How to Reheat Turkey While Keeping It Juicy
Don’t ruin your leftovers by making them dry! Our methods for reheating turkey will keep the bird as juicy and moist as it was for Thanksgiving dinner.
It’s so hard to estimate the right amount when you’re cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving. With all the filling side dishes and desserts looming in the background, sometimes the main dish earns a smaller-than-expected portion on the plate.
The good news is that turkey leftovers taste great—we can think of all kinds of clever ways to enjoy them. Unfortunately, it’s easy to overcook leftover turkey, resulting in a dry and unappetizing bite. You don’t have to suffer from this sad fate, though, if you know the best ways to reheat turkey. And this Ina Garten turkey hack will help prevent a turkey becoming dry.
How to Reheat Turkey Without Drying It Out
The first step is to store the turkey properly. Don’t just toss it on a plate and stash it in the refrigerator; exposing the meat to air overnight is the quickest way to create a dry crust on the surface. Once cooled, keep leftover turkey tightly covered or—better yet—in a sealed container. If you’re looking to keep it in the fridge longer, turkey is also luckily one of those Thanksgiving leftovers you can freeze.
How to reheat turkey in the oven
This is our preferred reheating method because leftovers almost always taste best when they’re reheated using the original cooking method. That said, you won’t want to turn the oven up as high as you did for the original roasting. When reheating large pieces of turkey, it’s a good idea to use an instant-read thermometer to make sure each piece reaches 165°F.
- Preheat the oven to 300°—low enough to prevent the heat from drawing moisture away from the meat, but high enough that it won’t take hours to reheat.
- Place your leftover portions in aluminum foil and spoon a few spoonfuls of gravy or chicken stock over the meat.
- Add a pat of butter and close the foil tightly. Alternatively, you can use a casserole dish, but make sure to cover it tightly with aluminum foil to prevent the steam from escaping.
- Cook the turkey for 30 to 45 minutes, until it’s warmed all the way through.
How to reheat turkey on the stovetop
This is our second-favorite method. It’s quicker than the oven, and the turkey turns out juicier than in the microwave. It’s also a good option if you’re reheating skin-on pieces.
- Place the turkey pieces in a skillet and add 1/2 inch of chicken stock.
- Cover the pan with a lid and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat.
- Simmer for a few minutes until the turkey is warmed through.
- If you want to crisp up the skin, discard the liquid and dry the pan with a clean towel. Add a teaspoon of oil and heat it over high heat. Add the reheated turkey, skin-side down, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the exterior is crispy.
How to reheat turkey in the microwave
This method is great if you’re reheating one or two servings of turkey. It’s really best to cut the turkey into bite-size pieces first, decreasing the chances of the outside drying out before the inside heats all the way through.
- Place the turkey pieces in a microwave-safe container.
- Add a few spoonfuls of chicken stock and a pat of butter. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap.
- Cook the turkey on 70% power for one minute for each reheated pound.
Reheated turkey can taste so juicy and delicious, that it might be worth roasting an extra Thanksgiving turkey just to make sure you have leftovers!
Turkey Reheating FAQs
How many times can you reheat turkey?
It’s not a good idea to reheat turkey more than once. Technically, as long as it reaches 165° each time, it’s safe to eat. That said, it’s a food safety hazard to some degree, since every time you heat and cool food, it passes through the danger zone (between 40° and 140°). Bacteria thrive in this range, and giving them multiple opportunities to grow just isn’t a good idea. It’s best to err on the side of caution and reheat leftover turkey only once.
Can you cook a turkey the day before and reheat it?
Absolutely! If you’re looking for a stress-free Thanksgiving, go ahead and roast the turkey and let it rest like normal, or use our flavorful method for grilling turkey. Then, carve it and cover it tightly with a lid or plastic wrap before placing it in the refrigerator. Reheat it using one of the methods above, and dinner is served.
The oven method works best here, mostly because it fills your kitchen with the irresistible aroma of cooked turkey. Your dinner guests will think you spent all morning cooking!
How can I keep the turkey moist while reheating?
Make sure you add moisture when you reheat the meat. You’ll see in our reheating methods that we add homemade gravy, chicken stock or butter to the turkey before heating it up. This ensures that juices in the turkey won’t escape as steam when they’re exposed to heat.
