How Long Do Thanksgiving Leftovers Last? Here's How You Can Tell What's Still Good & What's Not
It's official — Thanksgiving is over for the year. But, thanks to the wonders of modern food preservation, you can continue to feast on your favorite holiday dishes this week, next week, and even well into the new year — as long as you store these foods the right way, that is. Personally, I'm still polishing off the green bean casserole my mom made for the holiday, but I can't help but wonder how long my other Thanksgiving leftovers will last because, TBH, I think I could eat mashed potatoes and apple crisp for the rest of my life. If you're a fellow Thanksgiving fanatic, I have some good news and some bad news.
The bad news is that most of the classic Turkey Day delights are only good for about four days when stored in the fridge, but the good news is, some dishes can stay longer when they're put in the freezer, so you might want to clear out some space ASAP if you want to continue enjoying your Thanksgiving treats long after November has ended.
The thing about leftovers is, it's not just that you get to enjoy the same delicious dish more than once. You also get the opportunity to play with different flavors and create more tasty meals for yourself out of your leftovers. For instance, I'm so pumped to figure out all the yummy things I can do with leftover pumpkin pie, like blending it into a scrumptious milkshake, or repurposing a slice into white chocolate pumpkin pie truffles.
Basically, the possibilities are endless, as long as you make sure that everything stays safe to eat by following a few of the below guidelines.
Although mashed potatoes will typically only stay good for up to five days in the fridge, according to Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, freezing the spuds can help you savor their deliciousness for as long as an entire year after the fact. Yes, really.
Butter and cream are the keys to keeping your mashed potatoes freezer-friendly, according to The Kitchn. If you opted for a plain salt and pepper version on the big day, they probably won’t taste as great reheated, says the foodie outlet. But if you cooked the creamiest, butteriest potatoes you could think of, then they should hold up quite nicely in the freezer for months after Thanksgiving. Yasss.
While FoodSafety.gov says that your leftover turkey will probably only stay good for about four days in the fridge, pop anything you can't eat in that time into the freezer, and you'll be able to chow down on the stuff for up to a year post-Thanksgiving.
One thing I love about freezing turkey is how incredibly versatile it is for meal-prepping. For ready-made dishes to defrost on your busiest days, try converting your sliced turkey into Italian-style meatballs, a comforting chili, or a spicy taco filling before you freeze the meat, and you'll be set for plenty of comforting dinners throughout the winter months.
I'm still not sure I totally understand the appeal of stuffing, but for any of you stuffing connoisseurs out there, just be sure you chow down on all of the leftovers within three to four days of the holiday, recommends the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Whether you keep extras in the fridge or move them into the freezer, the USDA says you should be particularly careful during the reheating process if you cooked the stuffing directly in a raw turkey. To make sure the dish is safe to eat, the USDA explains, use a food thermometer to guarantee the stuffing reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven or microwave.
If you've ever had homemade pumpkin pie, then you know that the sweet, creamy dessert usually tastes pretty different when it's made from scratch compared to when it's bought at the grocery store. I don't know if it's due to extra spices or the not-quite-smooth texture of the filling, but personally, I'd choose a pie my mom made over a store-bought one any day.
But that's not the only difference between the two types of pie. While homemade pumpkin pie typically lasts three to four days in the fridge, you might have a lot more wiggle room when it comes to the store-bought version. According to Real Simple, “store-bought pies last about 2 to 4 days after their printed date in the refrigerator and about 6 to 9 months in the freezer.”
Of course, if you have any doubts about whether the classic dessert is good for yet another breakfast treat, turn to the classic "smell test" to make sure it's still good.