How to Reheat a Fully Cooked Turkey: A Comprehensive Guide for Delicious Results

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The best part of Thanksgiving is undoubtedly the leftovers. The ingredients of a Thanksgiving meal can be used to create a plethora of new recipes! Ree Drummond, in particular, is a big fan of repurposing leftover turkey; just take a peek at her recipes for leftover turkey shepherd’s pie, leftover turkey soup, and turkey tetrazzini! However, you probably wonder how to reheat turkey if you just want to eat a big plate of leftovers and keep things simple.

There are proper and incorrect ways to reheat turkey, as you may have discovered if you’ve ever placed a piece of leftover turkey in the microwave only to have it come out unpleasantly dry. You can keep your Thanksgiving turkey perfectly juicy for the big feast and beyond by following these tips! If you do it correctly, your bird will taste freshly roasted days after Thanksgiving! Speaking of which, did you know that you can make a Thanksgiving turkey ahead of time and reheat it on the big day? Talk about a lifesaver!

The holidays are a time for family, friends and of course, delicious food. But let’s be honest cooking a turkey can be a daunting task. It takes time, effort, and a bit of know-how to get it right. That’s why many people are opting for pre-cooked turkeys these days. They’re convenient, easy to prepare, and can still be incredibly tasty if reheated properly.

But how do you reheat a fully cooked turkey without drying it out? Fear not, fellow turkey enthusiasts, for this guide will equip you with all the knowledge you need to achieve perfectly juicy and flavorful results

Preparation is Key:

Before you even think about firing up the oven, there are a few things you need to do to ensure your turkey reheats like a dream.

  • Thawing Time: If your turkey is frozen, plan ahead. You’ll need to thaw it in the refrigerator for 24 hours per 5 pounds of weight. So, a 12-pound turkey will take about 2 days to thaw completely. Never thaw your turkey at room temperature, as this can lead to bacterial growth.
  • Temperature Check: Once thawed, check the turkey’s internal temperature. It should be around 40°F or below. If it’s higher, it’s best to cook the turkey immediately.

Reheating Techniques:

Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of reheating. There are two main methods you can use:

1. Oven Reheating:

This is the most common method and works well for most turkeys, Here’s how to do it:

  • Preheat your oven to 325°F.
  • Remove the turkey from its packaging. Leave the plastic leg wrap on if it has one.
  • Place the turkey in a roasting pan. Add 1 cup of water to the bottom of the pan to help keep the turkey moist.
  • Cover the turkey loosely with aluminum foil. This will trap the steam and prevent the turkey from drying out.
  • Calculate the reheating time. As a general guideline, allow 15-20 minutes per pound of turkey. So, a 12-pound turkey would take 180-240 minutes (3-4 hours) to reheat.
  • Check the temperature. After the estimated time, use a meat thermometer to check the turkey’s internal temperature. It should reach 165°F in the thickest part of the breast and thigh.
  • Rest and Carve. Once the turkey is cooked, let it rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more tender and flavorful bird.

2. Microwave Reheating:

This method is faster but may not be suitable for larger turkeys. Here’s how to do it:

  • Slice the turkey. Cut the turkey into thick slices, about 1-inch thick.
  • Place the slices on a microwave-safe plate. Arrange them in a single layer, leaving some space between them.
  • Cover the plate with plastic wrap. This will help trap the steam and heat the turkey evenly.
  • Microwave on high power for 1-2 minutes per slice. The exact time will depend on the thickness of the slices and the power of your microwave.
  • Check the temperature. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature of the slices reaches 165°F.

Tips for Success:

  • Baste the turkey during reheating. This will help keep it moist and flavorful. You can use butter, broth, or even pan drippings for basting.
  • Don’t overheat the turkey. This will dry it out and make it tough.
  • Let the turkey rest before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more tender and flavorful bird.

Additional Resources:

For more detailed information and troubleshooting tips, check out these resources:

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Can I reheat a pre-cooked turkey that has been frozen?

Yes, you can. Just thaw the turkey in the refrigerator first, following the guidelines mentioned earlier.

  • Can I use a slow cooker to reheat a turkey?

Yes, you can. Place the turkey in the slow cooker with a small amount of liquid, such as broth or water. Cook on low for 4-6 hours, or until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.

  • Can I stuff a pre-cooked turkey before reheating?

It’s not recommended to stuff a pre-cooked turkey. The stuffing may not cook evenly, and there’s a risk of bacterial growth.

Reheating a fully cooked turkey doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By following the tips and techniques outlined in this guide, you can achieve perfectly juicy and flavorful results that will have your guests raving. So, relax, enjoy the holiday festivities, and let your pre-cooked turkey do the heavy lifting.

How do you reheat turkey without drying it out?

Quicker is not always better, and thats especially true when it comes to reheating turkey. The best way to keep leftover turkey moist and delicious is reheating it low and slow. Yes, it means avoiding the microwave! Although they can quickly reheat turkey, microwaves dry out the meat and leave the skin unpleasantly chewy. Instead, turn to your oven return your Thanksgiving turkey to hot, juicy, just-baked perfection. Toss in the carved meat in a baking dish, preheat the oven to 300 degrees, and pour in some chicken broth or turkey stock. The meat will absorb some of the liquid as it heats, making it nice and juicy. Place the pan in the oven and cover it tightly with foil. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the meat is hot. Before you know it, youll have fresh turkey once again!.

Can you cook a turkey the day before and reheat it?

Yes, you can! If you find it intimidating to roast a bird on Thanksgiving, prepare your turkey the day before. This simple tip will not only help you save time on Thanksgiving, but it will also significantly reduce your stress level. The best part? You can roast your bird as normal, let it cool completely, and then carve it into large pieces without anyone knowing! Remove the wings, drumsticks, thighs, and breasts, keeping the pieces whole with some skin attached. Place the carved turkey pieces back into the roasting pan, cover well, and store in the fridge.

To reheat, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. While the turkey is still in the roasting pan, moisten the meat by brushing it with a small amount of stock (turkey, chicken, or vegetable stock or broth will work). Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the turkey is warmed through. Then carve the turkey into slices and serve!.

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