Get the most from your leftover roast turkey and learn how to reheat it, so it stays super-succulent and delicious.
There’s so much you can do with leftover turkey. It works in almost any dish that would use chicken, but as it’s such a lean meat, it can sometimes become dry, especially the breast meat. Here, we’ll talk you through the best ways to stop that happening, and how to reheat turkey to enjoy again as it is or use in a new dish altogether.
How to keep your turkey succulent
If the turkey meat starts out dry, there won’t be much hope for it once it’s gone cold. But, there are a couple of things you can do to ensure the most succulent roast beforehand.
Dry-brining your turkey
By simply seasoning the raw turkey all over with salt up to two days before roasting, you’ll end up with a much juicier roast. A whole bird can be seasoned two days before, a crown up to a day before, and a boneless turkey breast should be seasoned no earlier than the night before.
Don’t overcook the turkey
Overcooking is the main culprit to dry turkey meat. The best way to make sure you don’t overcook your turkey is to use a digital cooking probe. Once the turkey has reached 75C on the thickest part of the thigh or 65C on the thickest part of the breast, it’s done.
Resting the turkey
When you rest your turkey after it’s been roasted, the meat relaxes and reabsorbs its juices. Any form of turkey roast, from the whole bird to a boneless breast joint, should be well-rested before carving. Simply sit the turkey on a board or platter and leave it in the kitchen while you get on with everything else. A boneless breast joint can be left for 20-30 mins, while a crown or whole bird will sit happily for 40 mins and still be warm through after an hour.
Adding the juices back
Serving the turkey carved on a platter is a lot less fiddly than carving at the table, as the turkey loses its juices while you’re carving. The best thing to do before serving is pour the collected juices back over the carved turkey – this also keeps it succulent as it cools down.
Covering the cooked meat
There’s always lots going on, so it’s very easy to accidentally leave your turkey uncovered in the fridge or turned-off oven for the night, but this will just dry it out more. Cover and chill the turkey, or carve it and chill in an airtight container no more than 2 hours after eating for safety, and to help keep it at its juiciest.
Safety tips for reheating turkey
- Cold, cooked turkey meat will keep in the fridge for up to four days, but always use your best judgement.
- Always reheat cold turkey until its piping hot, not just warmed through.
- Only reheat cooked turkey once.
How to reheat turkey
When you want to reheat leftover turkey to eat as is, these are the best options.
How to reheat turkey in the oven
If you’re reheating a lot of turkey at once, the oven is your best option.
- Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
- Carve the turkey breast meat into thin slices and carve the leg meat off the bone. Lay in a roasting tin or gratin dish. Pour over enough turkey or chicken stock over so there is about 5mm in the bottom of the dish. Dot over small pieces of butter (about 25g total should do it, but more won’t hurt).
- Cover the dish tightly with foil, and roast for 30 mins or until the turkey is very hot, at least 75C on a cooking thermometer. Leave to rest for a few minutes in the juices and serve.
How to reheat turkey in the microwave
If you’re reheating one or two portions and don’t want to turn the oven on, a microwave it perfect.
- Carve the breast meat into thin slices and take the leg meat off the bone.
- Lay in a microwavable dish or container and drizzle with stock or gravy.
- Cook for 2 mins on a medium-high setting, then check. If it’s not very hot, cook in 30-second bursts until piping hot. Leave to rest for a few minutes before serving.
Need more essential turkey advice? Read our expert guides…
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