Heating Cooked Turkey

Turkey cooked from the raw state and then stored in a refrigerator or freezer for future use must be reheated to an internal temperature of 165ºF. It must be reheated to this level with no interruption in the cooking or heating process.

Some turkey products are available from your supplier in the fully cooked state, either chilled or frozen. When serving these products hot, they must be reheated to an internal temperature of 140ºF. It's important not to overheat these products. Overheating can result in moisture evaporation, which can intensify the flavor of added seasonings as well as reduce the yield.

The temperature must be measured with a thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the product or between slices.

Do not attempt to achieve this temperature by heating cold products in a steam table or by pouring hot gravy or sauce over cold turkey. Turkey in sauce or gravy is most quickly heated in a steam-jacketed kettle, usually requiring less than 30 minutes to reach 165ºF.

Other methods of reheating foods include:

  • Reheat turkey alone or with sauce or gravy in pressure steamer.
  • Reheat turkey with sauce or gravy in covered pans on range top or in open pans in a preheated oven. This method is least preferred due to the amount of time required.
  • Reheat stuffing and other accompaniments in open, shallow pans in a preheated oven.
  • Heat turkey stock and gravy to boiling in pans on range tops or in steam-jacketed kettles/tilt braising pans.

Holding Cooked Turkey

For best quality and for food safety, do not cook turkey ahead to hold or to cool and reheat. Instead, cook progressively as needed (in batches) for immediate service.

However, if it's necessary to hold cooked turkey, maintain at a temperature of 140ºF or higher. We recommend a maximum holding time of 20 to 30 minutes for quality and safety.

Check your local and state regulations for more information. For example, some states have specific requirements for the serving temperature of hot foods.

Cooking Methods
Boning a Whole Turkey
Basics of Cooking
Seasonal Versatility
Measuring Temperature
Cooking Whole Turkey
Cooking Small Parts
Turkey Stock
Heating & Holding

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