How Long Will Turkey Last in the Fridge? (And Signs It’s Gone Bad)

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If you’re wondering how long your turkey will last in the fridge before going bad,  you’re in the right place!

In this TheGrillingDad.com guide, you’ll learn: 

  • How long cooked turkey lasts in the fridge
  • How long it lasts if it’s raw
  • How to tell if it’s gone bad
  • And much more!
how long does turkey last in the fridge

How long does turkey last in the fridge?

Turkey can last between 1-4 days in the fridge depending on whether it was previously cooked or not. 

Food that is not properly stored in the fridge can quickly spoil and cause bacteria growth.

That’s why it’s important to know how different long types of food will last in the fridge to keep you safe and away from food poisoning.

By having an appropriate plan of storing your goods, you can avoid having to throw away food that has gone bad.

If you are planning to store some turkey (raw or even cooked) and want to have a better understanding of how you can do it properly, then take a look at some of the most important information that can help you save leftover turkey.

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How Long Does Cooked Turkey Last in the Fridge?

Cooked turkey can last in the fridge for 3-4 days before going bad.

As the USDA suggests, a cooked turkey should only be stored in a refrigerator for three to four days with a temperature of 40°F or less.

This is just a short period of time because the bacteria that can cause food poisoning will start to grow at room temperature. Also, refrigeration will reduce the speed, but it doesn’t stop the growth of bacteria.

It’s important to use cooked turkey as soon as possible within that time frame.

For storing cooked turkey, it is important to keep in mind that it could be safe to eat after a few days, but it might not taste as good.

The color might also change, and it will be drier.

Furthermore, leaving leftovers out on the counter for more than two hours will start to grow bacteria, so this is not recommended.

If there are any doubts about whether the turkey has been left out too long, it’s always better to be safe and throw it away before it causes any health problems.

To keep away from any uncertain situations, it is best to take the leftovers of the turkey and put them in the fridge as soon as possible.

Cooked turkey can also be stored in a freezer, where it can last up to four months without a build-up of bacteria.

Read More >> Best Wood for Smoking Turkey

How Long Does Raw Turkey Last in the Fridge?

Raw turkey can last in the fridge for 1-2 days before going bad.

It’s important to store your raw turkey correctly in the fridge so it doesn’t spoil even faster.

It doesn’t take a long time because the bacteria multiply rapidly at a temperature of 40°F or above. If you wait too long, your meat might end up showing some signs of spoilage.

That is why it’s best to buy a turkey that will be consumed within a few days.

When keeping raw turkey in the fridge, it is also necessary to follow the “two-hour rule” for leftovers.

If food has been sitting at room temperature for more than two hours, it must be discarded. The bacteria that grow on turkey can cause food poisoning, so it’s important to be careful.

A turkey is a delicious centerpiece to any meal, but it’s important to be mindful of how long it lasts in the fridge before you cook it.

To avoid any unpleasant surprises, make sure to store your meat in a proper place at the right temperature. With this in your mind, you can enjoy your turkey without any worries.

Read More >> How to Smoke Turkey (The Easy Way)

How can you tell if turkey has gone bad?

There are 3 clear ways to tell if your raw turkey is spoiled — smell, texture, and color.

Smell

Raw turkey should smell similar to raw chicken, which is a very mild smell. If you smell an intense smell, your turkey is likely spoiled.

If your cooked turkey no longer smells like the seasonings you used while cooking, this is a sign it may be starting to go bad.

Texture

If your turkey becomes slimy, you should discard it immediately because it has gone bad. 

Color

If you notice that the pale white or light pink skin has turned greyish, greenish, or yellowish, your turkey is bad and you should toss it.

You can also notice signs it’s starting to go bad if the color is getting noticeably darker than after you cooked it. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Turkey

You cannot safety eat cooked turkey after 5 days if it was stored in the fridge as it is only good for 3-4 days.

Turkey is not good after 7 days if it was stored in the fridge since cooked turkey is only safe to eat for 3-4 days after refrigeration.

If you freeze your turkey, however, it can last for several months before going bad.

Fresh turkey can safely stay in the fridge for 1 to 2 days. If you wait any longer, the turkey will begin to show signs of spoilage. If you aren’t able to cook it off within 48 hours, freeze it.

If you eat old turkey, you could develop symptoms of food poisoning. These symptoms of foodborne illness can include fever, chills, stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

Final Thoughts on Turkey Safety

So, how long will turkey last in the fridge? With a variety of factors at play, the answer is not as straightforward as you might think.

In general, a raw turkey will last in the fridge for just only one or two days, while a cooked turkey can be stored in the refrigerator for three to four days.

If you are not going to use your turkey within those timeframes, then you have to remember that there are other factors that will come into play, like the temperature of your fridge and freezer.

If you are unsure about whether or not your turkey has gone bad, it is always best to throw it away.

It is better to be safe than sorry, as eating bad meat can make you very ill.

With these guidelines in mind, you should be able to plan your meal with plenty of time to spare!

Having a better understanding of how long your turkey will last in the fridge will help to alleviate some of the stress that comes with preparing for a feast.

Have any questions about storing or preparing turkey? Drop a comment below!

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Shawn Hill

Shawn Hill

Hey, I’m Shawn and I run this site. With a wife and 7 kids, I get most of my grilling practice from feeding my own family.

I’m here to help you learn more about grilling, smoking, and backyard BBQ! With almost a decade of manning the grill and helping over 25,000 aspiring grill masters, you’re in great hands!

I’ve tried just about every type of grill, accessory, and gadget you can imagine. Because of that, I am here to help guide you to the best of the best and help you save time and money by avoiding the junk.

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