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As soon as the leaves start turning and the temperature drops, you know it’s fall! And while fall brings with it apple cider, pumpkin spice, crisp evenings, and Halloween, fall also means it is Thanksgiving, which only means turkey season. Turkey is the traditional course of any Thanksgiving meal, which involves thawing, basting, preheating, and stuffing the turkey among all the other good things. But instead of roasting the turkey, smoking the turkey has become popular. Smoked turkey involves slow cooking the turkey in a smoker for hours until it is juicy and tender and full of flavor. While smoking the turkey does take hours, it does leave your oven free to get on baking those pies and sides. Before smoking the turkey you can stuff it with herbs and spices and cover it with a dry rub.
How Long Does Smoked Turkey Last?
- Smoked turkey has a slightly longer shelf life than roast turkey, as the smoke helps preserve the meat. Smoked meat of any kind, turkey included tastes best when eaten fresh, within three hours of being made.
- Smoked turkey will stay good in the fridge for about 3-5 days.
- If you are freezing it, it will last for about 3 months provided it has been stored properly. Smoked turkey can in fact last for a long time in the freezer. The temperature keeps any bacteria in check. So, while your smoked turkey is not going to spoil any time in the freezer, it will start losing its flavor. After about 3 months, the freezer starts drying up the turkey, no matter how well you have wrapped and stored it. So, 3 months is ideal for freezing leftover smoked turkey.
- Once thawed, your smoked turkey can be left in the fridge for about 3 days.
- Do not refreeze thawed smoked turkey.
|Type of Smoked Turkey||Kitchen counter||Fridge||Freezer|
|Fresh smoked turkey||2-3 hours||3-5 days||3 months|
|Thawed smoked turkey||2 -3 hours||3 days|
The above table depends a lot on how well the smoke turkey has been stored as well as when it was made, and the quality of the ingredients used.
How To Best Store Smoked Turkey?
A big turkey meal usually ends with leftovers and with the amount of time and effort that has gone into making it, you can’t just throw it out. And what’s Thanksgiving if you aren’t eating leftovers the rest of the week?
There are a couple of things you need to keep in mind when storing your smoked turkey.
- Cut your turkey into smaller slices if you have a lot of leftovers. This will not only save space in your fridge, but smaller slices will reheat better and more evenly.
- First, wrap your smoked turkey in saran or plastic wrap, this will keep the turkey from sticking to the container.
- Second, wrap it in aluminum foil this helps retain moisture and flavor.
- Finally, place the wrapped smoked turkey in a shallow airtight container and store it in the fridge. It will be good for about 3-5 days.
- If you have premade your smoked turkey, then you don’t have to slice it before storing it. You still need to cover it tightly with saran wrap, followed by aluminum foil. Then place it in a shallow dish or tray and store it in the fridge.
- Wrapping it in foil will make sure that the cold does not dry out the meat, besides also keeping the flavor in.
- Similarly, if you are freezing smoked turkey double wrap it in saran wrap and aluminum foil. Then keep it in an airtight, freezer-friendly container and store it in the freezer. The turkey will still be tender and juicy after the 3 months. Double wrapping it also prevents it from getting freezer burn as well as preventing any odors getting into the turkey or vice versa.
- Once you have thawed frozen turkey, do not refreeze. It will keep in the fridge for about 3 days.
How To Reheat Smoked Turkey?
- If you have made the effort to store your smoked turkey properly in the fridge, it will still be delicious and tender when you reheat and eat it.
- The best way to reheat frozen smoked turkey is in the oven, although you can also reheat it on the stovetop or microwave.
- A few things to keep in mind, when reheating smoked turkey, you can add a little bit of stock or water to keep it from drying out.
- Also, it is always better to reheat it covered, as it helps keep the turkey moist.
- You have to reheat it on low heat, this way the turkey gets heated evenly without drying out or burning.
Here is how to reheat smoked turkey in the oven:
- Let the turkey sit out for a little while, till it comes to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
- Place the turkey in a shallow tray. Add a little bit of water, stock, or gravy to the pan. You can also add some oil or butter to the turkey.
- Cover the turkey with oven-safe foil.
- Then heat the turkey till it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, which is about 30 to 45 minutes.
Here is how to reheat smoked turkey over the stove:
- Place the turkey in a shallow pan or skillet, and add some stock, water, or gravy to the pan. Cover the pan and heat over low flame.
- The smoked turkey will take about 10 minutes to get completely heated.
- If you want slightly charred or crispy skin, add some oil or butter to the skillet (without water or stock) and let the turkey get slightly roasted.
Here is how to reheat smoked turkey in the microwave:
- This is not the ideal way to reheat smoked turkey, but it will work in a pinch. Since the temperature cannot be controlled in the microwave, there is a higher chance of the turkey drying out.
- First, slice the turkey into thin even strips, this will help heat the turkey faster and more evenly.
- Place the slices of smoked turkey in a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle some stock or water. Cover and heat in 60-second intervals.
- The microwave method is clearly the fastest and simplest way to reheat smoked turkey but be careful it is also the easiest way to dry out the meat.
How To Thaw Frozen Smoked Turkey?
Now, that we have figured out how to reheat smoked turkey, let’s delve into how to thaw a frozen smoked turkey.
- Don’t let the turkey thaw at room temperature.
- Place the turkey in the fridge overnight in a shallow dish or tray.
- If it is a full, uncarved smoked turkey, it will take 48 hours to thaw in the fridge, so plan ahead.
- If you want to thaw sliced-up smoked turkey, let it sit in the fridge for about 4 to 24 hours.
- If you are in a hurry, you can thaw the smoked turkey in the microwave. Remove the foil and wrap, place it in a microwave-safe dish and press the “defrost” button for the required amount of time.
If you have lots of smoked turkey left over, you can continue enjoying it for months after. Considering how much effort has gone into smoking the turkey, a few simple adjustments will let you dig into that delicious bird for a long time.