Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Dec 3, 2008 04:22 PM

How long are turkey leftovers good?

I want to make a turkey pot pie. The turkey has been in the frig since last Thursday. Can I use it?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Yes. If it's been refrigerated, what could be wrong? I made a quiche last night with turkey. And still have enough for a couple more sandwiches. Will probably take more mayo as it's drying out :)

    1. Probably, maybe, but I'd freeze whatever you don't use today. 3-5 days is the standard for leftovers.

      3 Replies
      1. re: jaykayen

        I heard that bacteria keeps growing even after food is frozen..??

        I was in Portland for Thanksgiving and my husband grilled and smoked this turkey. Brined it first. I got home on Monday. I usually don't eat leftovers after 3 days either.

        1. re: melly

          "Things" can grow if they're there to begin with. A properly cooked turkey won't have any live bacteria in it so how could they "grow"?

          1. re: c oliver

            There are bacteria present in the air, on the cutting surfaces you use and on your skin. Usually if proper methods of sanitation are followed the amount found on food is small enough to allow refrigeration for 3-5 days. Bacteria grow quickest at 40-140 degrees F, that is not to say that they cannot grow at higher or lower temps depending on species. It is especially important to remove meat from the bone, as marrow is particularly susceptible to bacterial colonization. Subsequent reheating will kill all the bacteria organisms present, that however does not sanitize the food as some strains such as staph produce toxins that persist at high temperatures.

      2. If it's been taken off the bone it might be ok, though I agree with the 3-5 days estimate in general.

        2 Replies
          1. re: c oliver

            Bacteria grow at an exponential rate, the longer the food is stored the more likely that any organisms that were present at the time of storage have multiplied to the point that they would case infection or poisoning.
            note:exponential growth is a simplification of actual bacterial growth but is probably enough of an explanation for the laymen.

        1. I always go by the three day rule - freeze, cook or throw out!

          3 Replies
          1. re: OCEllen

            But why? I really want to know the science behind this.

            1. re: c oliver

              This follows FDA guidelines in general for most meat products, though I've found them to be overly cautious.
              note:these are for raw meat products.

              1. re: c oliver

                There's science but how much science do you need to know and understand that something has begun to rot?

                I think that you'll be OK if you cook with it tonight but be sure to heat the turkey thoroughly in the pot pie sauce and don't make this pot pie for anymore than tonight's dinner. Leftovers of leftovers aren't a good thing.

                I can tell you this; I wouldn't use the meat at this point, but it's up to you.

            2. I've eaten cooked poultry that's been sitting in the fridge for longer than a week many times with no problems.

              The general FDA guideline of 3-5 days is playing it real safe and assumes the worse of situations (e.g. handled improperly after cooking, low fridge storage temp, non-airtight storage container, etc.)

              If your fridge is set on the proper temp, or especially if it is on the cool side (i.e., closer to 32 F), and you store the turkey leftovers properly (e.g. covered, air tight container), you should be good to go for at least 5-7 days, if not easily more.