Your Thanksgiving Leftovers Don't Last as Long as You Think
November 28, 2018
Thanksgiving may be over, but you probably still have a fridge full of more leftovers than you know what to do with. You already know not to make turkey sandwiches until Christmastime, but what about topping your lunch this week with leftover roasted vegetables or mixing together a turkey salad to scoop over greens? If you’re wondering how long you can (safely!) eat your leftovers, we’ve got you covered.
- RELATED: Recipes for Thanksgiving Leftovers
Cut your turkey into small pieces and store in small, shallow containers separate from the stuffing. If traveling, make sure to pack your turkey in a cooler and always reheat leftover meat to an internal temperature of 165°F before eating.
Keep stuffing and turkey stored in the freezer for up to six months and in the refrigerator for three to four days. A good rule of thumb is to try and finish your Thanksgiving leftovers you prepared Thursday by Monday evening for the safest meal.
If your family didn’t power through as much of the sauce as you thought, unopened cans can be stored in the pantry for up to 18 months and opened cans can be stored for up to a year in the refrigerator.
If homemade sauce is your Thanksgiving treat, store unused, fresh cranberries up to two months in the refrigerator or 12 months in the freezer. Homemade cranberry relish can be stored for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
You definitely want your gravy to be gone by now. Fresh, canned, jarred, and dry prepared gravy can only last one to two days in the refrigerator.
We recommend storing an extra box or can of gravy if you plan to have turkey leftovers beyond two days. If you don’t end up needing it, you can keep the unopened boxes in your pantry for up to five years.
Vegetables and Potatoes
Roasted Brussels sprouts, mashed sweet potato, green bean casserole, and roasted potatoes fall under this category. Any cooked side dish without meat, poultry, or egg can be stored up to four days in the fridge. You can also store these items in the freezer up to two months if there’s just too many sides to handle.
Pies are extremely susceptible to foodborne illness because many leftover enthusiasts don’t realize they need to be refrigerated. Most pies can be left out up to 2 hours, and should only be refrigerated and eaten up to four days after baking or opening. You can also store uneaten pies in the freezer up to two months, so you’ll have dessert ready when Christmas rolls around.
- RELATED: How to Prevent Foodborne Illnesses
Information for this story can be attributed to the United States Department of Agriculture food safety program.