We also recommend covering turkey as it reheats. Use an aluminum foil pouch in the oven, a microwave-safe dish or a skillet fitted tightly with a lid. If the juices surround the turkey meat instead of evaporating off into your kitchen, the leftovers will taste so much better!
Our Best Ideas for Leftover Turkey
Leftover Turkey Tetrazzini
I make this recipe with leftover turkey, and it’s a whole new meal! We look forward to having it after Christmas and Thanksgiving and other times when I roast a turkey for a family gathering. —Susan Payne, Corner Brook, Newfoundland Get Recipe Don’t ruin your leftovers by making them dry! Our methods for reheating turkey will keep the bird as juicy and moist as it was for Thanksgiving dinner.
Turkey Sandwich with Raspberry-Mustard Spread
My hearty sandwich has different yet complementary flavors and textures. It is filled with flavor and nutrients, without all the unhealthy fats, sodium and added sugar many other sandwiches have. And it’s absolutely delicious! —Sarah Savage, Buena Vista, Virginia
TLC (Thanksgiving Leftover Casserole)
Turkey, stuffing and veggie leftovers come together into a fabulous casserole. There’s comfort in every bite. —Barbara Lento, Houston, Pennsylvania
With their golden brown crust and scrumptious filling, these comforting turkey potpies will warm you down to your toes. Because the recipe makes two, you can eat one now and freeze the other for later. They bake and cut beautifully. —Laurie Jensen, Cadillac, Michigan
Wondering how long that leftover turkey will last? Here’s a handy guide that’ll let you know when it’s time to toss.
Air-Fryer Turkey Croquettes
I grew up with a family that looked forward to Thanksgiving leftovers. But we didn’t just reheat turkey and spuds in the microwave—we took our culinary creativity to a new level with recipes like these air-fryer turkey croquettes. Serve them with a crisp green salad for an unforgettable meal. —Meredith Coe, Charlottesville, Virginia
Turkey Shepherd’s Pie
We live way out in the county, and the nearest grocery store is 25 miles away. So I’ve become quite skilled at turning leftovers into second-time-around successes like this turkey shepherd’s pie. —Linda Howe, Jackman, Maine
Cream of Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
A dear friend brought me some of this soup when I was ill—and it instantly hit the spot. I asked her for the recipe and I’ve made it several times since, especially when I have leftover turkey to use up. Now I like to take it to friends when they’re not feeling well. It’s just the filling meal to warm you up on a cold, wintry day! —Doris Cox, New Freedom, Pennsylvania
Crescent Turkey Casserole
How do you make a dinner of leftover turkey and vegetables really appealing to kids? You turn it into a pie, of course! My version tastes classic, but won’t take much time at all. —Daniela Essman, Perham, Minnesota
Anytime Turkey Chili
I created this dish to grab the voters’ attention at a chili contest we held in our backyard. With pumpkin, brown sugar and leftover turkey, it’s like an entire Thanksgiving dinner in one bowl. —Brad Bailey of Cary, North Carolina
Bistro Turkey Sandwich
As a turkey lover who can’t get enough during fall and winter, I was inspired to come up with a restaurant-worthy sandwich. I love it with a soft, rich cheese like Brie. —Grace Voltolina, Westport, Connecticut
Stuffing & Turkey Casserole
With some leftover turkey, stuffing and cranberries, you have another full meal after Thanksgiving. This is a plate full of love, comfort and goodness. —Debbie Fabre, Ft Myers, Florida
Homemade Turkey Soup
You can make the most of even the smallest pieces of leftover turkey with this homemade turkey soup. I simmer the bones to get the rich flavor, then easily remove any meat that remains. I add rice, vegetables and cream soup for a hearty turkey soup that’s tasty and economical. —June Sangrey, Manheim, Pennsylvania
Bistro Turkey Calzone
Leftover turkey, cheddar and bacon harmonize well with the apple in this family-friendly fare. —Donna Marie Ryan, Topsfield, Massachusetts
Turkey Curry with Rice
When I have leftover turkey and a hankering for non-holiday food, I make turkey curry with carrots, cauliflower and mango chutney to spoon over rice. —Nancy Heishman, Las Vegas, Nevada
Weeknight Turkey Tortilla Soup
