December 9, 2022

Turkey is one of the star ingredients in holiday dishes! So it’s really important to have fresh turkey at home when you need it the most (especially, on Thanksgiving day). While buying loads of turkey, most of us think of how long we can store it (as we don’t want it to go bad when we are about prep up some ‘turkey-licious’ meal). 

I’m sure you stumbled upon this article to know for how long the ground turkey kept in your fridge is safe for you to eat. But make sure you read this entire article to get some pro tips that’ll help you store the ground turkey properly. I’ll explain everything so you don’t miss out on even the minor details about it. 

Ideally, turkey lasts for two to three days when kept in the fridge. Freshly ground turkey meat should not be kept out in the open at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

This means it has to be packed and stored properly right before you cook the turkey. Even if it’s cooked, you can store it in the refrigerator for three to four days. 

Turkey being the staple meat in everyday cuisines, is mainly famous for its health attributes and its aptness to most loved cooking styles like grilling and smoking. Well! You might already know that turkey has been a famous traditional food for many Mexicans and indigenous people from America.

But here, I’ll tell you about the ground turkey! Due to its health benefits, ground turkey is a perfect alternative to ground beef. It’s an interesting combination of light and dark turkey meat. Sometimes, it also has fats and the remaining skin of turkey meat in it.

You can have ground turkey at home! For that, you need to remove the bones from the turkey. But to save time, you can also buy a packaged ground turkey from your nearby store. So, once you get your ground turkey from the store, you need to know how long you can keep it fresh at home before you plan your family feast. 

Ready for the best preservation tips for ground turkey? Read this entire article.

How Long Does Ground Turkey Last In The Fridge Or Freezer?

Ground turkey in a fridge
Ground Turkey Fridge Freezer
Raw or Uncooked 2 Days 3-4 Months
Cooked or Leftover Turkey 3-4 Days 4 Months
Packaged Turkey 3-4 Days 3-4 Months
Thawed Turkey 2 Days 6-8 Months

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1. Raw or Uncooked Ground Turkey

Raw or uncooked ground turkey should not be kept at room temperature for more than two hours. You can store raw turkey in the fridge from 24 hours to two days. This can also be kept in the freezer for up to three or four months in a ziplock bag or an airtight container. 

The color and texture of ground turkey won’t change for up to 60 days when frozen. So the best way to enjoy fresh ground turkey even a month after you bought it is by freezing it in an airtight container. 

2. Cooked or Leftover Ground Turkey

Cooked ground turkey can stay for a longer period in the fridge as compared to raw ground turkey. You can keep the cooked ground turkey in the refrigerator for about three to four days. When frozen, it can last for about four months. When frozen, the taste and texture of ground turkey remain the same for up to 60 days. 

3. Packaged Ground Turkey

The best way to let the ground turkey last longer in the refrigerator is by storing it in the fridge as you brought it from the store. The turkey in the package will last for four days or even more when kept in the fridge and up to four months when frozen. 

3. Thawed Ground Turkey

If you’re thinking of preserving a thawed ground turkey, make sure the process is done under cold water. You can store thawed raw ground turkey for up to two days. But it’s better to refreeze or refrigerate a thawed ground turkey that’s cooked. 

If the ground turkey is thawed in a microwave or any other similar, then prefer not to refreeze it or store it back in the refrigerator after being kept at room temperature for at least two hours. 

How to Store Leftover Ground Turkey Safely?

Whether you buy a fresh or frozen turkey, a planned holiday feast does not mean that you’ll end up with no leftovers. So, how do you plan to handle raw ground turkey that’s left in the package on the kitchen shelf?

Or what about the delicious turkey leftovers from the dishes you cooked for your guests? The simplest way is that you can store these and reheat the turkey to have a drool-worthy meal the very next day. 

1. Refrigeration

You might already know that it’s not safe to keep the turkey meat outside at room temperature for more than two hours. Because that’s the perfect temperature for the pathogenic bacteria to grow on the meat.

You can store the turkey, whether it’s cooked or uncooked, in a plastic ziplock bag or an airtight container to avoid any contamination from the air. 

2. Freezing

You can also freeze the leftover turkey. This way, the turkey will stay fresh for a longer period of time. All you need to do is follow the same steps as how we store turkey in the fridge. Wrap it in plastic wrap, in an airtight container, or in a ziplock bag. This way, you can use it for up to four months. 

