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Reheating Leftover Turkey

By Cook's Illustrated Published November 2014

Reheating leftover turkey sounds easy enough, but doing so with good results is more challenging than it might seem. Here's how to tackle reheating different parts of the bird.

Leftover turkey is a fact of life during the holidays, but reheating lean breast meat (and to a slightly lesser degree, legs and thighs) can easily lead to dry, stringy results, not to mention leathery or flabby skin. Our gentle method helps ensure that as much moisture as possible stays in the meat and crisps the skin.

Wrap the leftover portions in aluminum foil, stacking any sliced pieces, and place them on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer them to a 275-degree oven and heat them until the meat registers 130 degrees, a temperature warm enough for serving but not so hot that it drives off more moisture. (Sliced turkey should be warm throughout; if the slices are relatively thick, you can insert the probe into the meat just as you would with bone-in pieces.) This gentle oven temperature also means that the meat comes up to temperature slowly and evenly. Note that timing will vary greatly based on the shape and size of the leftover turkey pieces. For a crosswise-cut half breast, we found 35 to 45 minutes to be sufficient.

Finally, place any large skin-on pieces skin side down in a lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat, heating until the skin recrisps.

CRISPY LEFTOVERS: After gently warming the meat in a low oven, crisp the skin in a lightly oiled skillet.