This is now my family’s most requested soup—so much so that they will make sure I have leftover turkey. You can spice up this soup and make it more hearty by adding smoked sausage or andouille and some Cajun seasoning to taste. —Gail Lucas, Olive Branch, Mississippi
Turkey Alfredo Pizza
A longtime family favorite, this thin-crust pizza is both tasty and nutritious. It’s an excellent way to use up leftover turkey, too. —Edie DeSpain, Logan, Utah
Turkey a La King
This is a smart way to use up leftover turkey. You might want to make a double batch! —Mary Gaylord, Balsam Lake, Wisconsin
Turkey-Stuffed Acorn Squash
We stuff acorn squash with leftover turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce. Make as much or as little as you need to use everything up. —Cindy Romberg, Mississauga, Ontario
Turkey Salad on Wheat Bread
When one of my favorite lunch spots closed, this recipe let me hold on to more than just good memories. The peas, bacon and cheese are such a fun and springy combo. I make big batches of the salad for parties—turns out I’m not the only fan! —Merrijane Rice, Kaysville, Utah
Turkey Macaroni Bake
A co-worker gave me this recipe when we were discussing quick and easy ways to use leftover turkey. The mild, cheesy casserole is a hit with my family. And it doesn’t get much easier than this—you don’t even have to cook the macaroni first! —Cherry Williams, St. Albert, Alberta
Turkey Lattice Pie
With its pretty lattice crust, this cheesy baked dish looks as good as it tastes. It’s easy to make, too, since it uses ready-to-go crescent roll dough and leftover turkey. —Lorraine Naig, Emmetsburg, Iowa
Curry Turkey Stir-Fry
Just open the fridge and go to town making this throw-together curry. We prefer leftover turkey, but if you like chicken, shrimp, even bean sprouts and carrots, by all means, add them. —Lauren Rush, Clark, New Jersey
Hot Brown Turkey Casserole
If you’ve ever tried the Hot Brown Sandwich at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, you’ll love this version. It can be assembled ahead and refrigerated; just adjust baking time accordingly if cold. —Diane Halferty, Corpus Christi, Texas
Turkey Enchiladas Verdes
Planning a fiesta night? These authentic-tasting enchiladas in spicy green sauce will please the whole family and you’ll be thankful for turkey leftovers. —Karyn Power, Arlington, Texas
Dilly Turkey Melt
This is a hearty grilled sandwich with a distinctive and delicious combination of ingredients. The pickle slices add a bit of fun, and the barbecue sauce provides a hint of sweetness that’s irresistible. —Henry Mujica, North Riverside, Illinois
Turkey Biscuit Skillet
My mother always made this with leftover turkey while we were growing up. Now I make it for my own husband and kids. I use the small-size biscuits because they brown up so nicely on top. I also add mushrooms to this recipe sometimes because my family loves ’em. —Keri Boffeli, Monticello, Iowa
Classic Cobb Salad
Making this salad is a lot like putting in a garden. I “plant” everything in nice, neat sections, just as I do with seedlings. —Patricia Kile, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
Turkey Corn Chowder
This thick and rich turkey corn chowder uses up Thanksgiving leftovers. Every so often, my grandmother would even add chopped hard-boiled eggs to this chowder to give it a nice richness. —Susan Bickta, Kutztown, Pennsylvania
Grandma’s Thanksgiving Leftover Rolls
Grab that leftover turkey and roll it up with some sausage, cheese and vegetables to make a savory roll. To add an over-the-top touch, drizzle each roll with turkey gravy. —Kellie Braddell, West Point, California
Cranberry Salsa Turkey Wraps
Once your family tastes these mouthwatering roll-ups, they’ll never look at leftover turkey in the same way! The cranberry salsa combines both sweet and spicy flavors. —Elke Rose, Waukesha, Wisconsin
I’m always looking for new and interesting ways to use leftover turkey—especially around the holidays. Make this skillet meal as spicy as you’d like by varying the amount of curry powder. —Martha Balser, Cincinnati, Ohio
Southwestern Turkey Bake
I make this turkey bake as a way to get my husband and nieces to eat their vegetables. It’s also perfect if you’re wondering what to do with leftover turkey. This creamy entree will fill you up fast. —Crystal Kolady, Henrietta, New York
Need more ideas on what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers? Brunch with Babs advises using this easy hack.
