Is Today The Last Day To Eat Your Thanksgiving Leftovers?

Surely most have you have finished picking the carcass of your Thanksgiving turkey of all things edible. But for those of you who still have some bird meat sitting in your fridge — today is the deadline for eating them without putting yourself at risk.

The FDA’s food storage chart lists 3-4 days as the safe time limit for refrigerating cooked poultry or meat. And on their homepage, the agency points you to the YouTube page for 4 Day Throwaway, which encourages people to ditch any uneaten Turkey after day 4 (which would be today, lest you celebrated on a different day).

Question is: Will you still be gnawing on that turkey leg tomorrow? Or do you freeze your leftovers to extend their utility?

And speaking of leftovers:


Edit Your Comment

  1. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    It’s a fact: Cats love turkey.

    Also, am I the only one that thinks the flat, hit-with-a-two-by-four face on a Persian cat is actually cute? (Note: This effect does not translate well to dogs for me; pugs are well… pugly)

    • seth_lerman says:

      Those and the fold-ear cats are adorable.

    • Slave For Turtles says:

      My cats don’t like turkey. Won’t touch it. Weird, yes. They prefer chicken, but no livers. Fish – tuna is like crack or something.

      Persians (sorry) are pugly, but that video is very sweet.

      • Platypi {Redacted} says:

        I gave my cats some turkey, and even the one that normally eats ANYTHING decided she didn’t want it. Strange.

    • watchwhathappens says:

      I think Persians are ADORABLE. They also are unbelievably sweet. I’ve had a few. Would definitely get another.

  2. grucifer says:

    I’m tossing what little I have left.

    I’ve had food poisoning once in my life and don’t intend on taking risky actions like eating food that is borderline between good and spoiled.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      As much as I hated food poisoning, I lost 12 pounds in two days. If I could only duplicate the results safely….

  3. human_shield says:

    This is our last meal with the turkey. But, it’s also being recooked.

  4. Hooray4Zoidberg says:

    How does this affect uncarved turkey? I had a cooked un-carved turkey in the fridge since Thursday but only carved it yesterday. I have the slices in a tuperware container in my fridge now. I was hoping to get at least another day’s worth of turkey sangys out it.

  5. tedyc03 says:

    You mean not everyone has made turkey soup and turkey stock yet? Doesn’t everyone do that on Black Friday?

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      Hell no, I was out shopping with all the other fools and zealots on Black Friday. That being said, we’re making turkey soup today. It already smells heavenly, but I’m going to be good and wait for dinnertime.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      We used half the carcass to make this heavenly turkey stock, but the meat itself is gone; I finished the last of it this morning, barely enough for a sammich. :(

    • NickRayko says:

      Not until yesterday. Black Friday is for napping & eating turkey sammiches. No cooking more complicated than heating up leftover mashed potatoes.

  6. Daverson says:

    Sounds overly cautious to me.

    • Silverhawk says:

      Seconded. Though, I’m tossing most of what’s left simply because I’m just tired of turkey & turkey related items.

      …except the dressing. I’m keeping that.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I had never heard of this rule, actually. Sometimes I make chicken soup and we eat that for an entire week – if four days is the limit, I must have a stomach of steel because I eat chicken soup five, six days after I make it!

    • HIcycles says:

      Growing up, my dad used to leave a pot full of chili or stew on the burner; no refrigeration. He would just heat it up once a day, and it would last several days. On the stove. No refrigeration. Now I normally eat leftovers up to a week after they’ve been prepared. Of course, I refrigerate my leftovers and heat it up when I’m ready to eat them.

      Thanks, dad!

  7. SonarTech52 says:

    That stuff was gone by Saturday. Finished the dressing and mashed potatoes Sunday.

  8. chefboyardee says:

    I’ll be eating leftover turkey out of my fridge through the end of the week. I don’t care what and the FDA say. If it doesn’t smell bad or look slimy, it’s good to me. My family has iron stomachs from years of “pushing it” with expiration dates and I plan to maintain that level of “able to eat anything”. I’ve never had food poisoning because of my training.

    Once the end of the week hits, yes, then it will become stock and/or soup.

    • ARP says:

      Well if you re-cook it, you might be able to get away with it. Either microwave it for a little extra time or put it in a soup.

  9. whatdoyoucare says:

    That is assuming that the person who cooked the turkey made it on Thanksgiving Day. My mom always cooks hers the day before to make her life easier. Plus it tastes better the day after.

    If you didn’t make it and were handed a bag of leftovers on the way out the door I wouldn’t eat it- definitely not worth it.

  10. gemiwing says:

    Froze all the meat on Thanksgiving night. Froze the bones and skin too, for soup later. Made turkey cranberry bbq yesterday and that’s just about gone as well.

    I just can’t bring myself to toss such expensive meat out- so I freeze the heck out of it.

