Here’s how long you can store turkey leftovers without making yourself sick

Christmas might be behind us now, but the leftovers from Christmas dinner will be with us for days to come.

a special sort of joy in opening your fridge and seeing loads of tasty food to feast on. However, this excess food doesn’t last as long we think it will.

The NHS warns that cooked turkey, once refrigerated, should be eaten within two days if you don’t want to risk food poisoning.

Sometimes it can be hard to finish all the food in such a short time. So if your turkey has been in the fridge for two days and you don’t want to let it go to waste, here’s what you can do.

What do with your Christmas leftovers?

If your leftovers have been in the fridge for two days, then you can try making them into new dishes so they're used up faster.

Turkey is versatile meat so you can make use of the leftovers to make curries, salads, sandwiches, gravy or even pies. But, if you prefer to simply store what’s left of your Christmas meal, then it's best to freeze it instead.

Once frozen, the food can be safe to eat for between two to six months, as long as you fully defrost it before eating it.

However, if you're planning on freezing your leftover turkey you shouldn't do it any later than December 27. If you try to consume your turkey leftovers after this day, you may get ill so you'd be better off binning it.

How long do frozen Christmas leftovers last for?

The NHS offers the following guidelines when it comes to freezing your leftovers.

  • Divide leftovers into individual portions and freeze
  • If you're eating frozen leftovers, they should be consumed within 24 hours of being defrosted
  • The defrosted food should be reheated only once, because the more times you cool and reheat food, the higher the risk of food poisoning
  • Thawed foods that were stored in the freezer should be consumed or binned, but not frozen again
  • If you're reheating food, make sure it is heated until it reaches a temperature of 70C for two minutes, so it is steaming hot throughout
  • Always make sure to defrost leftovers completely, either in the fridge or microwave

Before you freeze it, make sure to cool the turkey or any other meats down to prevent bacteria growth. You can cool it down in the fridge before you freeze it.

Another thing to note when freezing leftovers is making sure they are wrapped well, as badly wrapped food can lose moisture.

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