I look forward to a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner all year long. Just thinking about the aromas of the slow roasting turkey, herbaceous stuffing and spiced pumpkin pie gets my taste buds tingling.  And what is better than turkey dinner? Turkey leftovers! In fact, I often save room on Thanksgiving to make sure I can enjoy a sandwich loaded with turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce that night … and a few more in the days following. Leftovers are the best!

When enjoying leftovers, it’s important to be food safe and think about three things.

  1. How long do leftovers last? The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recommends eating or freezing turkey and other leftovers within three to four days. And according to foodsafety.gov, leftovers stored in the freezer will be of best quality within 2-6 months of freezing.
  2. What are the best ways to reheat leftovers? Make sure you reheat your leftovers thoroughly. Cover your leftovers when reheating to retain moisture and ensure the food heats all the way through. You’ll want to make sure they reach 165ºF on an instant-read food thermometer. Reheat sauces, soups and gravies by bringing them to a rolling boil. If using a microwave to reheat, arrange food evenly in a microwave-safe glass or ceramic dish. Check food with an instant-read food thermometer as microwaves often have cold spots.
  3. What is the best approach to storing leftover turkey? It is recommended that food be refrigerated or frozen within two hours of preparation. One of my favorite tips is to portion two cups of shredded or chopped turkey into plastic freezer-safe storage bags and freeze. This pre-packaged turkey makes meal prep so easy and helps ensure quick cooling. In the morning, simply transfer a bag of pre-portioned turkey from the freezer to the fridge and when you’re ready to try one of those turkey leftover recipes, you’ve got your meat ready to go.

There are so many ways to use leftover turkey. Growing up, my mom always made a big batch of turkey soup with leftover turkey. And almost every year, I look for a new recipe to use up that turkey. Some of my favorites are Tastefully Simple recipes.

Check these out:

Try this Leftover Turkey a la King
Leftover Turkey a la King
Try this Turkey Cherry Pasta Salad
Turkey Cherry Pasta Salad
Try this Turkey Cranberry Flatbread Pizza
Turkey Cranberry Flatbread Pizza
Try this Winter White Turkey Chili
Winter White Turkey Chili
Try these Open-Faced Turkey Sandwiches
Open-Faced Turkey Sandwiches

The following recipes call for shredded chicken, but you can easily substitute leftover turkey.

Try this Loaded Baked Potato & Chicken Casserole
Loaded Baked Potato & Chicken Casserole
Try this Easy Chicken Noodle Soup
Easy Chicken Noodle Soup
Try these Chicken & Broccoli Stuffed Peppers
Chicken & Broccoli Stuffed Peppers
Try this Fiesta Chicken Layered Enchiladas
Fiesta Chicken Layered Enchiladas
Try this Pistachio Chicken Salad
Pistachio Chicken Salad
Try these Teriyaki Chicken Tacos
Teriyaki Chicken Tacos
Try this Savory Chicken & Veggie Skillet
Savory Chicken & Veggie Skillet
Try this Chicken Caprese Linguine
Chicken Caprese Linguine

And for even more chicken & poultry recipe ideas, click here.