Leftover turkey legs are a great candidate for the next day’s lunch or dinner. But the problem is, how you should reheat them to keep them juicy and soft?
How to reheat turkey legs? The best way to reheat turkey legs is in the oven in a tightly covered dish, with some stock, water, or gravy, and some butter at 300 F for about 40 minutes. Low heat and a longer cooking time will ensure the best results. You can also reheat turkey legs on the stovetop or in the microwave to save time.
In this article, you will learn all about reheating turkey legs using different methods, so you will never have to eat dried out turkey ever again. Read on for the best practices when reheating this delicious meal!
How to Reheat Turkey Without Drying It out
Some people don’t enjoy reheated turkey as they find it lacks the juiciness of freshly cooked turkey. And it does, if you don’t know how to store and reheat turkey in a way that it stays moist and delicious.
There are a few secrets to a perfectly juicy reheated turkey.
- Store it right. Your turkey will lose all its flavor and will dry out if you store it uncovered in the fridge. Don’t just put it on a plate and store in the fridge. Cover the meat properly or put it in a separate container with a tight lid.
When storing cooked turkey in the freezer, use aluminum foil or food wrap to ensure that it is not exposed to the cold air. Otherwise, the turkey will get a freezer burn, and the taste, texture, and color will be affected.
- Add moisture and fat to reheat. Storing turkey in the fridge or freezer will make it drier. The best way to reheat turkey without drying it out even more is by adding some kind of liquid. Water, stock, or gravy are all possible choices.
Butter and oil also work wonders. Fat is the secret ingredient you want to have in the liquid you add, and will make reheated turkey legs feel as if they are freshly made.
- Reheat the turkey covered. Turkey is best reheated covered. Especially when you have added the liquid, covering turkey will create steam and reheat it evenly.
- Not overheating. Turkey legs contain lots of connective tissues. Overheating will cause the meat to become tougher. For the best results, turkey legs should be reheated on low heat despite the reheating method you have chosen.
Once you get everything right, you may even start cooking turkey beforehand and storing it in your fridge or freezer for quick sandwiches and wraps.
The Best Way to Reheat Turkey Legs
For a successful reheating experience, it is best to reheat the meat the same way you have cooked it.
Reheating turkey legs in the oven on low temperature is the best way to get an evenly heated and juicy meat. It does take a while but the result is certainly worth it.
How To Reheat Turkey Legs in the Oven – Step by Step
Reheating in the oven is the best way to ensure your turkey legs taste as rich and juicy as they did when you first cooked them. Although it does take some time, we’re sure you won’t be disappointed with the results.
Here is how to reheat turkey legs in the oven:
- Preheat the oven to 300 °F to 350 °F.
- Take the turkey legs out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature.
- Put turkey legs in an oven-safe dish. Add a few tablespoons of stock or water. For a richer taste, opt for gravy. Add a piece of butter.
- Cover the dish with a layer of aluminum foil. You can also put the turkey legs directly on a layer of foil and wrap it tightly.
- Leave the turkey legs in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes. You can use a thermometer to check the temperature of the meat. Once it reaches 165 °F in the thickest part of the turkey leg, you can take it out and enjoy it.
How to Reheat Turkey Legs – Other Methods
While the oven is the best way to reheat turkey legs, you may need other options. Here are a few other methods to reheat turkey legs.
How to Reheat Turkey Legs on the Stovetop
The stovetop is the second-best method to reheat turkey legs. Here are some steps to follow when reheating turkey legs on the stovetop:
- Put the turkey legs in a flat-bottomed pan.
- Pour some stock into the pan (around 1 cm).
- Cover the pan.
- Simmer on medium heat until the meat is evenly heated. This should take not more than a few minutes.
If you want the skin to be crispy, give the reheated turkey legs a quick fry with a small amount of oil. Fry with the skin side down on high heat.
How to Reheat Turkey Legs in the Microwave
Microwave is not the ‘juiciest’ method to reheat turkey legs. But if you have no other options, you can make it work.
For best results when reheating turkey legs in the microwave, try the following:
- Divide the turkey leg into smaller pieces to heat the meat evenly. Doing this will ruin the look of your turkey legs but it will ensure that you don’t eat cold meat.
- Spread the pieces on the plate instead of piling them.
- Add a splash of stock. You can also add butter for richness.
- Cover the plate lightly with microwave-safe plastic wrap.
- Microwave on medium to high power for 60 seconds for every pound of meat.
Making a Stew with Leftover Turkey Leg
If your only dinner option is reheated turkey legs, you might as well elevate it into a wholesome dish.
It will take you from 4 to 8 hours to make a stew out of leftover turkey legs. But no one said turning plain cold turkey into a hearty dish would be quick.
Put the cold turkey legs in the slow cooker and add some vegetables. You can use potatoes, carrots, pepper, onions, and celery.
A few cups of broth, a tablespoon of flour, your favorite seasoning, and an effortless yet delicious stew will be ready in a few hours.
How to Reheat Smoked Turkey Legs
A smoked turkey leg can be enjoyed cold. But if you want to enhance the smoky aroma, it is best to reheat it.
Here is how to reheat smoked turkey legs, no matter whether they are homemade or store-bought. Again, we recommend using the oven:
- Preheat the oven to 300 °F. Put the turkey leg in an oven-safe dish with a tight-fitting lid. If your baking dish doesn’t come with a lid, you can use foil to cover it.
- Add a teaspoon or two of water. You can also use broth if you have some at home.
- Cover the dish and put it in the oven.
- Leave the meat in the oven for around 2 hours. If you have a thermometer, check the internal temperature of the turkey leg.
Store-bought smoked turkey leg, as opposed to roasted turkey, is safe to eat once the temperature in the thickest part of the leg reaches 140°F.
For homemade smoked turkey, aim for 165 °F. It may not take you 2 hours to reach this temperature. But if you don’t have a thermometer, err on the safe side and leave the turkey in the oven for 2 hours.
How to Reheat Fried Turkey Legs
Fried foods can create extra problems when it comes to reheating them without sacrificing that perfect fried texture, but we’ve got you covered here, too.
To reheat fried turkey legs try the following:
- Preheat the oven to 250 °F.
- While the oven is preheating take the turkey legs out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature.
- Place the legs on a baking sheet. As opposed to roasted turkey legs, fried ones don’t need to be covered otherwise you will lose the crispiness of the skin.
- Leave fried turkey legs in the oven for around 20-30 minutes.
- Remove and enjoy with sauces and your favorite sides.
How to Reheat Frozen Turkey Legs
Freezing leftover turkey is a great idea as doing it extends the shelf life of the cooked poultry. It keeps around 3 to 4 days in the fridge, whereas the freezer extends the shelf life to up to 3 months.
To defrost frozen turkey legs transfer them from the freezer into the fridge the night before. Once the meat has defrosted, then you can reheat following the instructions above.
If you are in a hurry to thaw frozen turkey legs, you can try doing it with the ‘Defrost’ setting of the microwave. Alternatively, place turkey legs in a plastic bag and hold it under cold running water to accelerate the thawing process.
How Many Times Can You Reheat Turkey Legs?
It is best to reheat turkey legs only once. You can reheat cooked turkey multiple times. However, doing it is not recommended.
The internal temperature of the reheated turkey should be 165°F. But before it reaches this temperature, there is a suitable environment for bacteria to thrive. Thus, it is better to avoid the risk as much as possible and reheat turkey only once.
If you have multiple turkey legs stored in your freezer or fridge, reheat as many as you will be eating. It is better to save some for later than let them go to waste or risk your health.