Food Hygiene and Safety

Can You Freeze Turkey

Ricky Kambray
Ricky Kambray

Last Christmas, the UK consumed around 10 million turkeys altogether over the festive season. That means 76% of UK families served roast turkey as their main Christmas meal. As a traditional Christmas dish, the British never forget this meat on that eve. While many people associate turkey with Thanksgiving, it is actually a great option for any time of year.

As a result, people frequently ask, Can you freeze turkey?” In fact, the turkey can be frozen safely. Without any hesitation, you can select it as a wonderful dinner option.

Read this blog to learn whether you can freeze turkey, food hygiene rules, and other issues.

Christmas table served with a whole grilled turkey

Food Hygiene Rules For Freezing Turkey


Freezing keeps food fresh for longer periods by preventing the growth of bacteria that cause food spoilage and foodborne illness. So if you’re planning on freezing your turkey, you need to follow a few food hygiene rules.

Here’s what you need to know to keep your turkey safe:

  • To keep food fresh, freeze it quickly. Because the molecules do not have time to form into the typical six-sided snowflake, rapid freezing prevents undesirable large ice crystals from forming throughout the product.
  • Foods with a “use by” date must be “frozen” before their durability date expires. The latest point for ‘use-by’ dates is midnight on the indicated date.
  • The Food Standards Agency recommends keeping your refrigerator temperature at 5°C or lower. Check this with a fridge thermometer.
  • Wash your hands with soapy water after and before handling the turkey. 
  • Cleaning your kitchen, including worktops and chopping boards, is critical for food safety because bacteria can grow and spread.
  • Before freezing your turkey, properly clean it.
  • Wrap the turkey tightly in plastic wrap or foil, and make sure there is no air exposure.

By following these simple food hygiene rules, you can safely freeze your turkey and enjoy it for months to come.

Can You Freeze Turkey?

Almost every family that enjoys turkey at Christmas or Thanksgiving has purchased too much. Many of them buy it on sale with the intention of storing it. That is why the majority of people want to know if they can freeze turkeys.

Yes, you can, but it must be done correctly to ensure that the meat is safe to eat. There are a few things to follow when freezing it.

  • Make sure that the turkey is tightly wrapped. This will help to prevent freezer burn and ensure that the turkey stays fresh.
  • For wrapping, you can use freezer-safe packaging, zip-lock bags, or vacuum sealed bags.
  • Use a food-grade freezer bag or air -tight container.
  • Label the package with the date it was frozen, so you can keep track of how long it has been in the freezer.
  • Remove as much air as possible from the bag or container before sealing, as this will help prevent freezer burn. 

Enjoy your delicious turkey dish by following the guidelines above.

Raw whole turkey with fruits for stuffing on a table

Can You Freeze Raw Turkey?

You may be wondering if you can freeze turkey to enjoy at a later date. The answer is yes! Raw turkey can be frozen safely. It creates a great option for meal planning and budgeting. You can freeze food by using the below tips.

  • Make sure the turkey’s packaging is tightly sealed before buying.
  • The original package can be used for freezing. Check the package for any signs of leakage.
  • Overwrap the package in heavy-duty foil, plastic wrap, or freezer paper, or place it inside a plastic bag.
  • Wrap the meat tightly in plastic wrap or freezer bags. This will keep the meat fresh and help prevent freezer burn.
  • Use an air-tight container or box to preserve the bird.
  • Correctly frozen turkey can be kept for around 12 months.

Hope these tips help you to store appropriately. When the turkey is thawed and ready to eat, make your favourite dish and serve it to everyone.

Can You Freeze Cooked Turkey?

Cooked turkey is a fantastic choice for a quick and simple meal,  but sometimes you end up with leftovers. If you find yourself with extra turkey, don’t worry – you can easily freeze it for later.

  • Let the cooked dish cool down completely before placing it in the freezer container or bag to help preserve the taste.
  • Before placing the cooked turkey in a freezer-safe plastic bag or container, cut it into pieces.
  • Remove the bones and skin from the turkey. It speeds up the freezing and thawing processes.
  • You can wrap the turkey in foil, plastic wrap, or even place it in a freezer bag.
  • Once the turkey is tightly wrapped, be sure to label it with the date so you know when it was frozen. 
  • A turkey can be stored in the freezer for up to four months. A properly stored turkey can last for up to 9 months. But it’s best to eat it within the first 3-6 months.