How to Reheat Cooked Ground Turkey Safely?

cooked ground turkey in a pan

We’re not always right in estimating the quantity of turkey we want to cook for the feast. Well! Who wants to spoil the juicy leftover turkey? The best way to enjoy the leftover turkey like it’s made fresh is to store it in the fridge and reheat it.

But you need to be really careful as exposing the turkey overnight dries out its crust. So, it’s crucial to keep it moist if you want it to stay juicy and fresh.   

Turkey can taste at its best even when reheated after being stored in the fridge. But it all depends on how you store it and then how you cook it. Don’t just stash the leftovers of this Thanksgiving dinner icon into the fridge and place them on a tray.

Prefer keeping it in an airtight container or a plastic ziplock bag than in an unsealed container. Also, turkey tastes the best when reheated the way it was cooked in the first place. Do you know how many times you can reheat the leftover turkey without drying it out?

Ideally, you should reheat the turkey not more than twice or thrice. In case you’re hoping to keep it for a longer time in the fridge, you can freeze it. But before we move on, please keep in mind that you need to keep the turkey moist while cooking. Wanna know how we can do that?

Keep the turkey moist while cooking to prevent it from drying out. You know why we add homemade gravy to the turkey while reheating it. You can add chicken stock or even butter before reheating the turkey. This will help prevent the juices in the turkey from escaping as steam when it’s exposed to heat. 

Another way to keep the turkey moist is by covering the turkey while it’s exposed to heat. If you are reheating the turkey in the oven, you can use aluminum foil to cover it. You can also use a microwave-safe dish or skillet fitted tightly with a lid, depending on the cooking method. 

So, read further to know how you can safely reheat the turkey in an oven, stove, or microwave. 

1. Reheating Leftover Ground Turkey In Oven:

While reheating the turkey in the oven, you need to make sure that each piece reaches 165 F. So, it’s best to use the instant-read thermometer. Follow the steps below to reheat the leftover turkey in the oven:

  1. The oven should be preheated to 300 F. This temperature is just perfect enough to make sure that the heat doesn’t draw away the moisture from the meat. 
  2. Drizzle a few spoonfuls of chicken stock and gravy over the leftover portions of turkey and place them on the aluminum foil. 
  3. Add butter and wrap the pieces tightly in the aluminum foil. Cook them for about 30 to 45 minutes in the oven. 

2. Reheating Leftover Ground Turkey In Microwave:

Before reheating the turkey in the microwave, cut it into bite-sized pieces so that it gets cooked through easily. You can use a microwave-safe container and follow the easy steps below to reheat the leftover turkey safely. 

  1. Add some chicken stock or homemade gravy to the turkey pieces in the microwave-safe container. 
  2. Add butter to the container and cover it with a lid or plastic wrap. Cook the turkey on 70% power for one minute for each reheated pound.

3. Reheating Leftover Ground Turkey On Stovetop:

If you want to use a method that’s even quicker than the oven, then try reheating the turkey on the stovetop. It’s better to heat the skin-on turkey pieces when you’re reheating the turkey on a stovetop. 

  1. Heat the skillet on the stovetop and add turkey pieces to it. 
  2. Add chicken stock a few seconds after you add turkey to the skillet. Make sure the turkey in the skillet is half an inch dipped in the chicken stock. 
  3. Cover the skillet with the lid and simmer till the turkey pieces are warmed through. 
  4. You can discard the liquid and heat the turkey in a skillet greased with oil to crisp up the turkey skin. Cook it over high heat to get the delicious crisp, and then heat it skin-side down over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until it’s warm and ready to be served. 

How To Tell If Your Stored Ground Turkey Has Gone Bad? (Signs Of Spoiled Ground Turkey)

Fresh ground turkey in a bowl

Now, I think I’ve shared enough information about how you can properly store ground turkey and reheat it safely. But what if the ground turkey you stored has gone bad? Having spoiled ground turkey can cause problems to your health.

Since this turkey is like a coarse paste, it can rot comparatively faster when kept out in the open at room temperature. So you better read ahead to know the clear signs of spoiled turkey before putting into use the turkey you have in your fridge. 

1. Color

You can simply tell if the turkey has gone bad by noticing its color. Fresh ground turkey (when it’s uncooked) is light pink in color. It has breast meat which is even lighter pink in color, and dark pink-colored thigh meat with flecks of white color (due to the presence of fats) in it. 

Ground turkey with green/gray patches in it is definitely not edible. Spoiled turkey kept for too long turns gray and might also have molds in it. Even the cooked ground turkey undergoes decoloration when spoiled. 

