If I cook the turkey the night before then cut it up, put in refrigerator wrapped or covered in container is it safe to reheat the next day and if fluid added in pan will it moisten it?

  • 4
    It seems like you are asking "Can I eat leftover turkey?" – Didgeridrew Sep 3 '13 at 5:58
  • I don't actually think this is a duplicate - the stuffing makes a big difference for safety, since it makes it a lot harder to cool the whole thing fast enough. – Cascabel Sep 10 '13 at 21:14

It is perfectly safe, however you don't want to as it won't be anywhere near as good the next day. Even if you handle it perfectly the turkey is going to lose a great deal of moisture in the fridge overnight. Moisture in the meat comes from fat in the tissues rather than water, once it's cooked out it's gone, so putting water or pan juices in the container isn't going to do a thing for you.

Turkey is usually the centerpiece of the meal, and you want your centerpiece to be perfect no matter what it is. If you cannot make it fresh, or using a method that will preserve flavor and moisture better, then my advice would be to chose a different centerpiece, or adjust your methods. You could cut your turkey into parts and cook them separately, who is going to know? Make a Turqui au Vin the day before and re-heat it, it will visually look amazing and taste great. Or you could cook something else like a leg of lamb, beef, or pork joint.

If you are concerned that you won't have the time to make all the accompaniments and the turkey at the same time then you are in luck because much of what goes with a turkey can be made ahead of time and reheated without losing much quality. Stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, pies, and many other things can be made ahead of time and re-heated. Even some green vegetables like thick greens can be made the day before and re-heated, some would say the flavor's better the day after as well. Many of these things can be frozen as well, so you could start cooking for a big dinner party weeks ahead of time. So perhaps you need to turn the question around and think about what else could be made the night before.


As others have said, it's perfectly safe to do this. Leaving it out on the side all night would be a different story...

The trick is going to be making it nice. You can't put moisture back into cooked meat once it's gone, so adding liquid when you reheat isn't going to help anything at all. Therefore you need to make sure you don't overcook the turkey. It'll have to be cooked until it's only just cooked and no more, because reheating will also cause further cooking.

As for how to reheat... get an oven dish and arrange the turkey pieces in it. Cover it tightly and put it in a low oven until it's up to serving temperature.

Or try putting it in a slow cooker.

You might be able to protect it from drying out around the edges from hot air by reheating it immersed in a sauce, but that only works if you want to serve it immersed in sauce already. And if you do that, the sauce should already be cooked and ready to go and capable of holding at temperature while the turkey warms up in it without any detrimental effects on the sauce itself.


Yes, of course it is safe, assuming you follow good safe practices in general (cool it rapidly , don't leave at room temperature for a long time, and so on).

It seems the real core of your question is how to do so, and still have moist, succulent turkey. Adding liquid later won't help, just as you can have tough, dry meat in soup. Instead, the key is to not overcook it in the first place, nor to allow it to overcook when reheating.

There are a great number of methods to to help cook a turkey well, without over cooking it, including:

  • Brining or dry brining which increases the margin of error
  • Butterflying or "spatchcocking", or even (as I recommend) simply cutting it into pieces as you would a chicken before roasting
  • Cooking the "stuffing" separately in a casserole rather than in the turkey cavity
  • For very leftover friendly turkey, you may even consider a braising recipe, rather than a roasting recipe

The single most important thing, in my opinion, is to use a quality thermometer (either instant-read or probe) to ensure you take the turkey out of the oven when it is optimally cooked. This can be a challenge as the dark meat generally should be cooked to a higher temperature than the white meat.

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