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Is there anyone on the planet who doesn’t love a turkey dinner? While we adore an entire cooked turkey in all its glory (together with cranberry sauce, stuffing, and mashed potatoes), prepping something so big can be scary and time-consuming.
A nifty way to get around this is to buy a turkey that is smoked or already cooked. It is already prepared and tastes just as good, so why not? However, even if you buy fully cooked smoked turkey in advance you still need to heat it up before eating.
This can be a little tricky since reheating a whole turkey isn’t the same as warming up a chicken joint. Make a mistake and your turkey ends up either dry and crusty or gives you food poisoning. Because of this, we came up with this guide on how to reheat a smoked turkey.
In this article, we will look at a few different ways you can reheat a smoked turkey quickly, easily, and with the best results. Keep your eyes peeled for all of our useful tips and shortcuts!
Why Smoked Turkeys?
Like we said earlier, getting a turkey that has been pre-cooked saves a lot of time and energy. Smoked turkeys are a great option because they are cured and flavored with smoke from burning aromatic wood.
This smoke from the smoldering wood gives the turkey a fantastic flavor; sweet and delicately smoky with a tender texture.
Although smoked meats aren’t cooked in the traditional sense, they are safe to eat and are chemically altered and cooked that way. So if you choose to get a Costco smoked turkey or a Butterball fully cooked smoked turkey, you can bring it home and eat it without any problem.
However, storing it can reduce the temperature and cause the bacteria present in the meat to multiply. This is where the danger of food poisoning comes in. To remove this issue, and make your turkey taste its best–you have to reheat the turkey before serving it.
Nutritional Value of the Smoked Turkey
Smoked turkey is a delicious and healthy source of protein, and it contains a variety of essential vitamins and minerals. Here’s a breakdown of the nutritional value of smoked turkey and how reheating affects its nutritional content:
|Nutrient||Amount per 3 ounces (85 grams) of smoked turkey|
|Vitamin B6||0.3 milligrams (18% of daily value)|
|Niacin||4.8 milligrams (24% of daily value)|
|Selenium||14 micrograms (25% of daily value)|
|Sodium||450 milligrams (19% of daily value)|
|Iron||1.1 milligrams (6% of daily value)|
|Zinc||2.2 milligrams (15% of daily value)|
|Vitamin B12||0.4 micrograms (7% of daily value)|
- Protein: Smoked turkey is a great source of protein, with 3 ounces (85 grams) of smoked turkey providing around 26 grams of protein. Protein is essential for building and repairing muscle tissue, and it also helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied.
- Vitamin B6: Smoked turkey is a good source of vitamin B6, with 3 ounces (85 grams) providing around 18% of the recommended daily intake. Vitamin B6 is important for brain function, immune system health, and the production of red blood cells.
- Niacin: Smoked turkey is also a good source of niacin, with 3 ounces (85 grams) providing around 24% of the recommended daily intake. Niacin helps to support healthy skin, digestive function, and nervous system health.
- Selenium: Smoked turkey is a good source of selenium, with 3 ounces (85 grams) providing around 25% of the recommended daily intake. Selenium is important for immune system function, thyroid health, and antioxidant protection.
How Reheating Affects its Nutritional Content
Reheating can affect the nutritional content of smoked turkey to some extent. While the extent of nutrient loss can vary depending on the method of reheating and the duration of heating, some changes to the nutritional content of smoked turkey may occur during the reheating process.
One of the main nutrients that can be affected by reheating is vitamin B12, which is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for red blood cell formation and nervous system function. Vitamin B12 can be easily destroyed by heat, and reheating smoked turkey can cause some loss of this important nutrient.
Another nutrient that can be affected by reheating is thiamin, which is a B-vitamin that helps the body convert food into energy. Like vitamin B12, thiamin is also sensitive to heat, and reheating smoked turkey can cause some loss of this nutrient as well.
However, it’s important to note that the extent of nutrient loss during reheating is generally small and is unlikely to have a significant impact on the overall nutritional value of smoked turkey. Additionally, smoked turkey is still a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, even after reheating.
To minimize nutrient loss during reheating, it’s recommended to use gentle reheating methods, such as heating the smoked turkey in the oven at a low temperatur. It’s also important to avoid reheating smoked turkey more than once, as this can increase the risk of bacterial growth and further nutrient loss.
Reheating Smoked Turkey: All the Different Ways
|Method||Potential Risks||Safety Concerns||Estimated Time||Difficulty Level|
|Oven||Drying out the turkey||None||10-15 minutes per pound at 325°F||Easy|
|Stovetop||Overcooking or undercooking the turkey||Use a meat thermometer to check internal temperature; add broth to keep the turkey moist||2-3 minutes on each side for sliced turkey||Moderate|
|Countertop Oven||Uneven heating; potential safety concerns||Use a meat thermometer to check internal temperature; follow manufacturer’s instructions for safe use||10-15 minutes per pound at 325°F||Moderate|
The difficulty level is subjective and may vary depending on the individual’s cooking experience and comfort level with the method. However, in general, reheating smoked turkey in the oven or microwave is considered easy, while reheating on the stovetop or using a countertop oven may require more attention and skill. Regardless of the method used, it’s important to follow food safety guidelines and use a meat thermometer to ensure the turkey reaches a safe internal temperature of 165°F.
