was reheating, however regulation has to say that this is a dangerous move and could cause food poisoning. 

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How To Reheat Turkey

As we discussed above, turkey must be reheated to a temperature of at least 165 degrees F. There are a few ways you can achieve this, while also ensuring that your turkey tastes good and remains as juicy as it was the day before. Let’s discuss. 

Reheating Turkey in the Oven

Reheating turkey in the oven is probably one of the better ways to reheat it. It is easier this way to keep your turkey from drying out, which is a common occurrence when reheating turkey

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cut your turkey into thinner strips or bite sized pieces (if it isn’t already), this will help the turkey cook better and more thoroughly
  3. Place on an oven pan, then smear a little bit of butter over the turkey pieces, then cover the turkey with a broth of your choosing
  4. Cover the entire pan with tin foil, this will help keep the moisture and heat in your turkey
  5. Cook for about 30-35 minutes, or until your turkey reaches a temperature of 165 degrees F. 

Reheating Turkey in an Air Fryer

Another great way to reheat turkey is with an air fryer, if you have one. The air fryer is great at cooking turkey fast, while still holding in a lot of flavor. You have to keep a close eye on your turkey as it’s reheating in the air fryer because it’s easy to over cook it or have the meat go dry.

  1. Preheat your air fryer to 300 degrees F.
  2. Slice your turkey thinly or in bite sized pieces, as you would if you were reheating it in the oven
  3. Sprinkle your turkey with water or a broth of your choosing
  4. Wrap each pieces individually in tin foil
  5. Place in the air fryer basket and heat for 5-7 minutes, make sure to check how they are cooking half way through 
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Reheating Turkey in a Skillet

The skillet method is probably the best method if you have skin pieces, although it’s a great method for the meat as well because it heats faster than an oven, and it keeps the turkey more moist than reheated in the microwave. 

  1. Heat a tablespoon of oil or butter in a pan
  2. Slice your turkey into thin pieces, and set in the pan once the butter or oil has heated
  3. Add ½ a cup of broth of your choosing 
  4. Cover the pan with a lid and let he mixture simmer for about 5 minutes, enough time for the turkey to heat through
  5. For crispy skin, heat in a separate pan and skip the broth step, fry normally 

Reheating Turkey in the Microwave

The microwave is the option where people can say “ well it did its job”, by heating the turkey. It may leave you with turkey that is rather dry, so it’s really important to cut the turkey into bite sized pieces for this method. 

  1. Places bite sized turkey pieces into a microwave safe bowl
  2. Mix around a tablespoon of butter, evenly spreading around each piece
  3. Cover with a paper towel and cook for one minute at a time, making sure your turkey isn’t overheating or becoming dry 

Final Thoughts

For each of the methods above, they are completely safe to do just once for reheating turkey. Any time after that leaves your turkey extremely available to bacteria that may make you sick, especially if you haven’t heated your turkey to its correct temperature, 165 degrees F. Next time you have an abundance of turkey, try one of those reheat methods and find your favorite one.