How to Freeze Cooked Turkey
Almost every family that enjoys turkey at Christmas has far too much leftover to know what to do with.
But the great news is that turkey freezes excellently and can be added to an abundance of dishes in the months following your festive get-together from stews and curries. Below are the simple steps you need to follow in order to freeze your cooked turkey:
- Allow to Cool
Leave your cooked turkey to cool before you refrigerate or freeze it. After cooking it in a tray, allow your turkey to cool on a raised griddle or something similar, as this will speed up the process.
While it’s possible to freeze your turkey without slicing it, slicing beforehand helps with portion control when it comes to defrosting and adding the bird to future recipes. How you slice it is entirely up to you, but it’s helpful to think about how you plan to use your turkey in the future.
- Wrap in Foil
Lay your turkey slices on a sheet of tin foil, preferably adding no more than 2-3 slices per wrap. Wrap your slices tight to ensure no air will get to the meat while it’s in the freezer.
- Bag Up
Place your wrapped turkey in a large freezer-safe bag, pushing as much air from the turkey as possible before sealing it.
- Label and Freeze
Note the date that you cooked the turkey, as well as the suggested use-by date on the front of the bag. Remember, you can freeze cooked turkey for around four months.
How to Freeze Cooked Turkey Mince
If you have some leftover turkey mince, or if you’ve decided to make turkey mince yourself, you’ll be pleased to hear that it’s perfectly safe to freeze your mince, too.
In fact, the process you need to follow is very similar to the one we’ve just shared. Of course, you don’t need to slice your turkey mince (for obvious reasons!), and there’s no need to wrap it in foil.
Simply portion it out and place each helping into its own freezer-safe bag. It’s absolutely fine to freeze turkey mince with sauce, gravy, or even if it’s plain.
3 Tips for Freezing Cooked Turkey
Now you know how to freeze it, we’ve got our 3 top tips which we strongly recommend following when freezing cooked turkey to have the best results:
- Freeze Quickly – As is the case with freezing any type of meat, it’s important that you get your turkey in the freezer as quickly as you can after cooking it. While it’s technically safe to refrigerate turkey for three days before freezing it, doing so might cause your turkey to dry out. If you want your turkey to be super fresh, get it in the freezer as soon as it has cooled.
- Freeze as a Dish – Turkey is a great meat to freeze as it’s really versatile. Whether you’ve minced it, added it to a curry, or made it the star ingredient in a winter soup or broth, you can still freeze it. Some people prefer freezing turkey as part of a recipe instead of freezing it on its own as they say it helps the meat retain its moisture.
- Add Gravy – Another great way to preserve the moisture of your turkey is to pour a small covering of gravy over the breast before freezing it. This is only viable if you plan to enjoy your turkey in a specific way, though!
How Long Can You Freeze Cooked Turkey?
You can freeze cooked turkey for around four months.
While some people put their Christmas leftover turkey in the fridge before transferring it to the freezer, we’d advise you to skip this step altogether. One of the biggest complaints people have with turkey meat is that it can often be a little dry.
Getting your meat straight in the freezer once it has been cooked can help it keep its moisture, therefore making it much more succulent when you add it to future recipes.
You Can Freeze Cooked Turkey for up to 4 Months
How Do You Defrost Cooked Turkey?
To defrost cooked turkey, remove it from the freezer the day or night before you plan to use it and place it in the fridge. You have to be careful when defrosting meat, and you should never defrost it at room temperature.
You can leave it in its initial packaging until it has thawed in the fridge, then you’re free to add it to whatever recipe or dish you desire.
Can You Refreeze Cooked Turkey?
It’s safe to refreeze cooked meat that has been safely defrosted in the fridge. However, we wouldn’t recommend freezing cooked turkey more than once because the freezing process alters the moisture content of the meat.
As we’ve mentioned throughout, turkey can be dry at the best of times, so the more you freeze and refreeze it, the drier it’s likely to become. It’s for this reason that it’s helpful to freeze cooked turkey in portion sizes so you don’t take out more than you need at any one time.
Does Cooked Turkey Freeze Well?
Cooked turkey freezes extremely well and makes the perfect addition to a variety of leftover based meals. It’s up to you whether you freeze it as it is or add it to recipes and then freeze them pre-prepared.
Providing you get your cooked turkey in the freezer as quickly as possible, you will have a succulent and moreish source of turkey for up to four months.
If you’ve still got questions about freezing cooked turkey or turkey in general, then these may help:
What is the Best Way to Freeze Cooked Turkey?
The best way to freeze cooked turkey is in slices or strips. This way, you have a lot of scope for how you use it in future. If you were to freeze the turkey whole or even as large jointed pieces, you’ll be committed to using a large amount whenever you wanted it.
Can You Freeze Cooked Sliced Turkey Breast?
Of course you can freeze cooked and sliced turkey breast. You can actually freeze any part of the bird that is sliced using the method on this page.