Minestrone with Turkey
I remember my mom making this soup; now I make it for my kids as often as I can. It’s a good way to use up leftover turkey and vegetables. Sometimes I add a can of rinsed and drained kidney or garbanzo beans. —Angela Goodman, Kaneohe, Hawaii
Turkey Spaghetti Casserole
My mom made this creamy comforting dish when I was growing up. Whenever I have leftover turkey or chicken, I look forward to making this simple, yet tasty, filling dish. —Casandra Hetrick, Lindsey, Ohio
While we love our traditional Thanksgiving recipes, sometimes we want to change things up. This sourdough stuffing is a fun twist on an old favorite. Whenever we make it after the big feast, we like to add a cup or more of leftover cubed turkey. —Pat Dazis, Charlotte, North Carolina
Avocado Turkey Salad
Grape tomatoes and avocado chunks add pretty color and fresh flavor to this main-dish salad. In a pinch, substitute half-and half or milk for the whipping cream, adding a teaspoon at a time until you get the desired consistency. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
Butternut Turkey Soup
Although chock-full of lots of nutritious vegetables and turkey, this soup is also light on calories. —Denise LaRoche, Hudson, New Hampshire
Slow-Cooked Turkey Sandwiches
These sandwiches have been such a hit at office potlucks that I keep copies of the recipe in my desk to hand out. —Diane Twait Nelsen, Ringsted, Iowa
Italian Turkey Skillet
It’s a challenge to find imaginative ways to use leftovers, especially for turkey after Thanksgiving. Here’s a favorite of mine that you can easily make ahead for another dinner option. Prepare the recipe as directed, then transfer to a casserole dish and freeze up to three months. —Patricia Kile, Nokomis, Florida
“Thanksgiving’s Not Over Yet” Enchilada Soup
Pumpkin adds richness and depth of flavor to this warm and wonderful soup. Chock-full of turkey, it makes the perfect Thanksgiving curtain call. —Denise Pounds, Hutchinson, Kansas
BLT Turkey Salad
This variation of a BLT salad is great with a side of garlic bread or garlic toast, and will satisfy even the pickiest eaters. —Sherry Conley, Noel, Nova Scotia
Crispy Mashed Potato & Stuffing Patties
Talk about a fun way to use holiday leftovers! Making this turkey and stuffing patty is so fast. The family looks forward to this breakfast treat every year. —Kellie Ferea, Casa Grande, Arizona
Check out our other leftover stuffing recipes.
Mexican Turkey Roll-Ups
This is the perfect recipe when you’re hungry for a dish with Mexican flavor and want to use turkey. These roll-ups are fun and so tasty, even kids like them. It’s a different use for leftover turkey. —Marlene Muckenhirn, Delano, Minnesota
This recipe is definitely a must-try, and all you do is bundle up creamy filling and leftover turkey in crescent dough. I usually double the recipe so I have extra for lunch the next day. —Lydia Garrod, Tacoma, Washington
Turkey a la King with Rice
I like to make this dish with our leftover turkey. It’s a nice change from casseroles and so simple. Serve over rice, noodles, biscuits or toast. —Pat Lemke, Brandon, Wisconsin
Turkey Biscuit Stew
This chunky stew makes a hearty supper, especially in the fall and winter. It’s also a great way to use extra turkey during the holidays. —Lori Schlecht, Wimbledon, North Dakota
Fiesta Turkey Tortilla Soup
I’m always thankful when I have leftovers and can pull such a delicious soup together in under 30 minutes. —Amy McFadden, Chelsea, Alabama
Cashew Turkey Salad Sandwiches
One bite and you’ll be hooked on this slightly sweet turkey salad sandwich. It’s protein-packed so you can feel good while you munch! —Mary Wilhelm, Sparta, Wisconsin
This savory crepe recipe has been passed down through many generations in my family. You can also use any leftover turkey filling for turkey pot pie. —Andrea Price, Grafton, Wisconsin
Black Bean ‘n’ Pumpkin Chili
My family is crazy about this slow cooker chili because it uses ingredients you don’t usually find in chili. Believe it or not, I discovered that pumpkin is what makes the dish so special. Cook up a big batch and freeze some for later; it tastes even better reheated. —Deborah Vliet, Holland, Michigan
To ensure you have turkey leftovers, buy your turkey early this year due to turkey shortages.
Originally Published: November 21, 2023
After years of working in professional kitchens, Lindsay traded her knives in for the pen. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to turn local, seasonal ingredients into beautiful meals for her family.