Q. I hosted Thanksgiving dinner at my house, and now I have the better part of a turkey leftover. No matter how many turkey sandwiches I make in the next week, it won’t be enough to finish off all this turkey. I have a few recipes that I would like to make using leftover turkey, but I don’t feel like making them just after hosting such a big holiday dinner. Can you freeze cooked turkey?
A. There is a common misconception that cooked meat shouldn’t be frozen, which just isn’t true. Yes, you can freeze cooked turkey, and it freezes quite well. However, turkey can be quite dry, so depending on how you plan to use it, you may want to add some moisture to it before freezing to keep the meat moist.
How to freeze cooked turkey?
Cooked leftover turkey should be refrigerated as soon as possible after serving. When ready to freeze, remove the turkey from the fridge and carve the meat away from the bone. Discard any parts that you don’t want to eat, including the skin if you won’t use it later. For turkey that will be eaten much like a turkey dinner, freezing it in some gravy can help keep the turkey moist and flavourful. Simply place the desired amount of turkey that has been mixed with gravy in the freezer bag and remove the excess air to flatten the bag so the meat doesn’t clump during freezing. Seal the bag, then label and date it. If you plan to use the turkey in recipes that don’t call for gravy, consider adding some turkey or vegetable broth to the turkey to achieve the same effect.
For use in soups and salads, freezing the turkey dry is perfectly acceptable. Simply shred or slice the turkey into bite sized pieces and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place the sheet in the freezer until the meat is slightly hard, about twenty minutes. Then place the frozen pieces of turkey in a freezer bag. Squeeze out the air, seal the bag, then label and date it.
How to defrost cooked turkey?
Frozen turkey can be frozen for 6 months or more, but is best used within 3 months for best results.
To thaw frozen turkey, remove the turkey from the freezer and thaw in the refrigerator until completely thawed. Use thawed turkey immediately for best results. Never refreeze previously frozen turkey.