Is there anyone on the planet who doesn’t love a turkey dinner? While we adore an entire cooked turkey in all its glory (together with cranberry sauce, stuffing, and mashed potatoes), prepping something so big can be scary and time-consuming.
A nifty way to get around this is to buy a turkey that is smoked or already cooked. It is already prepared and tastes just as good, so why not? However, even if you buy fully cooked smoked turkey in advance you still need to heat it up before eating.
This can be a little tricky since reheating a whole turkey isn’t the same as warming up a chicken joint. Make a mistake and your turkey ends up either dry and crusty or gives you food poisoning. Because of this, we came up with this guide on how to reheat a smoked turkey.
In this article, we will look at a few different ways you can reheat a smoked turkey quickly, easily, and with the best results. Keep your eyes peeled for all of our useful tips and shortcuts!
Why Smoked Turkeys?
Like we said earlier, getting a turkey that has been pre-cooked saves a lot of time and energy. Smoked turkeys are a great option because they are cured and flavored with smoke from burning aromatic wood.
This smoke from the smoldering wood gives the turkey a fantastic flavor; sweet and delicately smoky with a tender texture.
Although smoked meats aren’t cooked in the traditional sense, they are safe to eat and are chemically altered and cooked that way. So if you choose to get a Costco smoked turkey or a Butterball fully cooked smoked turkey, you can bring it home and eat it without any problem.
However, storing it can reduce the temperature and cause the bacteria present in the meat to multiply. This is where the danger of food poisoning comes in. To remove this issue, and make your turkey taste its best–you have to reheat the turkey before serving it.
Reheating Smoked Turkey: All the Different Ways
There are a couple of different ways you can reheat an entire smoked turkey and we will walk you through all the different ways. We will even mention how you can heat up leftovers without losing any of the juiciness or moisture!
Reheat Turkey in Oven:
Using an oven is the best way to reheat turkey. It gives you more control over the heating process and won’t affect the texture at all.
- If you’ve frozen your turkey let it thaw completely at first. Let it thaw in your fridge for a day before and set it on your counter an hour before you want to reheat it.
- Take a sheet pan or roasting tray and grease the bottom with some oil or cooking spray. Lay the turkey breast side down. Grease some foil and use it to cover the turkey. This will lock in the moisture and stop the turkey from going dry.
- Now let’s talk about temperatures. For the very best results, heat the turkey in the oven at 250F.
This is the ideal temperature for slowly heating the turkey without losing any of its juiciness. However, if you are in a rush, you can go up to 325F, but not any further.
Anything higher will dry out your turkey. Remember to preheat your oven first!
- The time taken to heat the whole turkey through will vary depending on the size or weight of the bird. Instead, you should pay attention to the smoked turkey done temp.
In other words, heat the turkey until the breast reaches a temperature of 140 degrees. This can be done with a probe thermometer.
However, if you feel hesitant, you can go all the way to 165 degrees. If you go any higher than this, there is a good chance that your turkey will be dry and even burnt.
If you choose to heat it at 250, the process will take 4 hours. At 325, it will take 2.5 to 3 hours.
- After removing it from the oven, let the turkey rest for 20-30 minutes before cutting into it. This will prevent the juices from seeping out as soon as you cut the meat.
Reheat in a Countertop Oven:
You can totally use a typical countertop or toaster oven to reheat smaller turkeys in a pinch. This also allows the meat to retain a lot of moisture.
So, here is how you can heat a whole smoked turkey in a countertop toaster oven:
- Preheat your roaster and place the entire turkey on the rack. Slide a tray under the rack to catch any drippings.
- Heat the turkey until its internal temperature reaches anywhere from 155 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit on a probe thermometer.
- Let the turkey rest for around 15-20 minutes before serving it so that the meat absorbs the heat and moisture evenly.
Reheat in a Microwave:
If you want to reheat your turkey dinner leftovers, a microwave is a fast and convenient option. You can reheat both larger joints like wings or drumsticks of the turkey, as well as slices of the chicken breast.
For Larger Turkey Joints:
- Place the smoked turkey pieces on a microwave-safe plate or serving dish and use some parchment paper or a damp paper towel to cover them loosely.
- Put the plate in the microwave and heat the pieces in 2-minute intervals. Make sure you check the temperature of the turkey (it should be at 150-160 degrees) so that you don’t end up overheating it.
- Leave the turkey pieces to rest for a couple of minutes before serving them; as this allows them to heat through evenly.
Reheating Turkey Breast Slices:
- Place the slices in a microwave-safe dish or bowl and add a spoon or two of chicken broth into the dish. This will keep the meat soft.
- Use a lid or plastic wrap to cover the plate. If you use plastic wrap, poke a few small holes in the plastic with a toothpick or fork. You can also use a lightly dampened paper towel.
- Heat the slices for about 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the number or thickness of the slices.
Tips for a Softer and More Flavorful Turkey
When going for the oven smoked turkey method, remove the foil towards the end of the heating process for crisp and amazing skin.
- Brush the whole turkey with melted butter for a richer and more indulgent flavor and more browning.
- You can even use some kind of neutral oil infused with whole garlic gloves and herbs like thyme, rosemary, and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Adding a dash of stick to the dish or roasting tray will help keep the meat soft and moist.
- Don’t discard the grease, scraps, or dripping from the turkey; they make an amazing gravy.
You might have a few more questions about reheating or smoking turkeys. We answer some common queries here.
01. How Do You Warm Smoked Turkey?
To warm a smoked or precooked turkey, place it in a preheated oven and heat it until the internal temperature registers at around 150-160 degrees on a probe thermometer.
02. Can You Cook a Turkey the Day Before and Reheat It?
Yes, you can cook or roast a turkey in advance and reheat it using the methods outlined in this article.
03. How Can You Prepare for a Smoked Turkey?
You might just be tempted to smoke the turkey yourself, instead of buying it. Firstly, remove your turkey from the packaging and let it defrost to room temperature.
Cut the neck off and remove the giblets from the inside of the bird. If you brine your turkey, carefully wash the outside of the turkey with cool water.
Next, pat the turkey with paper towels until all the sides are pretty dry. Tie the legs securely with butcher’s twine and fold the wing tips behind the shoulder joint. This prevents the tips from burning and makes it easier to move the bird.
Then brush the exterior of the bird with olive oil or melted butter and then season all the sides with some kind of seasoning rub.
04. How Long Does It Take to Reheat a Smoked Turkey?
The time it takes to fully reheat a smoked turkey will depend on the weight of the bird and the temperature you set on your oven. For an average-sized bird, it takes 4 hours to reheat completely at 250 degrees.
On the other hand, it will only take you around 2.5 hours at 325 degrees. However, this can differ slightly depending on the weight of the turkey.
What You Can Takeaway
A pre-cooked or smoked turkey is the best way to cut down on prep time before a big dinner. You will be free to work on desserts and other sides instead of slaving away on a turkey.
Knowing how to reheat a smoked turkey will guarantee your bird is soft, juicy, and tastes perfect. In fact, no one will even know that you got a pre-cooked turkey!
So next time there’s turkey on the menu, sit back and relax because you know what you need to do.