Sign up here to get our free newsletter

Sign up here to get our free newsletter

Thanksgiving dinner reheating guide

reheating-thanksgiving-leftovers
Photo credit: Rostislav Sedlacek/Getty Images

Thanksgiving is, hands down, the best holiday for leftovers. And, believe it or not, you will get past the, “I’ll never eat again!” phase quickly and decide that some leftover turkey and stuffing sounds pretty good. Whether you want to try to relive the entire Thanksgiving dinner or get creative with your leftovers, we can help you reheat properly so you’ll love those leftovers as if it’s the first go around. 

First, a couple rules:

  1. Only reheat the amount of food you will eat. Reheating the same leftovers repeatedly can definitely steal their luster and may prompt you to toss them when you wouldn’t otherwise. (The horror!)
  2. As much as possible, reheat the food in the same manner in which it was first cooked. Simply, it retains its primary qualities better this way.

If the leftovers are just for you, then it seems silly to fire up the oven or stove for just one plate of leftovers. In this case, the microwave will work just fine. However, when reheating for more than just yourself, there are better ways of reheating that will keep the food tasting as good as it did Thanksgiving day.

Rolls

We’re breaking our own rule here. Even though you likely first baked your rolls in the oven, you’re going to want that same oven for the turkey and potatoes. So – are you ready for this? – your rolls can go in your slow cooker. What?? Maybe you already knew this, but it’s still pretty cool. If you don’t have a slow cooker, the microwave is also an option. And the oven, of course.

  • Slow Cooker
    If using the slow cooker, lay a clean, slightly damp towel on the bottom of the slow cooker. Next, arrange the rolls on the towel and then cover the rolls with another damp towel. Cover and heat on low for 30 minutes. Best of all, you can turn your slow cooker to warm and leave those babies in there for up to two hours (or until the towel on top is dry). They will stay soft, warm, and butter ready.
  • Oven
    If you still prefer to use the oven, arrange the rolls in a baking dish, not a baking sheet. Keeping them close together keeps them softer. Brush with melted butter and bake at 350F degrees on the middle rack for 7-10 minutes.
  • Microwave
    If the microwave is your only option, arrange the rolls on a microwave-safe plate and wrap the entire plate in a dry towel. Heat them only until warmed through, 30 to 45 seconds.

Turkey

Turkey is the guest of honor, so you definitely want to make sure you get this right. Contrary to rumor, reheated turkey doesn’t have to have the consistency of cardboard. You can keep your turkey just as juicy and delicious as it was a day or two ago.

  • Oven
    While the oven preheat to 350F degrees, slice the turkey into pieces so it will heat more quickly. Place it in a oven safe dish and add about 2 inches of chicken or turkey stock. Cover with foil and cook until it reaches 165 degrees, 20-30 minutes. Check it early and often to make sure you don’t overcook it and end up with dry turkey.
  • Microwave
    If the microwave is your only option, it can be done. Place turkey pieces in a microwavable container with about ½ inch of broth. Cover with microwavable cover or plastic wrap, being careful to make sure the plastic wrap isn’t touching the turkey. Reheat the turkey to a temperature of 165 degrees, turning and checking it every two minutes.

Mashed Potatoes

  • Oven
    If you don’t want to add another heat source to your leftovers meal prep, the mashed potatoes can go into the oven with the turkey. Place them evenly in an oven safe dish, add some butter and cook at 350F for about 30 minutes or until warmed through.
  • Stovetop
    Place the potatoes in a non-stick saucepan and heat them slowly, stirring every two minutes or so to ensure they cook evenly. If they appear too thick, add a bit of milk or cream, When heated through, mix in a bit of butter and sour cream to return them to all their original glory.
  • Microwave
    The microwave is the least effective method but will still do the job. Place the mashed potatoes in a microwave safe bowl and heat slowly. Set the time for one minute, remove and stir and heat again for one minute, repeating if necessary. This will guarantee they are warmed through.

Stuffing

  • Oven
    Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Place the stuffing in an oven safe container and add chicken or turkey stock, gravy, or butter to keep it moist. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes to get the top crispy and delicious.
  • Microwave
    Place stuffing in a microwave safe dish, add a little bit of chicken or turkey stock or butter, cover with parchment paper and heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring after each minute.

Gravy

Gravy is to mashed potatoes as salt is to potato chips,  as bacon is to eggs, as…well, you get the picture. Thanksgiving leftovers just wouldn’t be complete without it. Reheat the gravy by putting it in a saucepan and heating it over low heat, stirring frequently until simmering. It’s that simple.

Now that you know the best way to reheat your Thanksgiving leftovers, it’s time to change into pants with an elastic waist and prepare for Thanksgiving Dinner: The Sequel.

Join the party

Celebrate the everyday with vibrant and purposeful content – like new recipes, DIY ideas, wellness tips & beyond – for a happier, healthier and bolder life.

Subscribe now to get

our free newsletter