Take them out of the fridge whenever you feel like eating turkey slices with mashed potatoes and creamy mushroom sauce. Before that, defrost it overnight in the refrigerator or instantly by submerging it in cold water. Once it’s thawed, you can reheat it in the oven or microwave.

Christmas table served with a turkey and drink, decorated with bright tinsel and candles.

Can You Freeze Smoked Turkey?

Smoked turkey freezes extremely well and is an excellent addition to a variety of dishes. You can easily freeze smoked turkey. Please follow the rules to ensure the taste of your dish. 

  • Thoroughly wrap and label it before putting it in the fridge for short-term storage or the freezer for long-term storage.
  • Before freezing keep your turkey slices on a sheet of tin foil, no more than 2-3 slices per wrap.
  • Carve the turkey into portions and wrap them individually in plastic wrap.
  • Place your wrapped turkey in a large freezer-safe bag and freeze it. Release as much air as possible before sealing it.
  • Put the turkey into airtight containers or seal it in plastic wrap.
  • To ensure the quality it is best to use within six months.

Smoked turkey has already been cooked, so it won’t need as much time to thaw when you’re ready to eat it. Simply reheat your leftover smoked turkey to enjoy it whenever you want!

How Long Can You Freeze Turkey?

This Christmas, it appears that more of us may be using frozen food instead of fresh food because of the supermarket shortages that threaten to ruin the holiday. So you can easily store your turkey for an upcoming event.

But how long can you freeze turkey?

Examine the following data to find the answer you seek.

  • According to the Butterball Turkey Talk Line, a turkey can be safely stored in the freezer for up to two years before cooking. Be sure that the turkey is unopened.
  • The USDA recommends using the below Food Storage Chart when freezing food. The guidelines for freezer storage are only for quality purposes; continuously frozen foods kept at 0°F or lower can be kept indefinitely.
ItemMonths
Gravy, meat or poultry2- 3
Poultry, uncooked whole12
Poultry, uncooked parts9
Poultry, uncooked giblets3-4
Poultry, cooked4
Soups and Stews2-3
Wild game, uncooked8-12
  • FDA shares a Refrigerator & Freezer Storage Chart to maintain the quality of food during the storage time. It is advised to store food safely at 0° F (-18° C) indefinitely.
ProductRefrigeratorFreezer
Ground turkey1 - 2 days3 - 4 months
chicken or turkey smoked breakfast links ( Bacon/Sausages)1 - 2 days1 - 2 months
Chicken or turkey, whole1 - 2 days1 year
Chicken or turkey, parts1 - 2 days9 months
Giblets1-2 days3-4 months
Cooked poultry dishes Pieces3 - 4 days4-6 months
Pieces, plain3-4 days4 months
Pieces covered with broth, gravy3-4 days6 months

Grilled turkey sliced on a plate with knives

 

Is It Safe to Refreeze Turkey?

The majority of people want to know about refreezing turkey. They frequently ask, “Is it safe to refreeze their leftover dish?

It is safe to refreeze turkey, but there are some caveats. Turkey that has been thawed in the refrigerator can be frozen, but it will not be as juicy as fresh turkey. Additionally, any stuffing or gravy that was made with the thawed turkey should not be refrozen. 

The USDA says it’s safe to freeze again, but keep the following points in mind:

  • Raw and cooked food that has been thawed in the refrigerator is safe to refreeze. It is also safe to refreeze without cooking or heating. However, the moisture quality is lost during thawing.
  • Frozen raw turkey can be safely refrozen after cooking. Unused portions of previously cooked foods can also be frozen after being thawed in the refrigerator.
  • Food should not be frozen if it has been out of the refrigerator for more than two hours.
  • If you buy previously frozen meat, poultry, or fish from a retail store, you can refreeze it if it has been properly handled.
  • Finally, whether refreezing or not, it is best to cook the turkey within two days of thawing.

Conclusion

Now you know the answer to your most desirable question “Can you freeze turkey?” You can enjoy turkey whenever you want. Make sandwiches, roasts, grilled, salads, or BBQ as you wish. You can make any new item with it. You know, turkey is really a versatile meat.

So buy more turkey than you need when it is on sale and freeze some for later.

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Ricky Kambray

Hey this is Ricky Kambray an award-winning first-aid trainer with over 20 years of healthcare and teaching expertise. Highly certified general nurse regularly appears in the press discussing accident prevention and first aid advice.