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Food & Recipes

Chef’s #1 Trick to Reheat Leftover Turkey So It’s Juicy and Tender — No More Dry Meat!

Here's the one easy step most people skip!


There’s no feast quite like Thanksgiving, but we have have to admit one of the things we look forward to the most is turkey leftovers. From hearty sandwiches to delicious dinner plates, turkey is often better the next day as the flavors deepen. This means you only need to warm up the meat to savor its succulent and rich taste a second time around. That said, reheating turkey can be tricky because it turns dry and mealy so easily. So we turned to a pro chef and our First for Women test kitchen for their best tricks to reheat turkey breast, thighs and more for moist and flavorful results. Read on for the easy secrets!

RELATED: 6 Storage Hacks To Ensure Thanksgiving Leftovers Stay Fresh and Tasty

#1 way to reheat turkey: In the oven

Although reheating your turkey in the oven takes longer than the microwave, it does a better job at thoroughly and evenly heating the meat. This way, you’ll avoid those annoying hot and cold spots that ruin your leftovers.

For extra juicy oven-warmed turkey, First for Women Test Kitchen Manager Susan Chiusano recommends adding a little broth or gravy to the baking dish and covering before placing it in the oven. “Start with 2 to 3 Tbs. of chicken broth or cold gravy and pour in more if needed during the warming process,” she says. The next step depends on what type of meat you’re reheating — keep scrolling for the details.

How to reheat turkey breast with the bone in

Turkey breasts have a more delicate flavor compared to other parts of the bird. But, it’s just as delicious — especially when infused with herbs, glazed or smoked. Below, chef Claudia Sidoti shares her three easy steps for reheating a whole turkey breast in the oven.

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Place the turkey breast in a shallow pan with a small amount of broth or gravy. (Note: Keep more liquid handy to use throughout cooking since the breast tends to dry out easily.)
  3. Cover the pan with foil and heat for about 15 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. 

How to reheat turkey legs, thighs and wings with the bone in

Enjoying these delicious cuts of meat a second time is easy around using these six steps from Sidoti.

  1. Preheat your oven to 325°F.
  2. Put the room temperature turkey legs, wings and/or thighs into a baking pan or large covered casserole dish. If reheating multiple pieces, make sure they’re not touching.
  3. Pour in a small quantity of broth or gravy.
  4. Cover the pan tightly with foil.
  5. Place the turkey in the oven and reheat for about 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. 
  6. Remove from the oven and serve.

How to reheat sliced turkey

Sliced turkey is the perfect fixing for any type of sandwich, especially when it’s warmed and piled high with topping. Here, Sidoti describes the process of reheating sliced turkey without drying it out.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Add 1 cup of chicken broth and 1 Tbs. butter to a baking dish.
  3. Place the turkey in a baking dish; cover with foil.
  4. Bake for approximately 30 to 35 minutes, or until heated through.
  5. Uncover and serve.

    Bonus: Use this Leftover Turkey Sandwich recipe from as inspiration for making your sandwich with crusty bread and a mix of textures, like cranberry sauce, gravy or mayo; mashed potatoes; roasted veggies; and cheese.

RELATED: 5 Fun Leftover Turkey Ideas (That Aren’t Sandwiches)

A Leftover turkey sandwich shown as part of a guide on reheating it

How to reheat a fried turkey

If you’re looking forward to frying your bird this year, you’re not alone. This method of cooking turkey seems to be taking over, so Sidoti goes over the four simple steps to reheat fried turkey.

  1. Preheat your oven to 250°F.
  2. Place the room temperature turkey in a baking dish with a small amount of gravy or both.
  3. Reheat the fried turkey uncovered for about 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  4. Remove the fried turkey from the oven and enjoy.

Continue reading for additional ways to make your Thanksgiving turkey extra tasty!

Turkey Carving Made Easy: Butcher’s #1 Step for Slicing and Serving Juicy, Flavorful Meat

Chef’s Surprise Basting Secret Guarantees a Juicy, Golden Brown Turkey — And It’s So Easy

The Secret to a Moist, Flavorful Thanksgiving Turkey Is… Soy Sauce? Here’s Why

Click through for more Thanksgiving tips, recipes and other stories.

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