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How Long Does Ground Turkey Last in the Fridge

How Long Does Ground Turkey Last in the Fridge

Ground turkey is just as popular and versatile as its beef counterparts.

From BBQ burgers to grape jelly meatballs and BBQ meatloaf to tacos, lasagna, and chill, you can use ground turkey to make just about anything.

Best of all, ground turkey is a low-fat alternative to ground beef.

However, if you’re anything like me, you probably left a package of ground turkey in the fridge and forgotten about it.

Now you’re wondering how long turkey lasts in the fridge and if it is safe to cook the meat.

How To Buy Ground Turkey

In the same all cuts are beef not created equal; every package of ground turkey was not created equal.

Ground turkey is well known for its bland flavor and dry texture.

Like ground beef, ground turkey can have different fat levels or be produced from different parts of the bird.

For example, 85% lean turkey is produced from white and dark meat, while some ground turkey can have parts of the sin ground into it to keep it from frying out. 

Therefore, you must know which type of ground turkey your ground turkey calls before you go to the store to purchase it.

Ground turkey breast is very lean, while ground turkey thighs or drumsticks have a fat ratio that resembles beef.

Beware, packages of meat labeled ground turkey may contain a mixture of white and dark meat.

Lean ground turkey works better for sauces, while ground turkey with dark meat is better for burgers, meatballs, and meatloaf.

The meat to fat ratio is usually indicated on the ground turkey’s label.

However, you can talk to your butcher to get their insights on which type of turkey will be best for the recipe you are making.

You can also ask your butcher to grind a custom turkey breast or thighs blend.

Fresh turkey has a light pink color. It should be free of any smells, and the package should be cool to the touch.

Safety Considerations for Ground Turkey

Whether it is brisket, pork shoulder, or bottom round roast, all meat, including ground turkey, contains bacteria.

This is why storing it and cooking it properly can reduce your risk of food poisoning.

It is best to follow the 4 best practices of food safety: clean, separate, cook, and chill.

Cleaning refers to washing your hands and kitchen surfaces as often as possible.

Make sure you wash your hands with warm water and soap and scrub your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds before and after touching raw ground turkey.

Discard the turkey’s packaging as soon as you take it out of the package, wash your hands, and sanitize your counter.

Separate refers to avoiding cross-contamination. Ground turkey is raw, which means it has the potential to contaminate other foods, such as ready-to-eat foods that come into contact with the turkey. 

For example, if you form ground turkey into burgers and place them onto your cutting board and use the same cutting board to cut lettuce for the burgers without washing it, cross-contamination has occurred.

This is why you should use separate cutting boards, plates, utensils, and mixing bowls for different foods.

In addition to this, make sure you wash, sanitize, and dry all tools and kitchen surfaces before using them again.

When cooking ground turkey, use an infrared thermometer to ensure it reaches the recommended temperature of 165°F.

Depending on the color of the food or its juices is not a good way to tell if the turkey is cooked.

Use a thermometer and aim it at the thickest part of your meatloaf or burger to get an accurate temperature.

All leftover ground turkey should be stored in an airtight container and chilled within 2 hours to limit bacterial activity.

How To Store Ground Turkey in the Fridge

To store ground turkey, make sure your refrigerator is at or below a temperature of 40°F.

Make sure the ground turkey’s packaging is intact. If the packaging has been damaged, place it into an airtight container.

Place the turkey on the bottom shelf in the coldest section of your refrigerator.

How to Freeze Ground Turkey

Raw ground turkey can also be frozen. However, ground turkey can only be frozen within 2 days after it was bought.

Nevertheless, it’s the best long-term storage option if you do not intend to cook it right away.

Even though ground turkey will last indefinitely in the fridge, its quality will diminish over time.

Therefore, you should use ground turkey within 3-4 months.

To freeze your ground turkey, wrap the package with foil and place it onto a freezer-safe ziplock bag.

When you are ready to cook the ground turkey, defrost it in the fridge overnight or using cold water.

How Long Can Ground Turkey Sit at Room Temperature

Whether it is frozen, cooked, or raw turkey, it should not sit out at room temperature for more than two hours.

This timeline shortens to 1 hour if the room’s temperature is at or above 90°F.

Although most people are guilty of leaving ground turkey at room temperature, if it is left to sit out too long, it enters the temperature danger zone, which ranges from 40°F-140°F.

The turkey will become riddled with bacteria that it is no longer safe for consumption.

How Long Does Ground Turkey Last in the Fridge

Unfortunately, ground turkey only lasts in the fridge for 1-2 days.

However, if it is stored improperly, your ground turkey may only last for 1 day. On the other hand, cooked ground turkey will last for 3-4 days.

How Long Does Ground Turkey Last After the Sell-by Date?

Product dates are essential for knowing how long ground turkey will last in the fridge.

Most people believe that turkey should be tossed after the sell-by day passes, but it will last 1-2 days after the sell-by date expires.

How To Tell if Ground Turkey Has Gone Bad?

It is relatively easy to tell if ground turkey is bad.

If your turkey has grey or green patches or shows any signs of discoloration, it is rotten.

Spoiled ground turkey has a slimy texture, a clear indicator of bacterial growth.

Lastly, ground turkey will have a pungent, unpleasant odor if it is spoiled.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how long ground turkey lasts in the fridge is crucial to serving your family quality food.

Now that you know how long turkey lasts in the refrigerator, you won’t have to wonder if that package that’s been hiding in the back of your fridge is good or bad.

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