There are a couple of different ways you can reheat an entire smoked turkey and we will walk you through all the different ways. We will even mention how you can heat up leftovers without losing any of the juiciness or moisture!
Reheat Turkey in Oven:
Using an oven is the best way to reheat turkey. It gives you more control over the heating process and won’t affect the texture at all.
- If you’ve frozen your turkey let it thaw completely at first. Let it thaw in your fridge for a day before and set it on your counter an hour before you want to reheat it.
- Take a sheet pan or roasting tray and grease the bottom with some oil or cooking spray. Lay the turkey breast side down. Grease some foil and use it to cover the turkey. This will lock in the moisture and stop the turkey from going dry.
- Now let’s talk about temperatures. For the very best results, heat the turkey in the oven at 250F.
This is the ideal temperature for slowly heating the turkey without losing any of its juiciness. However, if you are in a rush, you can go up to 325F, but not any further.
Anything higher will dry out your turkey. Remember to preheat your oven first!
- The time taken to heat the whole turkey through will vary depending on the size or weight of the bird. Instead, you should pay attention to the smoked turkey done temp.
In other words, heat the turkey until the breast reaches a temperature of 140 degrees. This can be done with a probe thermometer.
However, if you feel hesitant, you can go all the way to 165 degrees. If you go any higher than this, there is a good chance that your turkey will be dry and even burnt.
If you choose to heat it at 250, the process will take 4 hours. At 325, it will take 2.5 to 3 hours.
- After removing it from the oven, let the turkey rest for 20-30 minutes before cutting into it. This will prevent the juices from seeping out as soon as you cut the meat.
Reheat in a Countertop Oven:
You can totally use a typical countertop or toaster oven to reheat smaller turkeys in a pinch. This also allows the meat to retain a lot of moisture.
So, here is how you can heat a whole smoked turkey in a countertop toaster oven:
- Preheat your roaster and place the entire turkey on the rack. Slide a tray under the rack to catch any drippings.
- Heat the turkey until its internal temperature reaches anywhere from 155 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit on a probe thermometer.
- Let the turkey rest for around 15-20 minutes before serving it so that the meat absorbs the heat and moisture evenly.
Reheating Smoked Turkey on the Stove Top:
Reheating smoked turkey on the stove top is another option, but it requires more attention than the oven or microwave method. Here’s how to do it:
- Slice the smoked turkey into 1/4-inch thick pieces.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a tablespoon of oil or butter.
- Add the sliced turkey to the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until heated through.
- Add a tablespoon of broth to the skillet to keep the turkey moist.
- Remove from heat and let the turkey rest for a few minutes before serving.
How to Reheat a Turkey Safely
Reheating a turkey safely is crucial to avoid foodborne illness and ensure that the meat remains juicy and flavorful. Here are some tips on how to reheat a turkey safely:
Use a Meat Thermometer
The best way to ensure that your turkey is reheated safely is to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. The turkey should reach a minimum internal temperature of 165°F to be safe to eat. Be sure to check the temperature in multiple places, including the thickest part of the turkey.
Store and Reheat the Turkey Properly
When storing leftover turkey, be sure to separate the meat from the bones and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It’s best to reheat the turkey within 3-4 days of cooking. When reheating the turkey, be sure to use a safe method such as the oven, stovetop, microwave, or countertop oven.
Add Moisture to Prevent Drying Out
One of the biggest risks when reheating turkey is drying it out. To prevent this, add some moisture to the turkey when reheating. You can do this by adding a bit of broth or gravy to the dish or covering it with foil to trap in the moisture.
Reheat Slowly and Thoroughly
When reheating turkey, it’s important to do it slowly and thoroughly to ensure that it heats all the way through without drying out. It’s best to reheat at a low temperature and for a longer period of time to ensure even heating.
Don’t Reheat Turkey More Than Once
To reduce the risk of foodborne illness, it’s important not to reheat turkey more than once. Once the turkey has been reheated, it should be eaten within two hours or stored in the refrigerator to be eaten later.
By following these guidelines, you can ensure the safety of reheated smoked turkey and enjoy it without any worries. Remember to always use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature, and to reheat the turkey thoroughly to kill any bacteria that may be present.
Tips for a Softer and More Flavorful Turkey
When going for the oven smoked turkey method, remove the foil towards the end of the heating process for crisp and amazing skin.
