3 Ways How to Reheat Turkey (Without Drying it Out)

Did you make too much turkey this year? Congrats! You now have leftover turkey to enjoy in the weeks to come.

But how do you reheat turkey without drying it out? Don’t worry, we’ve got the answer!

In this TheGrillingDad.com guide, you will learn:

  • How to reheat turkey
  • How to store leftover turkey
  • Tips for reheating turkey
  • And much more!

Reheating Leftover Turkey

Turkeys are large birds and it can be difficult to predict how much meat you need, especially for a holiday dinner or other large family gathering. This typically results in leftover turkey as it is always better to have too much than not enough. 

While turkey is amazing when smoked and freshly oven roasted, it is a more dry meat, meaning it needs to be reheated in a certain way in order for the meat to retain its moisture. Otherwise you will end up with dry and stringy leftover turkey that isn’t very nice.

The best way to reheat turkey is on the stove or in the oven with a bit of added liquid to help keep the meat moist. You can reheat turkey in the microwave but this is the least preferred method and liquid must still be added to help the turkey retain moisture. 

Want to learn the exact method for reheating turkey? Read on and we will cover all of the basics so you can have some delicious reheated turkey. 

What You Need to Reheat Turkey

As mentioned above, there are several ways to reheat turkey, and the exact supplies you need will depend on the method you choose. Either way, before reheating turkey, grab the following supplies. 

  • Chicken stock
  • Butter
  • Gravy
  • Oil
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Skillet/Oven Pan/Microwave Safe Dish

Several of the ingredients can be swapped out. For example, if you have gravy, you don’t need chicken stock. As long as you have one or two of the food ingredients on hand, you will have no problem reheating turkey.

Related >> Covering Your Turkey with Foil: When and How to Do It

How to Reheat Turkey (3 Easy Methods)

There are three methods for reheating turkey, we recommend the oven method as it results in the most juicy turkey meat. The skillet is our second choice. Avoid reheating turkey in the microwave unless it is your only option. 

Method 1: In the Oven

The oven method is best used for turkey which was smoked or baked in the oven to begin with. It will not, however, yield crispy skin. For crispy skin, use the skillet method. 

Step 1: Preheat

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Step 2: Prepare the Turkey

Place the turkey in an oven pan or casserole dish and spoon some chick stock or gravy over the meat. Add a pat of butter to the top. 

Step 3: Cover and Bake

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake the turkey for 30 to 45 minutes. Check that your turkey is warmed all the way through then remove from the oven and enjoy! 

Method 2: Skillet Method

Step 1: Prepare the Turkey

Put the turkey in a skillet and add chicken stock until there is about half an inch in the pan. 

Step 2: Simmer

Put the lid on the pan and use medium heat to bring the turkey to a simmer. 

Step 3: Wait

Allow the turkey to simmer for 2 or 3 minutes or until heated all the way through. Remove from the heat and serve. 

Editor’s Note: If you want crispy skin, simply dump the liquid after the waiting step and sear the turkey in a bit of oil for 3-5 minutes. 

Method 3: The Microwave

Step 1: Cut the Turkey

Leftover turkey reheats best in the microwave when it is cut into small pieces that are equal in size. 

Step 2: Prepare the Turkey

Place the turkey in a microwave safe dish with a small amount of chicken stock and some butter. 

Step 3: Cook

Cover the dish with a lid and cook on 70% power for one minute. Check the turkey. If it is heated throughout, serve, if it is not, continue to cook at one minute intervals until it is. 

turkey in a glass bowl waiting to be reheated

How to Have Juicy Leftover Turkey

Using any of the above methods will help your leftover turkey to be juicy and hot, but you can help the process along by storing your juicy leftover turkey properly to begin with. 

First of all, your leftover turkey needs to be stored covered. Do not just stick the plate in the fridge. This will ruin your leftovers. 

We recommend putting the turkey in a sealed container, or a plastic ziploc bag. Only put leftovers that you plan to eat within 5 days in the fridge, the rest should be frozen to help the meat retain its quality.

Tips For Reheating Turkey

Reheating turkey is almost as much of an art form as making the turkey the first time around. Here are our tips to give you the best results possible. 

1. Start with Even Sized Pieces

Although it is required for the microwave method, it is always a good idea to start reheating your turkey by cutting it into equal size pieces. This will prevent small pieces from drying out while you try to get those large pieces hot all the way through. 

2. Add Fat

You cannot just put turkey dry in your heating method. No matter which you choose you need to add some form of fat, either butter or gravy, to help the meat stay moist. 

3. Cover the Turkey

You’ll notice that all turkey reheating methods require you to cover the meat. This keeps the moisture in while the turkey cooks rather than letting it escape into your oven or microwave. 

4. Reheat Turkey in One Layer

We are assuming that you don’t need to reheat the same amount you cooked originally. Therefore it is best to reheat your turkey in a single layer no matter what method you choose. This will help the pieces of turkey heat evenly and finish cooking at the same time. 

5. Don’t Eat Turkey that Looks Bad

This may be a given, but remember that turkey only stays good in the fridge for about 5 days after the original preparation. If you pull that bag of leftover turkey out of the fridge and it looks slimy, off color, smells, or has mold, it’s better to be safe than sorry and throw it out as consuming it could lead to foodborne illness.

Final Thoughts on How to Reheat Turkey

Leftover turkey is amazing, whether you put it on a sandwich, in a casserole, or eat it just as is! But in order to enjoy your leftover turkey, ensure you reheat it properly so that it won’t dry out. 

Whether you choose the oven, skillet, or microwave method, adding a bit of fat and keeping the turkey covered should do the trick. Then you and your family can enjoy leftover turkey for days after the holiday! 

Photo of author

Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

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