Most of us will probably have some leftover turkey after we cook up a whole bird for Thanksgiving or any occasion. The simplest thing to do with the leftover turkey is to slice it and make cold sandwiches, but what if you want to experience the flavor and comforting warmth of the hot turkey all over again?
How do You Reheat Turkey Without Drying Out the Meat?
That’s the real trick, because anyone can warm up some turkey in the microwave and make it hot, but to keep it juicy and succulent is more difficult.
There is an art to it, and fortunately, I have some surefire methods you can use to make sure your turkey comes out tasting great. My methods also ensure that it has the right texture to it.
Storage Is Important
How to reheat a fully cooked turkey? First of all, you have to store it properly. If it is not kept stored in an airtight container and is exposed to the air, it will dry out and not be as juicy. Store yours in a plastic container with an airtight seal so that no air can get in. This traps in the juices and keeps your turkey tasting succulent.
Don’t make the mistake of setting it on a plate uncovered or just placing some foil or plastic wrap over it. These kinds of storage options are not nearly secure enough to keep the air out, resulting in dried out turkey that no one is going to have a good time eating.
How to Reheat a Whole Turkey without Drying It Out
The best way to reheat a previously cooked turkey is to heat it the same way you cooked it originally. This brings out the juiciness and keeps that great roasted texture and taste.
Be sure to cover your turkey as it cooks, as this will trap in the juiciness and prevent a lot of evaporation. That is what kills most turkey meat when people try to roast their again and don’t know how to reheat a turkey. They roast it with no covering and let all those tasty juices escape.
You won’t need to cook it for as long as you did originally, though, or at such a high temperature. 300 degrees Fahrenheit should work nicely for reheating your turkey.
Add something to keep the turkey moist, like turkey juice, gravy, or butter to the top of your turkey and then wrap it tightly in aluminum foil. That works for how to reheat sliced turkey. You can just wrap the pieces completely. For a whole turkey, I suggest placing the bird in a roasting pan and covering it with aluminum foil, keeping a tight seal to prevent liquid from escaping out as steam.
When you take the turkey out of the oven, be careful. Not only will the pan be very hot, but the steam will escape when you open the pan or the wrapped turkey. You should use oven mitts to open the covering and keep your face away from directly overhead of the meat.
How to Reheat Turkey Breast in the Microwave
I recommend the oven for reheating, but you can use the microwave too and get some decent results. The best way to cook your turkey in the microwave is to make sure it is cut into small pieces first. You don’t have to dice up the meat, but you should cut it into small, manageable slices.
How to reheat a precooked turkey without drying it out in the microwave? Find a microwave safe container with a cover first and place your turkey pieces inside.
Then, cover them with some turkey drippings, gravy, or some butter. You want to keep them moist and hydrated. Cover the container tightly and heat the turkey for about a minute.
Once again, steam will try to escape when you take the turkey out of the container, so watch for that.
How to reheat turkey in the microwave if you don’t have a proper covered container to fit it? You will need to make your own cover using a plate to cover a plate or you can use plastic wrap.
Two things to keep in mind about using plastic wrap in the microwave, though- don’t let it touch the food, if at all possible, and make sure the packaging says that the wrap is microwave safe.
How to Reheat a Smoked Turkey on the Stove
Another good way to reheat your turkey is to use the stovetop. The advantage to this is that it makes the turkey come out juicier than if you use the microwave. It’s also a faster way for how to reheat smoked turkey than using the oven. I consider this my middle-of-the-road option, and it is a great method.
When I reheat a turkey on the stove, I am concerned about the juices evaporating and escaping and I am worried about a loss of flavor. So, how to reheat smoked turkey legs or a whole turkey on the stove if you don’t want it to dry out or lose some flavor?
You can place the turkey in a skillet with some chicken broth or chicken stock. Oil will change the flavor and texture and water will make it lose flavor, so flavored stock is a good choice. Even vegetable stock is better than water.
To keep vapors from escaping, cover your skillet with a lid. You can use a pot as well for reheating, but just make sure it is covered as tightly as possible. Then, cook on medium heat for just a few minutes- long enough to warm the turkey all the way through.
You may need to flip it over to the other side to get it to warm entirely.
How to Cook a Turkey the Day Before and Reheat
One thing some people wonder about with reheating their turkey is if it okay to reheat the bird that cooked just the day before. It’s absolutely fine, and this is a great way to get a head start on Thanksgiving or any other meal where you want to cook up a whole turkey.
You can cook the bird the day before and store it in the fridge (keep it airtight!) and then reheat it shortly before it is time to eat it. Your turkey should taste juicy and flavorful if you followed my advice on how to reheat a whole turkey.
Can You Reheat a Turkey More Than Once?
It’s not a good idea to heat up the bird more than one time, because it loses flavor and nutrition each time.
Also, the turkey is exposed to contaminants more and you increase the risk of food poisoning. That’s something you need to be very careful of when reheating food and when storing food for a while.
Just limit your reheating sessions to one and only serve out enough from the fridge or freezer to eat that day.