- Brush the whole turkey with melted butter for a richer and more indulgent flavor and more browning.
- You can even use some kind of neutral oil infused with whole garlic gloves and herbs like thyme, rosemary, and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Adding a dash of stock to the dish or roasting tray will help keep the meat soft and moist.
- Don’t discard the grease, scraps, or dripping from the turkey; they make an amazing gravy.
Why storing smoked turkey correctly matters
Smoked turkey is a perishable food item that can spoil if not stored properly. Improper storage can lead to bacterial growth, spoilage, and foodborne illness. According to the USDA, cooked turkey can be left in the refrigerator for up to four days and in the freezer for up to four months.
To ensure that your smoked turkey stays fresh and safe to eat, it’s crucial to store it correctly.
How long can you store smoked turkey in the fridge or freezer?
The length of time you can store smoked turkey depends on the storage temperature and the condition of the turkey when stored. If stored correctly, smoked turkey can last in the refrigerator for up to four days and in the freezer for up to four months.
Preparing smoked turkey for storage
Before storing smoked turkey, you need to take some steps to prepare it for optimal results.
First, remove any leftover stuffing or gravy from the turkey, as they can promote bacterial growth and spoilage.
Next, carve the turkey into smaller pieces for easier storage and reheating.
Finally, wrap the turkey tightly in aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or freezer bags to prevent moisture loss and freezer burn.
Best practices for storing smoked turkey
- Store smoked turkey in the coldest part of your refrigerator, preferably at a temperature below 40°F.
- If storing smoked turkey in the freezer, use freezer bags or airtight containers to prevent freezer burn and maintain freshness.
- Label and date the smoked turkey before storing it to keep track of its freshness and avoid confusion.
- Avoid storing smoked turkey in the refrigerator or freezer door, as it is subject to temperature fluctuations.
- Use or freeze smoked turkey within the recommended time frame to avoid spoilage and ensure quality.
Methods for thawing frozen smoked turkey
This is the safest and most recommended method for thawing frozen smoked turkey. Place the turkey in its original wrapping on a tray or dish in the refrigerator and allow it to thaw slowly. It takes approximately 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of turkey.
If you need to thaw frozen smoked turkey quickly, you can use the cold water method. Place the turkey in a leak-proof plastic bag and submerge it in a bowl of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes, and it takes approximately 30 minutes for every pound of turkey to thaw.
You can also use the microwave to thaw frozen smoked turkey, but it’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and monitor the turkey’s temperature to avoid overcooking or undercooking.
Best practices for thawing frozen smoked turkey
Here are some best practices to follow when thawing frozen smoked turkey:
- Thaw frozen smoked turkey in the refrigerator if possible, as it’s the safest and most effective method.
- If you use the cold water method, make sure to change the water every 30 minutes and submerge the turkey completely.
- Avoid thawing frozen smoked turkey at room temperature, as it can lead to bacterial growth and spoilage.
- Always wash your hands and utensils thoroughly before and after handling frozen smoked turkey to prevent cross-contamination.
- Once the turkey is thawed, use it immediately or store it in the refrigerator for up to four days before cooking.
Frequently Asked Questions
You might have a few more questions about reheating or smoking turkeys. We answer some common queries here.
How Do You Warm Smoked Turkey?
To warm a smoked or precooked turkey, place it in a preheated oven and heat it until the internal temperature registers at around 150-160 degrees on a probe thermometer.
Can You Cook a Turkey the Day Before and Reheat It?
Yes, you can cook or roast a turkey in advance and reheat it using the methods outlined in this article.
Is it safe to reheat a smoked turkey?
Yes, it is safe to reheat a smoked turkey as long as you follow the recommended guidelines for handling, storing, and reheating it.
What temperature should I reheat my smoked turkey to?
You should reheat your smoked turkey to an internal temperature of 165°F to ensure that any bacteria present are killed and the turkey is safe to eat.
Can I reheat a whole smoked turkey?
Yes, you can reheat a whole smoked turkey in the oven or using a slow cooker. Just make sure to wrap it tightly and add some moisture to prevent dryness.
Can I reheat sliced smoked turkey in the microwave?
Yes, you can reheat sliced smoked turkey in the microwave, but be careful not to overheat it, as it may dry out or become tough.
Can I freeze leftover smoked turkey?
Yes, you can freeze leftover smoked turkey for up to 2-3 months. Just make sure to wrap it tightly in foil or freezer bags to prevent freezer burn.
What You Can Takeaway
A pre-cooked or smoked turkey is the best way to cut down on prep time before a big dinner. You will be free to work on desserts and other sides instead of slaving away on a turkey.
Knowing how to reheat a smoked turkey will guarantee your bird is soft, juicy, and tastes perfect. In fact, no one will even know that you got a pre-cooked turkey!
So next time there’s turkey on the menu, sit back and relax because you know what you need to do.