How Long Can Turkey Sit Out?

Turkey is a staple at Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s not the most durable meat. If you’re planning on having leftovers or storing your turkey for later, you may be wondering how long it can sit out before spoiling. In this guide, we’ll explore the best way to store your turkey once it comes out of the oven and answer all of your questions about how long the turkey lasts.

How Long Can Turkey Sit Out?

Turkey is best served within two hours of cooking. After that time, bacteria could start to grow on the meat and make it unsafe to eat. If you have leftovers, refrigerate them as soon as possible and eat them within three days.

Why Does Turkey Go Bad Quickly?

The reason turkey goes bad quickly is that the meat is extremely high in protein and fat, which means bacteria have a lot of food to grow on and multiply in. Bacteria reproduce much faster than they do in other foods, so they multiply and spread much more quickly when they find themselves in high-protein meat like turkey.

How Can You Tell If Turkey Is Spoiled?

If you’re wondering how to tell if the turkey is spoiled, it’s best to know a few signs of spoilage. The following are some indicators that your turkey may be spoiled:

Slimy texture or appearance on the surface of the meat. This can occur when bacteria grow under the skin of the bird during preparation and cooking, causing an unpleasant texture and taste.

A sour smell when opened up for inspection. This can occur due to bacteria growth in a cut or opening in the meat.

A slimy liquid at the bottom of a roast pan after cooking. This liquid may contain harmful toxins that could make you sick if ingested with food or drink.

An ammonia-like odor when the package is opened. This occurs when bacteria grows inside the meat and releases toxic gases into the air when opened up for inspection. You should avoid eating any food with this type of odor as it could be harmful to your health!

Storing Turkey At Room Temperature

If you are planning on storing your turkey at room temperature for no longer than 2 hours, place it in an airtight container or wrap it in plastic wrap first to prevent bacteria from spreading and forming mold. This goes for both raw and cooked turkey.

In addition, always keep the turkey away from direct sunlight and heat-producing appliances. The heat will actually cause bacteria to grow quickly, which will cause the turkey to go bad quickly.

Is It Safe To Eat Turkey That Were Left Out Overnight?

In the event that your turkey has been left out in the open, it can become contaminated by bacteria. Bacteria thrive in warm temperatures and moist environments, so if you leave your turkey out for too long, it’s likely to get spoiled.

Bacterial contamination is one of the biggest risks associated with eating undercooked meat products like turkey. The most common types of bacteria found on raw or undercooked poultry are salmonella or campylobacter–both of which can cause serious illness if ingested by humans (or even pets).

How Long Can You Store Turkey In The Fridge?

Whether the turkey is raw or cooked, it should be stored in the fridge for no more than 3 days,

Turkey should be stored in the refrigerator at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal temperature is between 34 and 38 degrees, but any temperature lower than 40 will work just fine.

The turkey should also be kept out from the front part of your refrigerator, which is usually located on the door or bottom shelf. This is because heat naturally rises and if you store your turkey there, it could cause condensation to form on its packaging and make it soggy.

Instead, store it at the back of the fridge where temperatures are more moderate (but still below 40), which temperature is likely to fluctuate greatly.


If you have turkey whether it’s cooked or raw, you should never keep them sitting out for longer than 2 hours. If the temperature is more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the turkey should not be out for longer than 1 hour.