Cooking for a crowd on Thanksgiving? Like your grandmother taught you, make sure you have plenty of food! However, having plenty of food left over can be overwhelming after the feast.
“What can I do with all of these leftovers?!” Don’t fret – here is everything you need to know about storing and reheating Thanksgiving leftovers!
A few tips:
- Store leftovers in the smallest possible container or zippered bag.
- Do not refreeze food that was already frozen.
- Leftovers can remain in your fridge for a few days, but no longer than 7 days.
- Frozen food should be eaten within a few months.
Turkey is the star of the show on Thanksgiving! You can bake it in the oven, roast it in a slow cooker, or deep fry it for maximum crispiness. No matter how you cook your turkey, here’s how you can store it.
To store turkey meat: First, pull all of the meat away from the bones. Store the meat in a container or zippered bag in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
To store turkey bones: Store the turkey bones in a zippered bag in the freezer if you plan to make turkey stock another time. (Or make turkey broth that evening in your crockpot using this recipe.)
To reheat cooked turkey: Wondering how to reheat turkey? Well, it does taste delicious cold, especially on a sandwich roll! But you can reheat cold turkey in a microwave safe dish with a 1-2 tablespoons of water or broth on the bottom. For frozen cooked turkey, thaw in the fridge overnight and then follow the same instructions above.
Most families indulge with at least one variety of stuffing on the Thanksgiving table. After you’ve gobbled up all of the stuffing your belly can hold, store the rest for another time.
To store stuffing: Place in the freezer (4 months) or fridge (7 days) in a container or zippered bag.
To reheat: Stuffing takes great reheated in the oven. Cover with foil and bake at 350°F until warmed, about 20-30 minutes. Bake longer if going directly from freezer to oven (although it’s best to thaw in the fridge overnight).
Fluffy whipped white potatoes are the volcano which gravy erupts out of on a Thanksgiving dinner plate. Sweet potato casserole is the dessert that somehow snuck away from the other sweets and made it onto the dinner table. Both of the potato dishes store well, and reheat best when combined with additional butter.
To store potatoes: Place in a container or zippered bag in the fridge for up to 5 days or the freezer up to 3 months.
To reheat: Bake at 325°F until warmed, about 30 minutes. This is best when topped with a few extra slices of butter to prevent the potatoes from drying out.
Green Bean Casserole
Someone was brilliant enough to combine soup with green beans and crispy onions on top. And it may be the most popular green vegetable on the Thanksgiving table. This creamy side dish is only best fresh, so it’s tricky to store for long.
To store green bean casserole: Store in the fridge for a few days. This does not freeze well.
To reheat green bean casserole: Reheat over medium heat in the microwave, or bake in the oven at 325°F until warmed, about 20-30 minutes. Top with fresh crispy fried onions (since the previous ones will now be soggy).
Fresh cranberry sauce or the delicacy from a can is guaranteed to be the most colorful food on your Thanksgiving table! This rich side dish freezes amazingly well.
To store cranberry sauce: Store in a container in the fridge for a couple of days or freezer for up to 4 months.
To reheat cranberry sauce: Defrost in the fridge overnight, and warm in a saucepan on low.
Although lettuce is not fresh in season during the month of November, it has become a staple for most families on Thanksgiving.
To store salad: Lettuce does not freeze well. Store in a container with a lid in the fridge for less than one week. If it has a dressing, eat within 2 days. If it does not have a dressing, store in a container and place a paper towel between the lettuce and the lid; then store upside down in the fridge (so gravity pulls the moisture down onto the paper towel, which prevents lettuce from wilting quickly).
To reheat salad: No reheating necessary. Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy it cold!
Bread and Dinner Rolls
Biscuits, rolls, and bread, oh my! Oddly enough, there hardly seems to be leftover bread after Thanksgiving dinner. If you’re lucky enough to have remaining bread, you have three ways to enjoy it.
To store bread: Store in a container in the fridge for up to one week. Wrap each roll (or a few slices of bread) in plastic wrap or foil, then place in a zippered freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Or, allow your bread to sit out on the counter until dried so you can make homemade bread crumbs.
To reheat bread: Thaw bread on the counter or in the fridge. Place a piece of bread in the microwave for 10 seconds to warm up. Don’t forget to spread butter or jam on top!
To top it off, you must have gravy! This sauce gets poured over the turkey, drizzled on potatoes, and dunked with all sorts of vegetables. Other than the salad, you could easily spoon gravy over your entire plate on Thanksgiving!
To store gravy: Dairy-free gravy can be frozen in a container for up to 4 months. However, gravy that contains dairy will separate in the freezer; this kind should be stored in a container in the fridge and eaten within a few days.
To reheat gravy: Place in a saucepan (from the fridge or directly from the freezer) and reheat on medium-low until warm.
Like bread, pie seems to be entirely consumed at Thanksgiving. If you’re fortunate enough to have leftover pie, you can indulge yourself for months to come!
To store pie: Cover with foil and store in the fridge for up to 1 week. Or, wrap individual pieces in foil and store in heavy-duty zippered freezer bags for up to 3 months.
To reheat pie: Pies are the tastiest when reheated in the oven at 350°F until warm, about 30 minutes.
Thanksgiving dinner, part 2
Hopefully this guide helps you better understand how to store and reheat all the food from your Thanksgiving feast!
Here’s a pro Mom Fabulous tip for your Thanksgiving leftovers:
- Place enough leftovers into glass baking dishes for your family. (Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, gravy, and bread.)
- Reheat everything at 325°F for 30-60 minutes (depending on how much food you have in your dishes).
- Everything will be thoroughly warmed up and ready to eat at the same time!
- While eating, heat up your pies so dessert will be ready right after you eat!
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