Skip to main content
Recipes

Reheat Leftover Turkey Without Drying It Out

With our methods, your turkey leftovers will taste fresh from the oven.
By Published Nov. 12, 2021

One of the best things about cooking a lavish holiday meal is knowing you can enjoy it all over again the next day. But reheating turkey can easily dry out the meat and render the once-crisp skin leathery and flabby, so it pays to do it carefully.

Jump to a Section

Our simple guide details oven and stovetop methods that work beautifully for reheating lean turkey breast as well as meat from the legs, thighs, and wings, ensuring that the pieces don’t overcook and retain their moisture. We also have an easy, effective way to recrisp skin-on pieces. In each of these methods, the only ingredients you'll need are the turkey and a little oil if you're recrisping the skin. 

How to Reheat Turkey in the Oven

Use this method for reheating leftover turkey slices as well as whole or partial pieces of breast, thighs, drumsticks, or wings.

Equipment

Instructions

  1. Wrap leftover portions in aluminum foil, stacking any slices. In a foil pack, any minimal amount of air surrounding the meat is quickly saturated with vapor, so moisture from the meat does not dissipate. 
  2. Place the meat on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. This setup prevents the bottom of the meat from heating faster than the top. 
  3. Transfer to a 275-degree oven. Heating low and slow ensures that the pieces heat gently and evenly from edge to edge.
  4. Heat until the meat registers 130 degrees. This temperature is warm enough for serving but not so hot that it drives off more moisture. Note that timing will vary greatly based on the shape and size of the leftover turkey pieces. For a half breast cut crosswise, 35 to 45 minutes should be sufficient.

How to Recrisp Turkey Skin

Do this after you’ve already reheated skin-on pieces in the oven.

Equipment

Instructions

  1. Lightly oil a skillet and heat the pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Place any large skin-on pieces skin side down in the pan.
  3. Heat until the skin recrisps.

How to Reheat Turkey on the Stove

Use this method for reheating turkey slices.

Equipment

Instructions

  1. Place slices of turkey breast or dark meat in a steamer basket set in a large pot of simmering water. Just as with wrapping the meat in foil and reheating it in the oven, the simmering water creates a vapor that prevents water from leaving the meat.
  2. Cover the pot with a lid and check it every few minutes. Remove the turkey slices as soon as they reach 130 degrees. (If the slices are relatively thick, you can insert the probe into the meat just as you would with bone-in pieces.)

Why You Shouldn’t Reheat Turkey in the Microwave

Microwaves heat aggressively and unevenly. Even at the machine’s lowest power setting, microwaving turkey can dry out the exterior of the meat by raising its temperature well above 130 degrees and wringing out moisture. 

Reheating leftover turkey sounds easy enough, but doing so with good results is more challenging than it might seem. Our gentle reheating methods help ensure that as much moisture as possible stays in the meat.

0 Comments

Try All-Access Membership to Unlock the Comments
Don't miss the conversation. Our test cooks and editors jump in to answer your questions, and our members are curious, opinionated, and respectful.
Membership includes instant access to everything on our sites:
  • 10,000+ foolproof recipes and why they work
  • Taste Tests of supermarket ingredients
  • Equipment Reviews save you money and time
  • Videos including full episodes and clips
  • Live Q&A with Test Kitchen experts
Start Free Trial
JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.