2. Smell

You can tell if the turkey in your fridge is rotten by its smell. Whether cooked or uncooked, if it gives off a pungent smell, then it’s definitely not edible. You should throw it off without a second thought. 

3. Texture

Fresh ground turkey has a mushy and slightly chewy texture (due to the presence of fat). It’s moist and flavorsome. But when the ground turkey is rotten, it turns slimy. The same goes for the turkey that’s cooked and stored in the fridge for more than two days. 

Also, if you see juices oozing out from the turkey at the bottom of the package or the sealed container, the turkey is spoiled. 

4. Taste

I don’t recommend tasting the ground turkey to check whether it’s spoiled. The three factors mentioned above are enough to help you know if the ground turkey you’re hoping to reheat for your meal is spoiled. About the taste?

As mentioned above, rotten ground turkey has a sour and pungent odor. You won’t even feel like tasting it once you smell it. But if you taste it, you are likely to get serious health issues like food poisoning.  

Why Does The Ground Turkey Go Bad?

Packed ground turkey

Now you know what spoiled ground turkey looks and smells like! But do you have any idea about what factors contribute to the spoilage of the turkey? The major reason behind the spoilage of turkey is excessive microbial growth on the meat.

Well! The major factors that help make the turkey the playground for bacteria are unsuitable temperatures and too much air exposure. 

The leftover turkey that’s slimy in texture or dried out from the crust, has an unbearable smell or has turned gray; is definitely the home for deadly pathogens. So, check out the major reasons listed below to know what special care the leftover turkey needs to be treated with while being stored in the fridge. 

1. Not Stored At Correct Temperature 

Room temperature (that’s around 40 F) is perfect for bacterial growth. So if you’re keeping the turkey out for more than one hour at room temperature, you should look for signs of spoilage in it. Also, if you want to store the leftover turkey for more than two days, make sure you store it in the fridge or freeze it. 

2. Too Much Air Exposure

Too much air exposure also contaminates the turkey. So, it’s better to store it in an airtight container or a ziplock bag. Keeping the turkey in the open air for too long is an open invitation to deadly microbes and insects that can grow on the turkey and further spoil it. 

3. “Sell By” Date

If you’re buying a ground turkey from the store, make sure it’s still in the expiry date allowance. If it’s fresh, you can use it for 2 to 3 days by storing it in the refrigerator. 

Best Ground Turkey Shelf Life Tips 

Since you read the entire article, I’ll wrap it up by giving you the best shelf life tips for ground turkey. For a little recap, read the steps below:

  • Check the sell-by date before buying the turkey. Even if the sell-by date on the package expires during the time you have it stored in your fridge, it’ll still be fresh and juicy.
  •  You can also increase the shelf life of the ground turkey kept in your freezer. All you need to do is overwrap the turkey package with airtight heavy-duty aluminum foil, plastic wrap, freezer paper, or an airtight container. You can also use heavy-duty freezer bags. This will prevent causing freezer burns to the turkey. 
  • Once you’ve defrosted or thawed the turkey, you can cook it for 2 to 3 days, storing it in the fridge. But the ground turkey that’s thawed in cold water or microwave should be immediately cooked. 
  • For the best taste, buy the turkey a day before or two days before you cook it. If you want to store the turkey for more than three days, cut it into bite-sized pieces and freeze it in an airtight container. 

Conclusion

That’s all about the best preservation tips for ground turkey! So, store the turkey for as long as you can keep it fresh, keeping in mind all that’s mentioned above. In case you want to know more about how you can safely cook or prep the turkey for your feast, you can check out similar articles on our platform. Happy cooking!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you eat ground turkey after five days?

Yes, you can eat ground turkey after five days only if it’s stored air-tight in the freezer. Other than that, the turkey, whether cooked or uncooked, kept in the fridge is not ideally edible. 

Can you get sick from eating old ground turkey?

Yes, eating old ground turkey can cause serious health problems like food poisoning. It can cause fever, cramps in the stomach, diarrhea, and other similar health issues.

How should I store the extra ground turkey from the package?

When you have some extra turkey left in the package, you can store this leftover ground turkey in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you don’t have an airtight container, you can wrap up this package containing ground turkey in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Make sure you store it airtight. You can freeze it if you want to store it for at least a month. 

What are the best ways to store raw ground turkey?

The best way to store raw ground turkey is by keeping it airtight in the fridge or the freezer. You can use the turkey for up to 3 days when stored in the fridge and up to 3 months when frozen.