The Extension Corner: Using Thanksgiving leftovers

Published 8:47 am Thursday, November 22, 2018

With all the food that will be made during your Thanksgiving festivities, you are bound to end up with leftovers.

Your leftover plan actually starts right after the Thanksgiving dinner. Cut the turkey off the bone and refrigerate it as soon as you can, within two hours of the turkey coming out of the oven.

Hayley Cowell

Leftovers will last for four days in the refrigerator, so if you know you won’t use them right away, pack them into freezer bags or airtight containers and freeze. For best quality, use your leftover turkey within four months. Frozen leftover turkey is safe forever, but after four months it can dry out or lose flavor.

To make it easier to use the leftover turkey, pack it into meal-sized portions so that you can use just what you need.

When it’s time to use the turkey, thaw it safely. This can be done in the refrigerator, submerged in cold water, in the microwave, or you can cook from frozen.

If you will be slicing or cubing the cooked turkey for your next meal, leaving it partially frozen will make it easier to cut and will hardly affect the cooking time.

When reheating the cooked foods, be sure to use a food thermometer to make sure your food has been reheated to an internal temperature of 165 degree F.

Thank you and Happy Holidays!

Hayley Cowell is the family and consumer sciences agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension of Stanly County. Call 704-983-3987 or send a message to