Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means that Buzzy Kitchen earns commission from purchases made – at absolutely no extra cost to you. Thank you so much for supporting Buzzy Kitchen!
Are you aware of a thing called warmed-over flavour? Well, it’s a thing that happens to meat once it has been refrigerated and then reheated. If you’re asking the common question: Why does leftover turkey taste bad?, I have some answers to bring your way!
Let’s get right to it, shall we?
Why Does Leftover Turkey Taste Bad?
There are a number of reasons why your leftover turkey might taste bad, but why don’t we start with the obvious…
Could the turkey meat have turned bad already?
Leftover cooked turkey meat is usually safe to eat for between 2 and 4 days, providing it has been stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Recommended Reading: How Long Will Leftover Cooked Turkey Last in the Fridge?
If you have not stored your turkey in an airtight container, it will turn bad and become unsafe to eat quicker – within 1 or 2 days. You will usually notice it starting to become dry and cracked first, but this doesn’t always happen.
Turkey meat that has gone bad will look and smell different to how it did when it was just-cooked. As previously mentioned, the surface will dry out and start to look cracked. The dryness will spread throughout the rest of the meat pretty quickly, too.
Meat that has started to turn bad has an odd and rather unpleasant aroma to it. If you notice any changes to the smell of your turkey meat, it is not recommended to eat it. It is often one of the first signs that food, especially meat and other fresh produce, has started to turn bad.
If the smell of the leftover turkey has changed, there’s a good chance that the taste/flavour of the leftover turkey will also have changed… and not for the better.
Have you refrigerated and then reheated the leftover turkey?
If you answered yes, you could be looking at a simple case of what is known as “warmed-over flavour”.
This is the name given to the smell of meat that has been cooked, refrigerated, and then reheated. Some people aren’t bothered by it, but others describe it as being very unpleasant. Words used to explain it include:
- Similar to damp dog fur
This weird and unpleasant (to some) smell is a natural and normal process. It occurs when oxygen reacts with lipids that have been released from the meat’s cell membranes.
When something smells bad (to you), it’s often an indication that it’ll taste bad (to you) too.
Is It Safe to Eat Turkey That Smells or Tastes Bad?
It is safe to eat turkey that smells bad but is still safe within the “safe” guidelines — within 3 or 4 days of cooking, stored in an airtight container, and stored in the fridge.
If the turkey smells bad AND has a change to the colour, texture, or anything else, it is likely not to safe to eat.
Turkey meat that has started to turn bad can be dry and cracked, but it can also be slimy and wet-looking. It will also change colour as it turns bad, too. Cooked turkey meat is white in the light meat areas and dark in the dark meat areas. If it turns an odd shade of blue, grey, or green, the meat is not safe to consume.
If the turkey tastes bad, smells bad, and generally looks bad, I don’t recommend putting it in your mouth. It’s probably best to dispose of it.
(And it’s also probably best to be safe rather than sorry. Food poisoning is no joke!)