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How Long Do Thanksgiving Leftovers Last?

How Long Do Thanksgiving Leftovers Last?

For many people, the high point of Thanksgiving isn’t the big meal itself — it’s feasting on the turkey leftovers the next day! So how long can you safely keep Thanksgiving leftovers and what's the best way to store your leftover Thanksgiving turkey and all the fixings?

To keep your Thanksgiving leftovers fresher longer, you’ve first got to ensure that they’re being kept in a safe storage environment. Most Thanksgiving leftovers will stay fresh and tasty for at least a few days in the refrigerator and a month or more in the freezer.

Some general tips:

     Refrigerate leftover Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, gravy and other cooked side dishes within two hours of serving. It's okay to place warm food in the refrigerator.

     Carve leftover turkey meat off the bones before refrigerating. Place the leftover turkey and stuffing in separate containers.

     Divide leftover turkey and other cooked dishes into smaller portions and refrigerate or freeze in covered shallow containers for quicker cooling.

The following is the shelf life of Thanksgiving leftovers, along with tips for keeping them fresher longer.
 
 
STORAGE TIME
 
    Item
Pantry
Fridge
Freezer*
Tips

     Turkey  whole, cooked

 
        3-4 days
      2-3 months
Cut whole bird into smaller pieces before refrigerating.

     Gravy — homemade

 
1-2 days
2-3 months
Bring leftover gravy to a full boil before using.

     Cranberry sauce

 
10-14 days
1-2 months
Store leftovers in covered plastic or glass container.

     Stuffing — cooked

 
3-4 days
1 month
Remove stuffing from turkey before refrigerating.

     Mashed potatoes or yams; green bean casserole

 
3-5 days
10-12 months
Mashed potatoes freeze well; whole baked potatoes don’t.

     Pumpkin pie — baked

 
3-4 days
1-2 months

Keep refrigerated. Texture may change after freezing, but taste shouldn’t be affected.

     Apple pie — baked

 
2 days
2-3 days after pantry storage
1-2 months

To freeze, wrap pie tightly with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap, or place in heavy-duty freezer bag.

     Wine, red or white opened bottle

 
3-5 days
1-2 months

Freeze leftover wine for use in cooked dishes such as sauces and stews.

     Bread  soft-crusted

4 -5 days
 
2-3 months

Refrigerator storage is not recommended, as bread will quickly dry out and become stale — for longer-term storage, freeze bread instead.

                  hard-crusted
1 -2 days
 
2-3 months
 
 

*Freezer time shown is for best quality only — foods kept constantly frozen at 0° F will keep safe indefinitely.

Sources: For details about data sources used for storage information, please see here.


Related Articles:

Does Pumpkin Pie Have to Be Refrigerated?
Is It OK to Put Hot Food Directly Into the Fridge?

How Long Do Spices Last?


 

 


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