  11. dulcinea47 says:

    I really hate it that so many people will WASTE such a large amount of food. Take the meat off the bone and put it in the freezer, to be incorporated into other dishes at your convenience. Boil the carcass and make broth and put that in the freezer too. (Actually, you can put the whole carcass in the freezer if you don’t have time to mess with it now.) The FDA should be telling people how to preserve the food so they *can* eat it, instead of saying to toss it in the trash.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Yep. Mr. Pi sometimes recoils when he opens the freezer because at any given time I have a few rotisserie chicken carcasses in there for when I need to make stock. I don’t even bother defrosting the bird bones – I just break the bird out of the tupperware container like it was a big ice cube and put it in a pot with vegetables and herbs.

  12. Nogard13 says:

    7 days is my max. I will eat any leftovers in my fridge as long as it hasn’t been more than a week. Even then, I’ll open it and if it passes the sniff test then down the hatch it goes. It’s worked for 34 years, I don’t see why I should change now.

    The two times I’ve been sick from eating something “bad” happened while dining out.

    • chefboyardee says:

      I’m with you 100%.

      • lordargent says:

        I’ve never had food poisoning, but I don’t play around with any sort of spoiled dairy, which seems to be where the stealth poisonings come from.

        It’s easy to tell when meat is off.

    • dolemite says:

      If I’m iffy on something, I’ll make sure to give it an extra thorough microwavin’. Sure, it might be a little more dry/tough, but I’ve yet to get food poisoning from anything out of the fridge. Only when dining out,

  13. Tim says:

    Surely most have you have finished picking the carcass of your Thanksgiving turkey of all things edible.

    I have finished. And don’t call me Shirley.


  14. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    waiting for the turkey to go on sale so i haven’t even purchased it yet.

  15. Tarceinus says:

    We usually err on the side of a smaller turkey, and make up for it with a decent sized cured ham. Turkey’s gone by lunch Friday, and the ham lasts through sunday night football games.

  16. TheGreySpectre says:

    The Freezer says I eat turkey for much longer then 4 days.

  17. Muddie says:

    We’re still eating it, but we microwave it each time before eating.

  18. bsh0544 says:

    Still have some in the fridge. Still planning to eat it tonight. If it doesn’t look or smell bad, what’s the point of throwing it away? Paranoia?

  19. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    Turkey chili FTW!

  20. SG-Cleve says:

    When In Doubt Throw it Out!

  21. Keith is checking the Best Buy receipt of a breastfeeding mother (for tips!) says:

    I’m suffering from some food poison-related symptoms today. Trust me, throw them out.

  22. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I made a ham steak and some veggie stuff. I already ate the leftovers for lunch the next day, while sitting at home enjoying the visit from my annual holiday cold germs.

    That said, there ARE some leftovers in there that need to go bye-bye, but I was too tired to clean the fridge yesterday.

  23. JulesNoctambule says:

    We finished all ours the day after, but I only made enough for us to get two meals out of it. I’m feeling the urge to cover things in gravy today, though, so we might do Thanksgiving: The Sequel this week!

  24. Hoot says:

    Just made a jumbo helping of turkey soup this afternoon! My fiance will probably scarf most of it down tonight.

  25. NettyM says:

    I would be eating turkey and noodles tonight. However, my husband left the bag-o-turkey on the counter after making a sandwich last night and my dog snatched it.

    So instead of nom-noms tonight I get to check for bones in dog poo.

  26. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    Heh. Cute Persian kittehs.

  27. dolemite says:

    Wow, 3-4 days? I’ve been known to eat leftovers 7-8 days after!

  28. cameronl says:

    Turkey Pot Pie tonight!
    Carcass in the freezer for stock next week.

  29. Starfury says:

    I’m not too worried about the 4 day rule…we use a 6 day rule in our house and none of us have gotten sick. I do expect the bulk of the leftovers to be gone tonight anyway (in-laws coming for dinner) and if there is anything left I’ll have it tomorrow for lunch.

    Most of the time leftovers don’t make it past 2 days anyway.

  30. VermilionSparrow says:

    I don’t think “lest” means what you think it means. I’m pretty sure you meant “unless”.

  31. 420greg says:

    No Turkey.
    No Turkey Sandwiches.
    No Turkey Salad.
    No Turkey Gravy, turkey hash, turkey ala king, or gallons of turkey soup.

  32. Ichabod says:

    4-5 days? Right, that’s why restaurants rotate and remove after a week.

  33. lordargent says:

    For my old crappy fridge, four days sounds about right.

    For my new fridge, things take much much longer to spoil, I will eat leftovers that are nine days old.

    Old Fridge

    Fridge 2.0

  34. coren says:

    Uh oh, I had me some delicious turkey gravy n mashed potatoes today. GONNA DIE NOW

  35. varro says:

    My friend should thank me for eating a plate of leftovers while watching football on Sunday. I’m not a freeloader; I was protecting his family from food poisoning. Right.