Turkey is one of the best meats you can eat as it is juicy, tender, and full of flavor. Whether you prefer making it yourself or buying it precooked, reheating turkey is a must. It is a hard process to nail down and if done wrong can bring disappointing results.
Reheating turkey needs special attention otherwise you risk it drying out, overcooking, or taking away the juiciness and the tenderness of the turkey. Today, we will look at the best way to reheat smoked turkey. We will cover how you can reheat the whole bird and the best method to reheat leftovers. Let’s dive in.
The Ultimate Guide to Reheating Smoked Turkey
Other than Thanksgiving, there are many other times you can have turkey. It is an incredibly versatile bird and you can cook it in different ways. You can also make turkey sandwiches which are great for their low-calorie count and you can make turkey drippings, from leftovers, to create the perfect gravy for turkey dishes.
To make sure you retain the flavor, you need to know what you are doing before you start reheating. If frozen, you need to first let it properly defrost before reheating it. If you don’t, you will be left with cold turkey on one side and warm turkey on the other.
You also need to know that it is normal for the smoked turkey to have a pinkish color. This does not indicate that the meat is undercooked or raw.
What You Will Need
There are many ways you can reheat smoked turkey, but one of the best ways to do it is baking in an oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. It will take more time to finish compared to others but it will give you the best results. The slow cooking will let the heat get to all parts of the bird, even the thickest part, and still keep it tender and juicy.
You can also take that time to focus on doing other things like preparing other meals while the turkey is still baking. You also do not need any special equipment when reheating smoked turkey. You can use the staples in your kitchen such as;
- A large pan, or one that depends on your turkey’s size and the size of the oven
- Cooking spray for moisturizing the bird, you can also use regular oil to rub the turkey down if you don’t have cooking spray
- A meat thermometer that you will use to check the temperature of the turkey.
- Aluminum foil for tenting the turkey and keeping it moist
- Chicken broth for the tenderness
- An oven
How to Reheat a Whole Smoked Turkey
Getting the correct temperature is a crucial step when reheating turkey. Too high a temperature and you will dry out the turkey and too low could undercook it. Generally, it will take a lot of time, focus, and precision to get good results.
Start the process by taking the bird out of the fridge and let it defrost. Leave it at room temperature until completely defrosted before you put it in the oven. If you reheat the turkey before it properly thaws, you can affect its texture and it will be harder for heat to reach all the parts.
Set the Temperature
Slow heating a turkey using a low-temperature setting is the best way to reheat a smoked turkey. If you are not in a rush, you can use 250 degrees Fahrenheit and slow cook. If you want to get results within a shorter time, use 325 degrees. Do not go any lower or higher than these two temperatures.
The reheating process is at its best when it takes a long time, this way you get to keep the turkey moist and tender. You should also make sure that you properly cover the bird in foil when reheating. This will help further the reheating process and help the turkey hold its moisture. It is the best way to ensure your turkey does not dry out.
Keep Track of the Internal Temperature
You will need to keep track of the turkey’s internal temperature throughout the whole reheating process. This is a necessary step because the smoked turkey is already pre-cooked. You cannot expect the internal temperature to be the same as a bird that has not been cooked yet.
A raw turkey should reach 165 degrees when cooked; this does not apply to a smoked turkey. When reheating the turkey, you need to ensure that the internal temperature is past the danger zone, which is 40-100 degrees. The danger zone is the temperature range in which harmful bacteria can grow and multiply.
To avoid it, your smoked turkey’s internal temperature should reach 140 degrees. Anywhere from 145-150 degrees is perfect for a smoked turkey, anything higher than that and your turkey will start drying out.
To make sure the temperature is right use a probe thermometer. The thermometer gives you accurate measurements and you can leave it in while the bird is cooking, letting you check the temperature in real-time, without taking it out.
The Actual Reheating Time
The actual time depends on several factors, ranging from the type of oven you have to the size of your turkey. There is no precise reheating time for all turkeys as that would vary depending on the different cases, and the factors affecting each one of them.
For example, a bigger turkey will take a longer time when reheating compared to a smaller one. The oven temperatures too can vary according to the different models. While there is no definitive answer, the following is a list of different reheating times you can use:
- 325˚ F – depending on the size of the bird, reheating a smoked turkey using this temperature will take around two and a half hours.
- 275˚ F- reheating at this temperature will take a longer time, about 3 to 4 hours, and will also depend on the size of the turkey.
No matter what temperature you use, take your turkey out when it reaches the desired internal temperature. After that, let it rest for about 30 minutes, thus allowing the juices to distribute.
No matter how hungry you are, avoid cutting into the turkey before it is done resting as this may undo all the work you put into the process.
How to Reheat Leftover Smoked Turkey
Now that we know how to reheat a whole turkey, let us move on to how you can reheat the leftovers and still preserve the taste. You can reheat leftover smoked turkey in a few simple steps, and you can do them using a microwave!
1. Prep the Leftovers
Preparing the leftovers is a crucial step and it makes the reheating process even easier. You will first need to disassemble the leftover turkey before putting it in the freezer. Break down the bird into smaller, easier-to-store pieces like the wings, legs, and breasts. Cut everything into sizeable pieces, not letting a single morsel go to waste.
You can also debone the meat for better results. You can use the boneless meat in other dishes such as sandwiches and even making soup. Make sure you slice all the remaining parts of the meat. You can then store the leftover pieces in food storage containers and then stick them in the freezer. Leave them in there until you are ready to use them.
2. Reheat in the Microwave
Fat and moisture are your two best friends when reheating leftovers. They will prevent your leftovers from drying out, and add even more flavor to them. When reheating leftover turkey, using stock or broth is the best way to go. You can also use butter for the extra flavor should you want to.
Much like reheating a whole smoked turkey, you also want the leftovers to reach the perfect internal temperature that is safe to eat. To ensure this happens, use aluminum foil and fully cover the container. That also lets you trap the moisture, making the meat even juicier.
3. Reheating in the Oven
Other than the microwave, you can also use an oven to reheat your leftovers. This process will take longer than the microwave but it does give you the same results.
Start by pre-heating your oven at 300 degrees. You can take this time to thaw your leftovers by leaving them at room temperature. If you have bigger pieces, you want to take them out of the freezer 2-3 hours before reheating to ensure they completely thaw.
Once the oven is ready, put the leftovers in an oven-safe dish. Add a liquid of your choice to the dish and some on the pieces. You can also add onions and garlic if you want to infuse more flavor, then cover using aluminum foil.
Let the leftover turkey bake for about 40 minutes or until the internal temperature is out of the danger zone. Pay close attention to the internal temperature to ensure you don’t dry the meat out.
Take it out and serve.
Reheating a smoked turkey, whether whole or leftover pieces, is a fairly easy process. You will need to pay extra attention to the internal temperature of the bird to make sure it cooks thoroughly.
Remember to take the meat out hours in advance to make sure it properly thaws before cooking. You should then cook for a suitable amount of time depending on your oven and the size of the turkey.
You can now enjoy your smoked turkey armed with this foolproof guide for reheating it, happy cooking!